Last week, Crafty Collective leader, Tayla N. and I headed over to Wesley Medical Center to deliver our group’s first batch of scent circles!!! If you’re not sure what a scent circle is, please check out my blog post: Fleece Scent Circles for Wesley Medical Center.
For the Crafty Collective’s first Scent Circle Making Party, we ended up with 342 finished circles, giving us 114 packages to donate to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The picture above shows what 342 freshly laundered circles look like; they swamped my dining room table!
Tayla and I parked in the visitor’s garage, walked into Building 3, and followed the hospital signs, as well as the very helpful directions from Sarah M.’s email, directly to the NICU Nurses’ Station. We were warmly greeted by Sarah, who is a Neonatal Nurse Liaison at the hospital, and who partners with the volunteers assisting with their Scent Circle Program.
We were given a great tour of the NICU unit! Thank you very much, Sarah! The unit has nice amenities for parents and babies including a relaxation room (with sofas, restroom, computer access, NICU baby success stories, and other pertinent information), parent lockers, lactation stations, and private rooms for mothers to nurse/feed, care for, and stay overnight with their babies. We saw a sweet baby boy sleeping in his incubator with tiny little head resting on a powder blue fleece scent circle… so sweet! There were baskets of scent circles everywhere!!!
We hopped up to the third floor to see my girl, Jessica H. She and I are good friends and have known each other for a long time! Jess was the one who gave me the contact information at Wesley, so that we could arrange donation of our scent circles!
Jess is a Postpartum Nurse; she has worked with new mothers and their new babies for the past 6 years! Her floor will often receive mothers of premature babies too (whose babies must stay in the NICU), and Jess will care for them as well. She says, “I have had 3 children and 3 completely different birth experiences (one natural without pain medicine/epidural, one emergency C-section, and one unscheduled planned C-section at 34 weeks requiring the baby to go to NICU). Because of my totally different birth experiences, I feel I have walked in MOST of my patient’s shoes, so to speak. I can relate to what they are going through and because of that, I am able to offer compassion and caring, along with medical care & monitoring, with teaching & education sprinkled throughout the mother & baby’s stay. I understand what C-section pain feels like, how little sleep a new mom gets the first few days, how hard it is to leave the hospital without your new baby that you have been anxiously awaiting all these months. I feel truly blessed to have been placed by God in a career/profession that I love so much!”
And I feel truly blessed to have this caring, compassionate, hard working nurse as my friend! Thanks for all of your service to the mamas and babies in your unit, Jess! Keep up the great work!
Wesley Medical Center, in Wichita, KS, is renowned for it’s state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care and Pediatric Intensive Care units, and it’s NICU has also received the designation as a Center for Excellence, which is one out of only 53 to receive that designation by the Clinic Sciences Institute of United’s OptumHealth network for 2011 (reference here). The Center focuses on the immediate need for a mother-baby bond and relationship by highly promoting breast feeding (providing lactation specialists, pumping stations, and education to the mothers) by promoting and providing scent circles freely throughout the unit, and by promoting skin-to-skin contact in coordination with the March of Dimes Kangaroo Care Campaign.
More information about the Kangaroo Care campaign can be located at the following website: http://www.marchofdimes.com
After meeting Sarah, touring the NICU and Postpartum facilities, chatting with and hugging on my girl, Jess, and dropping off the scent circles, it was time to head back home. Tayla and I expertly navigated our way from the NICU to the parking garage – we were quite proud of ourselves! But once we entered the parking garage, chatting all the while, it was as if we had stepped into an alternate dimension. I remembered that Tayla had parked her car on the green level, but somehow we were surrounded by orange and her car was nowhere in sight… We were so worried about getting lost in the hospital, but in actuality, we ended up getting lost in the parking garage instead! I don’t know if it’s because we were talking or if we took a wrong set of stairs or what?!? But I love how life is always an adventure! Once we finally found the green level, I snapped a photo of it out of relief!
Final notes: Nine years ago, my daughter was born 5 weeks early… my water broke (at work) and my friends rushed me to the hospital, with amniotic fluids slowly but surely dissipating and no further progress of labor, no contractions. I was given an amniotic injection and medication to try to induce contractions, and 12 hours later, my girl quietly made her appearance into the world, though I was not so quiet – she was my toughest labor/delivery of all three kids.
Alex was so quiet because her lungs were slightly underdeveloped; she was immediately whisked away to be placed in an incubator in the NICU and was monitored for her oxygen levels. Once it was determined that she could breathe on her own, she was still ordered to stay in the NICU for further testing and observation, but I was able to visit her there, hold her, and attempt to feed her. Several attempts at feeding proved unsuccessful however because her suckle reflex wasn’t fully developed yet… at which time, Alex was given a feeding tube through her tiny little nose. We fed her through a tube for the first couple weeks of her life. I was discharged to go home after two days in the hospital, but my daughter had to stay…
It was really difficult trying to find balance and peace and happiness while my oldest child was at home, my newborn was in the intensive care unit, and my husband and I were split in between. Gregg and I took shifts at the hospital spending multiple hours each in the NICU. I wish that we would’ve had scent circles available to us so that Alex could’ve had that extra comfort and reassurance when I was unable to be there with her; it would’ve given me peace of mind and I would’ve felt like I was able to DO something, like I wasn’t helpless.
As Sarah mentioned, there are so many different things that the nurses and doctors can do for a baby, but one thing they can’t do is smell like the mother. Going back to the information provided by the hospital, “Exposure of an infant to his/her mother’s scent produces calming, pain-relieving, stimulatory and blissful reactions. It helps sooth crying. Mother’s scent helps the infant in feeding preparation, nipple acceptance, and sucking pattern and ability.” I believe that Wesley Medical Center’s Scent Circle program is invaluable to mothers and their premature babies, and applaud the hospital for being pioneers in this area.
Happy to help promote the importance of mother-baby bonding through scent and touch! Happy to help with the scent circle program!