Saying Thank You

When most couples learn they’re going to be parents, they can’t wait to meet their new baby. But if a baby arrives too soon, parents fear for their child’s lives as their new child spends their first weeks in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

For some families the time spent in the NICU creates one-of-a-kind friendships, bonding over a life-changing experience. These parents recently came back together and celebrated their children’s lives at the Edward Hospital NICU reunion.

Averi Johnson was born three months ahead of schedule. She spent the first 12 and a half weeks of her life in Edward Hospital’s NICU. She’s been living at home for the past two months, and her parents have learned a lot about her.

“She’s crazy, we found that out, definitely not as scheduled as we thought she was,” said Jasmine Johnson, Averi’s mother. “It’s a good feeling to be home.”

Averi was one of hundreds of graduates of the Edward NICU to attend the 13th annual neonatal reunion. Hospital staffers host the event to check-in with the babies they helped save.

“It really is just an opportunity for the families to get back together with the Edward staff, to let us know how they’re doing, and a lot of times it’s a chance for them to say thank you,” said Marge Curran, Manager of the NICU.

Attendees ranged in age from babies born this year to some of the NICU’s first babies born more than 14 years ago.

“You definitely see a lot more people every single year,” said Kelly Barker, 14-years-old. “It’s great to see all the other kids who were taken care of when they were born.”

“It was like an extended family for a number of weeks,” said Jim Barker, Kelly’s father. “We celebrated Thanksgiving, we celebrated Christmas, we celebrated New Years with Traverso’s pizza together, they were wonderful and they’re wonderful to this day.”

As the children play, many of them don’t realize the bond that ties them together. But for the parents, the reunion brought back some of the worries they felt when their children were born.

“We can’t say enough wonderful things about all the doctors and the nurses,” said Julie Barker, Kelly’s mother. “We come back to thank them for our wonderful gift.”

Every day the parents enjoy the gift of their children and one day a year they can get together and say thank you to the people who saved their children’s lives.

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