Sunday, August 26, 2007

8/26 - Encouraging Message - Believe and Follow Your Aspirations

This message of encouragement comes from Lousia May Alcott, author of "Little Women" a reminder to believe in our highest aspirations.
Far away there in the sunshine
are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them
but I can look up
and see their beauty,
believe in them,
and try to follow them.

Louisa May Alcott
As a parent, we hold the highest aspirations for our child(ren) and dream of their beautiful future. This message of encouragement is a helpful one to remember and to hang on to during the times when it may be difficult to believe.

Keep looking up, keep believing and keep following those dreams.

Photo Source: Manoel Silva.
Clouds. Royalty Free Use.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Creatively Coping: Fabric Keepsake Memory Envelope

Newborns in Need, an charity organization that serves the needs of newborns and Laurie Anderson of Southern Stitches and offer another beautiful, healing idea for NICU Parents who have lost a newborn.

Fabric Memory Envelopes are keepsakes given to the grieving family after the loss of their baby.

These keepsake envelope, lovingly stitched by generous hearts gives the family something they will always have as a part of their baby.

Smaller Memory Envelopes are used with to hold all of the precious keepsakes that the mother and baby received while in the hospital.

The version used by the Columbia Chapter of Threads of Love includes a Recognition of Life Certificate where a picture of the baby can be included if desired. A special prayer is included for the family on the certificate.

With larger Memory Envelopes NICU staff can tuck inside the clothing that the baby had worn, the memory blanket the mother had held the baby in, a photograph of the baby, the birth certificate or even a lock of the baby’s hair.

A Fabric Memory Envelope is a heart-felt way to help Grieving NICU Parents cope with the loss of a child. Creative family and friends may want to craft their own special Keepsake Envelopes as a memorable gift to a bereaved NICU parent.

The Southern Stitches preemie patterns are to be used only for charity sewing for preemies, no sales are allowed.
The designs and instructions themselves are copyrighted and all rights remain with Laurie Anderson/Southern Stitches.

The Newborns in Need Sewing patterns have been provided by Newborns in Need volunteers. While you may use them for charitable purposes, please respect copyright laws and do not sell these patterns or items made from these patterns. They are intended to be made and given free of charge to needy babies and their families.

Remember these designs are for charity use only. No sales are allowed.

Pattern Sources:
Anderson L. Fabric Memory Envelope. Threads of Love. Southern Stitches.
Recognition of Life Certificate. Threads of Love. Columbia, TN Chapter.
Eldridge P. Memory Envelope Version 1. Newborns in Need.
Thor R. Memory Envelope Version 2. Newborns in Need.
Vanspeybroeck A. Memory Envelope Version 3. Newborns in Need.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

8/21 - Comforting Message - Enduring the Darkness to See the Light

I seem to find these quotes about the night sky to be comforting and instilling a sense of hope that you will make it through the dark times, and that sometimes, something very unexpected emerges from facing these challenges.

Full Moon Sky
I will love the light
for it shows me the way,
yet I will endure the darkness
for it shows me the stars.
Og Mandino

I recently included another quote about darkness and the stars from our Grief, Loss and Comfort Collection on the Journey of Hearts blog. See the blog entry for
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at Grief, Loss & Comfort Quote - The Stars Openings in Heaven.

More Comforting Moments and Comforting Messages

Photo Source: Lynne Lancaster. Night Sky 2. Royalty Free Use.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

8/15 - Encouraging Message - Learning from Challenges

I have always grown
from my problems and challenges.

From the things that don't work out,
that's when I've really learned.
Carol Burnett

Comedians often turn to comedy as a way of coping with their life challenges and hardships. Carol Burnett has faced many hardships and losses in her life, including the death of both a husband and a daughter.

I think as NICU Parents and as parents in general, we often wish that there weren't as many problems and challenges to learn from.

Many of us discover a strong internal sense of strength, for some a light, that helps to guide us through the difficult times.

Resources for Managing Your NICU Challenge:

Photo Source: Stefanie L. Breakthrough. Royalty Free Use.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Introducing the NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel

I am pleased to announce that the NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel is available now for your listening.

The channel has already been described as a "useful and comforting guide" and "a very powerful creation" one that should be of significant assistance to NICU families.

