When you hear someone mention the acronym NICU, what words come to mind?
Miracles? Sorrow? Triumph? Struggle? Heartbreak?
Six years ago I heard the torturous sound of an EKG flatline, as my son died surrounded by his family.
As is with my love, an ache in my heart still endures. And there are moments when I think of that NICU - the isolette, the tubes, the wires, and my tiny 5 pound baby and I still hear that sound. The sound that many...too many...parents hear every year.
But because, his heart stopped beating in the NICU, it is a place I will always hold sacred.
Our lifetime together.
Every memory, every dream, every hope I ever had, is housed in the NICU.
Here are five reasons why I still believe hope lives in the NICU:
1. Big things happen in the NICU
Dreams, both new and old, are achieved in the NICU. Every day, babies defy the odds, grow, and learn to thrive.
2. Your home away from home
The saying "home is where your heart is" truly applies. In the NICU, the word "family" is redefined. A community thrives here. Parents and medical professionals alike find new love, passions, and friendship.
3. Some of life's most treasured memories will be made in the NICU
Ask any parent of a baby that has spent time in the NICU, the NICU is a place where memories that last a lifetime are made.
4. Heroes don't wear capes
Heroism comes in many forms in the NICU- in the persistence and dedication of it's staff; in the spirit of the tiniest of patients; and in the unwavering love parents have for their children.
5. A place with a vital purpose
The NICU provides thousands of babies every year with the best chance at life, when those first moments in the world are the hardest.
The NICU will forever remain my son's only home. The place of his first's and last's. The space where every memory lives, including every kiss and every sweet embrace.
Our brief time in the NICU profoundly changed the course of my life - my career, my relationships, my philanthropic interests. More importantly, it showed me how love and hope endure, even in our darkest of hours.
Because he lived, the NICU will forever be a home for my hopes.
Written by Sarah King, President for Project Sweet Peas