In just a few weeks we will be celebrating Hannah Grace's first birthday. On the 29th of August. I can hardly believe it is almost a year since we first met her and held her in our arms.
Sadly a year later Hannah isn’t here with us, and we can’t just buy her the standard one year old birthday presents. But we still want to do something special for her birthday.
Jeremy and I have decided we would like to take a big basket of items to the Christchurch neonatal unit to donate in Hannah's memory. This is where we spent all of our time with her, and we are so thankful for the care she received there. But having a baby in the unit is so stressful for families, so we want to encourage and bless them. Just as we were blessed by friends while we were in there.
I know from experience how difficult it was for me having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, and spending all of my time in there with her. Jeremy and I lived in a room on the neonatal floor for the week that Hannah was in the unit, and our whole life revolved around her and her needs. That unit is a world of its own. When you are in there, nothing outside of it seems to matter. Many parents face having their baby in there for months. Some of the babies have life threatening conditions, and each day is a battle. And some of the Mums have other children to still take care of, health issues of their own, or little support from friends and family.
So our plan is to collect new items that we will put together into pretty encouragement parcels for some of those parents and their babies. We will do some packs with baby items that are helpful in the neonatal setting, and some packs with items to help and encourage the Mums themselves. Jeremy and I are collecting the donations, so we can visit the unit and take all the gifts in together.
If Hannah’s life touched you in any way, would you consider donating something??
We are collecting NEW items; such as hand/foot print kits, little hats, prem size baby clothes, blankets, small soft toys, and pampering items for the mums. Or other things you think might be useful. If you have an idea but are unsure if it is suitable, feel free ask me. We would love it if items could be dropped off to us or my parents this week, or at the latest in the next 10 days.
Read on for more information about each of the item ideas…
Hand/Foot print kits: These give the opportunity for parents to create keepsake memories of their baby. Whether or not their baby ends up making it and coming home, having a nice kit to take their hand or foot prints is a special way of capturing these. When Hannah was in the unit a nurse got some ink prints of her feet on a little medical card, and I am so thankful for those prints, but it would have been cool to have something a little nicer to hold this special memory.
Little hats and premature sized baby clothes: These are always useful. Especially for babies that are born very premature, as their parents probably weren’t expecting their birth yet, so may not be prepared. Small woollen hats are especially helpful, as little babies aren’t able to regulate their body temperatures, and these help keep them warm. Little clothes are good too, especially ones that can be easily put on and taken off. And ones that can work around tubes are extra helpful!
Blankets: Having a cute little blanket to wrap baby in is really nice. Blankets made of natural materials (eg. wool) are especially good, as they breathe. It is nice for parents to have pretty blankets to cover their baby, to wrap them in when holding them, and as special keepsakes to take home with them afterwards. I treasure each of the blankets that Hannah used while in the unit, and will always keep them in her special memory box. They bring back a lot of memories.
Small soft toys: Little teddy bears etc. are nice to have on baby’s cot or beside their incubator in the unit. They also make nice keepsakes afterwards as they are a special reminder of that time of baby’s life. Hannah’s teddy bears were in lots of her photos, and now they sit in her room as a reminder of her.
Items especially for the Mums: Little items for Mum like a nice hand lotion, lip balm, a chocolate bar, barley sugars, and little boxes of juice for energy, are really helpful when you are spending most of your time at your baby’s side. When Hannah was in the NICU I certainly found these little things handy and encouraging. For example a friend bought in a pack of little boxes of orange juice for us, and they were just the right size for a little pick me up when I was hot and thirsty and tired in the neonatal unit. The unit is kept at a high temperature to keep the babies warm, so your skin dries out a lot too. Another friend sent me a gift box with body lotion and shower gel which was nice, and that scent became something that I will always associate with Hannah.
Items can be dropped off to us or to my parents. Please do so in the next week! Jeremy and I will then put all the gifts together and take them in to the neonatal unit for Hannah’s birthday.
Financial donations – If you are unable to buy an item/some items and drop them off to us (for example for those of you who live far away), but you would still like to give something towards Hannah’s birthday gift, we are also collecting financial donations. We have talked to the manager of the Christchurch neonatal unit, and she has requested that we raise some money to buy some ‘Play with a Purpose’ packs for their unit. Read on for more information…
Play with a Purpose Packs: These packs cost $5 each, and contain some small toys to provide a distraction for children who are spending time at the hospital (either themselves, or with their siblings). Items vary depending on age but can include things such as bubble mixture, a squeezy ball, stickers or a book. An information card explaining to caregivers how to distract the child using the toys is also part of the pack.
Christchurch hospital already has Play with a Purpose packs in its Children’s Acute Assessment Unit, and the staff in CAAU love being able to give the play packs to the children they care for as it helps make the experience more positive for everybody. Results from this ward and others that have used them have shown that these packs benefit children, parents, family and staff. Children’s anxiety, frustration and discomfort is managed better and they are less stressed.
The Christchurch neonatal unit doesn’t have any Play with a Purpose packs currently, but would love to be able to buy some. The manager of the neonatal floor would love to see money raised so that these packs can be provided for siblings of babies in the unit, as they have to spend a lot of time in the hospital environment. It is a stressful time for their parents, so these packs would be a huge help in keeping older siblings entertained. We have told the unit manager we will try to raise some money in memory of Hannah, so that we can purchase some packs for them for her birthday.
If you would like to donate money for us to purchase some of these Play with a Purpose packs for the unit, please message me and I will give you our bank account number so you can do this.
Thank you SO much to everyone who has already indicated they want to donate something! And thank you in advance to those of you who still will. It means so much to us, as it will to the parents who receive the donations, and we REALLY appreciate you doing this for Hannah Grace. We’re missing her a lot as her birthday approaches, but it is nice to be able to bless others in her memory. It is healing to be able to bring some good out of our pain.
Thanks, we look forward to hearing from you and receiving some items over the next week!! If you have any questions please just ask.
God bless,Jeremy, Rebecca, Hannah, & Bubs