There is not a parent who can ever adequately prepare for prematurity. There is not a NICU medical team member who doesn’t go the extra mile for their babies and their families.
It is an understatement to say that a NICU journey is overwhelming. There was a time when premature babies were regularly exhibited (yes, exhibited) at the World’s Fair in baby warmers that were not much more than placing warm heat in an enclosed box. Today, the majority of premature infants will survive because of the advances in NICU care. Yet, in spite of all the incredible scientific and medical progress, the NICU journey of each premature baby and their family is often blanketed in a fog of uncertainty and indeterminacy. This is unlikely to change anytime soon. This is because a premature baby’s organ systems are still in the process of maturing and it is this blanketed fog that parents and their medical teams work together to shepherd preemies through.
However, our human endowed genetic blueprint of development is a miracle. How we start out in life is not where we will end up. Even for the most fragile premature babies, when they make it through the first week of life, their little bodies will continue to reach for their best outcome. Each day of life IS the celebration. Each day builds to a week, a month, a year, a kindergarten graduation—just like there are many patterns to tree rings that signify all the different ways a tree has survived and thrived. Each premature infant’s pattern of maturation is unique. Trees need sunlight, water, and nutrients from the soil to grow. For humans, our sunlight, water, and nutrients are actual social interactions and relationships. Even the healthiest full term baby, without human social interaction and nurturing relationships will perish. It is disheartening that we know this from a time when healthy infant orphans were given food, shelter, and clothing, but not enough social interactions.
Our human miracle and superpower is our capacity for meaningful and nurturing human interactions.
It has become a belabored irony that in an age of technology, even though we are more and more connected, our human to human interactions can feel more shallow. There is no place where actual human interactions are more critical than in the life of a baby. To activate this for premature babies, every individual connected to the preemie must have access to give and receive meaningful and nurturing human interactions. When we do this for each other, we refuel, and then we can be our best parent selves. This is the foundation of PreeMe+You. After many years of working with families, Bree and Yaya keep coming back to this essential human superpower. The power of making interactions matter. Together, we can help nurture each baby and their families so we can all continue to grow and thrive.
Yaya, Bree, and Team PreeMe+You