Alex Giardino returns to the site of the hardest days of her life, and discovers that hope, both given and received, is a circle.
My son was born in 2004, prematurely at 27 weeks’ gestation, weighing 2.2 lbs. For three months, he was cared for, held, and healed from a level-3 brain hemorrhage and other effects of his extreme prematurity by a remarkable staff of nurses at San Francisco Kaiser.
Last week, Nicolas turned 18, and we went back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to fulfill a promise we made long ago to the nursing staff.
After our son’s traumatic birth, his dad and I were terrified, but the nurses kept our hopes and emotions steady. They were our co-parents, our counselors, our rocks. Many times over they saved our son’s life. And in some ways, also mine.
Sometimes a nurse would show us photos of other children who had not only survived the NICU but were thriving. They made us promise we would return when our son turned 18, because they knew he would thrive, too.