Expressing for your baby

While in NICU, I found it very hard to express milk for my girls as it all was new to me. I have never seen someone using a syringe to express in, never seen a baby fed through a tube, and it felt like I was the only one doing that. I imagine other moms might feel the same. But in reality, many mothers express the milk for their babies not only because they were born prematurely, but for other countless reasons, with a common aim, for their babies to have the benefits of mother’s milk.

I attach some of those reasons below, as mentioned by mothers who answered my question about reasons for expressing, intending to normalise this way of feeding, so mothers in NICU, and not only, will not feel lonely and unsupported, but rather part of a big picture that comprises the expressing. Thus, reasons for expressing are such as:

  • “overly sensitive boobs“,
  • “he just wouldn’t latch at all we tried everything“,
  • “high palate“,
  • “tongue tie“,
  • “cleft lip“,
  • “breastfeeding incredibly painful“,
  • “very lazy on the boob and didn’t want to suck“,
  • “trouble transferring milk“,
  • “given poor advice in the hospital I just started pumping“,
  • “severe tortocolis, silent reflux and colic “,
  • “poor muscle tone“,
  • “limited support due to COVID “,
  • “for my own convenience and so that others can help out with looking after and feeding the baby“,
  • “Didn’t want to breastfeed but wanted my son to have breast milk“,
  • “Painful and negative breastfeeding experience, lack of support, flat nipples, really bad mastitis. “,
  • “Pumped and donated after a surrogate birth“,
  • “couldn’t emotionally cope with feeding“,
  • “to keep a close eye on how much she was eating“,
  • “She found a bottle so much easier, I found a bottle so much easier“.

Lastly, I would kindly encourage mothers to seek peer support, such as Facebook Groups or Charities and Organisations that aim to support newborn infants’ parents and provide accurate information. For example:

  • Exclusively Pumping UK Mums,
  • From One Mum To Another,
  • Bliss Charity.

 Ask any questions, no matter how silly they might sound, and remember that parenting is all about making choices that work for YOU and YOUR family!

Photo source: Pinterest



When Victoria lost the waters while I was 19 weeks pregnant, it was not only a shock for me, but it also felt like my world turned into pieces. At that time, I could have given up to the pregnancy, but I chose to have faith and not lose my hopes.

When I was put on bed rest, I could despair missing Maria and my normal life, but I chose to be grateful that Aurora and Victoria have a chance to survive.

When I had to suffer various painful procedures, I could complain and refuse them, but I chose to believe that every great thing requires a sacrifice.

When Aurora and Victoria were born at 28 weeks, I could feel guilty, but I chose to be in peace with myself knowing that I did everything stayed in my forces to keep them in.

When I had to leave them in NICU for eight months, I could feel empty, but I chose to fill my mind with pictures of us reunited.

When Aurora was on respiratory failure, I could crash, but I chose to pray and wait for the best.

When I had to express regularly and suffer for not being able to have the girls at my chest, I could feel exhausted, but I chose to be thankful that I had milk.

When among all the above mentioned, I also had to attend a course and exams, I could see it as another stress factor, but I chose to see it as something that kept me sane.

When I had to see my girls pricked over and over again, I could feel angry, but I chose to keep calm and make sure they know they are not alone.

When Aurora and Victoria came home, I could feel overwhelmed, but I chose to celebrate their achievement and be happy.

The fact that they came home with oxygen and feeding tubes could make me feel inadequate, but I chose to feel powerful.

When girls get to be re-hospitalised, I felt guilty, but I thought I could do things better in future.

When I had to advocate for them, I could feel inferior or shy, but I chose to dare and leave any weaknesses aside.

When Victoria faced feeding aversion, I could have a breakdown, but I chose to be resilient and help her overcome that issue.

When girls were delayed from so many aspects, I could be bothered and compare them with other children, but I chose to see their abilities before anything else.

When they had RSV, I thought everything was lost but they showed us contrary, a lesson that I learnt from.

It still gets hard sometimes, but I look back and think the hardest is gone. May God make it be like that! Thus, seeing things from a positive perspective makes all the difference!

Un altfel de Craciun

Craciunul este o sarbatoare atat de speciala ce aminteste despre Nasterea Lui Isus, dar si despre motivul Nasterii Lui. In cultura noastra, Craciunul inseamna slavirea lui Isus, aducerea impreuna a familiilor si prietenilor, despre traditii si bunatate. Ultimul loc unde cineva ar dori sa isi petreaca o astfel de sarbatoare este in spital. Totusi, se intampla.

