OUR NICU NOBLE GREETINGS
I haven’t talked a whole lot about our journey in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I’ve shared our miscarriage, the tough pregnancy, and incredible birth story that led to Sebastian coming into our lives, but I’ve only touched the surface of our time in NICU. I would imagine it’s for several reasons; but with all the difficulties we had with Sebastian coming into this world, I think our toughest days were the ones spent inside the NICU at Sharp Mary Birch.
I wouldn’t wish a NICU experience on anyone. We had some incredible support from our family, friends, staffers at Mary Birch, and from the Miracle Babies non-profit organization during that time; and I truly believe Jonathan and I wouldn’t have made it through without the love and encouragement from those people. Our support group are what actually inspired me to create our next line of Noble Greetings. These cards were influenced by our own NICU journey, with the thought that others need support walking the same path we did.
500,000 babies are admitted to the NICU in the United States,
That’s right. Half a million babes. EACH. YEAR. So, chances are, you know someone who had a baby in NICU, or who may end up delivering prematurely with their child needing some extra care and attention before they get to go home. We didn’t receive any greeting cards specific to our NICU stay, and that’s okay. Now looking back, I think the reason for that was because there weren’t any cards that provided positive, uplifting messages for parents and caregivers going through a NICU experience.
Enter our next line of Noble Greetings:
The “Congrats + Positive Vibes” Card
When we first announced the news of Sebastian being born 2 months early, I felt like people didn’t know what to say. The most-common response was ‘Congratulations’, but I think there were many people who didn’t know how to respond to him being admitted to NICU. It’s understandable. He had an undetermined amount of days in front of him before he was going to come home with us. For the parents of other NICU survivors – thank you for saying these exact words to me. Thank you for letting me know you would be here for however long that journey would take. It’s exactly what I needed to hear at the time. For those of you that don’t know what to say to a friend, or family with a baby that just got admitted to NICU – send them this card.
The “Going Home” Card
There is no debate. This day above all other days, is the BEST day in NICU. For us, we had to wait 34 long days until Sebastian was finally able to come home with us. For other NICU families, it can be even longer. We had a couple of close family members leave us gifts to celebrate our Coming Home Day, but overall, it was a very private and intensely emotional day for us. The combination of excitement and relief was overwhelming. Celebrate your NICU survivors by sending this card to them. They will be so appreciative that you are recognizing such a joyous (and momentous!) day in their family’s life.
The “Hard Work” Card
This card came to me after our very long and arduous journey to baby. After a miscarriage, 40 days of hospitalized bedrest, and 34 days in NICU, I feel like we worked hard to finally bring Sebastian home with us. I know it wasn’t all me – we had incredible doctors and nurses, and a ton of help and support from family and friends. In fact, one of our closest friends said this to me continually, during and even after our time in the hospital. I thought it offered the perfect sentiments for a greeting card. Gift this card to any mama who is working hard to get their baby here. For the mom working through infertility, a tough pregnancy, or even a difficult NICU stay, this card can reinforce that all of her hard work is completely worth it.
The “Rainbow Baby” Card
The pregnancy after our miscarriage was difficult. Even before all of the complications, both Jonathan and I were on edge. We didn’t know if we would even be able to get pregnant again, and the thought of another miscarriage after we had just experienced one, was so terrifying. We knew we would be worried for that second pregnancy, regardless. Then a friend mentioned to us that Sebastian would be our ‘Rainbow Baby’. A ‘Rainbow Baby’ is a baby born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. The symbolism of the term comes from rainbows appearing after a storm, bringing hope and reassurance. Even in the bible, a rainbow symbolizes God keeping His promises because Noah trusted in God's faithfulness. We certainly trusted that Sebastian would make it to us – and we are SO thankful he did. He is our Rainbow Baby and the inspiration behind this card. I know we would have loved a card with the same message at the time. Give this card to any parent who is blessed with their own Rainbow Baby after a storm.
The “One Day at a Time” Card
This card was inspired by my 40-day hospital stay. I remember the nursing staff telling me that every day Sebastian stayed in utero, would roughly translate to two days LESS for him in NICU. Since we already knew he would end up spending some time in NICU, this was a huge motivation to keep going. Despite knowing that, there were still some particularly difficult days. I know I would have loved receiving a card with the same sympathies as this one. There are so many applications for this card, and although the inspiration came from my own personal experience, I know this message can bring hope to many different situations. Give this card to a Mama struggling through days upon days of bedrest, a family going through their NICU journey, or even a Mama struggling in the days, weeks, and months after a miscarriage. Regardless of the situation, just being supportive and letting that person know you are there, and you care, can make all the difference.
The “Thank You” Card
We had so many people supporting us during our journey, but I think some of the most impactful were the staff and social-workers that were with us during our NICU stay. We had two specific nurses: Aurora, Sebastian’s day nurse, and Kim, his night nurse, who were with us for the majority of his NICU stay. I did write them both a thank you for all of their love and care, but I would have loved to gift them a card that was specifically designed for THEM! This isn’t just a card for a doctor or a nurse; I would have loved to also give this to Gwen, the receptionist at the Sharp Mary Birch NICU. She prayed over us, for Sebastian and all the babies, every single day who came into that NICU. Or even for the social workers who helped us during our whole stay at the hospital: they helped us find a pediatrician when I was confined to a bed, came and talked to me about my postpartum depression, and connected us with Miracle Babies! Give this card to anyone who helped you through your NICU journey – be it a doctor, a nurse, a staffer, or even a supportive family member or friend. Letting that person know that you appreciate their love and support is SO important. When these people are giving you blessing upon blessing, it’s important to return the favor.
So there they are! Our next line of Noble Greetings. I'm so proud to be launching these now, in September as it coincides with NICU Awareness Month! NICU Awareness Month is designed to honor families experiencing a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and the health professionals who care for them. Below is a photo of our sweet babe, Sebastian Mark, about 25 days into his NICU stay in February of 2016.
I am overjoyed to release these out into the world during NICU Awareness Month, and I hope and pray they bring joy to others during their own journey to baby. And just like our first batch of Noble Greetings, a portion of the sale of each card will be donated to the charity Miracle Babies.
Miracle Babies is a non-profit that strives to provide financial assistance to families with critically-ill newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; and to enhance the well-being of women, children and their families through education, prevention and medical care. Miracle Babies were so impactful to us during our stay in the NICU at Mary Birch. Not only did they help to support us emotionally and financially while Sebastian fought to come home, but their founder, Dr. Sean Daneshmand, was also the physician who diagnosed me with vasa previa (and the other millions of conditions I had while pregnant... seriously, read our birth story). We want to give back to them in any way we can, and donating a portion of the sales of these cards makes my heart so happy. That donation will go straight to families just like ours, who have their own babes in NICU fighting to come home.
Someday, I may share more about our NICU story. I would rather write it all down in a book… along with our birth story and miscarriage journey; but it’s not time for that yet. For now, feel free to watch the video I made of our NICU stay. I pulled together some of the photos, sounds, and videos during our time at Sharp Mary Birch, and edited them together to create Sebastian’s NICU story. Enjoy!
Okay! With all of that said, please share these cards with people you know, or share your own story by dropping me a line, or leaving a comment here. My promise is that I will personally read each and every one of them. And last but not least, I’ll end with the same message I finished our miscarriage post with. If you’re in the midst of a miscarriage, infertility, or NICU story, or are just deep in the trenches of your own personal journey to baby, I’ll leave you with this:
Don't worry. God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. "Be patient. He isn't finished with you yet." - Philippians 1.6