Unexpected tragedy strikes — that’s just life sometimes. As I write these words, it is fresh from the experience of holding my 1-week-old baby girl in the NICU. And I must say, it was a pretty odd place to be.
The emotional roller coaster of thankfulness for a new baby but also fear and uncertainty as she is hooked up to multiple wires and tubes has a way of making even the most confident adult feel rattled.
In your community right now, there are multiple families at a neonatal intensive care unit. The smallest things can make the biggest difference to a family. Here are a few fresh ideas for things you can do to support families with babies in the NICU:
— Crochet a ton of baby hats, tiny blankets, socks, etc. and deliver them for each room. You most likely will not be able to be in contact with the families themselves, but instead will leave the items with the nurses.
— Collect a stack of puzzle books (crosswords, Sudoku, Word Finder) for the waiting room.
— Gather small toys and coloring books with crayons to leave in the waiting room for older kids who are waiting on their parents.
— Do a book drive and deliver children’s books for each NICU room with a note written inside the front cover saying, “We’re praying for you.”
— Buy a small teddy bear or soft toy for each baby in the NICU.
— Create prayer request cards that you can leave at the nurses desk. Arrange for a church staff member to come by the hospital and pick up cards that have been filled out so your church’s prayer team can continue to pray.
— Leave a stack of church pens and/or notepads for families to use.
— Is it near a holiday? Make (or take) a holiday-themed gift, mini Christmas stockings, Valentine’s teddy bears, etc.
— Write encouragement notes with Scripture verses for the parents and siblings of the babies in the NICU.
Get creative with simple things you can take or do to be an encouragement to families who are spending their days and nights with their newborn in the NICU. No matter what you do or take, be sure to include a handwritten note with a promise of your prayers along with an invitation to worship at your church on Sunday and something that shares the good news of Jesus.
Autumn wall and her husband Yale are church planters and have recently adopted a third child who has been in and out of the hospital since her birth a few months ago. This article first appeared in Baptist Press and various state papers and Autumn has given me permission to post it here. You can hear more about the Walls’ adoption story here.