Spending holidays in the NICU is not what anyone wants, but by changing our perspective a little, and by making the best of the situations we find ourselves in, we can still experience moments of great joy and find plenty of reasons to celebrate.
NICU, PICU and hospital regulations differ greatly, so ask what is allowed. Ask if you can hang a stocking, place a small menorah or even have a small tree. Decorations can help soften the sterile environments and bring smiles to many faces. If decorations aren’t allowed, something as simple as a holiday blanket for your child to lay on can make a huge difference.
Wear Christmas or holiday-themed pajamas while you visit
Involve other families. Chances are they will jump at the chance to share a special holiday experience with you. This would be especially fun on Christmas Eve.
Sing quiet carols and read favorite holiday stories
Sing festive songs in place of the usual lullabies and read stories at the bedside. A beautiful copy of your favorite Christmas or holiday story can be a memorable keepsake for years to come.
Share a special meal
Plan a special meal away from the hospital at a nearby restaurant. You can even invite a fellow NICU family to join you and create a special holiday memory.
Bring the tastes of the holidays to the hospital
Spending the holidays in the NICU doesn’t mean you have to let go of your traditions. Have a special treat that you look forward to each Christmas? Instead of skipping it, bring it to the waiting room. Bring your traditional Christmas morning cinnamon rolls or treats to the waiting room, and share them with other families spending the holidays in the hospital.
Take lots of photos
If your child is stable enough, ask your nurse to help you take holiday photos. They would love to help make the day special for you and your child.
Remember, there is no time limit on celebrating at home. If you’re spending the holidays in the NICU, make the season what it needs to be for you and your family, even if it means you celebrate a little later than usual.
These tips were originally published in 2013. Read Allison’s full story here.