When you leave the NICU after 145 days, you can’t just forget about the people who cared for your child all of those days and nights in your absence. A mother never wants to be absent, but in my case, I was very sick and was unable to visit my baby when I wanted to. Many nurses stood in my place and cared for Ryder as if he was their own, and I will forever be grateful for them.
Often times, a baby leaves the NICU, and the nurses and doctors never see them again. I would guess they sometimes wonder how those fragile little babies are doing now. My family decided early on that we would be the reminder of their “why.”
Every year, on Ryder’s birthday, we bring a sweet treat to the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital that cared for our family during the hardest time of our lives. The last couple of years, we have brought them a donut king cake from a local donut shop. I always tape a note to the top of the king cake thanking them for what they have done for us. I always include a before picture along with a recent one so that they can see the fruit of their labor and how far he has come. Many of the nurses and some doctors will come out and marvel at the little miracle that stands before them. They cannot believe the progress this fragile 1lb. 12oz. baby has made over the last 4 years.
Visiting the NICU every year is always a little bittersweet for me. The NICU is a very scary place and definitely lives up to its reputation as a roller coaster ride. But now when I go there, all I see is us rolling our sweet baby out of those double doors for the last time and how happy we were.
While we are visiting, we often meet families in the waiting room that are on a similar journey as us. It brings us great joy to tell our story in hopes that we can give a scared family a little bit of hope. Hope for the future, hope that their lives will get back to normal or at least a new normal. We firmly believe that God put us on this journey for a purpose, and we intend to continue this tradition as long as we are able.
I encourage you, if your baby spent any time in the NICU, to go and pay a visit. You never know the encouragement you may bring a nurse or a family who might be having a rough day with one of their sick babies. It may also be just want you need to remember the joy that came out of those double doors rather than all of the heart ache that happened on the inside.
About Lindsey Albarado
Lindsey is a stay at home mom of two beautiful children, McKinney (8) and Ryder (4). Her and her husband, Todd, live in Luling where they are active in their community. Lindsey is also very involved with the PTO at both of her children’s schools, the VBS Director at her church and has recently joined the board at Delivering Hope NOLA.