Monday, October 31, 2011

Shortly after my daughter was born, someone gifted me a baby book. I couldn't open it without crying...nothing in it made sense to me. Sections like "On the day you were born I felt _____" made me want to write "terrified" not "happy." Since I couldn't find anything that really told my baby's story, I created these supplements instead. They won't replace traditional baby books but it gives you a place to tell your baby's unique preemie story as well as their normal stats. Just print the pages that make sense to you!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What can I do to help?

When someone you care about has a premature baby it’s natural to want to help out. Often their baby came unexpectedly so the new parents may not know how to answer that question. Chances are they are feeling overwhelmed and scared. The NICU veterans on TB gathered together a list of ideas and suggestions to give you direction. Perhaps you are the new preemie mom – here are some ideas for when people ask. During this time you should be concentrating on your LO and your SO (and don’t forget yourself!). When someone wants to help, allow them. You won’t regret it!

·         Drop off home cooked meals. Have the family leave a cooler on the porch and put food inside so they don't have to cook or entertain guests.

·         Prepare meals that can be kept in the freezer and used as needed.

·         Walk pets, clean house, do laundry, tend to their garden/yard.

·         Provide rides to the hospital if mom cannot drive (after a c-section) or they rely on public transportation.

·         Sit with the family if they want company. Focus on your friend and don’t ask to hold their baby. They will offer you a turn if they feel comfortable.

·         Be the contact person so they don't have to call everyone with news/updates.

·         Pick up the following baby items: blankets, preemie/newborn clothes (no zippers or feet), hats, and socks. Also "normal" baby items like onesie month stickers that help keep NICU memories.

·         Make sure they know what freedom to expect in NICU. Once cleared with their doctors/nurses they may bring in clothes and bedding, decorate the crib with pictures, leave a Boppy for all the BF’ing practice they’ll do.

·         Some ideas for mom: nice water bottle, cooler bag for milk (Pack-it brand is excellent), hand lotion (scent-free is best because preemies are sensitive to fragrance), sanitizer, "to go" snacks, hands free pumping bra, nursing cover so she doesn’t have to rely on screens. Gift card for a mani, pedi or massage when Mom is ready. Haircuts are good ideas, too! We fall apart in there. Notebook/journal is great to keep track of time and events. “Mom’s One Line A Day” is a lovely gift and available on Amazon.

·         Gift cards for miscellaneous places (like Target or BRU), gas cards, or card for a restaurant near the hospital.

·         Provide magazines to read while sitting there.

·         Suggest getting a Kindle/purchase a new book for them.

·         Help mom pick out clothes that are easy to kangaroo in. It’s terrible to show up to see your LO only to discover your shirt is too tight to slip LO against your skin.

·         You don’t have to be local to help! One preemie mom said she got a great care package from some friends when they were in the NICU.  It included gift cards to fast food restaurants, snacks, oatmeal (to help with milk supply), hand sanitizer wipes, playing cards, magazines, a blanket, some preemie clothes, and some little signs to decorate his NICU room.  

·         Remember healthy foods! A fruit basket sent to the home would rock.

or select something from their registry.

Things to say/not to say:

Instead of, "Oh, he's so tiny!" try "Oh, what a beautiful baby!" NICU is intimidating – tune it all out. Your friend needs you to be strong.

Please don’t ask, "So does this mean he'll have health problems later on?"

When a preemie mom tells you about her baby's success, rejoice with her and don't compare her baby to a full term baby even if it sounds minor to you. One mom shared that when she was bragging to her mom about how Lillian took 15mL from a bottle, her mother replied that was not much. Heartbreaking! We celebrate every gram, every mL, and every little thing.

If you receive a mass email, read a public post or blog entry, or see a status, don't immediately call to talk. It doesn’t matter if the news is good or bad, that one update took a lot of emotional energy. By all means respond back if you’d like but in a non-rushed way (email, comment on the blog, or just text asking to call when I feel up to it). Feel out the situation – while we need our friends and family more than ever it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Expect mood swings.

