“Dad, can you tell Zach to stop bothering me?!?”
“Dad, can you make me some lunch???”
“Dad, why can’t I have some ice cream???”
I miss the NICU.
With a family of six, there is always something happening and a Daddy’s job is never done. Making dinner, putting out fires, stopping fights, comforting tears, praying at bedtime, changing diapers….you know the drill. In contrast, the NICU was so much quieter and less chaotic (most of the time). My son had his normal routine, his normal nurses and he was isolated in his little NICU pod. If there were feedings to do, or diapers to change, or fires to put out, the nurses and doctors took care of them. Sure, the anxiety and worry never left the pod either, but it was less crazy and chaotic than home. But you know what? That’s not why I miss the NICU though. If I am honest, I love being a daddy at home. Sure, there are days that I need a break and cannot wait for my next business trip, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Seriously.
You know why I miss the NICU today, even one year later? Intimacy. That’s right, intimacy. In the NICU, amidst the anxieties and such, I experienced intimacy with my son like I have not had with any of my other children. With Abbie, Zach and JT, they all were born by c-section, spent 1-2 weeks in the hospital and then they came home and entered our normal home routine. Especially in the case of my third child, Jackson, he was thrown into the normal daily chaotic stream of the Kuiper household.
“No stopping for you kiddo! I can change your diaper, but then I have to go play with your brother, or help your sister with her homework.”
But with my son Timmy, everything changed when he was born eight weeks early and spent the next three months in the NICU. He was not thrown into the chaos at home, but was isolated from it. While our family worked through dinners, and homework and laundry at home, Timmy fought for his life and for growth in the hospital. And while our lives were thrown into disarray as we juggled the four different lives of school, work, hospital and home, Timmy soldiered on. Every day, Treshia would visit him for half a day, then I would come and spend the other part of the day with him. It was crazy and extremely difficult, but I miss part of it.
I miss the intimacy at the hospital. When I would arrive at the NICU, I would check in, wash my hands, walk to my son’s little pod-room and the world would fall away. I would sit and hold my tiny baby boy for hours at a time without interruption. There was no chance of interruption from his sister and brothers and there were no fires that I was responsible to put out. All I had to do was “worry” about loving on my son and bonding with him. 4-5 hours of pure intimacy with my boy. And that’s what I miss about the NICU.
I wonder if the Lord feels this same way about the time I spend with Him each morning? In the midst of my crazy-busy life, it is SO easy to let my daily quiet time to get caught up and lost, like my son Jackson coming home from the hospital. Soon, I am “too busy” or “too tired” to take that isolated time and it is forgotten. Meanwhile, God longs for those intimate times when He can get me away from the pandemonium, hold me, and pour into His child. So maybe the NICU is what I need everyday?