I am going to take a break on updating you about my routine and goals (don’t worry I’ll bore you with that later) to talk about something that has been on my heart lately. October is NICU awareness month and while I could spend months talking about the NICU I want to share with you 2 gifts we received while little j was in the NICU that touched us deeper than we could have imagined.
Let me start by stating the obvious. NICU living is hard. I mean HARD. Everything about it is unnatural and strange. The beeping, the constant crying from all around, no privacy, being told when you can hold your baby and for how long. Being a new parent is hard enough, add all of these things on top of it and it’s a chore to trudge through every minute of the day. The only thing that keeps you hanging on is the sweet little face, somewhat hidden by all the wires, that you sit and stare at all day.
When little j was about 3 days old they called down to our room ( I was able to stay in the hospital for 6 days) and told us they were going to have to intubate her and that we couldn’t come down until they were done but we could call and see how it went. This was extremely scary for us because we thought she was supposed to be getting better not worse, and also they had never called down to our room to tell us anything. We both sat in the room and cried. It was the middle of the night and we were exhausted mentally and physically. I was trying to recover from my c-section and Jacob was sleeping on the worlds most uncomfortable bed trying to comfort his post par-tum hormonal (extremely terrified) wife, be there for his tiny baby girl and maintain some semblance of getting his work done because when we got out of the hospital we still wanted a house to come home to our house and unfortunately houses aren’t free.
When we were allowed to go in and see little j we were bracing ourselves for all the additional tubing we would see and trying to stay calm so we could understand all that the nurse was going to tell us. However, when we came in to see her we got a sweet surprise in the form of a tiny purple and white crocheted hat. At this point she still wasn’t wearing any clothes and this is the first thing we had ever seen her in. Jacob’s face lit up when he saw the hat. He loves hats and after such a rough night and knowing today would be difficult this sweet hat was such a wonderful surprise to him. We got to hold her and we both took so much joy from seeing her wear this hat. Such a simple gift made such a big difference that day. If you aren’t familiar with intubating it is a process that is used to aid with breathing, but while someone is intubated you can’t hear any noise. No crying, no cooing, nothing. She was intubated for 3 days and it was one of the lowest points of my time in the NICU. Knowing that she was crying and couldn’t be heard tore me up inside and it was very difficult to hold her with all of the tubing so our holds were less frequent. However, her little hat still sent a little glimmer of light and warmth into those days.
I have no idea who made that hat for my baby. I will never shake the hands that hooked each bit of yarn together to form the most perfect tiny hat, but I can assure you to this day I am so grateful that they did. I like to imagine they envisioned the baby who would wear it, maybe prayed for the baby and smiled thinking of a sweet smelling baby head cradled in it. Whoever made it did so because they wanted to give something to a sweet helpless baby in a hard time. They knew they would never meet the baby, or the parents, but they did it anyway. They gave without expectations and it made all the difference in our lives. It made an incredibly difficult day just a little brighter and I hope even though I’ll never meet them, that somehow they will know what a difference their kind act made to me and my husband.
But it doesn’t stop there. We received another gift one day that helped turn my remaining time in the NICU around just a bit. Just enough to make it through the day and see the hope for the future.
One morning I came in to find a book in our “area” (we didn’t have a room, just an area with a curtain) and I asked the nurse where it came from. She told me that a group donated them and it was mine to keep. I held the tiny board book and quickly read through it and then scooted closer to the crib and read it out loud. Little j must have hear Sophie’s Busy Day a hundred times before she got to go home. It might seem a bit strange to read to a new born baby, but at a time where there so little I was able to do for my child it gave me something to give her, a way to interact with her and feel like I was actually a mom. It gave a helpless mom a way to help and began the construction process of rebuilding my completely shattered heart.
We still have the book and we still have the hat. I showed it to little j the other day. I explained to her that she wore it when she was first born. We put it on her baby doll and I realized just how small she had once been. One day I can tell her what that hat meant to us and I’m sure it will touch her sweet little heart the way it does ours. She knows Sophie’s Busy Day by heart and although we don’t read it much anymore it stays on the book shelf in my line of sight and I feel happiness when I see it. I remember how far I’ve come and pray for mama’s who are just now starting their journey in the NICU.
If you have ever donated a dollar at a check out counter, donated a book, crocheted something, raised money for a cause and wondered if what you did made a difference I am hear to tell you that it did. Please don’t stop. Please don’t stop being generous without wanting something in return. You are changing the world when you give without expectation. You are following God’s call (Matthew 6:1-4) and you are bringing hope to the hopeless.
So in closing I just want to say thank you. The impact these gifts have made in my life are so profound and have become a part of my story, a story that is full of hope and restoration. From the bottom of my newly constructed heart, thank you.