Cand am aflat data la care Victoria si Aurora trebuiau sa se nasca, care trebuia sa fie 10 decembrie, visam la un Craciun magic. Insa, nasterea lor prematura a silit familia noastra sa fie in spital. Ele aveau trei luni, necesitand, inca, sprijin respiratoriu, osciland intre CPAP si Vapotherm, si hranite integral prin tub NG. Pentru acestea, noi nu ne-am asteptat sa vina curand acasa, dar mai degraba ne-am dorit sa ramana stabile, fara raceli sau virusuri.

O surpriza placuta a fost sa vedem personalul medical pregatindu-se pentru sarbatorire si venirea lui Mos Craciun, aducand cadouri frumoase. La fel ca si alti parinti de la acel spital, noi am primit o carte despre calatoria cu un copil prematur, o crema Nivea si un pachet de servetele. Fetele au primit o paturica si un Mos Craciun de jucarie, ambele crosetate si o ciocolata. In seara de Ajun, sotul meu a fost la spital, iar eu acasa cu Maria. Nu ne-am putut aduna toti din cauza restrictiilor pe care spitalul le avea pe timp de iarna. Urmatoarea zi, amandoi am luat primul autobuz de dimineata si am mers la spital. Cand am ajuns, am gasit-o pe Aurora dormind linistita, iar pe Victoria treaza, ca si cum ne-ar fi asteptat. Ele au fost incantate sa-si continue somnul pe piepturile nostre. Zilele ce urmau au devenit la fel ca cele de dinaintea Craciunului. Aceeasi rutina, aceleasi nopti nedormite, aceeasi dorinta de a avea fetele acasa, insa mai multa durere stiind ca fetele trebuiau sa isi petreaca primul Craciun intr-un salon izolat, din care nici nu se vedea afara, fara brad, dar mai ales, fiind atat de bolnave.

Decembrie 2017
Decembrie 2017

De-a lungul acelor zile, am realizat ca nu suntem singurii, si ca Sectia de Terapie Intensiva Neonatala era plina cu alti parinti si ai lor copii, unii bolnavi, altii mult prea micuti. Am realizat ca nimeni de acolo nu este bogat sau sarac, si ca imparteam aceleasi sentimente. Apoi ne-am gandit ca acela a fost primul Craciun al fetelor noastre in spital, insa am sperat si ne-am rugat pentru multe altele pe care sa le petreaca acasa, ceea ce era posibil. Dar in acelasi timp, unele familii erau constiente de faptul ca isi petrec ultimul Craciun alaturi de cei dragi lor. Cum poate sa indure cineva un astfel de gand?

Acum, dupa doi ani, Victoria si Aurora sunt fete frumoase, destepte, puternice si jucause, care se bucura si se implica in tot ceea ce inseamna pregatirea pentru Craciun, de la impodobirea bradului, pana la gatit si colindat alaturi de sora lor. Acum, privim in urma si vedem visurile devenite realitate, miracolele noastre umplandu-ne vietile cu bucurie.  Parea ca nu vor ajunge aici niciodata, dar au facut-o, noi toti am facut-o.

Aurora, Maria si Victoria (de la stanga la dreapta)
Decembrie 2019

Ca de la parinte la alt parinte care este in spital alaturi de copilasul lui, v-as ruga frumos sa nu renuntati la credinta dumneavoastra, la speranta si forta dumneavoastra. Dumnezeu nu da niciodata mai mult decat puteti duce. Acest Craciun poate fii unul trist, dar este doar unul dintre atatea ce urmeaza. Este ingrozitor sa va vedeti copilasul bolnav, dar niciodata nu ati fii mai fericiti decat atunci cand o sa se faca bine. Cand totul va trece, o sa va ganditi la copilul dumneavoastra ca la unul care poate trece peste orice pe lumea aceasta. Ingrijiti-va! Ei au nevoie de dumneavoastra sanatosi si puternici. Vocea dumneavoastra reprezinta cantecul lor de incurajare. Bratele dumneavoastra sunt o lume intreaga pentru ei. Zambetul dumneavoastra este cel mai bun treatment. Dumneavoastra sunteti tot ceea ce isi doresc ei de Craciun!

