Dear Friends and Families,
This is a letter to all of you supporting somebody you know who has a preemie baby. Whether it was unexpected or known in advance, there isn’t much prep work that a parent can do emotionally for navigating the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and the rollercoaster of events that happen weekly, if not daily. I wanted to put this letter together so that you can best help out the new parents and frankly, not say or do stupid things. This letter is written using “Mommy and Daddy” and of course I am keenly aware that families come in all shapes and sizes and genders. If for some reason you use this letter and need to alter it, feel free to do so.
Don’t say how very sorry you are. It’s fine to say that this must be a tough time but that you know this baby is so strong. Say, congrats on being a Mommy and a Daddy! Communicate uplifting things and when they are having a tough day offer support. Remind them of the milestones while being supportive of the current struggle. You want to communicate that you are thinking of them during this struggle.
When you offer support, *don’t* ask them what they need. Offer dinner, car rides, groceries, money, etc. Asking what they need puts one more thing on their plate and that plate is already full.
If you have questions, go online and research it. Can you imagine how many people have your same questions? There are a ton of resources online, go inform yourself!
Set up a Caringbridge website. Offer to be the communicator to all the friends and family.
Set up a meal delivery system that people can sign up for a place where friends can donate money.
NEVER buy the preemie baby clothes that were made for dolls or teddy bears, it’s humiliating and insulting. This is a tiny human baby, not a toy.
For most families with a baby in the NICU, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t forget to check in on their website or do a dinner delivery once a month. Their struggle is ongoing and your support needs to be, too.
If you aren’t sure what to say, it’s ok to say just that. You can show your support in so many other ways. Mow the lawn, drive the other kids around, offer to clean the house, etc…
Offer to go sit with the baby if Mommy and Daddy need a few hours off, but absolutely make sure this is allowed and that they are comfortable with it.
Realize that a lot of the time, the journey is not over just because baby goes home. Some have struggles that will live on after the NICU, so be gentle and continue your support.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for being an awesome human being and caring for your friends and their new baby.