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The Holidays and NICU
Getting through the holidays when your newborn is in the hospital can be so difficult. It's hard enough to go home empty-handed; trying to deal with the holidays as well can be a real strain. Here are some ideas from parents who have spent various holidays in the NICU with their babies . . .

Both my daughters came early - one at 28 weeks and the other at 30 weeks. My older daughter (now 4) was born in March so she spent both Easter and Mother's Day in the NICU. My little one was born in April so she too was in the NICU on Mother's Day. She was also there on my birthday in June but it ended up being the first day she drank from a bottle instaed of through a tube so it was VERY special. The girls were at different hospitals but the NICU staff at both places were great. For Virginia, her nurses decorated the isolettes with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs and took pictures of all the babies for the moms to take home. For Vada, the nurses made Mother's day cards for all the moms with the babies' foot prints - amazing keepsake for the baby book! And of course, the days that they both got to come home (May 19 and June 14) will always be special holidays for our family now! ~Karen

Erika was born at 28 weeks gestation last December 2, so she was in the NICU over the holidays. I just needed to be with my daughter as much as possible. I mean you have to spend some family time, but I would spend time with the family and then just go sit by her isolette. That helped me. We did not do much for Christmas really; we just were not up to it. I did get decorations for Erika's isolette. I decorated a stocking for her and filled it with little toys and clothes and wrote her name on it in that sparkly stuff. I am not very crafty, but it made me feel good to make her something. And we brought in cards and hung them around her area. The best part, although it is so hard to think of when you are there, is realizing how special the next year will be when you can be together as a family. This year will just be incredible, we will have our beautiful little girl where she belongs, at home and in our arms. ~bubba32

My son was born at 28 weeks on December 5. He spent Christmas and New Year's in the NICU. It was one of the loneliest holidays ever. But like all things I got through it. For Christmas they let me dress him up and take pictures, and I just sat there with him all day and night. There's nothing really that can ease the pain but you do find comfort in just being there. ~Latiesha

DC was in the hospital from January 9th to April 18th. That included the holidays Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter. For Valentine's Day all the nurses wrote out homemade cards for the parents from the babies. For Easter several of us moms decided to decorate the baby's area, dress them up and take pictures of all of them together. It was so cute and a great way to celebrate. ~Kimber1773

The first thing to remember is be glad you are spending the holidays with your child(ren) because they need your support and love more than anything. Thinking positively about the baby(ies) and how you will spend other Holidays or just days with them will help. It is hard, I know, since my daughter was born at 28 weeks, weighing 1lb 9.5oz. It was the scariest time of my life. We were able to get through it by not thinking of ourselves but thinking of what we had to do for her. Babies know what parents are feeling and if you are upset, check it at the door for your baby's health and happiness. We spent two months and three holidays in the hospital with a very supportive staff and families of the other babies in NICU. ~Gladys

My son was in the hospital for over 7 months, and was in the hospital for every major holiday, since he was born at the end of October. For Halloween, the nurses made pumpkin bibs for all the preemies in the NICU. For Thanksgiving, we were thankful just to have him around, despite the fact that he was in the NICU and not at home with us. For Christmas, I made a Baby's 1st Christmas stocking and put him in it to take pictures. We spent New Year's Eve with him in the NICU. For Valentine's Day, he got to bunk next to a female preemie who was born around the same time as him, and we took pictures of him and his 1st girlfriend. For Easter, he played with plastic Easter Eggs. For his 6 month birthday, we had a party with a cake. He wore a party hat and even got a small taste of the frosting. He came home a few days before Memorial Day. ~Kim

My daughter was born 12/23 and spent Christmas Eve and Day, New Year's Eve and Day in the NICU. She then got sick and spent Easter in the PICU. Oh, and Father's Day too. We kind of dread holidays, but hey, I did get to have her home for Mother's Day!

Our hospital was amazing for Christmas. We have a photo of her and Santa, mind you she is intubated with a chest tube, etc, but there is Santa and a stocking hanging by her IV. The hospital auxiliary gifted her and the other kids remarkably, making it very special for the older ones even though we spent most of Christmas Day looking at a baby sister that wasn't quite like we had planned.

For Easter she was again intubated and totally sedated, but we brought all the Easter stuff to the hospital and the bunny left everybody's baskets in her room, so the big kids again found some joy in being there on such an occasion. The photos show obvious concern for their sissy on their faces, but we felt like it was important to do it together, and have them see her (they were missing her after 2 weeks!!)

Personally, from a religious standpoint, I found it very ironic to have her in such a condition on such important days to me. It was a very spiritual experience to think of our Saviour and all that God has given us. It actually helped me deal with it from a faith perspective.

For Father's Day, I made arrangements for a dozen KK donuts to be at the hospital when my husband arrived with the big kids, and the kids and I made a banner to hang at home while my husband was sitting at the hospital. It wasn't as hard as the other holidays, but certainly not ideal. Breakfast in a hospital bed??? not quite.

Once again, our hospital has been amazing, allowing us to be by her side no matter what, no matter when, even our other children, (who although I call "big" are 2 and 4 . . . not so big!) That makes a big difference.

We also have had the support of people around us. We have let them sit at the hospital with th baby while we took the other kids and did things that helped them to be happy and normal. I don't think you can do this kind of thing alone, I really don't. We also got a babysitter for them one afternoon, a hospital sitter for Eve, and went to lunch. We realized it had been weeks since we had actually talked about anything other than how to get through this; we needed to regroup as a couple. We did this after she was born too.

Mostly, I just want people to know that I would pray and listen to them in their time of need. I know how much it helped me to have People praying and thinking of us. ~Melissa

If you've gone through a holiday with your baby in the NICU, please share your ideas for celebrating and/or coping. Click here to send us your ideas.

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