To the Nurses Who Care for Stillborn Babies & Their Mamas, 'Thank You' Isn't Enough

Caitlin Nixon cries after work
Laura McIntyre/Facebook

Being a labor and delivery nurse means you get a front-row seat to the incredible miracle of childbirth, each and every day. You see countless couples become mothers and fathers, watch adorable babies take their first breath, and best of all, you get to be an important part of it, helping to usher new life into the world minute by minute, hour by hour. But it's also back-breaking work, filled with long shifts and emotionally taxing moments that stay with you, long after the patients leave. Caitlin Nixon knows this all too well. She's been a labor and delivery nurse in Forney, Texas, for the last six years, and has seen the many ups (and occasional downs) the job brings with it. Over the summer, her twin sister Laura snapped a photo of her coming off a particularly grueling shift, and the image -- as well as the story behind it -- is going viral.

  • "She's gonna kill me for this pic, but can we just give it up for nurses for a minute?" Laura McIntyre wrote in her October 10 Facebook post.

    "Caty just wrapped up her fourth shift in a row," McIntyre explained in the post. "That's around 53+ hours in four days. That's not including the 1.5 hours she's in the car each day."

    McIntyre went on to describe how in a typical shift, Nixon rarely gets the chance to eat a proper lunch or even drink much water. 

    "She is so good at what she does that she often forgets how to take care of herself while she's taking care of her patients," McIntyre continued.

    But the weight of what she often sees takes its toll.

    "This pic is from a night back in July where she came to my house after a particularly hard day," McIntyre continued, before explaining that Nixon had just delivered a stillborn baby.

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  • "Have you guys ever really thought about what a labor and delivery nurse sees?" McIntyre asks. 

    The answer is, they see it all.

    "They see great joy in smooth deliveries and healthy moms and babies," she continued. "They see panic and anxiety when a new mom is scared. They see fear when a stat C-section is called. They see peace when the mom has support from her family -- because not all new moms do. They see teenagers giving birth. They see an addicted mom give birth to a baby who is withdrawing. they see CPS come. They see funeral homes come."

    "Did you know that they have to make arrangements for the funeral home to come pick up the baby?" McIntyre asked. "I didn't either."

  • The accompanying image shows Nixon sitting in a recliner at her sister's house, getting a bite to eat after a long shift and wiping away tears.

    Her face looks pained, but then again, that's to be expected after witnessing the tragedy of a stillbirth.

    "Caty (and all other nurses) -- you are SPECIAL," the post concluded. "You bless your patients and their families more than you will ever know. Thank you for all that you do."

  • McIntyre's loving tribute to her sister, as well as all the hard-working labor and delivery nurses out there, was certainly not lost on anyone.

    To date, the post has racked up over 100K shares and more than 16K comments, all from people joining in to praise the hard work and dedication of nurses just like Nixon, who give their blood, sweat, and tears to a job that brings them just as much joy as it does heartache.

    "Thank you for reminding all of us" wrote one man. "My wife was a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse for 25 years before retiring ... Nurses give and give -- and expect so little in return. The level of self-sacrifice is beyond measure."

    "On October 13th many years ago, my sister's first child was born with many health complications and passed shortly after he was born," one woman shared. "I will never ever forget the warmth and kindness of all the nurses who shared our grief. Thank you so very much for all you do to make your patients and their families heal with grace and love!"

  • Nixon tells CafeMom that she had "no idea" that her identical twin had even snapped the photo, but was touched by her moving post.

    Laura McIntyre and Caty Nixon
    Laura McIntyre

    In fact, Nixon says her sister has often been a shoulder to lean on after some of her most difficult days at work. ("We actually call her office my 'therapy room' for hard days like this when I just need to breathe … and eat!" Nixon shares.) 

    "I remember this day all too well," she says of the photo. "It’s the hard ones that you wish you could forget. Laura has always praised me through social media for my work, but this was a whole different level. I don’t particularly enjoy being in the spotlight, but I love that Laura wrote a tribute to not only me, but to all nurses for our passion and dedication, even through the roughest days."

    On those days, Nixon says her faith, family, and coworkers are what ultimately get her through.

  • McIntyre says that she never would have known what nurses truly go through if it weren't for her close relationship with her sister.

    "We talk all day every day, so I do have insight on what she goes through at work," she explains. "She is constantly checking in on her patients, making sure they're okay, entertaining their family members, etc. I honestly (embarrassingly) never knew how draining being a nurse really is -- physically, mentally, and especially emotionally."

    Nixon says that pregnancy has always "intrigued" her, which is ultimately what led her into the profession. Now, "caring for pregnant women has become my passion," she tells CafeMom.

  • Still, neither sister could have expected just how much the post would take off, drawing praise and support from people all over the world.

    "Never in a million years did I think that this post would get this much love," says McIntyre. "I'm blown away by how sweet and how sincerely thankful everyone has been, just by sharing and by commenting on this post."

    "The love that has come from this post has been so overwhelming in the very best way," adds Nixon, who says that her sister's moving words are what have ultimately touched people the most. 

    "Emotions are what connect all of us, and Laura was able to put my emotions into words," she says. "Bringing awareness to the darkness that we see is what has made this go viral."