Human Interest

Christmas cheer reaches hospital NICUs across the country

Christmas, NICU, preemies, premature

Spending Christmas in a hospital watching your premature baby fight for his life is no one’s hope for a holiday celebration. Yet for countless families, that’s the reality. So each year, hospital staff and volunteers across the country go above and beyond to try to bring families Christmas cheer in the NICU in what is otherwise a stressful, scary time. From holiday-inspired photo shoots to visits from Santa, these preemies still got to celebrate the holidays with joy, love, and Christmas spirit.

At Ascension St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, babies in the NICU were dressed as adorable Christmas gifts, each one labeled with an inspiring message. “Our RNs have created Christmas magic by hand-making outfits for our NICU babies,” a spokesperson for the hospital told WJLA. “Each child’s ‘gift tag’ is inscribed with an attribute or adjective that describes him or her. In a year as challenging as 2020, this initiative has brought much-needed good cheer to our NICU families.”

At the Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Texas, the NICU celebrated the holidays with its annual “12 Days of Tiny Santas.” A group of nurses crocheted adorable hats for the babies, and a new photo of a special baby is released each day until Christmas.

Preparations for Christmas surprises are underway in New Zealand, with some of Santa’s helpers from the Wellington Hospitals Foundation knitting and sewing incubator covers, sheets, blankets, cardigans, beanies and booties for the babies in the NICU. “Every year on Christmas Day parents arrive to visit their special little ones in NICU to find them dressed in Christmas clothing and wrapped in Christmas sheets and blankets,” the hospital posted on Facebook, adding, “[O]n Christmas morning each incubator has a beautiful Santa stocking attached with a gift of a quilt, cardigan, toy, singlet, booties and beanies for every baby.”

Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine, Wisconsin, got into the Christmas spirit with a festive photo shoot featuring Zuri and Kashmiere, two babies in the NICU who will be there for Christmas. Zuri weighed just one pound, six ounces when she was born, and is now over 2 pounds. Kashmiere weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces, and has grown to an incredible four pounds. The adorable photos will serve as a precious keepsake for their families.

COVID-19 made some visits from Santa a little difficult, but he and Mrs. Claus managed to safely visit the NICU and the PICU at Ascension St. John in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With some merry masks and a little social distancing, these little ones got a special visit, direct from the North Pole.

Baptist Health System in San Antonio, Texas, celebrated their first Christmas in the NICU and the labor and delivery department. Each baby got his or her own special Christmas picture, with festive blankets or Christmas stockings to ring in the season with style.

Over 120 nurses teamed up in South Carolina at Summerville Medical Center to bring Christmas cheer to NICU families. They decorated each baby’s Christmas stocking with a theme, inspired by different Christmas carols. The families will be able to bring the stockings home with them, as well as a special note from the nurse who made it.

Santa also made a visit to the NICU at the Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dr. Albert Owusu-Ansah, a neonatologist, filled in as Santa to bring a little joy to his tiny patients. “Having a baby in the NICU is one of the most stressful times for a family,” he said. “It’s important to bring cheer to families and assure them that they are not alone.”

 

Countless other hospitals are also getting into the Christmas spirit, helping make the NICU a less stressful place for their patients and families. Going above and beyond like this can make a world of difference for families stuck in the hospital over the holidays.

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