Monday, May 30, 2011

May 28th, Houston Kickoff Meeting at RMH

May 28th was our official kickoff for our Houston chapter! It was a great success and we want to send a big thank you to everyone involved. The meeting kicked off at 12:00 at The Ronald McDonald House in Houston. The venue could not have been more perfect for our needs. We greatly appreciate our wonderful hosts and look forward to our future meetings here. There was plenty of room, and we utilized both the boardroom table, for lunch, which was donated by our sponsors at Chili's and the living room area for our group discussion/presentation by Yamile Jackson, PHD and creator of the Zaky.

Gift bags handed out to current NICU moms
Amber Collier (Founder), Yamile Jackson (PHD, Creator of The Zaky),
Allison Weaver (Assistant Director Houston)

After meeting past and present moms, sharing stories, and connecting we enjoyed lunch. Then Yamile started her discussion on the benefits of Kangaroo Care and the story about the development of the Zaky (pictured below). The Zaky is a revolutionary product in the world of premature birth and we were so happy to host Yamile and have her share much needed information. Preemie Prints now has a goal to start purchasing and including a Zaky in every gift bag that goes out to current NICU moms. We feel every preemie needs to have one and we want to help to make that a reality. Your donations to Preemie Prints will begin going toward this goal. We want our first purchase of Zaky's to be a quantity of 25.

This goal will cost Preemie Prints $900 and will  benefit 25 premature babies. We need your donation to make this a reality. Even $2.00 will help us reach our goal in no time!

The reason we feel this is THE MOST important item to include in our bag is because it will be the ONLY item in the bag actually for the preemie and will make a positive change in his/her life. Here is what the Zaky is proven to do for preemies and why it is now part of our mission.

"The Zaky imitates the look, feel, weight, and warmth of the parents' hand and forearm. It assures proper positioning, helps with pain management and sleep, provides a sense of protection, and assists with the physical and psychological development of the child. There is also a new study coming out very soon that shows 0 apnea episodes while using the Zaky for a certain period of time when compared with not using anything and using another comparative product. It is used in over 300 NICUs worldwide and with healthy and special needs children."

In addition to talking about the Zaky we also discussed the benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care. We all learned so much and will be able to share our insight with the future current moms who attend our meeting. A few key points as to the benefits...

For the babies KMC provides:
Containment & Safe boundaries
Maximizes skin-to-skin contact
It is safe, comfortable, and easy to use
Stabilizes the baby's heart rate
Improves breathing pattern & oxygen saturation levels
Decreases Apnea
Provides a natural source of steady body temperature
Decreases crying and improves sleep time
Promotes more rapid weight gain
Fosters more successful breastfeeding episodes
Assists earlier hospital discharge
For the parents KMC and the Kangaroo Zak (pictured below)

Ensures bonding with baby
Provides privacy while holding
Facilitates holding your baby longer, more comfortably, and hands-free
Minimizes anxiety regarding the risk of dropping your baby while Kangarooing for long periods
Helps you rest while holding
Increases confidence in your ability to care for baby (aids in developmental care in the NICU)
Increases your involvement and sense of control
Increases mothers milk supply
When you Kangaroo Care you should NEVER do it less than 1 hour so your baby can achieve one full sleep cycle and grow. If done for less than 1 hour it is not beneficial to the baby. 

Here is a short video from a recent episode of The Doctors, where a neonatologist from Texas Children's is advocating for the use of Kangaroo Care and showing how it is done with the Zak Sack.

If you like what we are doing to help NICU parents & babies please show your support by donating
to Preemie Prints today. Donations are the only way for us to continue our work. God bless!!

Books on Prematurity and the NICU

The NICU Rollercoaster
By Nicole E. Zimmerman and Edward J. Sprague
The NICU Rollercoaster is a true story about premature twins and the ups and downs of their time in the NICU. Containing personal blog posts and helpful information for parents coping with the issues of having a preemie. Boy twin Ronan battled brain bleeds, NEC, surgeries, breathing issues and other common medical problems preemies may have, as well as still needing a g-tube after coming home. His sister, Julie, did do a bit better, however she did need to stay on oxygen after going home.  Other topics covered include: kangaroo care, TIP feeding, nursing staff changes, brain bleeds, temperature control, medical overviews and tips on coping with these stressors are provided, as are a good set of references for you to further your education.  Purchase here

Newborn Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know
By Jeanette Zaichkin
This book is a great introduction to the world of preemies.  It deals with coping with premature birth of your child and/or children. It serves as a wonderful guide to the care given to your premature baby while in the NICU, and educates and supports preemie parents from entry to the world of the NICU straight to the transition home. This reference book is something you will turn to again and again, to understand different medical events and techniques that your preemie may encounter during their stay in the hospital.
Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey
by Deborah L. Davis and Mara Tesler Stein.
The premature birth of your child tosses you and your family into a whirlwind of emotions, where it seems sometimes you will never touch down. This book will provide an emotional map per say for you from the first shock of the news you will be having a premature child and your first encounter seeing your new preemie. It goes on to discuss the journey of your time in the NICU and then on to your time at home. Topics include the emotional implications of early delivery, physical recovery, the NICU experience, settling in at home, development and growth, challenges, special needs, moving on, subsequent pregnancies and much more. The authors' descriptions and advice are backed by quotes from experienced parents and preemie support groups, which will surely touch your heart. Purchase here
Preemies : The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies
by Dana Wechsler Linden, Emma Trenti Paroli, Mia Wechsler Doron M.D.
This is in my opinion one of the most comprehensive books for parents of preemies currently available. It focus’s on preemies and their care, and will provide the answers to many of the questions you seek as the parent of a new preemie or a preemie toddler. Purchase here
Pediatric Massage: For the Child with Special Needs
by Kathy Fleming Drehobl, Mary Gengler Fuhr
Over-reaction to touch and other stimulus is a common problem for preemie babies, which may continue on into child and adulthood. This is a nice reference tool into understanding how to touch them, calm them and, overall help them if they are feeling stressed. Purchase here

