Every year, thousands of families all over the country celebrate the holidays in neonatal intensive care units because their babies are too sick to celebrate at home. Nick and Jennifer Hall, the founders of Graham’s Foundation, know how that feels. Their twins, Graham and Reece, were born three months early on Thanksgiving Day and so as a family they missed weeks of special gatherings and festivities so they could be present for their babies.
The holidays can be a busy and overwhelming time of year for everyone, but it can be extra stressful for preemie parents. Many moms and dads feel pulled in two directions – they have a very real need to be there for their critically ill babies and are frustrated by holiday obligations they can’t fulfill. That’s why this year Graham’s Foundation sent 50 holiday helpers to NICUs around the US to hand deliver special holiday care packages just for families who were gathering around isolettes and open cribs instead of menorahs and Christmas trees.
These helpers were preemie parents themselves, and knew just how hard it can be to get into the holiday spirit with a baby in the NICU. So, with the help of Graham’s Foundation, they did everything they could to bring the holidays to the hospital. For some of these parents, delivering the care packages was a chance to have mini reunions with the doctors and nurses who cared for their babies. For others, it was a unique chance to share personal messages of hope with parents just beginning their journeys.
While a simple care package can’t replace the warmth and the wonder of the holiday season for new parents of preemies, there’s something very special in knowing that you are not alone. This year, thanks to Graham’s Foundation, families in 50 NICUs received the gift of learning that they are part of a supportive, welcoming community of moms and dads who know that miracles can happen not just over the holidays, but all year round.
We want to say a big thank you to all of the parents of preemies who made that possible. Without your help, we couldn’t do all that we do!