Many people send a little gift when a baby is born. That happens far less often when your baby is premature. Several of my friends told me that they wanted to send something, but were “afraid the boys would die and then the gift would be a tragic reminder.” Having already lost a son, I new that having some extra blue sleepers laying around would not make a scrap bit of difference.
The thing is, a birth is a birth and should be celebrated. I always tell people, “Send what you would have if the baby were born at term.” However, it is always nice to give a gift that shows you really thought about what would be meaningful.
So, here are some gift ideas that are free or very inexpensive and really speak volumes:
1) Give blood and send a little card saying you gave blood in honor of the new baby. Many preemies need a blood transfusion, sometimes more than one. The blood used for preemies is always from donors at lowest risk of infections and of course, blood banks are always in need. Many of the Red Cross blood banks have special “preemie” donors (blood for preemies has to be clear of a virus call CMV, an infection which is no big deal for a healthy adult but could be deadly for a preemie). If you live in the same town, you can call up the NICU and find out how you can be screened to be a directed donor. If you are a match and your blood passes the testing, a unit will be on hold for the baby. If it isn’t used, it will go to another baby in need. Even if you are not a match, don’t qualify to donate for preemies, or live in another city, still give blood. If everyone did that, there would never be a shortage of blood for anyone. When my boys were in the hospital, one of the secretaries was a low-risk donor and when she heard that she matched Victor’s blood type, she marched across the street to give a unit of blood for him. I will never forget that kindness.
2) Get up to date on your vaccines and then send a little note indicating you did that in honor of the new baby. Depending on your insurance this could be free or $10 or so at Walgreen’s or the County Health Department. Preemies are more likely to die from pertussis and influenza, and the more people vaccinated, the safer for preemies everywhere. Gift ideas #1 and #2 are great no matter what the age of the baby!
3) If you live in the city, drop by to clear the snow, mow the lawn, or take the dog for a walk. All these little life things fall by the wayside when your baby is in the hospital. You can’t fix oxygen levels or make a baby eat, but you can help clear away the little nagging worries.
4) Drop by with a home made dinner or a bag of groceries that can easily be assembled into dinner. Parents forget to eat when their baby is in the hospital, but they really need the energy and the good nutrition, especially if mom is breastfeeding of pumping.
Tomorrow’s post: gift’s for preemie parents that are under $50