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SMALL BUT MIGHTY
this is Ethan's story (and the start of Small Babies)
Our journey began in January 2012 when my son Ethan was born prematurely at 26 weeks. Like most NICU parents we suddenly found ourselves in a world far different from what we had imagined life with our newborn would be. Instead of bringing home a healthy baby, our days were filled with oxygen stats, cares, tube feeds and celebrating every weight gain - even when it was just a few grams.
At birth Ethan weighed 900g (2lbs) and was 34cm long. I was lucky enough to have been in hospital for a week leading up to his birth, in that time I was given two doses of steroids which made a huge difference to his lung development. Ethan was ventilated for just under two days, then they tried him on CPAP and he managed to cope. Despite being extremely premature we're fortunate that he never had major health problems, he mainly needed to grow. He had one session of phototherapy (the blue lights for jaundice) and needed four blood transfusions, which is pretty common for prems as they can't make their own red blood cells. Ethan's last transfusion was done at 5 1/2 weeks old, just before his 6 week immunisations.
Finally after 8 weeks in NICU Ethan was off CPAP and put onto high flow instead, another big milestone. It was great to get rid of those huge CPAP tubes that covered his face and I'm sure he hated those nasal prongs. Knocking them out of place and sleeping with his mouth open drove the nurses crazy some days!!
Slowly he graduated through the stages, replacing his oral feeding tube with a nasal gastric tube, transferring to a SCBU unit closer to home, moving onto low flow oxygen, and one at a time the monitoring decreased. You get used to relying on them so much and listening out for the alarms - for weeks afterwards I'd check on him constantly to be sure he was still breathing!
Ethan came home in mid April, two weeks before his due date and weighing just on 3kg. He needed low flow oxygen for the first few months to help him cope over winter, but has now been discharged by all his specialists. Ethan is still very little for his age but we are lucky to now have a happy and healthy (and did I mention extremely active??!!) eight year old.
ABOUT SMALL BABIES
At 6 1/2 weeks old our little boy graduated from his incubator and I could dress him in clothes. We spent ages disconnecting his oxygen to awkwardly pull tops over his head, trying to figure out how to feed the bundle of monitor leads out of the way while keeping everything else taped in the right position. On that day I realised something that really stuck with me. Dressing a premature baby was pretty damn hard!
In the NICU, milestones such your baby wearing clothes are a really big deal, each one symbolises another step towards that ultimate goal of bringing your baby home. Yet instead of celebrating Ethan's first-ever outfit with something completely adorable, our little guy was bundled up in four bodysuits from the tub of hospital supplies. He didn't look at all like a cute little newborn, the clothes were far too big and all those layers seemed to be making him uncomfortable.
You’d have thought that surely there was a better option than the hospital clothes, right? Unfortunately not, and we searched everywhere! Most of what we found needed to pull on over baby’s head, the sizing was ridiculous, there were zips, polyester fleece, and scratchy labels that would quickly irritate baby’s skin. Nothing seemed to have been made with consideration of how delicate and fragile a premature baby is.
And so my mission (and Small Babies) began. I understand that premature clothing must be super soft and cosy, practical for dressing around baby’s medical equipment, and accurately sized. Even though it was frustrating and awkward for us to dress our premmie, doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult for other parents.
Each and every item is carefully selected with the NICU in mind - many have been designed with the help of neonatal staff, they make it simple to dress your baby, and the nurses truly love them!! No matter how small your baby is there are plenty of gorgeous outfits, so new parents can happily photograph and show off every important milestone during their baby’s hospital journey. And finally, we choose clothing made from ultra-soft fabrics like certified organic cotton and Woolmark standard merino to keep your precious baby warm and comfortable.
If you’re a NICU parent - or a proud grandparent, aunty, uncle or friend - perfect clothing and special gifts for the tiny baby you love are now easy to find. We're also stockists of Octoprem, NICU Journals, Premmie Milestone Cards and more, which help babies and their families throughout their time in hospital to home.
While you’re browsing the website remember to check out the free resources and links to support networks, and if you need help I’m only a message away. I hope that you find something here for your baby (or babies!) and wish you all the best for your journey together.