When thoughts of hanging stockings by the chimney with care arose this holiday season, members of the Trinity Health Auxiliary and nurses from Trinity's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit took that idea one step further.
The Trinity Health Auxiliary, comprised of volunteers, traditionally make Christmas stockings for newborn babies delivered at Trinity Health. Additionally, the nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit brought in Christmas tree ornaments, decorating them with the baby's name and birthday, along with the baby's footprints on them. Local churches also often donate gift bags for babies born on Christmas Day.
Lisa Holtzclaw, director of Women and Children's Services at Trinity Health, said the stockings and ornaments are handed out a week before Christmas and a week after. The stockings are like the ones that would hang on a mantle, but big enough to put a baby in it, she noted, and "is just a sweet little thing to help babies celebrate Christmas." The stockings are given out as soon as the babies are born.
Babies in Trinity Health’s newborn nursery pose in their Christmas stockings in a photo taken Dec. 20. Babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care during the holiday season will receive a stocking, as well as a Christmas ornament decorated with their footprints. The idea came from the NICU nurses and the stockings were made by members of the Trinity Health Auxiliary.
Tammy Prellwitz, a charge nurse at Trinity Health, holds up two Christmas ornaments. These ornaments were designed by nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to give as a gift to parents of NICU babies.
"We just thought (giving the stockings) was a nice way to celebrate good news," Holtzclaw noted.
The decorated ornaments that are given are something extra the parents can take home for Christmas if their babies are in the NICU during the holiday season, Holtzclaw said. "They are our higher risk population and get a rough start in life." The nurses came up with the idea of decorating the ornaments out of the goodness of their hearts, she explained. "They take great care in their job, taking care of the sickest of the sick babies."
Currently, there are eight babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Holtzclaw said, but the number could change. The number of babies varies, but they deliver an average of 130 babies a month, she said. They have a 12-bed NICU, Holtzclaw said further, with approximately 25 babies there each month. The NICU also receives a lot transfers and some babies stay a few days to a few months, she added. The newborn nursery, on the other hand, has up to 36 beds.
The nurses have received nothing but positive feedback about the stockings, Holtzclaw remarked. "It's kind of a special thing to be born around the Christmas season," she added. In fact, kids who have grown up, including Holtzclaw's son, still treasure the stocking, Holtzclaw said. Her son still asks if his stocking is filled, too, she added.
It's not just babies born on or around the Christmas holiday who receive gifts, however. Holtzclaw said that around Halloween, the nurses give colored hats with a jack-o-lantern face to the babies, and they also give a celebration basket for the first baby born on New Year's Day.
"We just wanted to recognize all the hard work the auxiliary does and the nurses who take care of the littlest patients in the world," Holtzclaw said.