The first bath at home after a NICU stay may feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. I have completed two first-time baths at home after NICU stays. My first son, Harrison, was born at 32 weeks, weighing 2 pounds, 12 ounces, and spent 34 days in the NICU. My second son, Harland, was born at 28 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 11 ounces, and spent 293 days in the NICU.
During Harrison’s NICU stay in 2016, I knew the short duration allotted for maternity leave wouldn’t be enough to adequately care for him. His needs were more than a typical newborn, given he was two months earlier than expected, and he would be too fragile for daycare. I took the remainder of the year off as a first-grade teacher to research businesses so I could devote my time caring for my son, Harrison, and his needs. His strength motivated me to do something related to baby care.
This is when I became interested in bamboo hooded baby towels. They were super soft, hypoallergenic, antibacterial, odor resistant, and organic. I decided to start a business surrounding this product, H. McCurry, but I had to return to work the following year.
In 2018, I became pregnant with Harland. It was a complicated pregnancy from the start, with numerous ER visits for subchorionic hematomas. At 18 weeks and 6 days, as I was feeding Harrison dinner, I felt a gush. I assumed it was another big bleed and that another ER visit was in my future. But it wasn’t blood. My water had broken. I knew it was too soon. I rushed to the hospital, where it was confirmed that my water had indeed broken. It was also there that I heard a new and terrifying term – PPROM.
The doctors continued to apologize. I was confused. My baby had a normal heartbeat. I felt fine. He was fine. But despite that, it was suggested I terminate the pregnancy. Due to the PPROM, my son lacked the amniotic fluid he needed for his lung development. I was also in danger of serious infection. But after discussing it with my husband, we decided our baby deserved a chance at life.
I stayed pregnant for 10 ½ more weeks. For the first 5 weeks, I put myself on home bedrest. At 23 weeks and 5 days, I was admitted to the hospital, when I was considered viable. I went into labor at 28 weeks and 4 days, and our little Harland was brought into this world, ready to continue his fight. His lungs were underdeveloped, and he was intubated for almost 2 months. Then came cpap, high flow, and home oxygen support. He had countless x-rays, pokes for blood, blood transfusions, g-tube, hernia repair, nissen surgery, then a heart cath to close the PDA in his heart.
Watching my second son fight one health issue after the other encouraged me to revisit the idea of the bamboo hooded baby towels, especially for those little ones spending the beginning of their lives in the NICU. I developed a “NICU GRAD” hooded towel. I wanted to create something for other mothers like me advocating and fighting right alongside their children. I thought the “NICU GRAD” baby towel would be a special memento for the day they got to bring their babies home.
Finally, that special day came for Harland. After nearly 300 days in the NICU, I was able to take him home. My NICU had a graduation ceremony for Harland, fit with a cap and gown, staff lining the hallways, graduation music playing, and a huge graduate balloon presented to us. It was one of the most emotional days of my life.
After watching Harland spend so many months fighting – and overcoming – every obstacle in his way, his first bath time was exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking. He had a difficult start, and I wanted to do everything I could to make him comfortable and safe. I had plenty of help from my husband for Harland’s first bath. I chose to do bath times at night before bed. My husband was diligent in temping the water and the room just right and collecting the bathing essentials, like the hooded towel, washcloths, shampoo, soap, and a cup for washing hair. In Harland’s case, however, he required some extra items for his individual care, such as adhesive remover wipes for tender gripes for his nose cannula for his oxygen.
Bath time is a great time to bond with your baby. While gently bathing him, I sang to him and looked into his eyes, feeling a connection only a mother can feel. Once finished, I wrapped him in the bamboo baby towel and dabbed him dry before taking him to his nursery, where I fitted him with a clean diaper, clean pajamas, and gently cared for his g-tube site with q-tips.
I never expected to be the mother of one NICU baby, much less two. Both of my sons are miracles to me and inspirations of strength. The H. McCurry “NICU GRAD” baby towels were created for them and other NICU babies and their parents fighting against the odds and the hope that they, too, will experience the first bath at home with their baby.
About Ashley McCurry
Ashley McCurry is the founder of H. McCurry, a family-owned business that offers parents the highest quality bamboo baby towels for their infants and toddlers. Ashley started the company shortly after her first son, Harrison, was born and she noticed a lack of good-quality baby towels for his sensitive skin. Ashley created her popular NICU Grad towels during her second son Harland’s 293 day NICU stay.