There has been a news story going around, about a group of NICU babies that got Halloween Costumes. It really will melt your heart, have a look:
It’s been rolling around in my head this weekend though, why do people go to the trouble to dress up babies who will have no memory of such an action? What motivates them to take their precious time and energy to do such a thing? Because, really, it’s not helping the babies at all.
The answer is that it helps keep the morale up of the parents. Imagine being a parent in that situation, waiting for your premie to gain enough weight to go home, it’s like watching paint dry. But the world goes on without you while you’re waiting and it’s easy to feel down around the holidays because not only is your kid in the hospital, but your kid is in the hospital on a holiday. So are you, the parent.
One year, 2007-2008, we were in the hospital for every major holiday: Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Wendy’s birthday, and Valentines Day.
I’ve got to tell you, it’s really hard to be in the hospital during all of those holidays. I did not cry much while we were in the hospital, but I remember crying on both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day that year, because the hospital was the last place I wanted to be. I’m not the kind of person that thinks, “It’s not fair,” but that year, that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking, sitting next to my daughter’s hospital bed while even the staff was going home for holiday celebrations.
Mostly, it’s hard because you’re helpless. For the big holidays like Christmas, it’s hard because it means that your kid is really sick. They try to clear everyone out for Christmas. And it is hard because you remember how nice those holidays were in past years. The truth is that if your kid is really sick, they don’t really notice the difference, because one sick day runs into the other. It’s the parents who keep track of the days.
For Fourth of July we saw the fireworks.
For Halloween, we had to drape Wendy’s costume over her because she had just had an abdominal surgery. She was going to be Fiona from Shrek.
For Thanksgiving, We ate Thanksgiving in the playroom on real china that the Child Life Specialists set for us. Wendy was unconscious.
For Christmas, Wendy got presents and a visit from Santa. There were some special toys like build-a- bears. We had Christmas lights in the room that we took down every day and put up every night so we didn’t get in trouble. The nurses knew but didn’t tell anyone.
For New Years, we saw the fireworks.
For Wendy’s birthday we had a cake, no candles, because of the fire hazard.
For Valentine’s Day, there was pizza and valentines in the Family Lounge.
I know people who feel down around the holidays, because loved ones are now gone or because their kids are grown and out of the house. I would encourage you to contact your local hospital, especially pediatrics, and see if you can volunteer over the holidays. You have no idea what the smallest gesture can do to make a family feel better, one who has been in the hospital for a while. I would also encourage you to find a way to go in and volunteer in person, and see the grit and determination of these kids who are fighting so hard to get well and who are resilient and kind. You might get a lot out of the experience as well.
Today is Halloween. You have the time you need to contact your local hospital in time for the holidays. Yes, we all get busy during the next eight weeks, but imagine all that busyness and having a kid in the hospital. It makes our problems look easier, doesn’t it?
If you do volunteer, let me know about it. I love to read these stories.
Cover Photo: Wendy, almost age 4, on New Years Day.