I created the NICU Parent Podcast Channel as part of a course that I took this summer on Podcasting for Teaching through the @ONE's Online Courses.

About the NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel
The NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel is a series of audio messages of information, Support and encouragement for parents and families who have babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN).

This audio channel is a collection of audio messages that provide information, encouragement, support and comfort for NICU parents. Some of the recordings are longer, more informative episodes; other episodes are shorter, recorded messages of encouragement, support and comfort.

The Channel Line Up
The NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel has 5 episodes so far. Each episode also has a downloadable PDF file of the transcript for the episode that you can read along with the audio message.
  • Episode 1: Introduction to the NICU Parent Support Audio and Podcast Channel
  • Episode 2: Dreaming New Dreams after Picking up the Pieces of Broken Dreams
  • Episode 3: Searching for Answers to the Difficult Questions
  • Episode 4: A Special Healing Blessing - Version 1: Tibetan Bowls, Chimes & Bells
  • Episode 4: A Special Healing Blessing - Version 2: Traditional Lullaby
The plan is to get a collection of podcasts that parents can listen to one daily during the early days of the NICU for information, encouragement and support.

Subscribing to the NICU Parent Support Audio or Podcast
You can subscribe to the NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel in one of three ways:

On iTunes: You can subscribe to the NICU Parent Audio & Podcast on iTunes by clicking on the iTunes icon to the left, on this link, or on the iTunes icon in the Blog sidebar.

As a RSS Feed: You can also subscribe to the feed for the NICU Parent Audio & Podcast Channel by clicking on the Feed icon to the left or on this link or the Channel's RSS Feed in our Blog sidebar.

As a WebPage with Links: You can directly pick which audio message and/or pdf files you want to listed to by visiting the webpage for the NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast channel that lists out all of the available episodes.

For More Information or to read reviews visit the NICU Parent Support Site Audiocast page.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

8/13 - Comforting Message - Hope Makes the Present Moment Less Difficult

A simple message today from Thich Nhat Hanh:
Hope is important because
it can make
the present moment
less difficult to bear.

If we believe
that tomorrow will be better,

We can bear a hardship today.
Thich Nhat Hanh

It is my hope that by providing you with information, resources and support on the NICU Parent Support site that you will find some hope, so that the present moment, the present situation you may be experiencing with your NICU baby will be easier to bear.

May you come to believe your tomorrow be better than today.

Other Resources on "Hope"
Dyer K. Asking Why and Finding Hope. June 17, 2007. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer K. Pitter Patter: A Message of Hope from a Former Preemie. June 9, 2007. NICU Parent Support Blog.

Photo Source: Alexander Abolinsh.
ONE... TWO... FREEDOM!!! Royalty Free Use.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

8/12 - Encouraging Moment - Riding the NICU Roller Coaster Ride

The NICU experience is often described by many parents as a roller coaster ride. It is a series of highs and lows, ups and down, times that are exhilarating, uplifting and exciting, followed by times when all you can do is close your eyes and hang on for dear life.

I think it is helpful for parents to realized that they are in for a series of ups and downs, hopefully more ups than downs during their NICU time.

Riding the NICU Roller coaster
This passage comes from Dianne I. Maroney, a NICU Nurse, NICU Parent and owner of the website She describes the Roller coaster ride of the NICU:
For years I had been telling parents,

"Having a baby in the NICU is a roller coaster ride."

Although accurate, the analogy pales beside the reality.

The range of emotions is beyond imagining.

There is the moment of joy
when she opens her eyes peacefully,
followed by panic at the slightest hint of trouble.
You can read more from her article on "Helping Parents Survive the Emotional "Roller Coaster Ride" in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit" published on the site

Photo Credit: Peter Hamza. Rollercoaster. Royalty Free Use.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Near-term NICU Babies at Greater Risk for NICU Stay than Full-Term Infants

A Near-term infant is born roughly four or five weeks before his or her estimated due date.
Near-term babies on average are healthier than preemies, however recent studies are showing that they may not be quite as healthy as full-term babies. Babies born three to six weeks early are at greater risk for potentially serious health problems than full-term newborns and often require longer or repeated hospital stays.

Wang and colleagues reported in a 2004 study on Clinical Outcomes of Near-Term Infants that near-term babies had significantly more medical problems and higher hospital costs than full-term babies. In addition Near-term babies were more likely to be evaluated for infections and have low blood sugar, unstable temperatures, breathing problems and jaundice.

