by Mary Dudley, grandmother to two preemies
The night our son-in-law, Mike, called to tell us that our daughter, Kelli, was in preterm labor at just 24 weeks, our immediate reaction was a sense of urgency to get to the hospital to be with them. We made the four-and-a-half hour trip in just two hours and 47 minutes. When we got to Kelli’s bedside we found her very frightened and emotional as she showed us a polaroid picture of our tiny grandson. She told us that Mike was in the NICU with Jackson. That was our first time to know what NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) meant. We were very amazed when we entered the NICU for the first time and saw so many tiny babies attached to breathing machines and beeping monitors.
The doctors said the first 24 hours were critical, and if Jackson could make it to 72 hours, there was a chance. We stayed at the hospital as long as we could and spent many hours in the chapel on our knees praying for Jackson to fight and become strong enough to live. Jackson was 6 weeks old before I could hold him and I will never forget that moment.
Now I am making up for those times that I longed to hold Jackson and let him know that his
Nana was there to love him. In November of this year I began volunteering in the NICU of a local hospital. I assist in feeding and rocking babies and just giving them a little extra love. I am blessed to be able to share with parents and grandparents my NICU story and the journey that Jackson has taken the past 11 years. They are so anxious to know that their tiny baby can make it. I show them pictures of Jackson from his first days of life, through his birthdays and baseball and basketball games. I get to share with them how smart and special he is and how God does answer prayers.
A Very Proud NICU Nana
To read more about the unique role of grandparents read, Grandparent Perspectives on Life in the NICU