November is Prematurity Awareness month!
I, myself, am very aware of prematurity because my 3 year old was born 6 weeks early. So, I'm kicking off our awareness month early by throwing our second VIRTUAL NICU BABY SHOWER right here!! So many of you helped out last year and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Why am I doing this? Since my son's birth, I've met countless people whose children came early. From here on the wonderful internet, to the grocery checkout clerk, to the wonderful angels in my preemie mom's group, to my son's teacher, everywhere I look and everywhere I am, I am surrounded by women and families who have been touched by prematurity.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people have premature babies and what an epidemic it has become. In our bay area alone, there are 50-80 babies in each hospital NICU.
There are at least 6 hospitals here!
That's a lot of math!!!!!!
And that's just today, because the NICU is a revolving door. Babies come in every day. Prematurity surprises a new family every.day, every hour, somewhere.
Why is it so terrible? Because children who are born early have not finished developing. Their lungs are not developed. Their brains are not fully developed. Their systems are not developed. The babies who are born early suffer issues straight into toddlerhood and beyond, from feeding and sleep issues, to breathing issues and allergies. And terribly, many babies never make it out of the NICU.
In the meantime, the families' joy of having a child is dampened with fear about the future and health of their child. They stand vigil day and night by the side of their child, who they cannot hold or feed or touch when they want. They are overwhelmed with guilt about why their child came early in the first place and then they find themselves standing by while their tiny babies undergo procedures painful enough to bring a grown man to his knees.
They pray for each next breath and each next heartbeat of their child.
For hours, days, weeks and months this goes on. It's like walking on eggshells.
I know now that God blessed me with a premature baby because He wants me to help other women and other families. I have never felt so strong and so passionate and so guided about anything in my life. I know now that I was standing next to my son's isolette in the NICU because God wanted me to be there. He knew I would feel this way and He knew I would want to help.
I believe He chose me.
So how can you help? Because we have been there, my preemie mom's group, Mommies Little Miracles, is pairing up with the HUG program and the March of Dimes to throw the families at the NICUs here a baby shower. Because their babies came so early, most mommies didn't get to have one. Then, after the baby goes home, they often never have one because it's overshadowed and forgotten by their hospital experience and the families don't have what they need when they get home!
The showers also offer families a much-needed time-out from the sounds of the monitors and the stress, and it gives them a place to celebrate. Because every life should be celebrated! When your baby comes early, no one knows quite what to say and even the families themselves don't know if or when to celebrate!
We will be stuffing the bags for the showers on November 1st. We don't have enough stuff for our families and we want everyone to have something. You saw the numbers above for how much stuff we need and I'm making a plea to my bloggy friends for help by throwing these mommies a Virtual Baby Shower!
These are just some of the items we need for the bags:
-gas cards for travel
-gift cards for groceries and restaurants
-brand new preemie outfits and hats, girls and boys
-toiletries for parents staying at hotels
-unscented lotion for parents (they wash their hands A LOT being in the NICU and their hands get so dry!)
-small frames for pictures (they carry their babies' pictures around when they can't be there)
-journals and planners
-scrapbooking materials and scrapbooks
-unused books and (unused) stuffed animals for their siblings
-baby bathtubs (unused) and any baby toiletries (unscented)
-baby bottles and burp cloths
Note: All the items must be unused.
Won't you help me with any one or some of these items? One item or 10, each and every item will go in a bag and offer a family some comfort that someone out there is thinking about them. You never know how something you give will impact someone. Here's my full-circle example. One mom joined our group this summer. She told me about how she would sit next to her baby's isolette last year, writing feverishly every note, every thought, in a journal she got from a shower the hospital threw for the moms.
Oh.My.God. That journal was one we packed. Right there, we helped someone through their tumultuous time, and here she was, in my car, telling me about it. I cried that night. Full circle.
If I can help just one mom by putting this out there, I have done some good. I have eased some pain. And you have too.
You can also help by donating instead of sending something. I have put a Paypal Donation button on my sidebar and here's how that will work: you can tell me what you'd like it to go for and I'll pick it up and take a picture of it for you and post it here!!
If you would like to send any items, please contact me at christieo_7 at msn dot com. If you do donate or send items, I would love it if you took pictures and blogged about it and spread the word, too! Because you never know, one of your readers may have been touched by prematurity and want to help too!
Sidenote: And by the way, Wal-Mart has preemie outfits on sale for $1!!!!!!! Right now!! I just bought out my two local Wal-Marts of all their $1 preemie outfits, so if any of you have a Wal-Mart near you and you can or want to check for me, I will love you forever!!
Won't you please help us help families? We did this last year and it was wonderful!!! Here are pictures of the sea of bags:
November is Prematurity Awareness month!