A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds
Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is emotionally challenging on a regular day, but add the holidays into the equation and it might be too much to handle!
My daughter spent 121 days in the NICU following her micro preemie birth at 23 weeks gestation. Since then I have made it my mission to help other parents who are struggling through their journey with prematurity.
Many parents wonder how they can possibly get through the holiday season with their baby in the NICU and not at home with them.
Below are 8 ways to help you celebrate the winter holidays with your NICU baby:
1. Hand write your Christmas cards and use them as Thank You cards
Whether your baby is spending most hours in an isolette or crib, you will have plenty of time to write. This is a great opportunity for you to thank people for their kindness. Some might have dropped off food, done your dishes, babysat, or just left you a supportive message.
2. Decorate your baby’s isolette or crib
Hang some ornaments or a wreath (not real pine!) over the isolette/crib. You could also decorate with some garland and tape up a few holiday cards. Why not take a picture of your home Christmas tree or Menorah and tape that to the wall also?
You could arrange Skype sessions with your family so that they can see your baby on Christmas or Hanukkah. You may need permission from the NICU nurses to do it, but it might be fun to have your family sing Christmas carols to your baby or just wish your baby a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.
4. Read your favorite holiday classic story to your baby
Babies love to be read to and studies show that it helps their brains develop and relaxes them so that they grow faster. Who wouldn’t want their Mommy or Daddy to read them a holiday book? This will also help you feel more in the holiday spirit.
5. Decorate preemie sized onesies for your baby to wear
If you have children at home, go buy a few preemie sized onesies and a few fabric markers at Toys R Us and decorate the shirts. It’s a great way for siblings to give a gift to their new baby brother/sister and they will also feel included. If your baby can’t wear cloths yet, make them anyway so that your new outfit can be the first one they put on!
6. Open gifts
Bring a few of your baby’s gifts to the NICU on Christmas Eve/Morning or on each day of Hanukkah and open them! There is no reason why you can’t do that to keep with your holiday tradition.
7. Bring some cookies/dreidels/latkes for the NICU staff
Whether you just met the NICU staff or have known them for months- they are your baby’s parents when you can’t be there and they will be there for you too. Wouldn’t it be nice to share the giving season with them and bring them some cookies or something else that shows them how thankful you are for them? Plus, you will get to celebrate with them and participate in one of your holiday traditions.
8. Celebrate New Year’s at noon
Bring some party hats and noisemakers to the hospital but don’t blow them! Put them next to your baby in the isolette/crib and take some pictures. These photos will be cherished for years to come. Plus, they represent a new year full of possibilities and promise and that’s what all NICU parents need. Then do your own New Year’s Countdown at NOON!
This originally appeared on my Huffington Post Parents page: