After saying I wasn’t really sure about Christmas I realised that I’d bought Squidge’s Christmas day outfit in November. He’s going to look gorgeous, if slightly like a little old man in his knitted jumper and corduroy trousers.
My house is now decorated, the (many) bottles of wine have been bought and after my shift on Tuesday we’re travelling oop Norf to my parents for a family Christmas.
But for many of the babies on the unit, a family Christmas simply isn’t possible.
We try to make the unit as Christmassy as possible while still adhering to emergency proceedures and infection control policies. We have a tree and fairy lights in reception, we wear (within reason) Christmas earrings and tinsel in our hair, Santa and his elves visit the babies and their siblings and all the babies get a stocking on Christmas day.
We do everything we can to make having their baby in hospital over Christmas as bearable as possible for the parents; most of them, while upset that their baby won’t be at home for their first Christmas are just grateful that their baby will actually have their first Christmas. Still, it’s something that is really hard for them all and sometimes it’s the little things that can make it better.
I’ve done a lot of work with one mum in particular who’s little boy has been on the unit for several weeks now and while he’s no longer critically ill his mum is still taking every day as it comes. He’ll definitely be on the unit for Christmas and his mum knows this, although for a while she was hopeful he’d be discharged in time.
This should have been their first Christmas together as a family but instead her little boy can’t even wear a Christmas outfit as due to the medical support he needs he currently can’t wear clothes.
He can however wear socks to keep his little feet warm.
So when I spotted a pair of reindeer booties at half price when I did my food shop I knew exactly who could wear them.
Originally I’d planned to leave the booties in his cot as a surprise but as I go and see them at the beginning of all my shifts I gave mum the booties then. It was such a small thing but she was so pleased; I got a huge hug, a few tears and she put the booties on display at the end of her little boy’s cot until he wore them on Christmas day.
Having a baby on NICU is about as far away from normal family life as you can get but something special to wear for Christmas is something that every child should have, even if the only place they can wear it is on their feet.