In the Place We Needed to Be
We met the first member of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team, Dr. Sabah Helou, while I was still in Labor & Delivery. I was scared, stressed, and an emotional wreck, but when Dr. Helou came in, he brought an air of calm with him. He explained the situation that we faced in terms that made sense, and answered all our questions before we even asked them. After our conversation, I was still scared, of course, but I knew then and there that we were in the place we needed to be.
On June 4, 2018, our son was tired of waiting and it was “go time.” A whole team of NICU nurses and staff surrounded us in the delivery room, all waiting for our little man to make his entrance. Honestly, I don’t remember much about this time, but I know the team put up with my husband's bear hugs! Shortly after I gave birth to Brayden, Justin and I were able to be with him in the NICU.
Our first nurse was Joe, and he explained everything with such detail and calm that our worries started to lessen. Brayden was labeled as a feeder/grower, had a small heart murmur, jaundice, and needed temperature regulation for a short time. With every twist and turn, the NICU team would tell us what to expect, what to watch out for, and how to handle Brayden’s needs. They always answered what were probably simple and silly questions to them, recognizing that it was all brand new and terrifying to us. They gave us the most helpful tips and tricks to care for our little preemie.
Brayden stayed in the NICU for 21 days - a short time compared to some, but still scary and stressful. It was a journey of ups and downs for us, but we knew these professionals were the people we'd choose over and over again. We didn’t think we'd have a baby who needed to be cared for in the NICU; we never expected to be discharged from the hospital without our newborn son (one of the hardest things we've ever faced in our lives). We didn’t know the emotional rollercoaster that was in store for us so early in our son's life. However, we knew instantly that we were in the right place with the right people. The NICU staff, especially all the nurses, are angels - the most caring, attentive, funny, and knowledgeable angels!
One of the things that surprised us the most about our experience was the genuine care and love that every single staff member gave, not only to our son, but to us as NICU parents. The number of hugs, shoulders to cry on, and other reassuring gestures we received was amazing. Sure, we didn’t expect to spend time in the NICU, but we walked away with such gratitude and love for the people and place that took care of our most precious gift.
The 30th Annual Father's Day 5k took place in 2018 when Brayden was still in the NICU. Justin and I did the 1 Mile walk in Brayden’s honor and we were absolutely floored by the sense of community! All these families and friends had something in common, and you could feel the respect and love they had for the GBMC NICU. We decided right then that this was a Father's Day tradition we’d continue to attend. We can't wait for this year's race because Brayden will be able to join us! Look for us in the red “Brayden's Brigade” shirts!
You can help support the team that provides such special care to premature babies and their families. Register now for the 31st Annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Walk to benefit the NICU.