Days spent by the side of her three-month-old daughter nursing her back to health after open-heart surgery was not only agonizing for new graduate Kelly Brooks, but inspiring.
Before maternity leave the Lasswade mum had been working in corporate banking at Edinburgh Park.
She was comfortable in her job and planned to go back after the birth of her daughter Brook.
But a nightmare diagnosis changed the course of her life when doctors discovered Brook had a hole in her heart and needed urgent life-saving surgery.
An agonising seven-hour wait as doctors tried to mend three-month-old Brook’s heart was followed by a month in hospital in August 2013.
Kelly, 41, had to learn basic nursing skills to get her precious daughter through every day. And when she was discharged Kelly had to get to grips with the complexities of heart drugs, antibiotics, NG feeding tubes and formula.
“Our home resembled a hospital ward and I became her nurse, strictly measuring her feeds, constantly checking her nappy, getting medications sorted,” Kelly recalls.
But the shock of the fraught journey the family had been forced to endure also gave Kelly time to think.
And she was inspired to ditch her job at HSBC and take the plunge to pursue a lifelong dream a career in nursing.
Significant periods of self-doubt in her academic ability had been a roadblock in the past but Kelly was determined to change her life and follow a vocation she was passionate about.
“I did things when I was caring for Brook that I never thought I would be able to,” she said. “And then wee Brook came along and she had this hole in heart and was very, very sick and spending a long time in hospital.
“I had my eyes opened to a whole different world. And despite being terrified I went for it.
“I never thought I would be able to go to university and talked myself down a lot. Getting over that self doubt was really difficult but my passion for care and for making sure that people get the care they need helped me forward.
“There’s a lot of parents who have got very, very sick children. Brook had a hole in heart but there are children out there who are extremely unwell and their parents are really up against it every day without a reprieve. I feel I can maybe offer some empathy and that they can perhaps take comfort from my experiences of getting through it with my own child – it’s that goal that has pulled me through the years.
And now, four years later, Kelly has graduated from Napier University and will soon start rounds in the recovery in the Sick Kids.
It has been a testing and terrifying journey and tears pricked Kelly’s eyes as she reflected on the magnitude of the journey she and her daughter had been on. “Its symbolic for me because Brook started nursery on my first day of college and she finished nursery on my last day of university. It was a huge thing but I have never looked back and thought of that until now.”
Proud partner and Brook’s dad Scott said he always believed in Kelly’s ability. He added: “I’ve always thought she was capable always believed in her ability I knew she would make a great nurse.”
Brook, who is now five years old, had struggled to feed from birth, gasping during feeds and often becoming so exhausted that she would fall fast asleep still hungry. Kelly and Scott raised the problem with doctors, but it wasn’t until Brook reached three months old and was clearly failing to thrive that the couple knew something was wrong. She needed immediate surgery at Yorkhill children’s hospital to save her life.