The Kindness of Friends and Strangers

September 20, 2012

Big Sister Brenna posing in front of a 1 month birthday sign for her baby brother and baby sister.

Having a baby in the NICU is an emotional time for any parent.  As a NICU parent, you are thrown into a completely new world.  You are overwhelmed with medical information, insurance claims, emotional stress, and more, all while trying to somehow maintain your life outside of the hospital – other children, work, bills, etc.  I have been asked by new NICU parents how I got through it.  My 24-week twins spent 133 days in the hospital.  I had a three-year-old at home, and we were in the process of building a new house.  Our old house sold while I was on bedrest at the hospital.  On the day I was discharged from the hospital, our family was moving our stuff from our house to a rent house down the street.  To say our world was turned upside down would be a huge understatement.  So, how did we get through it?  The only way we got through that distressing time in our lives was through the altruism of others.

Our families stepped in to help in so many ways.  They moved our entire house for us.  They cleaned and cooked for us and even mowed our lawn.  They gathered care baskets and groceries, and they did all of these things without us having to ask.  We were in such a state of shock, we didn’t know how to ask for help.  My sister set up a raffle fundraiser to raise money for our medical expenses, and the entire family and several friends sold tickets.  Their support was astounding.

Our friends offered to help too.  My friends watched my older daughter for me during the day so that I could be with the babies in the NICU.  Our friends also set up a meal calendar.  We had meals brought to us a few times a week for four months!  They knew we were going to have an extended stay and kept right on cooking for us.

I was most shocked by the kindness of strangers.  I would get messages like this on my blog, “I have friends and family as far as Pennsylvania and Montana that continue to pray for and ask for updates on Camdyn and Cade.”  We must have been on dozens of church prayer lists with all the people who told us they were praying for our babies.   People who knew us only through our parents or grandparents, who we didn’t know, were making blankets for us and sending gifts.  More people who had never met us were buying raffle tickets in bulk to support us.  While we were experiencing the toughest time in our lives, we were also feeling unending love and support from our family, friends, and complete strangers. Our new neighbor next to our rent house who we had only known for a month had her elementary school class make the banner pictured above and hung it on our front doorstep.  When I came home from the NICU one day, this sign welcomed me home.  Oddly enough, she had former 28-week twins who were two.  She understood what we were going through.  This sign was one of the first celebrations of my twins’ births.  We had received plants in the hospital, but people don’t know what presents to buy for one pound babies.  The same neighbor also bought the twins their very first preemie sleepers.  I cherished those sleepers and looked forward to the day they would be big enough to wear them.  We only lived next to these neighbors for a couple of months before they moved away.  We didn’t stay in touch.  I believe our paths collided for a reason.  She will probably never know the impact she had.  She wasn’t scared to celebrate their birth, and it was exactly what I needed.

If you know someone currently in the NICU, offer support any way that you can.  Rather than asking what they need, just do something for them.  They probably can’t even think about what they need.  Anything you can do to make life a little easier for them will be appreciated.

What’s the most memorable show of support you received while you were in the NICU?