Strength is not defined by physical prowess, mental focus, or a 10-star college education. Strength, by all accounts, is a combination of patience and stubbornness. This perfect intersection is called perseverance and every child born early becomes a student and eventually a lecturer. Life in the NICU is a place full of distractions…from the incubators, to the constant beeps, quietness in the mix of chaos and for the most part each day ends with life and/or death.
The babies are so small and the hopes so grand I’m surprised that there isn’t a higher level of insanity among the adults. Life in the NICU also taught me a new lesson about being ready, how to prepare, and how to use a few items for a multitude of needs. After a few weeks, anything I needed, I carried in my backpack and even today I load my backpack as if I won’t be coming home for a few days…strange yes, but, the fact of the matter is that “you never know”. It’s the same as having non-perishable goods in the house in the event of a loss of electricity, flood, or need to get the hell out (a jump bag)!
Back to perseverance. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation in which each and every breath was important. Each one becoming more important than the next. Have you ever talked to someone, but watched their chest or throat instead of their eyes or lips. Weird, I know…but this is life in the NICU. The nurses always told us that babies are far more resilient than what we give them credit for. But this does not take away your wish to take away his or her pain. I constantly prayed to take Shiloh’s hell…I didn’t feel it was fair for someone so young, so small, to go through so much. My thoughts are no different today than in 2007, and although I do understand that if Shiloh was here and I was gone, there would still be pain, HOWEVER, I’ve had a very good run as a citizen of the earth, but the NICU taught me that death has no conscious and EVERY life will expire. Life in the NICU taught me to be prepared but not be scared.
I’m uncertain if brave is the correct word to use for the NICU babies, perhaps a combination of motivational phrases would be more appropriate. What I do know is that those babies are special and the NICU reiterated to me that every person is “special” because of the uniqueness of his or her spirit, and your spirit is your greatest attribute.
I’m happy the NICU is not a place all babies will visit, and I’m hopeful that those parents will take the time to understand and appreciate how each and every breath is precious.