Tshering and Tammy Sherpa know all about caring for others. They have dedicated their lives to caring for patients working as nurses at Saint Luke’s East Hospital. Each felt proud at the end of the day for the difference they made through their work. Recently though, they had the opportunity to see the impact nurses make in families lives by experiencing it from a different perspective, as concerned NICU parents.
Tshering Sherpa is a Saint Luke’s East ICU nurse and has been caring for COVID-19 patients throughout the course of the pandemic. His wife, Tammy Sherpa, is also a Saint Luke’s nurse in the Labor and Delivery unit. This power couple recently gave birth to their first child, Tenzing Sherpa, and they are so thankful they have him. It was not easy, but it was worth it all.
Tenzing was born at 31 weeks at Saint Luke’s East Hospital, weighing a mere 2 pounds and 11 ounces. He was immediately taken to Saint Luke’s East Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where he was given specialized, around the clock treatment for premature infants. While Tenzing was in the NICU, Tammy, who had an emergency C-section, was sent home on bed rest for a couple of weeks. It was very difficult that she could not physically be with her son at the start of his journey, but she was confident he would be okay.
“I never worried about leaving him in the NICU because I knew he was with the most caring, qualified, and fantastic nurses,” Tammy said. “He was in better hands with them than even with me.”
Tenzing had a designated team of nurses who really knew him, understood him, and could track his growth.
“The goal for all babies admitted to the NICU is ultimately to go home healthy with their caregivers,” says Ashley Farrell, one of Tenzing’s NICU nurses.
“Every baby admitted to the NICU has their own individual milestones to achieve and hurdles to overcome, and we tailor our plan of care to whatever their need is for that day. I always tell parents, in this wild ride called the NICU, their baby is in the driver's seat; we just let them tell us where they need us to go!”
He started off on a CPAP until he could breathe independently, and then was put on a nourishment plan to add the weight he needed. It worked, and for every pound he gained Tenzing’s nurses gave him a trophy to celebrate his milestone!
“I think he thrived in the NICU! He had familiar people with him and was given the time he needed to grow,” said Tammy. “I knew that whatever Tenzing needed, if it was in the staff’s control, they would do it for him. The nurses even decorated his room with a fox theme to make it feel homey!”
Before bringing Tenzing home, the Sherpas turned their basement restroom into the “Quarantine Bathroom.” Tshering said, “I was worried about infecting our baby, so after each shift, the first thing I do when I get home is throw my laundry in the wash machine and scrub down in the ‘Quarantine Shower’ before going upstairs to see my family!”
After spending 46 days in the NICU, Tenzing graduated and went home! He is doing better than ever and is a healthy and happy baby, who just met his grandma for the first time! His family in India and London are mailing him gifts as tokens of their love until travel restrictions lift and they can meet him in person. Tenzing’s whole family is filled with pride for him!
“Seeing any baby graduate from the NICU provides such a sense of accomplishment for the nurses and staff,” Ashley says. “I love seeing parents' faces as they walk with their baby out of the NICU - full of pride, excitement, relief, and maybe a little bit of fear. Graduation Day is a time to reflect on all the things they have already accomplished to get them to this day. This little person has their whole life ahead of them, and knowing you played a small role in their first days - it is the reason why I do what I do every day!”
Tammy and Tshering have felt supported by their Saint Luke’s family through everything! Whether it was a teammate offering professional or personal help, or the hot meals and homemade baklava they received, they are thankful for the people they work alongside.
“We want parents with babies in the Saint Luke’s NICU to know that they are going to get the absolute best care they could possibly ever get! There is no reason to be worried or scared because the nurses will take amazing care of every single baby that goes through their unit, no doubt,” say the Sherpas.
“I believe what makes Tenzing's story so special and dear to us is that we have worked with his mom for many years and know how long they waited for him. In so many special ways we know he really is a miracle baby,” says Ashley. “We are so excited for the Sherpa family to begin their lives at home with Tenzing!”
To learn more about the Saint Luke’s NICU program.