Houston, Texas – Austyn Evans was concerned when she received news that no expectant mother likes to hear: her unborn child’s heart rate was decreasing and he needed to be delivered early.
Baby Conrad was transported to the neonatal critical care unit as soon as he was born, where he met Carly Miller, a NICU nurse. No one anticipated that this encounter between a little patient and a devoted caretaker would result in a lasting friendship.
“Carly was instantly charming and humorous. She kept commenting on how adorable Conrad was,” Evans, 28 years old, told TODAY Parents. Even though he was heavily sedated, she tried to be as reassuring as possible by speaking to him in a voice reminiscent to a mother’s.
Miller collaborated closely with Conrad throughout his first five days in the NICU to provide “continuity of treatment.”
“It was extremely important for Conrad. Miller, a 27-year-old nurse at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, told TODAY Parents: “We weren’t really sure which way he was going to go.” I was able to spend a great deal of time at the bedside with (Conrad’s parents).
Conrad had kidney problems and was dependent on a ventilator due to his severe respiratory difficulties. When a 20-week anatomy scan revealed that Conrad had a form of kidney blockage and Evans had little amniotic fluid, physicians transferred Evans from her local hospital in Florida to the Pavilion for Women at Texas Children’s Hospital in an effort to assist her baby grow as much as possible. They also anticipated the newborn might require more support. On December 15, Conrad’s heart rate plummeted, and Evans delivered him at 35 weeks gestation.
Evans and her husband, Branden Williams, were unable to hold Conrad for the next 37 days as he relied on machines to stabilize and grow. Miller frequently supplied updates to Evans.
Evans stated, “When I called for a check-up, I heard Carly’s voice.” “The only communication I had was with Carly, and she was the only person who truly knew Conrad,” I would hang around with Carly to converse.
Evans and Williams lacked local support, and the majority of their loved ones had never met Conrad.
Evans stated, “We were very isolated due to COVID and being away from our family.” Over time, a relationship that was once so professional grew so personal for me.
Evans heard that Miller would no longer be Conrad’s primary nurse when doctors planned to shift him to another pod so he could begin continuous renal replacement treatment, a form of dialysis. She inquired as to whether Miller could relocate to be with Conrad. Miller initially hesitant due to her lack of knowledge; this sort of dialysis machine was being utilized for the very first time with NICU patients at the hospital.
“It’s like a gigantic (external) kidney,” Miller remarked. This occurs 24 hours every day, seven days per week. There are numerous things that can go wrong at this stage, and the situation is extremely crucial.
The physicians were concerned that Conrad would not be able to tolerate the treatment. Miller agreed to remain with Conrad, albeit with some apprehension.
Miller stated, “Many physicians did not believe he was going to survive.” Conrad was one of the smallest infants we’ve ever placed on the machine, so it’s really groundbreaking that he survived.
If the family had questions that Miller could not answer, she would find a method to obtain the necessary information. Miller’s consistent presence at numerous pivotal moments, such as when Evans first held Conrad, forged a bond between the family and the nurse. In addition, the infant responded regularly to Miller.
“I would come in and say ‘Hi’ extremely loudly, and he would instantly start looking around to find me,” Miller said. It truly causes the heart to swell.
Evans stated that Miller knows the optimal method to swaddle Conrad and can calm him in ways that no one else can. On bad days, Evans texts Miller playfully, “Come get her (baby)!”
“As I was leaving Conrad one evening, I waited for Carly,” Evans recounted. “He was incredibly choosy, I mean excessively so. And upon seeing Carly, his eyes brightened up. He was quite jovial. When I attempted to give him a hug before leaving, he pushed me away.
Evans wanted to ask Miller to be Conrad’s godmother when he was leaving the hospital six months after his birth, but she panicked and did not do so. Therefore, she invited Miller to visit and gave her with flowers along with a note from Conrad requesting her to be his godmother. Prior to Miller’s completion of her reading, she exclaimed “Yes,” much to Evans’ surprise.
“We tried to keep things as professional as possible in the NICU, but the talks we had while sitting in his hospital room or the wins we celebrated and cried over together were incredibly meaningful to me,” Evans said. “It was heartbreaking to consider leaving that area and never seeing Carly again.”
Miller stated that she feels privileged to be a part of Conrad’s life for many years.
“I began sobbing. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ … Then I asked her whether she was out of people to interview,” stated Miller. It is without a doubt the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.