The way it all began:

Garden in July

This is my first attempt at a blog for the new Garden of the Sleeping Angel site.  The Garden has been in my mind for years, but to understand how it came to be what it is now, after only physically ‘being’ for a year, is important for me to share.

I was a nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, MN for over 40 years.  For most of those years I worked in obstetrics; first a small hospital which the OB unit was considered a Level I, i.e. all sick infants were transferred to a Level III unit.  Over 30 years ago, following the merger of Abbott and Northwestern Hospital our unit was deemed a level III, since we had perinatologists and neonatologists working together to provide the best care of our mothers and infants on site.

With level three came, for me, immeasurable  heart ache, since we admitted and cared for the sickest of moms, providing stabilization and ongoing care for patients with high risk diagnoses.  To be honest, all of those years ago we knew so much less than we do now in terms of caring for tiny, premature and/or sick infants.  Our close proximity to Mpls Children’s Hospital meant that our mothers could have the care they needed to either support their infants in utero or deliver in a setting when their sick infants could be properly attended to.  The loving care I witnessed in all staff to the betterment of consistent, comforting and compassion was truly life changing for me.

With these high risk pregnancies came, unfortunately, sad outcomes.  Not all babies were able to survive the diagnosis of extreme prematurity.  Not all babies had conditions compatible with life outside the uterus.  Nursing staff struggled mightily to come to terms with supporting a patient and her family who in the end, lost their beloved baby.  After many years of caring for such families, I found that I carried within me a passion to help families not only ‘say hello’ to their infants, but to say a sweet ‘goodbye.  I found it a great privilege to care for patients who allowed me within their tender circle of grief.

  1. Geri Imdieke
    Geri Imdieke03-17-2014

    This is so beautiful, Nancy. We were so fortunate to work with these parents whose lives have been forever changed by their little angels, no matter how short a time they had together. You were such an inspiration to me and I know you made the lives of these families so much easier with your tender care. I look forward to visiting your garden some day.

    • Nancy Sawyer
      Nancy Sawyer06-12-2014

      Thank you for your kind words, Geri. And you too, continue to impact patients’ lives by sharing our caring concept and remembering truly means never to forget.
      I love that you’ll be including the Garden of the Sleeping Angel’s availability to others through your work
      (for those who don’t know Geri, she works in a major obstetrical office). That you plan to send sympathy cards to mothers who have experienced miscarriage is amazing! God Bless you as you remember and support.

  2. Lori Neises
    Lori Neises06-19-2014

    Nancy, what a beautiful thing you have created with this garden. Such a loving, caring and peaceful way to extend the care you have provided throughout your working career now to these families who need time and a special plave to remember and reflect on the lives of their little ones. You have provided a beautiful place for them to come and just “be”, and hopefully help move them towards helping to heal their hurting. Bless you and all of the families that are going through such a difficult time.

  3. kathy cantrell
    kathy cantrell06-25-2014

    This is the work of God’s hand being brought to fruition through the heart of my beautiful forever friend, Nancy. It is a respectful place to grieve and a peaceful place to release all emotions. God created this precious hallowed ground to bring the promise of life eternal to those who left this earth too soon. There
    are some that we must mourn and cherish and say goodbye to…and only God knows why.

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An Angel in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth. Then whispered as she closed the book, too beautiful for earth.