The day we became new parents, we knew we would also call the hospital our new home for a little bit (at least). We expected our girls to be small but our emotions were all over the place when we knew we weren't going home right away. At just over 3 and 4 lbs, we were very fortunate that they were healthy and growing. But as first time parents with this new experience, all the stories we heard about going home after a couple days like normal, were just that - stories. And we couldn't relate. While on cloud 9, we were also scared and constantly questioning our ability, how to do things like hold them, feed them and simply care for two at once. A little less then 4 weeks later, we headed home as a family of four.
What we didn't realize at the time was that we were going home way more equipped than we knew. During our stay, the nurses and staff not only congratulated us, welcomed us, and cared for us, but they taught us how to manage this new life with confidence and pride. I can't help but remember seeing hospital neighbors come and go while we stayed.
>>>Something that brought up an odd emotion for me was the clothing situation. This might sound very silly to be worried about but my hormones took over and this seemingly small worry was kind of a big deal. I did not stock up on preemie clothes, and I assume most moms don't. I had two little girls that I dreamed about dressing in sweet clothes when they were born and I had nothing for them. I remember a nurse asking if I wanted to put them in anything special and I broke down and started crying. Besides crazy hormones, I felt like a terrible, unprepared mother and all I had at first were small blankets for them and the baggy clothes we would bring them home in. Really, clothing was the last thing on my mind. But, effortlessly the nurse brought a small pile of preemie clothes to put the girls in and they were always dressed. I was so grateful that they had something on besides diapers and wires. I know many parents will have their own clothes for their children, but we just didn't have clothes that fit yet. I believe most parents of preemies can really relate. The hospital gets their clothes through donations and since the day I heard this, I knew we would be giving back. Yes, babies come into the world naked but (after skin-to-skin) putting those first clothes on them is something special. Making them warm and cozy while they are still getting acclimated to the world and secretly singing "The Circle of Life" in my head as I raised my babes up, was a bit of a tiny dream of mine. Now, I just pick them up randomly (maybe daily) and sing this at the top of my lungs!
Our girls will be three in June and we look forward to our annual visit to the hospital where they were delivered, with a stash of preemie + newborn clothes along with flowers treats and huge THANK YOUs to the wonderful nurses. I we will never forget our visit last year, when we walked in and saw a few familiar faces who actually remembered us from our first visit and our donations.
We even saw the amazing nurse who brought the girls into the world. The nurses were so welcoming and grateful. They gave our (baby doll loving) girls two small bottles and a couple burb clothes for their own babies. They chatted with us and giggled with the girls. We even had a great opportunity to meet a new mom visiting her baby, who expressed such joy seeing how well our girls are doing now.
The girls were so excited and talked about this experience for a while (think 2 year old conversation). Each year as they grow and understand our visit, they will quickly learn how important it is to donate and how important the job of a nurse is. I can't help but feel proud while seeing their faces light up when we visit. Working on instilling gratitude in children is a challenging and beautiful thing and I believe this experience has and will continue to play a huge role in our life.
So, throughout the year I collect clothes to donate to the hospital that first clothed our girls.
If we all did this, can you imagine how well stocked our hospitals would be? It is such a fulfilling thought that we can help any new parents with unexpected tiny babes, in this small way.
Sending immense blessings to all new families. Especially those with sick ones and/or preemies. May your babes be clothed with love, ours sure were!