side-by-side pictures in NICU in 1985 and 2020

Then and now: Corinne Cyr Pryor with Michelle Naslund and her sister Lisa in 1985; and with Michelle, seated, and her daughter Abigail in the NICU this year.

Michelle Naslund, BSN, RN, of Braunwald Tower 14AB, grew up hearing stories about Corinne Cyr Pryor, MSN, RNC-NIC, IBCLC, the Neonatal ICU nurse who cared for her and her twin sister for their first six weeks of life.

“Any time my mother would talk about our NICU story, she always mentioned our wonderful nurse, Corinne,” said Naslund, noting that she and her sister, Lisa, were born prematurely. “She was our primary nurse and became a beacon of hope for my parents. She got my mother through those very hard weeks.”

Little did Naslund know that she would cross paths with Pryor 34 years later, once again on the receiving end of her compassion, expertise and patient- and family-centered care.

“My daughter, Abigail, was born during the height of the pandemic in April, and she needed to go to the NICU for close monitoring to make sure her oxygen levels were stable,” Naslund said. “While I was visiting Abigail one day, my mom called and told me to ask if Corinne was still working there.”

Naslund thought it was unlikely, but she asked her nurse anyway. Shortly after, Pryor came in to see her.

“We told her the story, and to my shock, she remembered caring for my sister and me as well as the details about our medical problems,” said Naslund. “She had actually been my lactation nurse for Abigail the day before. I could not believe it!”

“When Michelle told me her maiden name, I remembered her and her sister very well,” said Pryor. “In fact, I had pictures of them from when I came in on a day off to transport them to a hospital closer to their home.”

A Lasting Impression

Pryor has worked in the NICU since 1978, when she joined one of the Brigham’s predecessor hospitals, the Boston Lying-In.

“All of my former patients have left an imprint on my heart,” said Pryor, who proudly wears a 40-year service pin on her scrubs. “Before I had my own children, I kept a scrapbook of my primary patients with thank you notes that I received. Michelle and her sister are in this book. Their family was very memorable to me.”

Pryor and Naslund called Naslund’s mother, Carol Burke, via FaceTime so she could see and speak to Pryor. “It was a very special moment for all of us,” said Naslund. “The next day, Corinne brought in pictures of us and letters my mother had written to her all those years ago. I felt like it all came full circle.”

Pryor had made a lasting impression on Burke during a difficult time as she watched her tiny daughters receive intensive care for immature lungs, heart issues and difficulty gaining weight.

“My mother said Corinne advocated for my sister and I to be together in the same room and was there when my parents got to hold us both together for the first time,” Naslund said. “Corinne supported her when she was scared that my sister and I wouldn’t make it home.”

The unexpected reunion with Naslund and her mother was deeply meaningful for Pryor.

“This made my year,” Pryor said. “NICU nursing is about the relationships we form during a very vulnerable part of patients’ and families’ lives and making a lasting impact.”

She added, “The best part was learning that Michelle is now a nurse at the Brigham!”

Naslund, who is in her twelfth year at the Brigham on Braunwald Tower 14AB, became interested in nursing after having surgery in high school.

“I was in awe of how the nurses could ease my fears and make me feel safe,” she said. “I wanted to help others and provide support during what can be the most difficult times in a person’s life. When I started at the Brigham, I thought it was very special to be able to work at the hospital that saved my life and my sister’s life. I was proud to join this family.”

side by side facebook posts

Michelle Naslund and Corinne Cyr Pryor each posted about their joyful reunion on Facebook earlier this year