Some would say God saved my children’s lives. Others would say science saved them. While I personally believe both of those statements to be true, one fact remains irrefutable: it couldn’t have been done without some extraordinary people: you, the doctors and nurses of the hospital where my 27-week preemie twins were born in 2007. I could name you and the hospital where you work, but you are not the kind of people who do what you do for the glory or the praise. You are not the kind of people who will “google” your names in your spare time (and I’m betting it’s quite spare) to find out if you have been mentioned in an accolade such as this one. You are too busy working long shifts, doing the most important work in the world: saving lives. So why write this at all? After all, you hear it every day: Thank you… Thank you for saving my baby… Thank you for everything that you do… God bless you. You read the words every day too, on the counter crowded with thank you cards from families who don’t know how they will ever be able to repay someone for a life. A life. There exist no sufficient words to properly thank someone for life itself.
There are not enough opportunities to say thank you to you. Sure, there is our allotted 5-minutes during an annual reunion, when we hustle and squeeze our way through hundreds of other parents who crowd around you, anxious to show you how much Junior has grown since he was born at a weight of two whole pounds. But I want to say thank you every time my children laugh. Every time they jump up and down and run around the house tirelessly. When some other parents would want to collapse from exhaustion and say to their kids, “Sit still, already, you’re making me dizzy,” I want to say thank you for enabling my kids to run and jump. Because I remember when they were listless, and that is an awful, terrifying thing for kids to be. So run and jump and laugh and sing to your heart’s content, kids. And never stop thanking God and your NICU doctors and nurses for your ability to do so.
Dear doctors and nurses, I want you to know that my children will be taught to be grateful and appreciative every day. Even if you cannot hear us say it, end even if there are days when we don’t say it aloud, know that we will live each day to the fullest as our way of saying a continual THANK YOU. Thank you for choosing the profession that you did. Thank you for treating every frail, two-pound child like she is the most important child in the world. Thank you for comforting my children and all your tiny patients when they were so fragile. And in the cases of the most fragile children, whose lives simply could not be saved, thank you for fighting for them until the end. There is no doubt that no resource was spared in those heartbreaking cases. There is no doubt that you provided comfort and dignity in those last moments. For this also, you deserve thanks.
Dear NICU heroes, I’d also like to extend a word of thanks to your own families, for letting your patients “borrow” you whenever you are needed. Be it the middle of the night, Thanksgiving, or the day of your own child’s big dance recital, you are never unavailable to your little patients and their frightened parents. That cannot be easy. Greatness is never easy. Thank you for not choosing what is easy.