A different kind of Christmas

Christmas is such a special celebration reminding about Jesus`s birth, but also about the reason for His behind it. In our culture, Christmas is about giving glory to Jesus, bringing families and friends together, about traditions and kindness. The last place someone would like to spend such a particular period is in the hospital. However, it happens.

When we found out Victoria`s and Aurora`s due date, which supposed to be 10th of December, we dreamt for a magical Christmas. However, their premature birth forced our family to be in a hospital. They were three months old, still on a lot of respiratory support, cycling between CPAP and Vapotherm, and entirely fed by NG tube. For these, we did not expect them to come home very soon, but rather hoped they would be stable, without any colds or viruses.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the staff getting ready for the celebration and about Santa Clauses` visit, with beautiful presents. Just like the other parents from that hospital, we received a book about the journey of prematurity, a Nivea cream and some soft tissues. The girls received a knitted blanket, Santa Claus toy and a sweet. For Christmas Eve, my husband was in the hospital, and I was home with Maria. We could not get together because of the winter policy. Next day, both my husband and I took the first bus in the morning and went to the hospital. When we arrived, we found Aurora sleeping peacefully and Victoria awake, like she was waiting for us. They were delighted to continue their period of sleep on our chests. Following days turned into same days before Christmas. Same routine, same sleepless nights, same desire for the girls to come home, but more painful knowing they had to spend their first Christmas in an isolation room, without even seeing outside, without a Christmas tree, but most of all, being so sick.

December 2017
December 2017

Throughout those days, we realised that we are not the only ones, that NICU was filled with other parents and their children, some of them sick, some of them too small. We realised that nobody is rich or poor, while in the hospital and that we shared the same feelings. And then we thought that it was girls` first Christmas in hospital, but we prayed and hoped for many to come at home, which was very feasible. However, some families were aware that it was the last Christmas with their loved ones. How could somebody endure that thought?

Now, after two years, Victoria and Aurora are beautiful, clever, though and playful girls, who enjoy and get involved in everything means preparation for Christmas, from decorating the Christmas tree, to cooking or singing carols with their sister. Now, we look back and see our dreams reality, our miracles filling our lives with joy. It felt like they will never get here, but they did, we all did.

Aurora, Maria and Victoria (from left to right)
December 2019

From a NICU parent to all NICU parents being in the hospital now, I would kindly ask you to hold on to your faith, to your hope, to your strength. God never gives more than you can carry. This Christmas might be sad, but it is only one of so many to come yet. It is horrible to see your children unwell, but you would never be happier than when they will get better. After everything goes, you will think that there is nothing in the world your children cannot overcome. Look after yourselves. They need you healthy and strong. Your voices are their encouragement song. Your arms are their whole world. Your smiles are their best treatment. You are all they need for Christmas!

Ganduri pentru asistentele din NICU

Dragi asistente,

Cuvintele nu ar fi niciodata indeajuns pentru a ne exprima recunostinta si aprecierea, pentru faptul ca le-ati ingrijit pe Aurora si Victoria de-a lungul calatoriei lor prin NICU, si pentru ca le-ati ajutat sa creasca. De aceea, o sa spun doar ”Multumesc!”.

Multumesc ca m-ati invatat despre un alt fel de maternitate,

Pentru ca m-ati indrumat cum sa fac lucrurile necesare fetitelor mele, cu toate ca, mie mi se pareau atat de confuze si dificile

Pentru ca ati raspuns la fiecare apel  pe care l-am efectuat in mijlocul noptii si ne-ati linistit. Astfel, ne puteam odihni

Pentru fiecare data cand le-ati hranit pe fetele noastre

Pentru fiecare scutec schimbat

Pentru atunci cand le-ati tinut strans in timpul canularii, iar eu nu eram in stare sa le privesc

Pentru raspunsuri la cele mai ciudate intrebari pe care, un parinte, pentru prima data in NICU le poate pune

Pentru fiecare fotografie ce le-ati facut fetelor noastre, si mesajul superb pe spatele acesteia

Pentru ca ne-ati ascultat, atunci cand simteam nevoia de a vorbi cu cineva

Pentru toate incurajarile care ne-au facut mai increzatori

Pentru ca ne-ati aratat cat de speciali sunt cei mai mici bebelusi

Pentru ca le-ati facut prima baita fetelor noastre

Pentru ca ati trait impreuna cu noi cele mai intunecate momente, dar si pentru ca ati sarbatorit fiecare progres pe care Aurora si Victoria l-au realizat

