Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How to Help the Parent of a Preemie

Welcome back to "Three Things You Should Know" Thursday!

Today I'd like to share with you three great ways you can be a blessing to new parents of a micropreemie. Let's be frank here... giving birth to a baby 14+ weeks early is nothing like a healthy, full-term delivery. And sometimes it's tough to know just what to say/do. So, in the event that you're not the parent of this new little blessing, but want to do something to help, here are some suggestions:

1. If there are older siblings to the new baby, offer to babysit. Often these sibling are not even allowed at the hospital (due to the risk of germs and infections) and it can be a huge point of stress for a parent to try to arrange care for the older child so that they can see their baby. It is a hideous feeling to feel torn between your children and feel like you are failing any of them.

2. Offer to take over a share of "communications". Write thank you notes for the parents. Make phone calls or send email updates for them. There will likely be many people who want to hear about the baby, but it can be very difficult to take the time to keep everyone informed. Offer to pray and also to solicit more prayers for the child. It brought me endless comfort to know that there were congregations/parishes all over the country praying for my itty bitty girl...

3. Lastly, but in my humble opinion, most importantly... acknowledge the birth of their baby. I know that people worry that these tiny babies might not survive. And some of them won't. People worry about buying gifts or sending cards that might serve as "painful reminders". The truth is this... losing a child at any point is painful. It's not "reminders" that make it painful. But when people don't even acknowlege the birth of your baby, it's heart-wrenching. Early or not, your bundle of joy is here in the world. It's cause for celebration (though perhaps not without some trepidation). So DO send a card. Let them share their fears, but also let them share their joy! When I look back at the journal I kept during those early days, what always strikes me is my utter delight in my new baby daughter. Never mind the terror, I was in love with my child. Just like any other parent should be. My little girl is 2 1/2 and it still hurts me how few people celebrated her birth. At the same time, it brings tears of happiness to my eyes to recall the custom-made teeny-tiny white eyelet dress my mother-in-law bought her. Or the beautiful embroidered blanket my mother found for her isolette in the hospital. Or the sweetly encouraging card my best friend sent to me immediately upon hearing the news. Be part of that camp. These parents need all the cheerleaders they can get!

Thanks so much for reading this! The fact that you read it shows that you care, and that's the most important thing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Well said. My first son was born at 26 1/2 weeks and I actually got 2 sympathy cards.

He's 10 now and it still hurts. I'll always hold a special place for my gramma, who made sure to send a preemie outfit right after he was born, complete with pretty wrapping paper and a cheery card.