We call them our NICU graduates: every baby who has gone home after spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. And each year, we look forward to catching up with them at our NICU Reunion.

This past Sunday, we welcomed back many of our littlest patients – and some of them aren’t so little anymore! NICU families tell us they look forward to the annual reunion as much as we do. The bonds formed in the NICU are so strong between the caregivers and families. The event is a chance for our nurses and physicians to reconnect with former patients, and for parents to show us how much their children have grown.

No one plans for their baby to be in the NICU. Some parents have even told us they didn’t get far enough in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book to fully plan for a baby who didn’t need additional medical assistance.

The NICU is for newborns that need specialized treatment. Shady Grove has one of the highest level NICUs in the area, which means our expert team is trained to handle complex medical needs, from extreme prematurity and respiratory issues to multiple births.

NICU Reunion

We loved seeing so many NICU graduates at our reunion !

At the reunion, we saw our graduates, which include twins, triplets and even quadruplets, enjoying the carnival games, moon bounce, face painting and crafts. This year, for the first time, we also showed a video featuring three families who shared their experiences spending hours at a time among the beeping monitors and bassinets in the NICU, and the bonds they formed with Shady Grove’s expert, compassionate care team. Each family is in a different phase of their journey: twin babies newly home from the NICU, a 24-weeker streaking down the lacrosse field, and premature twins who are sports standouts towering about six feet tall and starting to look at colleges.

Enjoy their “tiny starts and bright futures.”