Pentru fiecare cantecel, pe care l-ati cantat pentru ca fetele noastre sa adoarma

Pentru fiecare banda schimbata pe fetele lor

Pentru ca ne-ati pomenit in rugaciunile voastre

Pentru fiecare data cand inimile voastre erau sa iasa din piept din cauza fetelor

Pentru acele timpuri dificile, pline de incertitudine

Pentru fiecare zambet ce ne-a luminat ziua

Pentru ca v-ati ascuns fricile de noi, astfel incat, sa nu ne ingrijoram

Pentru fiecare tub ce l-ati inserat fetelor noastre

Pentru ca ne-ati pastrat speranta vie

Pentru precizia de care ati dat dovada, in administrarea medicamentelor

Pentru ca ne-ati invatat ca asistentele nu dau injectii doar, ci fac atat de multe lucruri esentiale, printre care, sa salveze vieti

Pentru ca ati impartasit cu noi traditiile si convingerile voastre

Pentru ca ati sarit in ajutorul fetelor noastre, inainte ca noi sa realizam ca ceva ar fi in neregula

Pentru ca ati fost vocile noastre, atunci cand noi nu puteam vorbi

Pentru ca ati pastrat legatura si v-ati interesat de starea fetelor si dupa ce au parasit spitalul

Multumesc pentru empatia, bunatatea si dedicarea cu care ne-ati coplesit mereu!

In calitate de parinti, trebuia sa facem majoritatea lucrurilor enumerate mai sus, pe cont propriu, in diferite imprejurari. Totusi, am primit sprijinul vostru si certitudinea ca suntem pe drumul cel bun. Am fost norocosi si onorati sa va cunoastem, si sa invatam ceva de la fiecare in parte. Insa cel mai important, este faptul ca Aurora si Victoria au fost binecuvantate de a fi in grija voastra!

Thoughts for NICU nurses

Dear NICU nurses,

Words would never be enough to express our gratitude for taking care of Aurora and Victoria throughout their journey in NICU, and for helping them grow. Therefore, I will only say ” Thank you!”.

Thank you for teaching me about a different kind of motherhood,

For guiding me on how to do the necessary things for my babies, although they seemed so confusing and difficult to me

For every called answered in the middle of the night and for your reassurance. It was the reason we could have some sleep

For every feed given to our girls

For every nappy changed

For every touch given to them when I was not able to see them having the cannulas and long lines inserted

For answers to the weirdest questions a parent can ask for the first time in NICU

For every photo taken of our babies during the night and the lovely message on the back

For listening when we felt we needed to talk to somebody

For all the encouragements which built our confidence

For showing how special the tinniest babies are

For giving our girls the first baths

For sharing our sorrows in the darkest times and for celebrating with us every little progress, every single milestone

For all the lullabies that you sang to make Aurora and Victoria fall asleep

For every single tape changed on their faces

For mentioning us in your prayers

For the times your hearts almost jumped out of your chests

For those days when being only on tiptoes

For every smile that lit up our day

For hiding your fears away from us

For every tube inserted to our girls

For keeping our hopes alive

For the precision, you gave the medicines with

For teaching us that nurses don’t just give injections, but they are doing so many other essential things, such as saving lives

For sharing with us your beliefs, your traditions 

For helping our babies before we would even think there was something wrong

For being our voice when we could not speak

For keeping in touch and ask about Aurora and Victoria even after we left NICU and

Thank you for your empathy, kindness and dedication!

As parents, we should have done most of these things on our own, in a different way. However, you were there supporting us, making sure we do the right. We have been lucky and honoured to meet and learn something from all of you, but the most important, it was a blessing for Aurora and Victoria that you took care of them.

Tuturor mamelor, cu drag!

Am crezut ca a fi mama este ceva firesc, ca toate femeile vor deveni mame la un moment dat in vietile lor si ca implica munca, dedicare si sprijin. Nu am stiut ca a fi mama te face sa experimentezi o varietate atat de vasta de sentimente, nu doar fata de copiii tai, dar si de restul lumii.

