DENVER — It’s a place that parents don’t want to end up, but are grateful when they need to: the neonatal intensive care unit. September is NICU Awareness Month, a month that the Lacy family is extra thankful for the care that all three of their children received at a Denver NICU.
“It’s amazing for any parent to watch kids thrive and grow up. But it’s that much sweeter when you’ve watched them fight for their lives,” mom Brittany Lacy told Denver7.
Brittany and David Lacy welcomed their first child in October of 2013, a boy they named Scott. He needed jaw surgery and spent 30 days in the NICU at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. Ten months later, identical twin girls were born, Leah and Myra, eleven weeks premature. They each spent about four months in the same NICU.
“It’s very shocking. It’s terrifying. There’s no clear cut path to when they’re gonna leave,” Brittany said.
“It’s traumatic because nobody expects a pregnancy to end up in the NICU,” nurse navigator Leann Hoye of the RMHC NICU told Denver7.
In the last five years, the neonatal unit at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has cared for nearly 5,500 at-risk pregnancies, according to the hospital.
“To be blunt, it’s life or death,” Hoye said. “Without the interventions we do, a lot of these babies would not survive.”
On the front lines are doctors and nurses, who occasionally can become much more than caretakers to the children they help. That’s the case for the nurses who cared for the Lacy children, who were overcome with emotion when the three kids came back to visit the NICU.
“I’m going to cry,” one nurse said as she hugged the three children.
“It’s so gratifying to see and I hope it’s gratifying to them to see what their work has accomplished,” mom Brittany added.
The three Lacy siblings spent a combined nine months in this NICU, and now their parents are giving back by volunteering as mentors to the next generation of families to come through the doors.
“The NICU means everything to us and always will. And I think every family that has had a child in the NICU is part of the NICU family,” dad David Lacy said.