Finding Gratitude in The Hardest Situations as a NICU Mom

As I sat down to write a speech for an upcoming event to raise money for the Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa entire story focused on thanking ONE nurse.

One nurse who had a life changing impact on me.

One nurse who was only with us for a few days!

--And I realized I had never taken the time to really thank her (until now).

Have you ever found yourself telling others how great you think someone is, and then you realize you’ve forgotten to tell them?

Today I want to walk you through three simple steps to share your gratitude with someone special in your life. I know it will make a huge difference for that person but also for you! (Research shows that expressing deep gratitude literally boosts your level of happiness).

But first Myrna.

When I first met Myrna, I was a wreck.

My son Jack was discharged from our local NICU to be transported to the NICU in Iowa City for an eye ultrasound. He had developed severe ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) and the ultrasound would confirm the level of retinal detachment present in each eye.

As you can imagine, my husband and I were very anxious leading up to the test. I’m sure this was very evident the first time we met Myrna, the first nurse we met in Iowa City. She went out of her way to make us feel welcome and it didn’t take long before we knew that Jack was in very good hands. As a preemie mom, you know that feeling when someone new takes over your child’s care which puts you on guard and a whole range of emotions flood your body.

We basically had two days to settle in before the ultrasound. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald house in Iowa City and spent most of the time at the hospital with Jack.

Finding Gratitude in the Hardest Situations as a NICU Mom. Miracle Moments Matter. Tracy May

This is Myrna and my husband shortly after Jack was admitted to the NICU.

Finding Gratitude in the Hardest Situations as a NICU Mom. Miracle Moments Matter. Tracy May

The picture above is Myrna making sure to keep things light hearted for us. She definitely helped take our minds off the reason we were there in the first place.

After the ultrasound confirmed his retinas were in need of repair we headed to Chicago. After Jack was loaded up into the incubator for his flight to Chicago we said good-bye to Myrna for the last time.

It would be years before I would think about her again.

After one of his many eye surgeries, Jack’s eye pressure was elevated so we were sent to see a Glaucoma specialist in Iowa City. I called that NICU to see if Myrna was still working there as I wanted to sit down and tell her how much she meant to our family, but I had missed that opportunity. As they told me she had just recently retired, my heart sank.

I know first hand the importance of the people that have made a difference in your life and not just recognizing it but actually telling them. It’s what inspired me to write this blog post.

If I had the chance to sit down with Myrna right now this is what I’d say:

“You knew the severity of the situation and you did everything in your power to make us feel at home. You gave us space when we needed it but also provided a listening ear when we wanted to talk. Your calm demeanor brought about a sense of peace during a tense couple of days and saying thank you doesn’t begin to convey our gratitude for all you did for us Myrna!!”

Don’t wait for that perfect opportunity to tell someone what they mean to it right now!!

What I need for you to do are these 3 steps:


Identify someone that has made a difference for you


Decide how you want to thank them because research shows that when we express our gratitude, it not only has the possibility of making a big difference for them but it also changes our own happiness level


Write a letter, pick up the phone or do a public post like I did and see if you can get the person to read it

You will be glad you did!!!

Comment below to tell me the name of the person you’d like to recognize. Maybe you don’t have the time (or the courage) to write the note right now, but take the first step and share their name with me!

Ready for more support? If you’re just starting your journey in the NICU or if you’re a preemie parent who has an older child this journey is not easy-- but you’re not alone. I’d love to provide a listening ear and strategies for thriving exactly where you’re at.

Sign up for a free 20-minute coaching call here to start feeling more at peace and in control of your life today.

Erin Alexander