They concluded that, "Near-term infants had significantly more medical problems and increased hospital costs compared with contemporaneous full-term infants. Near-term infants may represent an unrecognized at-risk neonatal population."

Initiative to Improve Care of Late Preterm (Near-Term) Infants
To get the word out about the potential special needs of late preterm or near-term infants, in 2005 the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) launched the Late Preterm Infant Initiative.

This multi-year endeavor was created to addresses the special needs of infants born between 34 and 36 completed weeks of gestation. It is important for parents to understand that these near-term infants may face different and more serious health problems than most full-term infants. As such, parents need to be alert for the special situations or needs that may arise in near-term infants.

Their goals included increasing both health care provider and consumer awareness of the risks associated with late preterm birth while ensuring educational resources are available for nurses and health care providers to provide appropriate assessment and care for these vulnerable newborns.

Dyer KA. 2007. Big Near-Term and Sick Newborns are the Majority of the NICU Admissions. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Keeling L. Near-term babies at the NICU suffer from deceptive weakness. June 11, 2007. Evansville Courier & Press.

Rubin R. 'Near-term' unease grows. USA Today. October 9, 2005.
Wang ML, Dorer DJ, Flemming MP. Catlin EA. 2004. Clinical Outcomes of Near-Term Infants. Pediatrics. 114(2):372-376. 2005. The AWHONN Late Preterm Infant Initiative. 2005. National Nurses Association Announces Initiative to Improve Care of Late Preterm (Near-Term) Infants and Educate Parents, Nurses about Their Needs. Press Release.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Big Near-Term and Sick Newborns are the Majority of the NICU Admissions

Even though people associate the (NICU) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with premature babies, near-term babies, the fact is that those babies who are closer to term (40 weeks) are often the ones most frequently admitted.

We get this all the time when I mention my daughter was in the NICU. "Oh, she was a preemie?" "No. She was a Sick Newborn."

Near-term infant - a newborn closer to term (40 weeks), often between 34 and 36 weeks or born roughly four or five weeks before his or her estimated due date.

Late preterm infant - Near-term infant

Premature baby - a newborn born before 34 weeks

Sick Newborn - Newborns that are near term or term infants who require Intensive Care intervention for a variety of problems or diseases.
Some near-term or sick newborns experience complications from oxygen deprivation during delivery or wet lungs after a Cesarean section.

Big NICU Babies

According to an article on near-term babies, Dr. Kenneth Herrman, neonatologist and medical director of newborn services at Deaconess Women's Hospital at Riley Hospital for Children in Evansville, IL:
The big babies, closer to term, are the majority, and they stay for the shortest amount of time.

If you would walk through the nursery on any particular day, you would have the impression the NICU is filled with premature babies because they stay a disproportionately longer amount of time.
Our daughter was not a preemie, she was a sick newborn diagnosed with PPHN, or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. She required supportive ventilation on a respirator because of high pressure in the lungs and ended up in the NICU.

Combing the Internet for Resources on Sick Newborns
It took me several days after our daughter was hospitalize in the NICU to find online resources for parents of sick newborns since most of the online resources, organizations and online groups are for parents of preemies. This was extremely frustrating for someone used to finding information quickly online.

Thankfully I stumble upon the helpful resources about Sick Newborns written by neonatologist, Dr. Jane E. Brazy and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin. Over the years, these resources for Sick Newborns are ones that I continue to refer to for my NICU articles. The excellent resources are now being hosted by Meriter Health Services.

Keeling L. Near-term babies at the NICU suffer from deceptive weakness. June 11, 2007. Evansville Courier & Press.
Rubin R. 'Near-term' unease grows. USA Today. October 9, 2005.
Brazy JE. et. al. Sick Newborn Health. Meriter Health Services.

Matt & Janet Dustin. All her machines at the NICU. Creative Commons License.

Monday, August 6, 2007

8/6 - Comforting Message - Overcoming the Pain and Suffering

Today's comforting quote comes from Helen Keller, a woman who was both deaf and blind, but overcame these obstacles to become a college graduate, author, lecturer and activist.

Although the world is full of suffering,

it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller

When you are right in the midst of suffering and feeling intense pain, it may be difficult to believe that you will ever get beyond the suffering. For NICU Parents these moments can be overwhelming, disheartening and heart-breaking.

