On a beautiful October day in 2002, my cell phone rang while I was in the checkout line at the grocery store. It was my husband. Our adoption agency had called him to say that a set of premature boy/girl twins, who weighed barely two pounds each, were available for us if we wanted them.
Did we ever! After many years and many tears, our dream of having another child to join our older daughter had finally come true. She always wanted a brother and a sister, but we told her she would just get one. Now we were blessed with two tiny, tiny babies who needed us as much as we needed them.
What is a preemie?
A typical pregnancy lasts between 40-42 weeks; a baby that is born before 37 weeks gestation is considered premature. A micro preemie is a baby born before 26 weeks gestation, and a preemie is a baby born between 27-36 weeks. The earlier a baby is born, the more likely s/he will have health problems, some that may last a lifetime.
My husband and I were blessed. Our twins came home from the NICU earlier than expected. Although both needed Early Intervention services, there are no lasting effects of them having been born so early.
The Gift of Time
One of the best gifts you can give to the parents of preemies is the gift of time. If parents have older children at home, they are torn between making sure their needs are met and spending time in the NICU with their newborn. Taking care of the older children is a blessing to the harried parents of a premature baby.
Must Have Books for Preemie Parents – These Make a Wonderful and Thoughtful Gift
Bringing our son and daughter home and taking care of them was a very different experience than when our older daughter was born 7.5 years earlier. Premature babies need different kind of care and handling than a full term baby. There were apnea monitors, frequent doctor visits for weigh-ins, and I was chained to the house for six months. Visitors were not welcome unless they were in good health, and I was not allowed to take my babies anywhere until spring. Other than the visiting nurse and the Early Intervention specialists, I was home alone with my babies all day long.
Reading books about how premature babies were different helped me keep tabs on my babies’ progress.
The Little Things Mean a Lot
If you have a neighbor who has a preemie, give them a call when you are going to the store. She cannot go out with a fragile infant, and she may need something you can pick up for her.
Organic Preemie Diapers
Regular newborn sized diapers are just too big for a preemie’s tiny tushie. For parents who are using cloth diapers, there are different diapers that use organic cotton, a natural fiber that will not harm your delicate baby’s skin. They come in solid colors and in different patterns.
Send a Meal
Traveling between the NICU and home is trying to the parents of a preemie. Send over dinner or give a gift card to a local restaurant so there is one less thing to worry about at the end of the day.
Preemie Outfits for Girls
Pink Leopard Baby Girl Clothing Set from Amazon Jacqui’s Preemie Pride Baby-girls Zany Zebra
It is a very exciting day when parents of preemies are told they can bring clothes to the NICU for their baby. It means they are one step closer to going home!
Preemie clothing is special because it is even smaller than the newborn sizes for full term babies. My twins did not wear newborn sizes until they were several months old. And even then, they were too big!
Once your loved one’s precious preemie(s) come home, you will want to visit. Before you do, call ahead and ask when it is a good time to do so. Do not come over if you or anyone in your family has recently been ill. A small cold for you could send a preemie right back into the hospital if he catches your germs.
Preemie Outfits for Boys
Black and White Baby Tuxedo Suit from Amazon
Clothes for preemies should be 100% cotton. Softness is important to the tender skin of a preemie.
When buying preemie clothing, ask if the baby is on any special medical equipment. Clothing needs to any accommodate tubes and apnea monitors that are going home with the baby.
Featured image from pixabay.comand altered by the author in picmonkey.com