Where's the Evidence? : Debates in Modern Medicine
By William A. Silverman
This is a collection of essays written by William A. Silverman, who is a pioneer in neonatology and is well regarded for conducting one of the most important randomized control trials in medicine. He has truly mastered the art of explaining the most complex and critical issues in medicine in terms that are understandable, and useful to parents going through the struggle of the NICU, which I found very helpful in that, there was so much going on, you try to understand it all but let’s face it you don’t always do. Purchase
Breast Feeding Your Premature Baby
by Gwen Gotsch
Mother's milk has been scientifically proven to help babies born premature in so many different ways. This book will walk you through those studies and explain how important it can be to try and breastfeed if only for a month. Purchase

By Preemie Prints Blog Post Contributor: Sarah Doyle

In Honor of Memorial Day

America the Beautiful:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!
A Memorial Day Prayer:
Eternal God,
Creator of years, of centuries,
Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history --
How shall we speak to you
from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you
in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;
You have lifted us up with your loving kindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling
(though we sometimes feel that low)
and without fear
(thought we are often anxious).
We sing with spirit and pray with courage
because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness
of things' going meaninglessly well.
God, lift the hearts of those
for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died
needlessly, wastefully (as it seems)
in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion those who have died
serving their countries
in the futility of combat.
There is none of us but must come to bereavement and separation,
when all the answers we are offered
fail the question death asks of each of us.
We believe that you will provide for us
as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
The Infantryman:
The average age of the Infantryman is 19 years.

He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country.

He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.

He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm Howitzers.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark.

He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle.
He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom.
Beardless or not, he is not a boy.

He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

For our Military

"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen."

Of all the gifts you could give a US Soldier, Sailor, US Marine or Airman, prayer is the very best one.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Every Cry

The Every Cry
by Jeanna Plunkett

“Mommy, why do you cry on every Easter?  When we are dyeing our eggs, you always have tears running down your cheeks.  How can anyone be sad at Easter?”

Oh little one, my pregnancy with you was wrought with problems.  You don’t understand these big words now, but placenta previa caused mommy severe bleeding at 12 weeks.  Then, a horrible thing happened at 20 weeks:  my water broke.  That was just two weeks before Easter of 2002.  So, I spent Easter in the hospital.  In fact, it was Easter morning, just after your twin brothers left for church with Nana and Granddaddy all dressed up in their Easter suits, when Mommy got some really bad news.  Dr. Bailey did another ultrasound to take a peek at you and realized that my fluid level was critically low.  He couldn’t offer much hope that your lungs would be able to develop enough so that you could breathe.  He dismissed me from the hospital on that Easter Sunday of 2002 to go home and wait for labor to begin.  

So, when I look across the table and see the excitement of Easter in your eyes and your little fingers busy decorating eggs, I cry tears of celebration.  Each Easter I celebrate that “….with God all things are possible!”(Matt. 19:26). When medicine and mankind can offer us no hope, Jeremiah 17:7 tells us, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”  With God, there is always hope!

“Mommy, why do cry on my every birthday?” 
The party was full of the laughter and squeals of excited children, so I didn’t even think he noticed. But, he did, and so, I explained, just as I had so many times before.

Jamey, you were born on April 22, 2002 at 1:11 a.m.  With a due date of August 8, 2002, this meant that you came way too early.  You were what they call “premature” and the doctor referred to you as a “24-weeker.”  The tears that I cry each birthday are tears of remembrance of the first time that I saw you, my teeny-tiny little 1 lb 9.8 oz. miracle baby boy.  They are tears of remembrance for the eight weeks that you could not breathe without the help of a ventilator.  I cry tears of remembrance for the 87 excruciating days that we spent in the NICU with you, not knowing if we would ever get to bring you home.  Some of those tears are even tears of remembrance for the day that they told us we would be bringing you home from the NICU.  This was wonderful news, except you would still need an apnea monitor and nasal canula for months to come, so I cry over the disappointment and the stress of those months, too.
“Mommy, why do you cry every time they sing that song at church?  And I see you look at Daddy and he holds your hand every time they sing it.”

“He’s got the whole world in His hands….He’s got the whole world in His hands…He’s got the whole world in His hands…..He’s got the whole world in His hands……..He’s got the tiny little baby in His hand….He’s got the tiny little baby in His hand…..He’s got the tiny little baby in His hand……”

Oh, sweet little one, I cry tears of remembrance of the days that you were too sick for me to hold in my arms.  Jamey, I remember when they told me that even the sound of my voice  was too much stimulation for you.  I felt helpless in every sense of the word.  But, even when I could not hold you, I knew that the Lord had you in the palm of His hand and that He was holding my hand, too.  Isaiah 41:13.   “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”   

When they sing this precious song at church, I cry at the remembrance of when you were three years old and walked up to me with sleepy eyes, reached up both little arms, and said, “Mommy, I want to hold you.”

Precious NICU Mother, in 2 Kings 20:5, the Lord says, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears…”  My recently released book, Prayers from the NICU:  A Mother’s Devotional, contains inspiring stories from our 87-day NICU journey with Jamey as well as stories from our brief NICU stay with the twins three years earlier.  A personal prayer journal is also provided for NICU mothers to record their baby’s progress and their personal requests to God during this most trying of times.  Never forget……God hears your every prayer from the NICU and sees the every cry.  For information on ordering Prayers from the NICU, visit