by Lindsay Nolan
I was scrolling through Instagram at about 3 a.m. while my husband, Danny slept on the couch next to me. My internal clock was a bit off; the NICU does that to you. It was about two weeks into our stay at the hospital and I was deciding on which filters to use to enhance my influx of baby photos. I glanced over at Danny and smiled.
He was sprawled out on the unpadded hospital couch, which was about half the length of his body. His legs dangled off the end of it and he was covered by a light blanket that did little to keep him warm. His pillow was on the floor. I am guessing that it did not provide a whole lot of support and he deemed it unnecessary sometime during his sleep. My hospital bed was too small for the both of us but sometimes the oversized chair in the corner was his resting place of choice instead.
My gaze was suddenly broken by the sound of my phone alarm, a beat we had gotten to know well. It had been three hours since our last diaper change and our baby, Henry’s last tube feeding. Danny slowly got out of bed and said, “I got this, try to get some rest,” as he maneuvered his body to fall out of its stiff positioning. I watched him as he walked down the softly lit hallway to the NICU and as he scrubbed in for several minutes. He called through the intercom for approval of entrance and disappeared into the room.
I saw Danny again three hours later after my alarm signaled for the next feeding. He was sitting on the rocking chair in our area of the NICU with Henry’s two-pound body laid out across his bare chest. They were doing skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, which, we were later told; our nurses believed really allowed Henry to thrive and helped in meeting his milestones. Danny fought to keep his eyes open but kept his loving gaze on our baby boy.
I took over at that point as Danny kissed me goodbye, so that he could go check in to work for the day.
To the often times unsung superheroes of the NICU, thank you.
Thank you for stepping up for your child and doing what is best for them, even when it takes a toll on your own wellbeing at times.
Thank you for facing these trials with positivity and strength.
Thank you for being involved; for washing breast pump parts, for ordering room service, for talking with the amazing staff that takes care of your family and for being present.
Thank you for not only taking care of our baby, but for me as well.
Thank you for your love.