September is a special month for me because September is NICU Awareness month. NICU is an acronym for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and my son, husband and I spent the first 3.5 weeks of my son’s life living in one.
My husband and I struggled for years with infertility and tried everything to add a little bundle of joy to our family. We tried for six years to have a child of our own and when that didn’t play out the way we had planned my husband and I decided to adopt. When we crossed the 10-year mark and still were no closer to having a child we were resigned to the fact we may never have children. Then our miracle happened and I discovered I was expecting. Fast forward nine months and we were headed to the hospital. While I was in labour the doctor said something was wrong and I was rushed in for an emergency cesarean.
My son came out a dark blue colour and wasn’t breathing. I didn’t know what was happening and then my son and husband were rushed from the operating room and into the NICU. When they wheeled me in to see my baby he was hooked up to numerous tubes and machines and was surrounded by some of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever met. We were informed my son had a rare and serious bacterial infection. My husband and I moved our stuff into a NICU room and settled in for an undetermined amount of time. The next 3.5 weeks were the most stressful of my life but it gave me insight into how important our NICUs are.
A NICU is comprised of many individuals and I had assumed they were there to give care to sick and premature babies but I learned first hand they do so much more. Not only did they care for my son, they cared for my husband and I as well. There was always someone checking to see if I was okay or offering words of comfort. As the weeks went on my son became stronger and I discovered I could also offer words of comfort to new families entering the unit. We spent our first Halloween in the hospital and one of the nurses and her children had made all the babies in the unit little Halloween costumes. They made a horrible situation seem a little brighter.
When my son really started improving we were moved into a private family room. We were then able to be part of a program called Cuddle Buddies. This is a program where people can volunteer to go into the NICU and cuddle the babies. One day a woman who resembled a grandmother knocked on our door, she explained who she was and asked if she could sit and rock my son, she said I could have a shower or get a coffee. I told her all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. She came over and gave me the most sincere, warm and calming hug I have ever received. She then scooped up my son, sat in the rocking chair and as she rocked him she hummed and sang to him. I was able to drift off to the sound of someone’s grandma singing lullaby’s. It was the most peaceful and deep sleep I had in weeks.
Soon after we were released and able to leave the hospital. I wanted to be able to thank everyone who had gone above and beyond for us but we couldn’t. I mentioned this to the nurse who was filling out our release papers and she said no one does this for the accolades; they do this because they truly care for the families and the babies. She said every baby they get to release and send home is a “thank you.”
So this September please take a moment recognize all the wonderful people and volunteers who make up our local NICU Units and all they do to bring hope and caring into the darkest hours of a families lives.
Christina Komives is sales manager for The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.