Christine Sicker was doing Marie Kondo proud.
Inspired to clean her house and organize her closets and drawers according to advice from Kondo, the bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and now the inspiration for a hit Netflix series, Christine was organizing and folding clothes according to the KonMari technique.
But, in her lingerie drawer, of all places, she came across an old business card alongside some other mementos. If a belonging no longer sparks joy, you should part with it, says Kondo. And a 16-year-old piece of paper probably should have been tossed in the trash.
But, Christine looked at the card, printed with “Connie Teal,” and “Akron Children’s Hospital” and was overcome with memories of her son’s stay in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in 2002.
Now living in Houston, thousands of miles from Akron, the memories of Will, weighing not even 2 pounds, in his isolette in the NICU, the family’s home away from home for 3 months, came flooding back.
Instead of pitching the card, Christine went to her computer and began to type an email:
Despite a change in Akron Children’s email address extension a year ago, Christine’s email made it to Connie’s inbox.
“Of course it made my day, if not my week or month,” said Connie. “I love nothing more than to hear from former patients, and I certainly do remember Will and his family. Stories like this remind me of why I became a nurse.”
Teal, a nurse of 33 years, is now a neonatal clinical nurse specialist. She recently completed her doctorate of nursing practice and leads initiatives such finding best practices for reducing the risk of central-line associated blood infections and using nursing interventions to best care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Back in 2002, Will was due in September but Christine began to experience pre-term labor. After a few days on hospital bed rest, he was born June 1 at 24 weeks gestation. During such a stressful time and fearful of his survival, Christine and her husband, Mike, clung to every word of hope offered by her obstetrician and the NICU staff.
“I remember rows and rows of incubators – all the bells and whistles – and just one chair for a parent by each baby,” Christine said, remembering Akron Children’s “pod-style” NICU before it moved into its new location – with spacious private rooms – in the Kay Jewelers Pavilion.
Like so many families, Christine and Mike juggled time with Will with time at home with their older son, Logan.
“I remember the kind gestures – the nurses who would take pictures of Will for his scrapbook or save a lock of his hair commemorating his first haircut,” she said. “I also remember the serious conversations with doctors and the hurdles.”
Christine’s preemie is now 16, a 6-foot tall high school sophomore, and a newly-licensed driver.
“He’s a really good kid,” said Christine. “We’ve told him about his birth and why we think he’s special – why we consider him a miracle.”
As she continues her “tidying up,” Christine says she won’t part with Connie’s business card. She is glad she followed her heart in taking the time to re-connect with a person who holds a special place in her heart.
“When I came across that card, I just had to express my thankfulness,” she said. “Even if I didn’t get a response, I still had to send it. I just had to let her know I still remember her, and I remember all the love and care we received in the NICU.”
Watch WKYC Channel 3’s segment on this story: