CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- They are the most vulnerable: babies born prematurely.
It's a heartbreaking journey for parents, but one that'll now be a little easier thanks to a family inspired by their own experience.
It was touch and go from the start. Heather Hucks remembers, “I was 24 weeks pregnant at the time and that is exactly the point of viability. He weighed 1 pound, 7 ounces. He was 13 inches long. He was very, very small.”
She and her husband couldn't hold little Tucker until he was three weeks old. The family spent day and night in Novant's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“He was the smallest baby in the NICU and we knew we were in for a long ride. This wasn't going to be a short journey. We were there for 151 days. It was very tough,” the new mom recalls.
Now 21 months old, it is hard to believe.
“Tucker's doing great. He amazingly is hitting all of his milestones, which is pretty phenomenal.”
The family is back at the NICU to help other families facing a similar long road.
“We realized the NICU waiting room is shared by families of both full-term babies and families in the NICU, and there’s a contradiction of emotions that happens in that space. You've got a family of excited joyful folks and on couch. Right next to them is a family making some pretty tough decisions about their critically ill child in the NICU.
So Tuesday, the Hucks helped unveil Tucker’s Room, a special waiting room just for NICU families. Speedway Children’s Charities helped pay for it.
“We know that families to come are going to benefit from this space and it will be a space where they can find hope and peace from the monitors and the beeping and the tubes of the NICU,” Heather said.
And instead focus on the possibility of a happy ending.