“During our 74-day NICU stay, Annie Hayes was one of our first nurses at the NICU. From day one, we were head over heals for Annie. Annie watched our twins 18 days in the first 6 weeks of our time at the NICU. Annie was there for Thanksgiving, she was there for Christmas. She was the one that was there with us during the hardest times.
As a mom, I struggled with breastfeeding and pumping. With twins born so early, there were concerns that feeding anything but breastmilk would be too difficult to digest, so pumping became my most important contribution during those early weeks. My supply was never much and by the time my twins were 2 weeks old I started to feel the pressure of not having enough milk for both babies. First, a lactation consultant talked to me about a supplementation—a mix of something called Butcher’s Brew, Goat’s Rue, and a dozen other supplements I had never heard of. Next, one of the NICU nurses told me I should start a special medication and stop after 13 days. (On day 14 was when the severe depression set in.) Finally, a nurse told me to power pump, 9 times a day. I was miserable. I still wasn’t making enough milk for my two hungry boys. I felt like a failure.
Annie was our lifesaver. She was the most positive and encouraging person. She always found ways to help us put things into perspective. I will never forget the day Annie took all my pumped milk from the day before and combined it together. She came out and showed me “Look at all this. This is just from a day. You should be very proud. It will be enough for both boys for a good part of the day.” That was not just one of the best NICU lessons we had ever learned, but one of the best life lessons. And that was Annie—always teaching us. She was always fun and encouraging, yet mature beyond her years. Annie taught us to turn out all the background noise about what other parents and their babies were accomplishing. Look how far the twins had come, she would tell us. She showed us how our contributions helped our boys and the difference they made. When we were having a difficult day, it was Annie that could cheer us up. Annie always kept her calm and advocated for parents and their children behind the scenes.
Knowing the great doctors and nurses that were at Prentice NICU, I knew there was no better place for our children. Annie gave us even more. She was such a special person to our family and made what could have been a stressful start, the most amazing learning experience. To this day, with my twins almost to their first birthday, we still finding ourselves in awe of the things we learned from Annie.”
Nominated by Tristan Lopez