Jack Douglas Thomas fought his way into this world at Legacy Emanuel Hospital on April 10, 2008. He was eight weeks premature, and just over 4lbs. The most glorious sound I’ve ever heard was his little cry after a very traumatic day of trying to delay his birth. Surrounded by family, doctors, and nurses, little Jack Jack was immediately hooked up to all sorts of tubes, breathing devices and monitors and placed in his “Giraffe” bed. We would later decorate the bed and understand it to be his place of comfort for the next six weeks as he developed.
This was our second trip to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Just one year prior I delivered a beautiful daughter, Megan Rose Thomas, who suffered oxygen deprivation at birth due to her cord being wrapped around her neck. With Megan we spent just 24 hours in the NICU as a “ladybug”, which we would later learn is where the sickest babies go. While her story didn’t have the happy ending like Jack’s, the positive experience in the NICU with the nurses that loved her still brings tears to our eyes.
Jack was moved into the NICU a level above “ladybug”, and we celebrated that step and the hundreds more ups and downs that we would experience during our stay. With my mom covering the hours I couldn’t, and my husband asking the NICU nurses every possible technical question, we found our stay to be educational, memorable, and in hindsight a very special treasure for us as a family. We made friends with other premature families, and look forward to celebrating birthdays with our NICU friends to this day. We sang, laughed, cried, slept and worried for two months – but isn’t that what motherhood, family and life are all about in the long run? We were lucky to have had two months where nothing but each other mattered and, to this day and for all my days, I have a perspective on life that many will never be blessed enough to have. That is to live each day to the fullest, don’t let the daily grind get in your way, and remember always to have perspective.
We support the nurses and doctors that care for others in the NICU, we support the technology that allowed our son and daughter to have their chance at survival, and we celebrate the community of parents and children that have had this experience and are better because of it.