Bee beeep beep.
Bee beep beep.
Bee beeeep beeeeeeeep.
Ding ding ding diiiiing. Ding ding ding diiing. Ding ding ding diiiiing.
Two years have passed, but the noises are the same. The sounds of ventilators, heart rate monitors, oxygen saturation monitors, and more. I walked into the dim Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a lot of apprehension. I immediately felt a rush of memories, feelings, and heartache.
It looked the same, but it did not feel the same. Because I was not one of the parents waiting and watching and wishing for the day when the doctors would finally say “Your baby is ready to go home.” I was not arriving scared to death that I would receive a report that my baby had had some setbacks and was struggling.
This time I entered the NICU as an employee.
My role is different, but my heart is not.
As I walked by each incubator I steered far clear of the 2nd spot in room two.
Kathryn’s spot. The place where I held my two day old daughter as she breathed her last breath.
The spot was still empty.
Breathe in, breathe out. Remember why you are here.
You can do this. You can do this. I mentally cheered myself on as I forced myself to approach the first father that I saw, watching his baby girl grow in her incubator.
I began to chat with him, and it started to come more easily. I saw one of the nurses who had been a frequent nurse of Tiny’s, and she hugged me and welcomed me back to the NICU.
I began to settle in.
Today was my second week as a Family Partner with a non-profit organization that supports parents with babies in the NICU and families with children with special medical needs. I have three roles. One as a representative of my organization in the NICU follow up clinic. I provide parents with brochures and information about our services.
The second, and most important role, is a presence in the NICU itself. We visit with parents in the NICU and let them know that they are not alone. We have a support system for them, if they choose to use it.
But beyond that, I like to believe I provide them some hope. My first week I chatted with a woman who had just delivered her daughter three days earlier. The baby weighed 1lb 14 oz. It was so hard to believe, as I stared in at the tiny little creature, that my own daughter had been that small. Tiny had been 1lb 10 oz.
This mama also had two older children at home, and like me, spent four weeks in the hospital prior to giving birth. We had a lot in common and it was easy for me to comfort her.
Then I spoke with a dad who was very nervous because their baby was scheduled for surgery in a few days. To place a G-tube (a feeding tube surgically inserted into the stomach.) I knew all about that since Tiny had a g-tube. I was able to answer his questions and calm many of his concerns.
Soon my post traumatic stress of being back in this place of so many tears and fears melted into a satisfaction that I was doing good. I was helping.
I know that I was called to do this job.
It fell in my lap at just the right moment. It allows me to continue to be a stay at home mom while only working 3-8 hours a week, doing something that I love.
I am blessed.
We all just need a little bit of positive affirmation in our lives.
(And if you can’t reaffirm yourself, watch this video of this spirited two year old!)
So my life as a NICU support parent has begun, and I hope that I will bring hope to many.
Before I leave you, I also want to give a shout out to another blogger who is changing the world with her focus on philanthropy and social good. Sunday, my friend Jennifer from another jennifer, heads to Nicaragua with the global non profit WaterAid, to gain insight, concentrate on community empowerment (especially women) and job skills training for at risk youth, and learn about some of the realities of living in this area of Nicaragua. I am so excited for her and for what this trip will teach her and what she will be able to teach others. Please keep Jennifer in your thoughts as she travels on this trip.
Do good, feel good. It’s the truth y’all.
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Janine Huldie saysMarch 14, 2014 at 7:08 am
I totally believe this is the job you are meant to do in my heart of hearts and am so proud of you for all the good you bring to it. Seriously, my hat is off to you and all I can say is thank you for being you, Alexa! Hugs 🙂
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katbiggie saysMarch 14, 2014 at 7:47 am
You are always so sweet and supportive. Thanks Janine. It is emotionally challenging, but also so rewarding!
Dana saysMarch 14, 2014 at 9:25 am
I’m so glad you are enjoying your new job, Alexa. It sounds like it’s as good for you as it is for the parents you support.
I have to say I saw your title and panicked a little, but what a lovely, uplifting post it turned out to be.
Dana recently posted…Hair today, gone tomorrow: hairstyles through the decades
K C @ The Real Thing with the Coake Family saysMarch 14, 2014 at 10:01 am
I’m so glad you have found something that you love and feel called to do! It is as though you have brought things full circle. I know the families you talk with will appreciate you and the support you can offer.
K C @ The Real Thing with the Coake Family recently posted…My Little Pony Birthday Party ~ Food and Decorating Ideas
Katie @ Pick Any Two saysMarch 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm
I can’t even imagine how many lives you are going to touch through this job. You are helping people in their moment of greatest need, and you are taking your own pain and using it for a positive purpose. I admire you so much!
Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted…Learning From Religious Women in History
another jennifer saysMarch 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm
Thanks so much for the shout out at the end, Alexa! I appreciate all your support.
You absolutely are answering your calling right now. I am so happy for you. You are amazing!
another jennifer recently posted…Philanthropy Friday: Two Easy Ways to Celebrate World Water Day Next Week
Lady Jennie saysMarch 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm
I am so very glad you have this job. You will bring immeasurable comfort to these parents.
Hugs, dear friend.
Lady Jennie recently posted…A Story In Which I Identify With Martha
Tamara saysMarch 14, 2014 at 9:10 pm
What a job meant for you.
I went back to the NICU a year after Des was discharged. It was very healing, and a little hard too. His story is nothing like Tiny’s but it’s a story, none the less.
And there was someone like you who gave me her card. And I was grateful.
Tamara recently posted…I’m Just A Small Town Girl..
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons saysMarch 15, 2014 at 9:12 am
You are the perfect person for that job and I know you will be such a wonderful blessing to all the parents you encounter. I can only imagine, though, how hard it must be to go back.
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Chris Carter saysMarch 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm
Oh Alexa!!!! I am in tears… both in gratitude and in an aching pain that lingers- through your story and theirs.
Gratitude because I KNOW God has hand chosen you for this job, and your mission is Divine, and not only will it bless those you encounter, but you in turn will be blessed in the giving of hope and comfort to tragedy you know all too well.
I can hear Him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.”
Chris Carter recently posted…Devotioinal Diary: When You Pass Through The Waters…I’ll Be With You Isaiah 43:2