Who Are Preemie Clothes Really For?
It was a beautiful Monday morning. My husband and I were talking about some new product pictures I have been working on for the Preemie Store website. We were discussing how NICU-Friendly the little shirts are from Perfectly Preemie. During that conversation, he brought up a very important question that sparked this blog post. He asked me, "Who are these preemie clothes really for?" It made me stop and think for a minute because sometimes when I am waist-deep in everything about our company, I might not see the big picture as clearly. He said that he felt that even though we have best clothing for preemies to wear in the NICU, the people who benefit the most are the parents and grand parents. I agreed with him, and it sparked a memory of a fact I heard very early on in my NICU journey. "Providing normalcy to parents helps both the parents and baby." I learned many years ago that studies have shown when parents feel a part of the NICU process, they do better, and the baby does better. In regards to dressing them, a nurse told me it helps the preemie feel the connection to their parent because physical touch is essential helping the babies thrive. The power of parental physical touch is demonstrated by more and more hospitals encouraging parents to practice kangaroo care (skin on skin contact). This physical connection is a very good reason to take the time, effort and investment to put clothes on tiny preemies even when they will hopefully grow out of them quickly.
Please keep in mind that when a parent can research, shop, wash, dress, and see their little one in a cute small shirt or sleeper, it provides that little bit of "normalcy." I have mentioned several times in previous blog posts that so many of us mothers started shopping for that cute little outfit the moment we found out we were pregnant. That is one of the fun things to do during pregnancy! We all know there are plenty of unpleasant things like morning sickness, too many Doctor appointments, and even your belly hitting the kitchen counter when your cooking! So when we can plan for our baby's arrival with the purchase of the perfect sleeper, or a bodysuit with a great little saying on it, pregnancy challenges can be smoothed over. Fast forward to a surprise NICU visit and now that special going home outfit is multiple sizes too big! Wouldn't it be great to find a cute little garment that works perfectly for your baby to wear in the NICU? I say, "Yes!" Why not get some adorable, NICU-Friendly shirts, gowns, or jumpsuits that will brighten up a parent's day? Let's brighten up the NICU with some lions, a cactus or spring flower print garments! One big benefit is they help distract from all the medical devices that are necessary to monitor your preemie's needs. Parents have an easier time looking past the beeps and the technical medical world of the NICU while enjoying a special connection to their baby.
I should acknowledge the fact that it is totally up to your NICU to determine when your preemie can wear clothing. After 26 years in this arena, I realize that every hospital's requirements are different, and every preemie is unique. It is the same story with the oft asked question, "When can my baby come home?" I think it is very encouraging to be able to dream and purchase a special going home outfit (that will properly fit) for when your favorite preemie graduates from the NICU! All of us like to have goals we are working toward. Having those going home garments ready ahead of time will pull you forward to that glorious day!
Some may say I write these things because of the business I am in. My response is that I am in this business because I believe in the things I am writing. I have seen first hand and have heard from so many parents about the first time they saw their little preemie in clothing that fits. The normalcy that moment brings is priceless. The NICU journey is not an easy one; every day may bring highs and lows, along with the uncertainty of what tomorrow may bring. Parents are scared to death at times and it is our goal to try to help with the simple idea of providing parents with the very best clothing for their little miracle.
"Most new moms excitedly plan “going home” outfits for when they get discharged with a healthy term baby, usually two or three days later. Three days after my delivery, on May 16th, those outfits were sitting untouched in my packed hospital bag, far too big for my itty-bitty girls, and there were no discharge plans. Instead, I shuffled wearily down the short hall from my hospital room to the NICU, still hunched over in pain recovering from surgery. It was a trip I’d already made dozens of times, but this time was different. I stood between my girls’ isolettes and burst into tears.
The nurses had dressed them. It was the very first time I’d seen them in clothes: colorful little preemie onesies that someone, at some point, had donated to the NICU. Polly wore a pretty floral print onesie; Violet’s had giraffes and elephants and a sweet little bow.
I cried not just in gratitude, but because for the first time in our scary, emotional journey, my little girls suddenly looked like... my little *girls*. My eyes were no longer drawn to the tubes and wires, but to the delicate lace and flowers on their tiny sleeves, adorning their fragile little arms. My daughters’ arms.
Oh my gosh, my *daughters*. I could finally say that!"
