TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The neonatal intensive care unit, normally a place of worry and stress for parents of very sick babies, became a place of happiness - even if only for a few minutes - thanks to a visit from Santa Claus at two Arizona hospitals.
The events in Tucson and Phoenix were hosted by Project Sweet Peas-Arizona, a nonprofit that provides support to families of fragile infants.
Santa sat for photos with the families and the people from Project Sweet Peas provided craft supplies which were used to create first ornaments and decorations for the baby’s pods.
One boy hugged Santa, and thanked him for coming to see his sisters and bringing Christmas to them. He asked Santa to “bring his sisters home before Christmas so mommy and daddy would be happy.”
The grandmother of another patient said she could see the joy the event brought her daughter, “I have watched my baby cry and cry and cry over her baby, and today she smiles.”
Nurses brought snacks and music was provided in the hopes that the families could enjoy some of the treasured moments with their newborns, even though they couldn’t be home to celebrate.
One nurse said, “The parents have been looking forward to this, many have shared their fears of missing out on Santa pictures, and this has brightened their spirits.”
Another nurse said the families are not the only ones who benefit from the event.
“Our jobs are hard, and we spend so many hours here, helping these babies fight for their lives, and wiping the tears of parents. I know for me, being able to make decorations, take some of this home to my kids, helps me too. We often forget we need to unwind.”
Project Sweet Peas-Arizona is part of a national organization run by volunteers who have struggled with either infant/pregnancy loss or endured a NICU stay.