Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian
Our family went out to dinner last week. On the way home, we were near the hospital and The Doctor wanted to stop and see a patient. We pulled up in front of the entrance and got out of the car. The Boy drove himself and The Artist and Grandma to get ice cream and then they were going to come back and pick us up.
As we walked up to the entrance, The Doctor noticed a young couple coming out of the maternity center and walking to their car parked near the door. It was apparent that the young woman had recently given birth and they were leaving through the door that led to the NICU, without a baby. He immediately detoured over to them. I heard him say, "Did you just come from the NICU?" They nodded and the looks on their faces could only be described as shellshocked exhaustion. The Doctor said, "I know this sounds forward, but I just wanted to tell you that there is hope and don't lose faith. That young man who just drove away? He spent 3 weeks in the NICU when he was born. He is now 18 and in college and strong and healthy. I just want you to know that there is hope beyond how you are feeling today."
The conversation was brief as they told us a little about their baby son and we encouraged them. They expressed their appreciation and how much it meant that we took the time to speak to them. We wished them luck and they went their way and we went into the hospital to visit our friend.
I asked The Doctor why he stopped and he said, "I saw what door they came out of. That's where the NICU is. I just felt this strong impression that I needed to talk to them." I told him that I was glad he had been alert to what was going on around us.
I have thought so much about those young people since then. I wish I had asked if they had a support system. I wondered if they had a place to stay that night. I wondered if they were from the area and lived nearby or if they had family close. I wish I had walked around the side of the car to speak directly to that sweet young mother, to have given her a Mom hug and assured her that she was indeed strong enough to handle what might be coming her way.
When The Boy was born, we had an incredible support system. We had been offered a place to stay at the Ronald McDonald House there in San Francisco, but we only lived about 45 miles away from the hospital and we drove home each night to sleep in our own bed. We had family who drove with us to the hospital, who sat with us, friends who brought us meals and who prayed for us.
I wished so much that I had done more that night. I said to The Doctor, "If we had asked if they had a place to stay and they said no, what would you have done?" His reply? "Kicked The Boy out of his room." I smiled and said, "I had the same thought."
I had a business card I could have written my number on and said that I was available to talk or come and sit with them, bring coffee or a meal, whatever was needed. I am sorry I didn't think about it at the time. But, I know that hospital and I know that there are resources available and social workers who help families navigate their medical roads, much like we had 18 years ago, so I knew that those sweet parents would have emotional and physical support. But, I still wished I had done more.
NICU parents share a special empathy and while we don't want people to join this particular club, we are all supportive and welcoming. We willingly share our hard won knowledge and experience with others.
So The Doctor and I have talked about what we might have said or done and what we could do in the future, if we are in a similar situation. We are talking about how we can give back. How can we help and support others who might be going through a difficult situation in a NICU? I know that there is a Ronald McDonald House in Boise and I am happy to donate to such a worthy, amazing place.
I have been profoundly affected by an experience for the second time in as many months. And as I have reflected, I have remembered. I remembered that there were many prayers said in our behalf and in behalf of The Boy when he was born. We felt those prayers. And so I have also said many prayers this past week for that sweet family and their precious baby. Because prayer is important. Prayer has power and God listens.
Pray for others. Embrace opportunities to share and give back. Be kind. Do good. Love is a verb.