Inceputurile mele ca mama au fost infricosatoare. Obisnuiam sa plang deodata cu Maria cand plangea, cand ii sangera umbilicul, cand avea colici, iar incertitudinea era cel mai bun prieten al meu. Daca am hranit-o destul, daca am pus bine scutecul sau ce s-ar intampla daca nu as auzi-o plangand in mijlocul noptii. Toate acestea ma ingrijorau. Insa, nu a trecut multa vreme pana  cand am devenit increzatoare in a avea grija de ea si am savurat fiecare bucatica de fericire pe care o aducea cu zambetul ei, cu dezvolatarea la timp si ca devenea o fiinta umana atat de minunata.

Iar cand credeam ca as sti ceva despre cum sa cresti un copil, Aurora si Victoria au venit pe lume si mi-au aratat cat greseam. Ele mi-au intors lumea cu susul in jos si m-au invatat ca fiecare copil este diferit si special in felul sau. Ca o mama trebuie sa se adapteze la nevoile copilului sau, nu sa incerce sa il integreze in aptitudinile pe care le detine, in cunostintele pe care le-a acumulat in prealabil; dar mai ales, sa ofere iubire neconditionata, chiar daca, copilul nu ii implineste asteptarile.

Frumusetea de a fi mama consta in faptul ca in fiecare zi invatam ceva cu, copiii nostri si de la acestia. Invatam despre rabdare, inocenta, bunatate, perseverenta, iertare, despre cum sa spunem ce gandim, despre cum sa ne bucuram de cele mai mici si simple lucruri, despre cum sa crestem inauntrul nostru si cum sa ne pastram calmul cand o furtuna se apropie. Invatam sa apreciem si sa fim apreciati. Invatam cat de important este sa impartim totul cu cei dragi. Invatam ca cele mai pretioase daruri ce le putem primi sunt atentia, grija si afectiunea. Invatam sa construim exemple puternice si sa vedem frumustea ce ne inconjoara. Invatam ca miracolele exista pentru cei care cred, si sa ne iubim exact asa cum suntem, cu toate imperfectiunile noastre. Ma intreb, unde altundeva ar putea cineva sa primeasca astfel de lectii si exemplele aferente?

Dupa ce am devenit mama, mi-am schimbat complet parerea despre mama mea. Cu toate ca nu imi amintesc sa fi fost nepoliticoasa sau sa nu ii ofer respectul cuvenit, am simtit ca niciodata nu o voi putea rasplati pentru tot ce a facut sa ne creasca pe mine si pe fratii mei. Am realizat cate griji ne-a purtat, cate lucruri a sacrificat pentru noi si cat de iubiti ii suntem. I-am cerut iertare pentru fiecare data cand am crezut ca ne iubeste pe unul mai mult decat pe celalalt, pentru fiecare prostioara ce am facut-o, iar inima era sa ii sara din piept, pentru fiecare data cand nu am ascultat-o, dar ea avea dreptate. I-am multumit pentru ca era o mama atat de intelegatoare si inteleapta. De altfel, un exemplu la care ma pot raporta de cate ori sunt confuza, descurajata sau obosita. Din fericire, nu ducem lipsa de astfel de exemple in familia mea. Bunica a crescut 11 copii frumosi, iar soacra 10 copii superbi. Ambele in circumstante mult mai dificile decat ne putem imagina.

De fiecare data cand, cunosc o mama, o vad nu doar ca pe o femeie care are un copil, dar ca pe o persoana care a trecut printr-un process intens de pregatire. Ii inteleg stradania, si ii admir ridurile pentru ca acestea ascund nopti nedormite, vergeturile pentru ca reprezinta un simbol al sacrificiului pe care mamele il fac pentru bebelusii lor, aspectul neingrijit deoarece stiu ca, copiii sunt prioritatea ei. Mai mult de atat, ma impresioneaza mamele care adopta un copil pentru ca au puterea de a salva o viata si de a indrazni sa iubeasca atat de intens, ca si cum ar fi copilul lor. Mama nu este doar cea care da viata unui copil, dar si cea care il creste.

Azi si intotdeauna, mamele ar trebuie sa se considere importante si sa se aprecieze pentru ceea ce au devenit. Sa nu lase nimic si pe nimeni sa le faca sa se simta mai prejos decat sunt. Sa nu lase judecata altora sa le afecteze. Ele stiu cel mai bine prin cate situatii dificile au trecut si ce impact au avut asupra lor. Ele incearca intotdeauna sa le ofere si sa faca ceea ce este mai bun pentru copiii lor. Ele sunt mai puternice decat cred si mai frumoase decat se vad in oglinda. Ele reprezinta o lume intreaga pentru copiii lor.  Ele sunt eroine.

