Sometimes you find peace in the most unexpected places.
Like in the middle of a shift in ITU.
I stand, listening.
The monitors are quiet, for once there are no alarms.
The phones aren’t ringing.
The door intercom isn’t buzzing.
I can’t hear anyone talking.
The babies are quiet.
Dreeaming their little dreams of mummy and daddy, of cuddles and milk.
The blinds are closed and the lights are dimmed.
Ultraviolet light, a therapy for jaundice glows softly from one of the incubators.
It’s part of the breathing apparatus for one of the babies.
It sounds like a tiny fountain in the garden of a stately home, making me think of old, warm stone and dragonflies and happy childhood memories.
I stand in this dim, quiet, calm space with it’s soft background noise.
There are no parents, no relatives.
No doctors or nurses or other staff.
In the midst of thee struggle, the chaotic fight for life I find calm.
A minute to regroup.
To clear my head and plan what I need to do.
I walk round the incubators and lift a corner of the blackout covers to check on the babies.
All four of them sleeping soundly.
Deep, healing sleep.
They are comfortable and pain free.
Today I feel that I’ve looked after them well.
It adds to the sense of calm.
To my feeling of peace.
It’s such a rare thing to find on NICU
We’re constantly trying to find it, trying to achieve it.
Peace means that the babies are stable, the parents are happy and that there are no emergencies. That we’ve worked well and done everything that we can.
Most of the time peace is a good thing.
Sometimes a period of peace is the calm before the storm.
We know that soon a critically ill baby will arrive and the peace is due us having made all the preparations we can.
Peace means that we’re waiting.
Because there’s nothing else we can do.
Sometimes we try too hard to find it and it slips away.
Some days it comes when we least expect it.
You can never predict whether a day will bring peace. Sometimes a day that should be calm turns out to be anything but; an endless whirl of medicines and nappies and electronic beeping.
But sometimes we find it just when we need it.
In the most unlikely of places.