By Thomas Doty-
I am a strong believer that playing sports teaches you a lot about life. Many great qualities are learned; team work, faith in others, dedication, discipline and humility. I also believe being a NICU Dad is like running a team.
The coach has to assemble his players, coaches and advisers. They need to pull in a common direction to have ultimate success. There are financial, emotional and personal concerns to balance. Sometimes hard decisions are made that may not be popular with people but they are what is right for the greater good of the team. You have to discipline your players when they are wrong and encourage them when they are done. All the while you are being analyzed and judged by those who are not in your shoes. They will determine your success by wins and losses. A winning record is deemed successful and this is often an unfair measurement of success.
Being a NICU dad is the same to me. You are assembling the best team of doctors you can. You have faith in other to perform actions you cannot do yourself and hope for successful outcomes. You balance the stresses of work, financial responsibilities, and emotional concerns of the family. You present a strong front to the outside world even when you are hurting deep inside. You are judged by others and your kids are looked at differently because they may be behind in their milestones. You know you love your children and understand sometimes you will have to discipline no matter how hard a road they had. That is being dad, it’s your duty. Their success is based on reaching milestones. This is an unfair measurement to me. If my child is delayed that does not make them unsuccessful. If they reach their fullest potential whatever it may be then they will be successful. They already are because they are alive. Being a NICU Dad is being part of a group of people you hoped for but would never trade it in the world. I believe we each look at our little ones with a clearer understanding of what is success and what is important in life.
Sports are filled with statistics and so is the NICU. Statistics are numbers that can be manipulated to strengthen ones argument. However, the best team on paper does not always win the game. That is why we play the game. Our children are the underdogs and you never bet against the underdog. They will amaze you.