One of our least favorite lines: "When can I come visit you and bring my 2 germy toddlers who are sick? I really want to see the baby!" You get the point! Instead say, "I'd love to visit when you are up for it. I'll be sure to leave my kids at home and make sure my hands are washed."

Compliment them on their adorable babies! Tell them how great they look in all those FB pictures. If you don’t see many give some gentle encouragement. Maybe she’s worried she’ll frighten others.

Weeks later don't admit that you were worried their baby was going to have the "alien preemie look" and how glad you were they wound up looking "normal."

Tell us about YOU – we want to be distracted!

However not all moms do. Again, tread lightly and assess her mood. One mom wrote, “Don’t assume since my baby is in the NICU that means I want to get out and have coffee and girl time. All I want to do is be with my baby. Offer to bring coffee to me, but don't think this is a great time to catch up after weeks of bedrest since I "don't have to worry about bringing the baby out."

Remember that it's not just mom going through this, it's DH too. Please, please remember dad!  Volunteer to take on some of his "man tasks" like mowing the lawn; he’s scared and overwhelmed, too.

Is she crafty? Bring supplies! or maybe she’d like a crochet lesson from you!

We hope this helps you help them or you help yourselves………… know what I mean! NICU is an abyss. It’s hard. It’s tiring. It will end. It doesn’t feel like it will, but it does, and you’ll even have some fond memories. Remember to save your baby’s first diaper! You’ll be amazed when you see it down the line.


The Preemie Moms

If you are like me, you probably have a shelf of parenting books and a whole list of favorite parenting websites. All of a sudden, those books seem like they are in a foreign language. If they mention preemies at all, it is as a footnote to what term babies should be doing at any given time. On top of that, they don't answer all of your important questions about procedures, risk factors, setbacks, and the emotional ride of the NICU.

The good news is that there are several good books for your new role as a preemie parent. Don't get rid of the regular parenting books, they will come in handy as your baby matures and catches up but for now, check out some of these instead.

The following books are great resources for preemie parents in the NICU and at home. They can serve as references or as daily guides through your journey. While each of these books have some great information, remember to ask your baby's doctors about the things that you read. Medical technology is changing all the time and published works can't keep up with new procedures and policies.

This book is a great resource. Don’t read it all the way through, use it to look up specific issues as you encounter them otherwise you may spent a lot of time worrying about things that won't happen! This is the most complete set of medical information and was written by neonatalogists and preemie parents together.

This book is a similar to the Preemie Book but includes a little more about life after the NICU. Not as comprehensive as The Preemie Book but a little easier to read.

Another great resource by Dr. Sears of attachment parenting fame. This book is our favorite for at-home preemies since it includes several chapters of post-NICU material.

This is a great journal for keeping track of your baby’s daily milestones. Even if you just use a plain notebook, we recommend you get something to write down daily stats, meds, questions, etc to help you see progress and keep track of details.

Article written by Urban Flowerpot.
Saturday, October 8, 2011

Connect with preemie moms on our Facebook Page!

Preemie moms have told us that these groups are great resources for NICU parents. They are not associated with this blog in any way.

Many found this group to be extremely helpful during their NICU stay. They have a great preemie support group.

Pictures of Hope
This national network of photographers will come to the NICU and take pictures of your family for free.

Grahams Foundation
Graham's Foundation! They will send care packages to the hospital for preemie families.

Project Linus
Will send blankets to sick babies and children. This is a great way to give back when you are home too!

The Bump -- Preemie Board
Preemies need special care and their moms need support. You'll find other moms with preemie babies right here. 
It can be hard to find tiny preemie-sized clothes! Carters and Gerber also tend to run small so their clothes fit preemies early on. Also note that you don’t want to buy too many preemie sized clothes at the beginning. Wait until your LO can wear clothes and asses what sizes you really need. Remember that many preemies can't wear clothes for weeks or even months. They will quickly outgrow the preemie size but spend a long time in newborn sizes so stock up on the newborn clothes too.

Another word of advice--clothes with snaps and no footies are best for accommodating NICU wires and monitors! Also stock up on cute hats and socks as these will be the first items your baby can wear!

The following online stores specialize in preemie products:
Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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