Best Gift Ideas for NICU Mamas & Baby

When Jaxlee was in the NICU we received the most amazing gift! This gift was not of much material value, however to this day I still remember how much comfort it brought me. I wanted to share some gift ideas here in the event you know someone now or in the future that could be blessed by these thoughtful gestures. 

1. Who would have thought a Build-A-Bear Teddy would be such a priceless item? My friend brought to the hospital a voice recorder from Build-A-Bear and Jonny & I recorded a personalized message to Jaxlee. The voice recorder was then put into a Build-A-Bear Teddy (the hypoallergenic bear they offer) and placed in Jaxlee's little bed. I asked the nurses to play the recording for Jaxlee when we were not able to be with her. She got to hear our voices and hear how much she was loved by her mom & dad. This made my heart feel a little more at ease when we had to say goodbye each day. 

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2. After I visited Jax in the NICU for the first time, I asked the nurses if I could have the blanket she had been wrapped in all day. I wanted to take it back to my room so I could sleep with it & smell it. I then gave the nurses a blanket that had my body scent on it & asked them to wrap Jax up in that specific blanket so Jaxlee could smell me when I was not there. I would recommend an organic cotton blanket similar to these ones here

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3. This adorable bundle of baby care products is the perfect gift for any mom & baby! This set includes a gentle all over wash, daily protective balm, and soothing oil all formulated with gentle ingredients for baby's delicate skin. These products do not contain ingredients like phenoxyethanol, fragrance, dimethicone, BHA, petrolatum, methylparaben (and the list could go on and on) which are found in the Johnson & Johnson (and other well known baby lines) products commonly used in hospitals, containing known harmful ingredients and carcinogens. 

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4. When I was pregnant with Jax, I was introduced to essential oils. I purchased a handful of oils specifically to bring to the hospital with me to help with labor, delivery, & postpartum. I had no idea how helpful they would be. It became a joke with the NICU Dr.'s & nurses that I was "the oil lady."

My top 5 oils for a new mama & baby are...

Fennel: As an exclusive pumping mom, I needed my milk to come in & I needed to be able to produce milk without the natural triggers of a newborn. Every time I pumped I would put Fennel on my breasts & let me tell you the milk was flowing!! There was no shortage in my milk supply for Jax. 

Clary Sage: Once I was in active labor, I put Clary Sage on my ankles & feet. This oil is known to promote regular and consistent contractions which help speed up the labor and delivery process. It is also known as an anesthetic, helping reduce pain. After my delivery, I put it on my cold packs & pads for my lady parts (contains healing properties as well). 

Frankensense: Because Frankincense is known for its healing power, I would put a drop on Jaxlee's head every single day (and continued long after she was discharged). The fragrance of this oil also uplifts spirits, as you can imagine we all needed during this time. 

Thieves: Nothing can set you or your baby back like a sickness can. Thieves is an all in one antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-infectious essential oil. I would make sure to put it on my feet & Jaxlees feet (diluted with Jojoba oil) to ward off any germs that maybe passed around.

Lavender: I mentioned in my earlier post, how the NICU unit smelled. During my time there I needed something to relax and calm me. Lavender was my secret weapon, the smell alone can take you to a place of emotional & physical balance. This was also soothing for Jax as well. 

The best part about these oils are they are not only valuable for the duration of the NICU stay, they are vital and useful once mama & baby get home! 

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Shortly after giving birth, I remember laying there in the hospital bed holding my brand new baby girl, staring at the sweet little face I had spent the last 9 months dreaming about. I asked my nurse to coach me through a proper latch & watch me as I attempted to feed my baby. My goal was to get Jaxlee on my breast within 45 minutes of her birth, because that's what all the breastfeeding books tell you to do, right? I got her position just right, had her in the perfect swaddle, and placed my nipple onto her ruby red lips. Nothing happened. Her mouth didn't make that cute little suckling noise I had imaged and she didn't attempt to gesture toward my breast in a rooting manner. There was no flutter in her eyes or movement from her body. 

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The nurse tried to wake up her mouth up by sticking her finger on her lips and into her mouth but she still didn't suck. At first, we were assured that she was probably just tired from the delivery and to let her sleep. As time went on, nothing changed, she still wouldn't eat, she wouldn't suck, no rooting or evidence of being hungry. This is when I started to panic. None of the books I read gave scenarios like this one. Sure enough, late into the evening the Neonatologist came in and told my husband and I, he thought Jaxlee should be admitted to the NICU for observation. What? What is the NICU? This was definitely not something I was prepared for or even thought was a possibility. Shortly after the Neonatologist left, a team of medical professionals came into our room, and swept Jaxlee away. 

There I was left in the room just my husband and me. Our brand new baby was taken away for testing & observation. What I didn't know was that for the time being, she was the hospitals baby, not mine, or so it felt this way. I was sobbing as she left the room. Sitting there feeling helpless. What was wrong with her? Will she be okay? I wanted to hold her, I wanted to kiss her, I wanted to smell her, but she wasn't there. As soon as I got the green light I walked over to the NICU to see her. I will never forget the way that place smelled & felt.  It was a sterile room, with millions of cords and monitors. There was strict entering protocol that must be followed, my face had to be recognized by the surveillance monitor in order to let me past the locked doors. As I walked in to see her for the first time, I was devastated to see her hooked up to the machines and monitors. She had an Nasogastric (NG) Tube, an IV, leads on her chest, and pulse pads on her feet. What happened to my baby? 

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I held her for as long as I could, until the nurses told me I needed go back to my room and get some rest. They could tell I would have been there all night if they allowed it. I had to say goodbye to her for the second time that day. My heart shattered as I left her. My brand new baby, whom I had waited so long to hold. I went back to my room, and did the only thing that I could do. I started pumping. I knew that if I started pumping and could get my milk going that Jax would be able to get my milk through her tube. After I finished, I cried myself to sleep.

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First thing in the morning when I woke up, I went over to see Jax. I had missed her so much and my arms couldn't wait to hold her again! I brought all my pumping supplies with me, and I was prepared to camp out there all day. I wanted to hold her and be with her ever minute I could!

I would go back to my room to use the bathroom, or to eat a quick bite but as soon as I was done I would hustle back to the NICU. This routine continued for the next two days until it was time for me to get discharged. I was dreading this because I knew what it would mean. Friday morning after going into see Jaxlee, I packed up all my stuff. The medical staff wanted me to go home and rest. This was frustrating to me, because after all my baby was not doing well, I was not going to go home and sleep because all I wanted to do was be with her. They insisted I go home to at least shower. So they loaded me up in the wheelchair, which I begged them to let me walk but it was hospital policy they had to wheel me out. Sobbing, empty handed, broken hearted, leaving the hospital without my baby. I got in my car and Jonny took me home.

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We listened to the song "Lord I need You" by Matt Maher, the entire way home. This was just the beginning of three very hard weeks with my baby in the NICU.