Along the entrance corridor to our NICU, flat television screens show colorful pictures of our premature babies, as NICU patients and graduates of all ages. As I walk down the corridor to begin my shift as a nurse, I often pass by parents sitting there for a break, looking at the pictures with awe and admiration.
Ten years ago, I was there; I was a mom with two precious babies being cared for at this same NICU. Just as the parents watching the pictures today, I was drawn to the wonder displayed in those amazing pictures, which gave me hope and strength and lifted my spirits. Time passed by and, four years ago, I came back to our NICU as a proud certified nurse. I was both a mother of preemies and a new NICU staff member!
Skin to skin care has always been special to me, so when the commemorative international day for this very special intervention approached in May, I contacted parents of our NICU graduates, asking them to send a picture to be displayed on the screen, and to write about the meaning of skin-to-skin for them.
I got many wonderful responses, beautiful pictures and heartfelt writings. I gathered them all and prepared a graphic presentation to be displayed on those same screens on the wall.
In answer to my request, a mother of a NICU graduate sent me a note saying: “I remember how much hope and strength I got from the pictures displayed; I am grateful and moved to have the chance to give back, to have my turn to encourage and inspire the parents of today’s NICU patients”.
I wish I could invite parents around the world to come visit us, to see the beautiful pictures of babies held by their parents, and to learn how skin to skin holding was part of their healing journey in the NICU. Alternatively, I will share some of the displayed quotes instead:
“I was longing to hug my baby, but in all my dreams I couldn’t imagine the power of it. The love, warmth and healing energy passing between us, even with the background noises of the monitors.”
“Kangaroo for me was my time to stop the running and worrying and hug that precious miracle I created. To feel her little body, whisper words of love, and laugh whole heartedly when we finish our session and we are completely glued to each other.”
“When I hold S. for the first time I was so scared to hold and to touch him… I was scared to harm him. I felt blocked, distant. The moment the nurse offered me to hold him skin to skin, all the emotions erupted; from then on, I would just wait each morning to go back to the NICU, to hold him and to not leave him”.
“We would be at least seven hours a day in skin-to-skin… connected by love. It is to feel the breathing, the growth; it is to get closer more and more. We still perceive today its influence on the feelings of love and calmness it affords”.
“Skin-to-skin was an island of peace and sanity. Such worthy moments being able to have that well-known feeling of motherhood. The bodily contact with those tiny creatures muted off all my anxieties, distresses and sadness. And it brought in, to me and to them, hope, love and optimism”.
“Skin-to-skin holding strengthened both of us physically, and it strengthened me mentally”.
“Kangarooing was the center of our life in the NICU. An opportunity to ‘continue pregnancy’ outside the womb. To feel her on us, skin to skin, heart to heart, and to grow together”.
We, a group of loving mothers from Israel, hope our words will inspire and strengthen parents from all around the world. Skin-to-skin knows no frontiers.
– Naama Yeshurun and mothers from Meir Medical Center NICU, Israel