'It was my dream' - Ruth (27) becomes neonatal nurse after her parents' difficult experience with premature twins
A Dublin nurse said she was inspired to work with critically ill infants after hearing emotional stories about her own time spent in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Ruth Finlay (27) and her twin sister Emma were born in Dublin's Coombe Hospital in 1990, eight weeks premature. As the twins grew up, their parents Charlie and Finola often told stories of just how tiny they were, and how the support of nurses and doctors helped them through an incredibly difficult time.
"My mum Finola was only told she was expecting twins at 30 weeks. We were her first babies so she was very excited. However, two weeks later she went into spontaneous labour and my twin and I were born.
"Emma was initially a lot more poorly than me. She was ventilated for a day, whereas I was just placed on oxygen. We were in the Coombe for a few weeks, and were tube-fed and treated for jaundice.
"I grew up hearing my family tell stories about how tiny and sick we were. My Nana would get emotional speaking about it. It's funny because we were so small but now we're both almost 6ft," said Ruth, from Lucan.
For as long as she can remember, Ruth said she dreamed of being a nurse and later studied General Nursing in Trinity College. After university, Ruth moved to London, where she worked on an adult surgical ward, before accepting a job in the neonatal intensive care unit in King's College Hospital in the city, where she now is a junior sister.
"For as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a nurse, I even have pictures of me as a child in my nurse's uniform. It's what I always saw myself doing.
"It's been an amazing four years, and it's lovely to see some of the babies I would have worked with now, thriving three and four-year-olds.
"It's a difficult job, but sometimes even when you're having the most intense day someone will come and say 'Ruth, there's someone outside for you,' and it will be one of the children I worked with smiling and happy. Things like that are what make it worthwhile," she said.
Of course, the job can be incredibly difficult, as many of the children Ruth works with don't make it through.
"It is a really emotionally and physically taxing job.
"Some of the nurses find it helps them to go to funerals, while others find it is better to have that distance.
"If a family invites me, I do like to go. It makes me remember that this little baby was here and they were important. Sometimes I've probably spent more time with babies than some of their relatives, as it's usually only two visitors at a time allowed into the unit."
Ruth said it has made her family incredibly proud to see her become a nurse and help families in the position they were once in.
"My Nana is super proud. She's always asking how the babies are doing and I do love to talk about them. I had twin cousins who were sadly born premature and passed away in Temple Street, so nurses have meant a lot to my family down through the years. It's great to be able to give back to other families what the nurses in the Coombe did for Emma and I," she said.