Marturisesc ca nimic nu m-ar face mai mandra, mai fericita si implinita, decat faptul ca sunt mama. Ii sunt recunoscatoare lui Dumnezeu pentru aceasta binecuvantare, sotului meu iubitor pentru sprijinul neconditionat pe care mi-l ofera, iar fetelor noastre pentru ca ma fac sa ma simt unica.

To all the mothers, with love!

I used to believe that being a mother is something natural, that all ladies will become mums at some point in their lives and that it implies hard work, dedication, and support. I did not know that being a mother makes you experience such a vast variety of feelings, not only towards your children but to the rest of the world.

The beginning of motherhood was scary for me. I used to cry along Maria when she cried; when her umbilical was bleeding; when she had colic; and uncertainty was my best friend. Whether I fed her enough or the way I have put the nappy will be comfortable to her, or what will happen if I will not be able to hear her in the middle of the night, used to make me anxious. However, it did not take a long time until I became confident in looking after her and enjoying every little piece of joy that she used to bring with her smile, with hitting the milestones and becoming a wonderful human being.

Moreover, when I thought that I know something about raising a child, Aurora and Victoria came and showed me how wrong I was. They turned my world upside down and taught me that every single child is different and unique. Also, that a mum needs to adapt to her child, and not to try to fit him in the skills she already detains, in the knowledge she previously acquired, and the most important, to give UNCONDITIONAL love, although the child does not meet her expectations.

The beauty of motherhood is that every day we learn something with our children, and from them. We learn about patience, innocence, kindness, perseverance, forgiveness, about saying what you think, about enjoying the smallest and simplest things, about how to grow inside you and how to stay calm when the storm is approaching. We learn to appreciate and to be appreciated. We learn the importance of sharing. We learn that the most precious gifts are attention, care and affection. We learn to build strong examples and to see the beauty around us. We learn that miracles exist for those who believe and to love ourselves just the way we are, with all our imperfections. I wonder, where else could somebody receive all these lessons and the afferent examples?

After becoming a mother, I completely changed my opinion about my mother. Although I cannot remember myself being disrespectful or rude to her, I felt I could never do enough to pay her back for everything she had to do to raise my brothers and me. I realised how many worries she carried for us, how many things she sacrificed and how precious we are to her. I apologised for every time I thought she loves one of us more than another, for every foolish thing I did and it made her heart jump out of her chest, for every time I did not listen to her, yet she was right. I thanked her for being such a lovely and wise mum, an example I can relate to whenever I am confused, discouraged or tired. Fortunately, there is no lack of inspiration in our family. My grandmother raised 11 amazing children; my mother in law raised ten beautiful children, both in harder circumstances that we could imagine.

Every time I meet a mum, I see her not just like a woman who has a child, but a person who went through a process of intense preparation. I understand all her struggles, and I admire her wrinkles because they hide white nights, her stretch marks because they are a symbol of sacrifice that mums do for their babies, her unkempt look because I know she prioritises her children instead of her. Moreover, I am impressed by the mums who adopt a child as they have the strength to save a life and to dare to love so intensely, like if it was their child. Mum is not only the woman who gives life but also the one who raises a child.

Today, and always, all the mums should feel special and appreciate themselves for what they became! They should not let anything and anybody to make them feel less than they are or to let other`s judgements affect them. They know better how many hard situations they went through and what impact it had on them. They always try to give and to do the best for their children. They are stronger than they think and more beautiful than they see themselves in the mirror. They are the whole world to their children. They are heroines!

Nothing could make prouder, happier and more fulfilled than being a mother. I am grateful to God who sent me this blessing, to my lovely husband who supports me unconditionally and to our daughters who make me feel unique.

Jocul in Sectia de Terapie Intensiva Neonatala (Apasa aici pentru a citi mai mult)

Jocul poate fi definit ca fiind orice fel de activitate liber aleasa, intrisec motivationala si personal regizata. Acesta este vital pentru dezvoltarea fizica si motorie, dar si pentru dezvoltarea sociala, emotionala si intelectuala.

