My oldest daughter was born almost twelve weeks premature, and was immediately transferred to the closest university hospital, which also happens to be one of the largest public hospitals in the state. It was a terrifying time when, for weeks, we didn’t know if she would survive the night.
Eventually Madeline stabilized, and we (her parents) were able to take a more active role in her health and well-being. The doctors told us that one big thing we could do was talk to her, as the babies with a strong family presence always did better than those without. We made sure someone was always talking or reading to her. I would spend hours singing to her, everything from Christmas Carols to Top 40.
One afternoon it was particularly quiet in the unit, and the nurses were able to slow a bit and chat. I inquired about the family of another baby in our corner – I had never seen anyone there with him. The nurse told me that the family lived very far away, and both parents were working double shifts. I was humbled by how lucky we were. Even when I had to go back to work before Madeline was discharged, we were in a very fortunate situation where someone could always be at her bedside. These children will be overcoming a double-whammy of a rocky start and limited interaction.
Remembering that, I set a goal to contact publishing houses for book donations to place in the support packs that my charity, Friends of Maddie, provides for NICU families. It would be wonderful if Friends of Maddie can add one more thing to help make a NICU parent’s job just a little bit easier, while also helping benefit the child as well.
This week, I sent inquiries to half a dozen children’s book publishers. I am hopeful that one will see the value in getting involved, and soon Friends of Maddie can help families in an entirely new way.