NOTE: Daniel and Kelly speak to this question on Episode #11 of The Abel Speaks Podcast. You can listen on Apple, Spotify, or your app of choice.
We want to provide you with a few handle holds for the weeks leading up to delivery as you anticipate your child’s birthday and all that comes with it. We have three categories that you can start to think and process through that might help you prepare to make the experience as meaningful as possible.
1) Medical: The first category would be the medical side of things — very practically speaking: What are some things you can do to prepare medically?
Based on our personal experience and walking with other families, we would say the things that we’ve seen to be most helpful would be meeting with the NICU team prior to delivery as well as potentially connecting with a hospice in your area. In Dallas, for example, there are only a couple hospice companies that handle children so it might be helpful to connect with them to see what that process looks like. It can give you a general idea of what to expect if you get to take your child home.
Creating a birth plan is helpful and then using that plan to guide your conversations with your medical providers to make sure that they know your wishes and that everybody is on the same page prior to delivery. You never know until your baby gets here what might go exactly as you thought and hoped for or what is going to go different. Audibles might get made on your baby’s birthday, but talking through your approach and plan with your medical team will serve you well.
2) Atmosphere: The second category is thinking in terms of the atmosphere of the room itself and the kind of setting you want for your baby’s birthday. What are some things to consider when thinking about the mood of the room?
Our approach was to try to make the space as peaceful as possible. For us, that looked like creating a playlist that had songs on it that were meaningful to us and brought about a lot of peace and calm. We also used twinkle lights — Daniel’s such a big fan of those. It really was such a sweet thing to have those and not have the fluorescent lights of the hospital. We also used a diffuser and some essential oils. Scent can be a really strong sense and that helped create the atmosphere in our room. There are still times when a smell comes up and it reminds us of Abel in that season. Those are some things we’ve done and heard other families do that seem to be meaningful in those moments.
3) Tangible Items: The third category is thinking about what accessories, items or keepsakes you want to have with you. What are some things that we did and that we’ve seen others do?
Keeping it simple would be our first recommendation. We brought a few outfits to the hospital with us. We didn’t actually bring any hats — I wish that we would have, but the hospital actually provided some that were handmade and they’re some that we love. We’ve had people make some for us to have matching ones with Abel which is really sweet. We also brought a few blankets. Any of the items that Abel used we got to use with our other children we’ve been blessed with. That’s been a really sweet thing to see all of them in the same clothes early on as newborns.
Something that we didn’t do, that I wish we would have done more, was read to Abel — whether that was scriptures, other books or poems, or things that we liked. A lot of families bring The Jesus Storybook Bible with them and read while they have time with their kids which creates sweet memories. Or even just Goodnight Moon and some of those classics that are still applicable can be really sweet memories.
Whether it is thinking in terms of medical preparation, creating a certain atmosphere and space, or gathering tangible items and accessories, they are knowns even in the midst of some unknowns. Thinking about those going in can help you create a meaningful birthday with your child.
We, at Abel Speaks, have resources that we’ve created to specifically help you. We have example questions you can ask your medical team, tangible keepsakes, and even a Spotify playlist of songs of comfort and hope. All of that is available here on our website or you can reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to connect with you and be thought-partners in any and every regard.