Feeding is a developmental milestone for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – both for those born prematurely, and for those born with medical problems. Even though we are saving babies who have more medical problems, or who are very premature, the average gestational age that babies are able to eat everything and go home continues to be around 36–37 weeks. Babies born with medical problems are often not able to eat everything until closer to their due dates (40 weeks).
My perceptions of motherhood prior to the birth of Amelia were filled with moments of touching, loving, holding, breathing in her smell, caressing and caring, however, the reality that I was faced with was so very different. For three months I traveled 90 minutes each way to spend 12 to 14 hours sitting at my daughter’s incubator. There was very little touching or caressing her tiny frame. The only smells detectable were the smells of the hand sanitizers, the hand wash soaps and the unit’s cleaning products. I didn’t get to hold Amelia until she was four weeks old even though my baby girl lay inches away from my tear stained face. I reached out to her in my head and heart and I’m certain that you could hear my heart beating in my chest every time her monitor alarms triggered.
May 2006, strolling along the sun-kissed shores of the Indian Ocean, having spent 16 glorious days on the beautiful island of Mauritius, I turned to my partner, John. No longer could I keep the secret that I had been saving for the “right moment” and announced that we had a much longed for baby on the way. This news was the icing on the cake for what had been a wonderful year for us as a couple and now we had a bright future to look forward to with a child of our own. We returned to Ireland filled with excitement and looking forward to the pregnancy and our new roles as parents. For the next nine weeks my pregnancy was a mixture of day long “morning sickness” followed by periods of extreme fatigue, but nothing could dampen the joy and love that we felt for our growing infant. Continue reading
This is my first blog ever, so I chose a big topic that can be discussed generally and then followed-up with additional, interesting information that I’d love to share. Although the initial topic is big, it is just one word – warm.
The meaning of words has always fascinated me. Warm has two different kinds of meaning and both are important in the NICU environment. One meaning of warm is thermal, referring to moderate heat. The second meaning of warm is emotional, implying a positive attitude or support. These dual meanings – thermal and emotional – are not just an oddity of English. The same duality appears in every language that has been analyzed for this: Arabic, Bambara (from Mali), French, German, Hungarian, Finnish, Wolof (from Senegal), and more. Continue reading
As the NFI (NIDCAP Federation International) launches its first blog, it seems appropriate to share how the seeds of NIDCAP (Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program) germinated. The purpose of the NFI’s blog is to build awareness for our organization and its visionary and dedicated members, who, quite literally, change lives. This and future posts by NIDCAP Researchers, Trainers, NIDCAP Professionals, parents of preterm infants, members of our Board of Directors, and special guest bloggers will provide an opportunity to convey the NFI’s perspective and to receive your comments and questions. Continue reading