Gaylee Newbold: Finding enlightenment, moment by moment
Becoming a new parent can be life changing. Ask Gaylee Newbold, an RN at the Mother Baby Unit at The Children's Hospital at Providence, and she’ll tell you.
“The best part of my job is when somebody’s life has changed,” Newbold explains. The moments can appear simple and small, like when a new mom struggles to get a newborn to breastfeed for the first time.
“You go in and get the baby to latch on and the baby eats for the first time,” Newbold explains. “The mother is just so extremely grateful.”
Those life changing moments are just part of her 12-hour shift. “Even though it’s not that big of a deal, to them it is.”
Newbold has seen this scenario hundreds if not thousands of times, throughout her 25-year career as a nurse.
Now, as a charge nurse, she has seen similar looks of struggle on the faces of new nurses. “You help them, you give them a new idea and a different perspective and it’s life changing for them,” she explains of the times when she helps new nurses work through early challenges.
For Newbold, these small “moments of enlightenment” are what she enjoys most.
She’s doesn’t remember making a conscious decision to go into nursing as a career. It’s just something that has been a part of her since she was young. For Newbold, caring for others was just part of growing up in a large family.
“It’s who I am and who I’ve become,” Newbold says. “I don’t think you can separate me as a person from me as a nurse. It drives how I think about things and how I approach different situations.”
And though she’s worked in medical oncology, emergency, and other nursing specialties, it’s not surprising that she’s spent the past 13 years of her career in the mother-baby unit.
“I probably started changing diapers when I was 7 or 8,” Newbold says. She remembers her eighth birthday – the very same day her mom brought one of her little brothers home from the hospital. From that moment on, her little brother was her sidekick.
“I would get him up in the morning and get him dressed,” Newbold says. “I would feed him breakfast.” Now she helps new moms and dads learn how to care for their newborns.
“I love being able to pull the dads into it – ‘hey dad, come over here and I’ll tell you how to swaddle and burp the baby.’”
She enjoys watching the dads grow their confidence as parents – helping them “feel empowered to pick up their baby – to burp them and feed them.”
She occasionally runs into some of her patients in the grocery store where she has heard the exclaims of “Oh my gosh, you were my nurse!” Catching up with them and hearing how their babies are doing are enjoyable moments for Newbold.
“What inspires me is that I can make a difference for other people,” Newbold says. “It inspires me that one coworker said to me, ‘When I grow up in my nursing life, I want to be just like you.’”