Seeing the Other Side
One way of helping to get through the suffering phase is to find someone who has made it through and seen the other side of the suffering and talk to them, to get a glimpse of the future.

Other NICU parents, the NICU nurses and Physicians who have been there and seen positive outcomes from the NICU can help provide valuable perspective whether it is a baby being eventually discharged to home, or if it is helping a family create memories and spend the last precious moments with their dying baby.

If you NICU is lucky enough to have a NICU Parent Pathfinder or someone designated to help get NICU parents oriented, be sure to use their resources.

Photo Source:
Robbie Ribeiro. Nature's Force. Royalty Free Use.

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

8/5 - Encouraging Message - The True Rewards of Saving NICU Babies

Today's message of encouragement quote comes from NICU Nurse, Marcia Kilpatrick.

There is no black and white
here in the intensive care nursery.

Go ahead
and spit out your dismal statistics,
but the real truth
is in the toothless smile of the baby
anyone else would have given up on.

It is highly likely if my youngest daughter had been born even 10 years earlier than she was, or born in a more rural setting that she would not be with us here today. The survival statistics for her condition (PPHN) at that time were much worse.

I am grateful for the care that the NICU staff provided my daughter. I am thankful that we lived near a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so she got the treatment and the advance level of care that she needed to support her heart and lungs (
cardio-respiratory system) during the first few critical hours of life.

The True Rewards

This quote was a good reminder for me as a healthcare provider and as a parent. Sometimes the greatest rewards for what we do in healthcare and what we do as parents, comes from the most unlikely places. In the case of healthcare, the rewards come from our patients, in the case of being a parent--from our children.

About the Quote
This quote was one that I saved from a blog posting from June. Unfortunately, Marcia has since decided to take down her Ants Go Marching Blog. She is still blogging for the Columbus Parent. You can read her blog entries under
Ants Marching.


Kilpatrick, M. What I Do. Ants Marching Blog. June 2006. Previously Available at Marcia Kilpatrick Blogspot.

Photo Source:
Denz Zani. Baby Face. Royalty Free Use.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Creatively Coping: Preemie Prayer Pockets

Laurie Anderson of Southern Stitches has created a beautiful idea for NICU Parents and their family and friends. You can create a Preemie Prayer Pocket as a gift for parents, family, friends and nurses to wear and think about your baby or other NICU babies. It is a wonderful idea of creatively coping with the NICU.

Preemie Prayer Pocket

The tiny footprints on the design were taken from a 14-week old baby weighing 3 oz. You can download the instructions on her website. Follow the directions to create the pocket, enclose the preemie prayer, or any other message.

To simply attach a pin to the back for wearing, or use baby diaper pins if you want something more decorative.

The Prayer for the Preemie Pocket
Preemie Prayer Pockets have an prayer enclosed within the pocket.

Prayer for the Prayer Pocket

If you have worries, fears and tears
for this tiny baby, held so dear,
just tuck them in this little heart…
Angels will take them to God above
and He will comfort you with His healing love.
When you come back later and peek inside.
You will see there's nothing left to hide…
for God's love will forever abide.
Once you get the Preemie Pocket Prayer, you can write down your own concerns and stick them in the pocket.


The preemie patterns are to be used only for charity sewing for preemies, no sales are allowed.
The designs and instructions themselves are copyrighted and all rights remain with Laurie Anderson/Southern Stitches

Designs © Laurie Anderson, Southern Stitches. The designs are for charity use only. No sales are allowed.

Anderson L. Preemie Prayer Pockets. Threads of Love. Southern Stitches.

Other Resources on Prayer Pockets:
Prayer Pockets. Forum. Martha Sewing Made Easy.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

8/2 - Comforting Moment: Remember to Breathe...Again and Again

This Comforting Moment comes from a blog post that I found by Liz Elayne on her Seek Gratitude Blog.

It is a simple reminder of a very useful coping strategy for anyone experiencing a stressful time, but it can be used and adapted as a simple mantra for NICU parents to get through today or tonight.

i breathe.
tonight i remember.
i breathe.



Liz Elayne Lamoreaux. 2007
. Day 72. Seek Gratitude Blog.

Image: Shawn Zehnder Lea. Breathe. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.