Jocul in Sectia de Terapie Intensiva Neonatala ar putea sa reprezinte o provocare datorita starii clinice a bebelusului, care s-ar putea sa nu fie potrivita pentru desfasurarea unei activitati; datorita zgomotelor ce distrag atentia, a echipamentelor medicale la care bebelusul este conectat, a procedurilor regulate la care bebelusul este supus sau a spatiului insuficient pentru a pastra jucariile. In cazul nostru, jocul a fost o problema deoarece Aurora si Victoria aveau boala cronica a plamanilor si  isi foloseau majoritatea energiei pentru a respira. Cu toate acestea, noi am incercat sa le stimulam in asa fel, incat sa nu fie foarte solicitant si stresant pentru ele.

Pe langa faptul ca am vorbit si le-am cantat oricand a fost posibil, ne-am asigurat ca aveau jucariile potrivite varstei lor, si care, au fost recomandate si de terapeutul de joaca si de terapeutul ocupational- de exemplu, lumini senzoriale sau instrumente muzicale. Am folosit pana si aplicatii pe telefon pentru stimularea vizuala.

Aurora jucandu-se cu luminile senzoriale puse la dispozitie de catre spital.

Sesiunea noastra de joaca in Sectia de Terapie Intensiva Neonatala a reprezentat o oportunitate de a ne apropia mai mult,  de a observa progresul psihologic al fetelor si de a imparti zambete, ceea ce ne incanta enorm. Daca Aurora si Victoria erau treze in acelasi timp si binedispuse, obisnuiam sa le punem pe un covoras de joaca si sa le observam indeaproape, asigurandu-ne ca apa din tuburile ce apartineau aparatului de respiratie, nu le ajungea in nasuc.

Aurora si Victoria jucandu-se impreuna.

Uneori le puneam in balansoare, una langa cealalta, si le delectam jucandu-ne ‘’de-a v-ati ascunselea’’, citindu-le povesti sau aratandu-le diferite jucarii. Am incercat sa facilitam jocul prin punerea fetelor intr-o pozitie confortabila; de exempu, facand rulou din paturica si punandu-l sub cap, astfel ele se simteau sprijinite, dar totodata si forma capului era corectata. Bebelusii sunt predispusi la plagiocefacie, datorita scalpului relativ moale.

Cand se aflau pe covorasul de joaca, obisnuiam sa punem rulouri din prosop in jurul lor pentru a incuraja miscarea, impreunarea mainilor sau atingerea picioruselor. La bebelus sanatos, nascut la termen, aceste lucruri se intampla natural, iar parintele observa doar ca bebelusul se rostogoleste deja sau isi pune piciorusele in gurita. Spre deosebire de acesta, copilul prematur are nevoie de ajutor cu cele mai simple lucruri pentru a-si  intari mobilitatea, forta si increderea in sine, iar jocul reprezinta cea mai buna cale prin care aceste lucruri pot fi atinse.

Cand Maria avea permisiunea sa isi viziteze surorile, ea le aducea jucariile ei ca sa se joace cu ele, si se prefacea ca este doctor si ca le trateaza.  A fost fascinant sa vedem conexiunile pe care jocul le creeaza si cum ii ajuta pe cei mici sa comunice. Cand Maria era in preajma lor, Aurora si Victoria o urmareau si ii zambeau, aratand ca adora prezenta ei.

Maria jucandu-se cu Victoria.

Este foarte important de stiut ca un copil prematur sau bolnav are propriul ritm de joaca, iar parintii ar trebuie sa il respecte si sa se ghideze dupa acesta, pentru a se asigura ca respectivul copil nu este suprastimulat sau in dificultate. Ori de cate ori copilul arata ca este obosit sau in dureri, acesta trebuie sa primeasca oportunitatea de a se odihni si de a se recupera, pana cand el insusi arata ca este pregatit sa se joace din nou. Aurora si Victoria aveau, de asemenea astfel de momente, cand vroiau doar sa doarma, sa fie tinute in brate, si nefiind atrasi de nicio jucarie sau activitate, iar noi le-am ascultat.

Mai mult decat atat, Aurora avea o perioda cand era hranita incontinuu prin tub NJ, ( metoda de hranire direct in intestinal subtire) deoarece era blocata din punct de vedere respirator, iar doctorii au considerat ca ar fi de ajutor pentru plamani daca stomacul era gol. Astfel posibiliatea de a vomita era redusa, ceea ce prevenea aspiratiile de catre plamani. Inserarea tubului NJ necesita  multa atentie, maiestrie si o radiografie, care sa confirme daca tubul este in locul potrivit. De-a lungul acelei perioade, am fost extrem de atenti la modul in care o miscam pe Aurora, sau o lasam  sa se joace. Totodata, fusesem restrictionati de pompa pentru administrarea laptelui.

