Most of you know that here at Sadie's Purpose we donate support packs to families in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But why did we decide on support packs? It's easy- because we've been there and we know what families can benefit from.
When your baby is in the NICU and the hospital calls to tell you that he or she is sick, you don't pack a bag. You don't worry about a change of clothes. You just go. No matter the time of day or night, you just go. Your baby needs you.
But what happens when you need to stay at the hospital overnight or for days at a time? You didn't bring a bag so you can't shower. Most hospitals don't provide toiletries for parents as parents are not the patient. This is where Sadie's Purpose comes in.
Parents and siblings- they're all family.
I knew right away that I wanted to have two distinct support packs- one for parents and one for siblings. Having a baby in the NICU truly does affect the entire family. It's a tough journey and can be even more difficult when you have other children to care for.
When Sadie was rushed across the street to another NICU at just two weeks old, we felt so unprepared. Everything had been going so well, and we had naively let our guard down. So when we had to rush to Birmingham with our other four children (Sadie's twin was still in the other NICU), it took a toll on us all.
How our parent support packs help.
A NICU parent is one of the most exhausted humans you will ever meet. They are running on empty most of the time. Moms are recovering from delivering their babies. Their partners are trying to support them and be there for the baby. It's tough.
But self-care is so important. If you aren't taking care of yourself, you can't take care of your baby. Parents need to shower daily. They need to eat healthy meals and get out of the hospital room for some fresh air and sunshine.
Our support packs for parents provide toiletry essentials for parents to shower without having to purchase expensive gift shop items. They also include other useful items as well. We provide:
Shampoo and conditioner
Other self-care essentials
Notebooks and pens for taking notes when the doctor makes rounds
We also include a handheld mirror in every bag. Why a mirror? So you can see your baby when you're holding him or her to your chest. Simply hold the mirror out in front of you both so you can see that little miracle. The two pictures below demonstrate how you can see your baby in the mirror.
Our parent support packs are about more than just the essentials, though. They are permission for parents to take a break. Take a break to shower. To eat. To get outside the four walls of that hospital room and get some fresh air. Go to a local restaurant and have dinner. You don't need to feel guilty about taking care of yourself!
How our sibling support packs help.
As a NICU parent, it is so easy to feel guilty about the amount of time you spend with your new baby. You may feel as if you're not spending enough time with your other kids. It's hard to find that balance, and of course, we all want our kids to feel included.
Our sibling support packs aim to help siblings of sick babies feel included in the experience and connected to the baby. We provide them with some much-needed NICU entertainment including:
Small, quiet toys
Notebooks and pencils
When we were in the NICU, the nurses would print out coloring sheets from their computers and find highlighters for our kids to use. There was simply nothing to keep kids entertained. We would pack things for planned visits, but it wasn't always possible for those emergency visits.
We want to make sure siblings have something to do while their parents are busy with the baby. Each of our bags is designed to be a gift from the new baby to his or her siblings. Our hope is that this will create a connection between the child and his or her new brother or sister.
There's no doubt about it. NICU life is difficult. You can't truly know how hard it is if you haven't been there. But with our support packs, we hope to ease that stress in a small way for our families. When parents feel supported, they can better support their babies.
If you'd like to help us on our mission, please consider donating. A $100 donation can provide ten NICU parents with a support pack! If you'd like to purchase items for our support packs directly, you may do so from our Amazon wish list. We appreciate your support!