In July, Caty Nixon, a physically and emotionally exhausted labor and delivery nurse, was finally able to take a moment at her sister's home. In hospital scrubs, with a glass of water in her hand and a plate of food in her lap, Nixon broke down after a heartbreaking 53-hour, four-day shift.
It is a scene that no one sees, besides fellow nurses and their loved ones. Nixon's identical twin sister, Laura McIntyre, took a picture of the emotional moment after a particularly hard shift.
"She feels everything her patients feel," McIntyre tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "Excitement, joy, love, fear, anxiety, heartbreak. She's with them physically, mentally and emotionally. She has to celebrate and mourn with them."
The photo was taken just after Nixon finished her fourth shift in a row. "That's around 53+ hours in four days," McIntyre wrote on Facebook. "Not including the 1.5 hours she's in the car each day."
However, Nixon, who has worked as a labor and delivery nurse for six years at Medical City McKinney in Texas, wasn't just worn out from her demanding shift. On the day her sister took the candid photo, she had just delivered a stillborn baby.
While Nixon mourned in private, she showed exactly what it means, and what it takes, to be a nurse.
"Every single day is a new opportunity to be a light in the hospital, to bring peace and comfort to my patients, and to bring healthy babies into the world," Nixon tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "What a gift."
McIntyre's post has been shared more than 117,000 times, but the sisters never thought it would touch so many people. When asked what they thought about the responses, they both said, "Wow."
"Never in a million years did I think that this post would get this much love," McIntyre says. "I'm blown away by how sweet and how sincerely thankful everyone has been."
For Nixon, however, it's been an eye-opening experience for what her presence in the delivery room has meant to others. While many on social media are thanking Nixon for her job, and others are tagging the most important nurses in their lives. Some of the commenters are Nixon's former patients.
One of Nixon's patients commented that, while she was giving birth to her second child, Nixon entertained her two-year-old daughter by dancing with her in the delivery room. Another patient wrote that Nixon stayed two hours after her shift ended to be there when she gave birth.
For Nixon, that's part of the job.
"I have never treated this job as 'shift work,' and just because it's 7 p.m. and my shift is over doesn't mean that I'm done with work," Nixon tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "This might be the only experience my patients have with delivering a baby, so if they want me to stay to help them deliver after I've been with them all day, I'm more than happy to do it."
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