My son was born 6 weeks early via C-section -- a perfect 4 pounds 11 ounces baby -- and spent the first seven days of his life in the NICU. His arrival was hectic and not at all what I had envisioned. But as emotional and stressful as it was, our time in the NICU was also beautiful, and it’s an experience that I want to honor.
September is NICU Awareness Month, and I wanted to share the ways in which I paid tribute to my crazy path to motherhood. So if, like me, you are all about preserving memories and giving back, here are ways NICU families can commemorate and celebrate their experiences.
1. Wear it. Wearing clothes with inspirational quotes that reflect your experience is a great way to pay tribute to your little one’s NICU stay. It’s also a great conversation starter to raise awareness. Mama B. Designs, the apparel company that I started in 2016, has an entire line that can help you stylishly spread prematurity awareness. Plus, for every purchase from our Miracle Line, 50 percent of the proceeds goes to March of Dimes, the foundation that funds lifesaving research and programs working to end premature birth. Check the line here, and use this coupon code NICU10 for 10 percent off. You can also get your little one a onesie like this one.
2. Snuggle it. If you’ve saved all of your preemie’s stuff, you can use them to create a keepsake. I recently came across Stitches by Natalie, a mom-owned shop that uses newborn swaddles and clothes to snuggly mementos like stuffed animals and pillows. I sent her one of my son’s NICU swaddle blankets and a preemie onesie, and she made an adorable stuffed bear (out of the blanket) wearing the onesie. She also stitched his name, birthday and birth stats on the teddy. For a 10 percent discount, you can use the coupon code NICU10.
3. Pay it forward. There are many ways to give back to the NICU community and to provide support to the families that are in the thick of it. Organizations like Hand to Hold, the Graham’s Foundation and Project Sweet Peas provides support to NICU families. You can also join the Twenty-Five and Four movement. Created by a mom of a micro preemie, this non-profit creates shirts that fit babies as small as one pound. You can sew and help make these sweetly sized shirts that comfortably wrap around wires for NICU babies. And the best part… the shirts are shipped for FREE to NICUs!
4. Remember it. Many moms like to wear their children’s names to commemorate their children’s births -- whether it’s with a charm or a bar necklace. But what about swapping their names for their unique footprints? Matanai Jewelry embeds handprints and footprints on 14K gold pendants. You can also add a short text on the back. It’s a lovely way to capture your child’s teeny tiny and super special prints, and wear them on your heart. If you don’t have clear photos of your baby’s footprints, they can send you a print kit. Coupon code NICU10 for 10% off. Etsy also has a lot of options for necklaces that either remember your NICU experience or to gift to some of the NICU staff.
5. Educate yourself and others. This is a great way to know what people and hospitals can do to ensure the best NICU experience for other parents. Maybe it’s about sharing knowledge on how to provide a breastfeeding friendly NICU environment or spreading the word on a specific product that you know help NICU babies, like the 4moms mamaRoo or the Woombie Med Pods, are the first and only 360-degree swaddle that works around medical devices and hospitalized infants.
Nadine Bubeck is a TV personality, fashion designer, author and blogger. She documented her first pregnancy in her candid book, Expecting Perfect: My Bumpy Journey to Mommyhood. Compelled to pay it forward, she also launched a clothing line that benefits March of Dimes. 50% of each item sold goes to the foundation. More here: www.mamabdesigns.com