Don't Forget

Now that we are finally home, the whole hospital journey feels like a distant memory. Like a rumor I've heard about someone else or a dream I've had, I don't remember it as being me and my family that suffered through it. I began to wonder if this is something all parents in this situation go through, if its a coping mechanism we all use to dissociate ourselves from the memories to ease the pain. I accepted this feeling and became numbed to the experience of being there towards the end of our journey but now I feel I should embrace our story, our past and our success!

Along Aria's journey through the NICU, I had collected little mementos such as her monitor wires, CPAP hats and nasal guards etc. and decided to keep them all in a special memory box that my aunty had has specially made for her when she was born. (I even kept one of her super tiny nappies but I've misplaced it so it's not currently in her box). I think it's important for parents of early or sick babies to keep little reminders of their triumphs!
Every time I see her teeny tiny clothes I get sad remembering how baggy they were on her diddy see through body, with her skinny little limbs poking out of the sides; then I remember how adorable she looked, the compliments she used to get, the accomplishment of finally being allowed to wear clothes! Every time I look at her CPAP hats I feel overwhelmed remembering how long she was on it for, but then I think about how strong and hard she fought to come off it, I remember how I felt when they told me she needed a new sized hat because she was 'TOO BIG' for the one she had. Although all these reminders are of sad and tough times, they are paired with happy memories and feelings of sheer awe and overwhelming pride that my little whinge has made it through all of that.

I also, obviously, have kept her clothes. All of her clothes. Whenever Aria grew out of clothes (never thought it would happen) I separated them into two bags. Bag 1 was outgrown clothes to keep, bag 2 was outgrown clothes to donate. The clothes to keep I have decided I am going to make them into a memory blanket. Now I'm assuming everyone knows what a memory blanket is but just in case you don't, it's basically a patchwork blanket made of all their old baby clothes (obviously ones you don't want to keep for future children to wear, seeing as I hope I never have another 2lb baby I wont be keeping them!), bibs, blankets, anything fabric that you want to keep a memory of. I am going to do a separate post when I've collected enough of her baby clothes to actually make the blanket, but just thought I'd mention it here as this post is about remembering! It's worth noting that people do make teddies, pillows and other keepsakes out of their children's babygrows as well so the end product is up to you but I think it's a lovely thing to do to keep that memory for you and your children.

My advice for parents of preemie babies would be to keep everything that holds a memory for you. Clothes are a given but things I've kept are: all her hospital tags from each hospital, her transfer certificate for being brave in the ambulance for the transfer team, her splint from when she needed one of her many blood transfusions, her blood pressure cuff (which fits my little finger), her probe lead, her first ever special care baby grow which looks like a tabard so all her wires could escape out the sides, her CPAP hats in different sizes, her CPAP nose guards and prongs, her first booties and prem baby scratch mittens (which still don't fit her little hands!), photo's the nurses took for me while I wasn't there, her wires from her monitor, one of her super tiny nappies - unused, her first special dummy, her first bottle teat, and some hats that people knitted for her.

Due to the transfer I didn't get to keep things like her ventilator hat and her scent square (a special knitted square for babies in NICU where the mother has one and the babies do and you swap them so they have your scent and you have theirs) but I'd definitely recommend keeping them too!

Here's my photos of Aria's hospital memory box, and a small collection of her clothes I'm going to create my memory blanket out of.



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