DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Huggies whose “No Baby Unhugged” program is offering $10,000 grants to eligible hospitals to launch a new volunteer hugging program or support an existing one. In this story, NYC Dads Group member Jason Greene recalls his daughter’s birth which resulted in an extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where he witnessed and received needed hugs.
My purple and limp daughter was placed upon my wife’s chest briefly before chaos ensued.
While my wife was going through post-delivery checks, I inched toward my infant daughter’s body as doctors and nurses flooded the room. I watched as they feverishly worked on her. My face cringed and heart broke while a doctor smacked her foot.
“Breathe, Miciah, breathe,” trembled from my mouth.
Slowly, her chest rose, and then she was rushed out of the room. I followed until I was told I could go no farther.
The next time I saw my new daughter was through a glass box in the NICU. To touch her, I needed to stick my hands through holes in the box attached to gloves. I had not been in the room long before a new group of nurses were starting their shift and the departing nurses needed to update them. I stepped behind a window and watched as the nurses walked from baby to baby. Sometimes the nurses nodded in agreement, and all too frequently, they tilted their heads with concerned expressions. Their faces said it all. In that room, they were the caregivers. It wasn’t just a job, it was an act of love.
The love the nurses gave came in many forms. I saw countless hugs being given by nurses to their tiny patients, hugs that carried powerful warmth, love and strength. A recent study by Huggies called, “The Power of Human Touch for Babies,” found that skin to skin hugs can help keep a baby’s heart beating at a normal rate, improve sleep, and support healthy weight gain. My eyes tell me all this is true.
The NICU nurses knew when a different type of love was needed, too. One time I was holding my daughter’s finger while wearing gloves the first day when my daughter needed a diaper change. My daughter looked so fragile with wires and tubes attached to her body. I got a nurse’s attention and informed her my daughter needed assistance. I expected the nurse to walk over and change the diaper. The nurse grabbed a Huggies diaper and tossed it to me and said, “Get to it, daddy.”
This might sound rude to some people, but it wasn’t. It was what I needed to experience. Normalcy. Changing diapers is about as normal as you can get regarding babies. I already had a 2-year-old, so I was well versed in diaper changing. And I have always said changing a baby’s diaper creates one of the strongest bonds between parent and child. If the nurse had not given me the opportunity during that moment, my bonding with my daughter would have been delayed. So while I held the diaper in worried hands, they still went forward and did the job.
A few days later, I fell asleep with my head resting on top of the glass box while my daughter held my finger through the gloves. A beeping machine startled me and the same nurse smacked a few buttons quieting the machine. Once the room was silent, she placed her hand upon my back and said sweetly, “It’s OK, daddy, go back to sleep.” And I did.
NICU nurses have one of the toughest jobs in the world. They take newborn babies struggling for life and with care and love, get them started on the best track possible. Along with struggling babies are struggling parents. We are sleep deprived, confused and helpless. The nurses end up caring for us as well.
You can help give more hugs to babies who need them most when you become a Huggies member. Sign up at Huggies.com/NoBabyUnhugged and Huggies will donate $5 to No Baby Unhugged grants.
About our sponsor
Huggies believes deeply in the Power of Hugs, which is why every diaper and wipe is inspired by a parent’s embrace. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged program helps ensure all babies get the hugs they need to thrive by supporting hugging programs in hospitals and donating diapers across the country. Learn how you can help at Huggies.com. #HuggiesCouncil #ad