As I was writing this post, we received these two message from our customers – talk about timing!
"A friend delivered a 3.5lb baby yesterday. Years ago, I had a 2lb baby. I just want to thank you for having your product available. Thirty years ago, we dressed our son in doll clothes and cut openings for all the tubes and leads. It is nice to have a more normalized collection to choose from. Thank you."
"Such a cute store! Being an Aunt of a preemie soon to be born, this has been such a joy to find...I’m excited to gift these to her parents! Finding precious things that are just for my niece to wear whilst being in NICU. Thank you for supporting all the bitty babies, because they are deserving to have cute clothes too!"
Here are a few more thoughts from our customers:
"My friends felt so helpless when their son was born early on short notice. I can't tell you how much this onesie meant to them. Being able to dress their son in clothes that fit let them see their little baby boy, not just tubes and wires. I'm glad I sent it to them immediately, as it gave them some control over when felt like an uncontrollable situation."
"I bought this for a premie of 1.4 lbs. She wasn''t able to wear it right away because of her delicate skin. Once she was able to wear the shirt, parents and nurses liked the ability to put it on the premie without disturbing the baby or the tubes. The mom commented on how clothing helps make her premie seem more like a baby and her dressing her baby allowed for more bonding time. Not only is the shirt pretty, it functions well with the tubes required in a baby 1.4 lbs."
"Many people said not to buy
micro-preemiesized clothes for my daughter... that she'd use it for such a short time. I'm sorry - if you've never spent months in the NICU, please don't tell me what a SHORT amount of time that is!
For me, dressing my daughter when she
was inthe 1-3 lb clothing (and then the 2-4 lb clothing, which is what she came home in) made a huge difference for me.
First of all, most of the clothes are made so they can actually be worn - where you can dress baby without disconnecting all the tubing/wires/monitors/etc. Second, dressing Z in the NICU made her feel like any other baby who gets eventually dressed after they're born. When I brought my first son home, he had clothes on. When my 35w 1lb son was in the NICU, we had clothes on him after the second day. Putting clothes on my NICU girl made it feel like she wasn't just another naked tiny NICU baby - but MY baby. It was just one little thing that gave me some sense of normalcy amongst so many things that felt VERY not normal.
I understand it's not right for everyone - but it helped me tremendously. Now we have these clothes to look back on - some tops no bigger than the packs of the saltine crackers I was given when still postpartum in the hospital - and we can see how far she's come. It blows my mind to buy 3T size clothes finally! Now she can use those same
micro-preemieclothes for some of her dolls. Or even if they don't see any more use - we still see them as something that helped us get through a tremendously hard times. Thank you to The Preemie Store for having these options for our sweet wee ones."
"I remember very clearly the day that I first saw my daughter dressed. I hadn't expected it, but when I entered her room that morning, there she was, dressed in a far-too-big onesie! It was the first time she looked like a 'typical' newborn. I was so overwhelmed by the sight, I just stood in her room and cried. Our NICU didn't swaddle, but I also remember the first time I saw my daughter swaddled, when she was at another hospital for surgery. I asked if I could take her out and hold her, expecting to have some Kangaroo Care time, and instead, they just swaddled her and handed her to me, like you would a full-term baby after its birth! I was so perplexed ("you mean, I can just hold her? Just in my arms, like everyone else does?"), but it was a beautiful moment. A reminder that eventually we'd be just like every other family with babies, and we were just taking a different route to get there.
(I also highly recommend, as you mentioned, bringing clothes from home for NICU babies. Bringing clothes, getting our twins dressed, taking their laundry home to wash, writing their names on their sleepers, it all made us feel like normal parents in a very abnormal environment!)"
I am always thrilled to hear from customers and see pictures of your little fighters, so if you would like to share them with me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also here to answer any questions you may have, and if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
Have a Great Day!
I asked this question to my followers on Instagram, and received this beautiful answer. This mother shares exactly what my thoughts are in this blog post.
They are for Emmett - born at 28 weeks 4 days and in the NICU going on 8 weeks now. They are for keeping him warm out of the isolette. They are for adding some element of normalcy to the heartbreaking daily grind of the NICU. They are for allowing mom and dad to feel like a mom and dad with the simple, and often taken for granted, task of dressing your baby. They are for concealing wires and monitors so you can actually see your baby for who they are and not a patient in a hospital. They are really so much more than clothes to so many people.