Holding My Grandson in the NICU: The Gift and Dignity of Life
Moments after my grandson entered this world in the small hours of morning last Tuesday, his family’s world crumbled into a chaos of panic. Whisked away as soon as he left the womb, Colt was swarmed by a medical team who strove to keep his tiny heart beating and to begin clearing his lungs of the fluid and meconium that he had aspirated during delivery. Mediflighted to the nearest NICU, Covenant Women and Children’s Hospital in Lubbock, Texas, he spent the next six days receiving exemplary care.
I spent more than a few hours this past weekend in the NICU, cradling this gift of life, all seven pounds of him. Small as he is, Colt was a virtual giant compared to many of his comrades in the hospital. Some of them had arrived weeks, if not months, before their due date. The youngest baby that this NICU had ever cared for, who survived and eventually went home healthy and strong, was born a mere 24 weeks old and weighed a little over one pound.
The nurses who care for the children in the NICU feed them, diaper them, administer medications, hold them, and provide everything they need, around the clock. It comes as no surprise that these nurses are advocates of life. That is their vocation, their passion. You’ll find few, if any, supporters of abortion amongst them. They suffer no delusions about the fact that, veiled behind a pregnant woman’s expanding abdomen, is a human being as fully alive as the mother who carries him. Every baby there is indeed a baby, whether he is born at 24 weeks or 40 weeks. Birth, as momentous as it is, is but another signpost on the journey of life, not its origin.
Yesterday, before my wife and I left for our home, and Colt left with his mom and dad for his own, I had a few more moments to hold him close. As I did, he opened his eyes, reached out his tiny hand, grabbed my finger, and held on tight. He’s strong. He’s a fighter. He was born into a world where, tragically, not all appreciate the gift of life. But I pray that he grows up into a changed world that will acknowledge and protect the life of all, from the moment of conception until the moment they leave this life for another, one that knows no end. Until that day, I will continue to advocate for the life of the born, and the unborn, who like my grandson, are all the precious work of a God who has never retired from the work of creation.