'I started bawling. I was like, 'Are you serious?'... Then I asked her if she ran out of people to ask,' the nurse shared.
Austyn Evans was only 35 weeks pregnant when she had to deliver her son Conrad after doctors discovered that his heart rate was dropping. The infant was rushed to neonatal intensive care immediately and his parents were wracked with worry for their little one. Fortunately, the special bond between a NICU nurse named Carly Miller and their infant son helped the new parents breathe easy. "Carly was instantly charismatic and funny. She kept talking about how cute Conrad was," Evans told TODAY Parents. "The way she talked to him when she was doing his vitals or she was taking blood, she was constantly talking to him in this really cute little mom voice and trying to be as comforting as she could even though he was extremely sedated."
Miller worked closely with Conrad during his first five days in the NICU to provide "continuity of care." The 27-year-old nurse at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston explained: "It was pretty critical for Conrad. We weren’t really sure the direction he was going to go. I got to spend a lot of time with (Conrad's parents) at the bedside." Since Conrad had kidney problems and serious breathing difficulties that required him to be attached to a ventilator and other machines to help him become stable and grow, Evans and her husband, Branden Williams, could not even hold their baby.
"Carly's voice was the voice I heard when I called for a check-up," Evans said. "I would hang out to chat with Carly because that was the only communication I had—and she was the only one who really knew Conrad." Miller's support during that difficult time meant a lot to Evans and Williams as they didn't have a lot of family support locally. "We were so isolated because of COVID and being away from our family," Evans said. "A relationship (with Miller) that was so professional over time became so personal to me." This was why when doctors planned to move Conrad to another pod to start him on continuous renal replacement therapy, Evans asked whether Miller might be able to move to be with her son. Although hesitant at first because of her lack of experience with this particular type of dialysis machine, Miller eventually agreed.
"It's like a big (external) kidney," she explained. "This goes on for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's a very very critical point to be at and there's a lot of things that can go wrong with this. A lot of the doctors did not think he was going to make it. He was one of the smallest babies we've ever put on the machine, so it's pretty groundbreaking for them to have Conrad get through it." If Evans and Williams had questions Miller didn't know how to answer, she'd find a way to track down the information they needed. Her steady presence throughout that crucial period in their lives and the fact that Conrad consistently responded to Miller, created a strong bond between the family and the nurse.
"I would come in and say, 'Hi' really loud and immediately he started looking around to try to figure out where (I'm) at," Miller said. "It really makes your heart swell." When it finally came time for Conrad to leave the hospital after six months, Evans wanted to ask Miller to be his godmother. However, she panicked and didn't pop the question. Instead, she later invited Miller to come visit and presented her with flowers and a note from Conrad asking her whether she would be his godmother. Miller said "Yes" even before she finished reading the letter.
"We kept everything as professional as we could in the NICU but just the conversations we had sitting in his hospital room or the victories that we celebrated and we cried over together were really important to me," Evans said. "Thinking about leaving that place and having to never see Carly again was heart-wrenching." As for Miller, the nurse said she feels honored that she will get to be a part of Conrad's life for years to come. "I started bawling. I was like, 'Are you serious?'... Then I asked her if she ran out of people to ask,'" Miller said. "It is hands down the coolest thing that I've had happen."