“The nurse laid my head on her chest and wrapped her arms around me. I cried softly.”

It was the scariest moment of Lauren Helms’ life. But a nurse helped her through it.

It was 4.30am on January 29, 2016. Helms was 26 weeks pregnant with twins, fully dilated, having contractions about a minute apart, and her son’s heart rate was dropping.

“I’d had a very complicated pregnancy and I knew we were lucky to have made it to 26 weeks,” Helms tells Mamamia. “But the team that was trying to save them was very clear about their odds of survival.”

At Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, Helms was preparing for an emergency c-section. She cracked a joke to hide her terror.

“But on the inside I was panic-stricken and anxiety started to set in once I was positioned for my spinal,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

“I began to cry, and I remember wanting my mom so she could tell me we would all be okay. I looked at the nurse closest to me.

“‘Please tell me I can do this,’ I choked out behind stifled cries.

“Her eyes softened behind her mask and she took my face in her hands. ‘You can do this.’

“She said it with confidence, and love, and all the support I needed in the worst moment of my life. Then she silently brought my knees up, laid my head on her chest and wrapped her arms around me. She held me while I cried softly through my spinal.

“She stayed with me until my husband was allowed to come back in. I don’t even know what she looks like, but I will never, ever forget that.”

Two-and-a-half years after the birth of her twins, Helms decided to write a post about the moment because she feels that nurses are “undervalued”.

“Here I was at my most vulnerable, cold and naked in a room full of strangers, about to have major surgery and maybe lose my babies, and this nurse took the time to make my emotions a priority,” Helms tells Mamamia. “She could have said, ‘You’re going to be fine,’ and gone back to her work, but instead she gave me what I so desperately needed in that moment – someone to hold me.”

Lauren Helms with her family. Image: Brenda de los Santos photography.

Helms says she has a lot of “incredible memories” with her nurses.

“From handing me my 11-day-old 2lb son to hold for the first time, to encouraging me to hold my daughter when her health was so critical that it terrified me, to holding me tightly as we walked out of the NICU as a family of four for the first time ever,” she adds. “We have been blessed by beautiful moments big and small with our nurses and we cherish each one.”

Helms’ son Robert was in the neonatal intensive care unit for 68 days and came home with no major health concerns.

“That’s almost unheard of for a baby born at 26 weeks,” she adds.

Her daughter Evelyn was in the NICU for 121 days and spent more than 20 days in the paediatric intensive care unit.

“She suffered many complications during her stay and throughout her first year of life, but I’m happy to say she’s really thriving now and smart as can be.”

Just as nurses helped her through a difficult time, Helms is now helping other women. She offers her support to mothers of premature babies, and she’s set up The Buggy Bag Project, which gives bags filled with comfort items to intensive care units.

Her appreciation for nurses remains unwavering.

“Nurses are amazing,” she says.

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