The 7th floor. It was a contradiction of space. At Presbyterian Hemby Children’s Hospital, there are only 2 reasons you go to the 7th floor. The first is because you are excitedly awaiting news of the birth of a healthy, full term baby just one floor up. The other reason you go to the 7th floor is because you have a critically ill and very fragile baby in the NICU.
In that one space, the shared waiting area, the emotions laid forth are almost bi-polar. On one couch sits a family with pink balloons and flowers, giddy and expressive, joyfully taking turns guessing hair color and weight of the impending healthy baby. On the couch right next to them is a family worn and devastated, trying to quietly call family to update them about the life saving surgery that is minutes away for their 2 pound fragile baby.
Yet, this is the only space for both families to wait. If your baby is in the NICU, you go there often. To make phone calls, or quickly eat a snack or wait to return to the NICU because of the 2 person-at-the-bedside rule. There were times when we would show up for our Tucker visit and our pod was closed. Closed because there was a baby that was so sick, so fragile, that he couldn’t be moved to an operating room. When that happens, they close the unit, sterilize the pod, and perform surgery right there at the bedside. So we would wait. And so would the family of the baby getting surgery, ragged with worry, getting updates from the doctors. Amongst the flowers and balloons and joy.
There are so many times that a NICU mom or dad just needs a place. A place to collect themselves. A place to pray privately. A place to weep without trying to hide tears that have threatened all day. A place to make calls to family, updating about triumphs and setbacks. A place to find a moment of peace from the monitors, alarms, tubes and chaos. A place to bring the siblings of your NICU baby. A place to wait while you hold your breath for the 90 minute surgery that is the only option to save your baby’s life. A couch to rest and grab a much needed midnight cup of coffee.
But mostly, mamas and daddies need a place to sit, pause, and summon up the hope they need to walk back through those NICU doors.
Today that place, the one so desperately needed, opened. On the 7th floor of Hemby Children’s Hospital, right outside the NICU, there is a door. It opens to a room, set aside only for families with babies in the NICU. The room houses comfy couches, a TV, a coffee maker, a kids area for siblings and resources for families. The room was graciously given by Speedway Children’s Charity who provided a $100,000 grant to Hemby Children’s Hospital. Please check them out, there is likely a chapter in your area and they do tremendous stuff. I have been on their board for 4 years now and have seen some amazing work. They provide grants to as many children’s charities in their local area as they can. The Charlotte chapter gave out 55 grants this year. Amazing. This specific gift for the NICU provided funding for 3 new much needed isolettes for the NICU and the construction of this new NICU Family Waiting Room.
And the sweetest part for our family, is that the new NICU Family Room will be named…Tucker’s Room.
We cannot connect letters, to form words, to make sentences, to sufficiently tell you how much this means for Team Hucks, but also for how much it will mean to the many NICU families after us. It will be a place of rest, a place to refill your well. There will be a book that provides stories of hope from previous NICU graduates. Families of past NICU families will be able to leave food in honor of their former mighty preemie. It will be a place for families to connect, sharing similar circumstance and milestones.
So, we broke Tucker out of isolation for this one, special occasion (don’t worry, Lysol and hand sanitizer were arm’s reach). To celebrate with friends, doctors, former NICU grads and hospital staff this room that will be a haven for weary NICU families. It was a big day for us, for sure. But it was a huge day for the families yet to come. Our prayer is that they would find peace, respite and a big measure of hope in this room that was named after Tucker, but that represents every story that has come forth from that NICU. Thank you Speedway Children’s Charities and Novant Health. What. A. Day.
Watch News Story About Tucker’s Room: Click Here
Read the News Article About Tucker’s Room: Click Here
” In My Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2