Dr. Holcomb’s work as a neonatologist is personal.
“To me, there’s a lot more than just the actual science of medicine when it comes to taking care of families in such stressful situations,” he says. “My wife and I had a premature set of twins. This was way back in 1992, and we lost them. But I have a feeling that it was all a part of who I was meant to be, and the experience is who I am today.”
In the wake of his own loss, this 30-year medical professional has served families and newborns in the NICU with more compassion and empathy. He says families need emotional support as much as medical assistance.
“Nothing will break open a marriage more than having a sick baby in the neonatal intensive care unit. I’ve seen it over the years. So these families need an awful lot of help and support. Some get it on the outside from friends and family, but some don’t have that,” Dr. Holcomb says.
When he first donned a Santa suit 11 years ago and realized how much the families cherished the photos of their babies’ first visit with Santa, he knew the tradition must continue. Local community members have been inspired to get involved. A local photographer now donates their services, and past NICU parents formed an organization called The Circle of Hope, which donates frames for the Santa pictures.
“For me, as far as Santa Claus is concerned, that’s just a part of what I’m giving to these families,” he says. “And to be honest, it’s what they’re giving to me.”
Families can’t wait to tell him all about their babies. Some babies are even dressed up for the occasion with special Christmas outfits. Dr. Holcomb recalls one mother whose baby he had taken a photo with a few years ago. When she returned to the NICU with another premature baby at Christmastime, she brought that photo of her first child with Santa and they incorporated it into the photo shoot with her second child.