I’ve written a little about Dr. L. before. He was the director of neonatology when C. spent 100 nights in the NICU. Small, white-haired, soft-spoken, he was a humble leader. Everyone in that hospital respected what he said, but he never seemed to overuse or abuse that power. Honestly, if other people hadn’t told us, the odds are good we never would have known he was the department head; he certainly wasn’t bragging about it.
Our neonatologists came and went on a two week rotation. This is fairly typical for Level III NICU at a university hospital. While it could be difficult to see someone we’d liked move on, there were some good things about this method.
Quite frankly, it meant that there was a cycle of bright minds moving through, each with his or her own ideas and brainstorms. Many babies really benefitted from this pattern because, when a new neonatologist came on the case, he or she would have new ideas of things to try. Sometimes? These new things made all the difference.
Anyway, Dr. L. was always at the hospital. He was the “lead” on our daughter’s case only a couple times while we were there, but he was always around. We came to really like and respect him.
There was no hesitation when Dr. L. later called me and asked if our family would be willing to shoot a commercial for the children’s hospital. Of course we would. And I happily agreed to go on Fox News and talk about them, too. Honestly, I would have done almost anything for Dr. L.
And then one day, when I happened to be at the hospital for a follow-up appointment, he said this to me:
“Jessica, I want to mention something to you, not as a ‘right now’ kind of thing, but just so the seeds are planted.
We need foster parents for some of these babies. Some of them are stable enough that they could be released, but, frankly, their parents are not presently in a position or condition that we can safely send the babies home with them.
There are certainly foster families out there, but most of them don’t know how to handle feeding tubes, apnea monitors, oxygen tanks, etc. And many aren’t really willing to learn.
I’ve seen your heart crack open over these babies, Jessica. I’ve seen the indignation fire in your eyes when you realize the circumstances they’ve been born into. You would be excellent at this. So… let that settle. Maybe you’ll think about it some day.”
And you know what?
He was right.
I can’t STOP thinking about it. It hasn’t left my mind since that balmy May day when he first planted the seeds.
I don’t know that we’ll ever foster any babies or children. I’m not really sure if that’s what God has laid on my heart, let alone my husband’s. I know we both certainly have a soft spot for these precious NICU babies, but I don’t know how that might shape our future.
But make no mistake. Dr. L. accomplished what he set out to do. And I’ll never be the same for it.