Aurora avand tubul NJ.

In concluzie, jocul in Sectia de Terapie Intensiva Neonatala este crucial, desi uneori, este atat de greu de realizat. Pentru mine era foarte suparator si stresant sa am grija de atatea tuburi si cabluri; pentru a nu trage ceva dupa mine, sau mai mult, pentru a nu le rani pe fete. Am visat ziua in care puteam alerga in parc cu ele, lasandu-le sa se rostogoleasca si ridicandu-le catre cer, fara nicio retinere, fara niciun impediment. Imi doream cu disperare acea libertate, iar cand am abtinut-o, a insemnat o reala descatusare.

Multumesc ca ai citit!

Play in NICU (click here to read more)

The play is defined as any kind of freely chosen activity, intrinsically motivated, and personally directed. It is vital for physical and motor development, but also social, emotional and intellectual development.

Play in NICU might be challenging due to baby`s clinical state, which might not be suitable for doing some activities; due to distracting noises, the equipment connected to the baby, the regular procedures that the baby is undergoing or lack of space for keeping the toys. In our case, the play was an issue because Aurora and Victoria had chronic lung disease and they used most of their energy on breathing. However, we tried to stimulate them in a way that wasn’t too demanding and stressful for them.

Apart from talking and singing to them whenever it was possible, we made sure they also had the toys that were suitable for their age and also, recommended by the play therapist and occupational therapist — for example, sensory lights or musical instruments. We even used an application on the telephone for visual stimulation.

Aurora playing with the sensory lights provided by the hospital.

Our play sessions in Nicu represented a great time to bond with the girls, to see their psychological progress and to share smiles, which we enjoyed a lot. If the girls were awake at the same time and in a good mood, we use to put them together on a play mat and observe them, making sure the water from the tubing that belonged to the breathing machine, was not going into their nose.

Aurora and Victoria playing together

Sometimes, we use to put them next to each other in their bouncing chairs and entertain them by playing peek-a-boo, reading a story or show them different toys. We used to facilitate play by putting the girls in a comfortable position, for example making rolls for their head, so they felt their head safe, which also helped with the correction of their head shape. As you know, babies are at risk of plagiocephaly, because of their relatively soft skull.

Play session in NICU

When on the play mat, we use to roll a towel and put it around them to encourage movement, bringing hands together or touching their feet. In term and healthy baby, these things happen naturally, and the parent notices his baby already rolling over and putting his feet in the mouth. A premature infant instead, needs help with the smallest things to build up his mobility, strength and confidence, and play represents the best way to achieve these things.

Once Maria was allowed to visit her sisters, she used to bring her toys so they could play with them and to pretend to be a doctor and treating them. It was fascinating to see how play connects the children and helps them communicate. When she was around, Aurora and Victoria kept watching her and smile, showing they loved her presence.

Maria playing with Victoria

It is important to know that a premature or sick baby has his rhythm to play and parents should respect that and follow it, to make sure the baby is not overstimulated and distressed. Whenever the baby looks overtired, or I pain, he should receive the opportunity to rest and recover, until he shows he is ready to play again. Aurora and Victoria as well, had days when they just wanted to sleep, to be held, and not being interested in any toy or activity and we just listened to them.

Aurora had a period when she was continuously fed via an NJ tube because she got stuck from the breading point of view and doctors considered it would help her lungs if her tummy was empty and the possibility of vomits was reduced, which prevented the aspirations to her lung. The insertion of the NJ tube required a lot of attention, ability, and an X-ray to make sure it is in the right place. During that period, we have been extremely cautious with the way we moved or let Aurora play because nobody wanted her NJ tube to come out, and restricted at the same time by the feeding pump that was pushing the milk.

Aurora having Nj tube.

In conclusion, play in NICU is crucial, although sometimes it is so difficult to achieve. I found it upsetting and stressful to take care of so many tubes and wires; to make sure I do not pull something or harm the girls. I dreamt to the day when I could run in the park with them, let them roll over and lift them to the sky, without any restraint, without any impediment. I desperately wished that freedom, and when it came, it was such a relief.

Thank you for reading!