Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio have a lot of work to do: learning how to breathe on their own, withdrawing from a drug addiction developed in the womb, or any of a whole host of medical challenges. Hospital volunteer Carol Ann Lombardi knows how vital sleep and comfort are to these teeny tiny ones in their early days and weeks, and she has had the enviable job of holding and lulling these sweet babies to sleep for the past 11 years. Although a recent surgery affected Lombardi’s vocal cords and she had to switch from singing lullabies to telling nursery rhymes, the babies in her care don’t seem to mind. Lombardi has established a reputation as a baby whisperer, calmly and gently navigating the medical accessories such as tubes and lines that many of the babies need, while rocking them to sleep. Although she has no biological grandchildren, Lombardi lovingly cares for the NICU babies as if they were her own, and this retired school teacher responds as needed to her charges, spending as much time as necessary with each baby, soothing them until they are slumbering peacefully. Lombardi told The Columbus Dispatch that during her three hour shift she holds as many as 10 babies or spends more time with a select few who need her care the most saying, “One day, I held exactly two. I held one for two hours. When I tried to set her down, she cried — so I just held her. She needed sleep.” While volunteer jobs like Lombardi’s require special training and previous experience volunteering in other parts of the hospital, they are essential to ensuring that the nurses can attend to their medical duties. Since the babies’ parents can’t be at the hospital 24/7, Lombardi’s care goes a long way in making sure that they feel loved, cuddled, and relaxed enough to get back to their own work of getting strong and healthy.

via The Columbus Dispatch

Image via Nationwide Children’s Hospital Facebook page