I walked through NICU the other day. For those who haven’t had to learn those letters, it stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It’s where babies who need amazing, special, heart-sacrificing care go. Sometimes they are born early. Sometimes they are born with broken things or misconnected things.

I walked through NICU and heard just a phrase of a Christmas song: “…I’ll be home for Christmas…” I winced.

That’s the dream, the desire, the prayer, the desperate or confident cry of every parent and every coworker in that unit on behalf of every child that is in a bed.

I wasn’t going to say anything about it here. It felt like one of my internal melancholy Christmas season observations. Until I read a Facebook post from Hope, our daughter, about the baby of her friends, a baby who is in NICU at another hospital:

one conversation.“Friends,” she said,  “please pray for a sweet baby boy whose body isn’t doing well. Pray that his parents would feel comfort and peace and that the hospital staff would make the best choices. Pray that his big brother and sister would be sheltered from the anxiety and tension that this family is experiencing.
Pray that God’s name would be glorified, regardless of outcome.
H and Z, you and J are deeply loved and prayed for. “

Hope’s request resonates with my every-Sunday-Morning-Hospital-Chapel prayer: “God, give those providing care wisdom beyond their training, and compassion beyond their emotions.”

I still might not have said anything about it here, but on the day this is published, I’m talking to a class of nurses about responding to death situations. Which means I get to be part of that training I pray about, knowing that some of them will likely end up in NICU someday, before Christmas, listening to a wishful song.

And so, for the nurses and parents and techs and grandparents and friends and siblings, if you struggle a little with all the festivity when your heart is aching, I echo the words of Hope: “You are deeply loved and prayed for.”



About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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