It’s nearly 5 a.m. here, and I just finished pumping. You’d think I’d be a bleary mess, doing my best to make it back to bed before I fall asleep, but here I sit, googling my brains out.

I’m getting frustrated with it.

Why am I googling at 5 a.m. and getting frustrated? Our babies’ first Christmas is 24 days from now, and since they won’t be home for Christmas, I want to bring Christmas to them. As soon as possible. We’ll be pulling down from the attic our decorations this weekend (Why is it I’m always surprised by what I have? I can never seem to remember all the decorations!) and will see what we already have that can be used, and I’ll talk with the nurses about specific spots I can use to decorate around our wee three, but I’m googling for inspiration, and I’m coming up short.

As you can imagine, I don’t really have time to sit and sift through page after page of google images and blog posts, so I’m reaching out for a little help.

Are you a NICU parent, present or past? Can you share with me any decorating ideas and tips? Or are you a NICU nurse or doctor? I’m sure you have a lot of ideas I could pull from.

No one ever wants to spend Christmas in the hospital, let alone their babies’ very first Christmas. Of course I’d prefer to have them home, but the NICU is what they need, and I can always bring Christmas to them.

I just need some ideas.

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26 Responses to Deck the [NICU] halls

  1. Beth says:

    Wonderful idea! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for ideas and pass them along.
    By the way, Congrats on the beautiful babies!

  2. Jessica says:

    I also had triplets at 28 weeks and we spent Halloween, Thanksgiving and almost Christmas in the NICU. I have to say I was on the postpartum depression side so envy you that you are able to feel like celebrating. A few cute ideas at our NICU were making little holiday theme signs for their incubators or decorating them a bit and my favorite was always the crocheted hats in holiday theme. I still have our pumpkin, turkey and santa hats.

  3. Lauren says:

    My daughter was born 3 days after Christmas but I still saw some of the decorations. We had a pretty awesome NICU and there were white boards for each of the babies or one big one once you got up to intermediate and their names would be decorated with cute drawings. there was also a cork board so ofcourse there were stockings hung up and there was garland hung around the board. so i guess it just depends on what you have in there, here is a picture of mallory’s board in intermediate for valentines day.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/wowen/Mallory115.jpg

  4. Becky says:

    The NICU and holidays are so strange aren’t they. On one hand you feel like celebrating and on the other your heart is breaking just a little as you don’t have that normal “first Christmas (or halloween, mother’s day etc).

    Like Jessica we loved the Crocheted hats. Periodically I happen upon X’s candy corn hat from his NICU days and it makes us smile. Take lots of pictures! You’ll treasure them always.

    Beyond your regular decorations (and what the NICU provides) try to ‘decorate’ yourself. Wear some holiday socks. Find a cheesy Santa shirt. Relish in the holidays and remember that if you get into the spirit, some of that will get passed to your little ones.

  5. Mary says:

    In the NICU I work in, I think it would be okay to have a mini tree on the counter behind where the isolettes are. We have never had parents do that, but it wouldn’t be a huge issue. I know that we are not okay with decorating the insides of the isolettes (I think your babies are in Giraffes, right?) because that is an infection control no-no. We allow one small stuffed animal (Beanie Baby-sized) on the inside, along with family photos, but that’s it.

    I think a stocking is such a cute idea…it would be so fun to have them hanging at their bedsides with their names on them! Our babies each have a bedside cart with a white board attached to the back of it where we can write things and also hang things. We also do scrapbooking with the parents, and then the pages they do hang on the white board (it’s magnetic).

    We also decorate our NICU and put up a tree and such…not sure if your NICU will do that. We like to make it as festive as possible while still keeping in mind the real reason that we are there, to care for precious little ones like your T, E, and C!

  6. Sam says:

    My little one was a 30 weeker born in the summer so we didn’t spend the the holidays but I did decorate Ella’s area a bit. Here are my thoughts. One of the things tha I thought that made E’s isolette more cheery were our own recieving blankets. I googled and found several cute christmas recieving blankets. If you are crafty you could buy flannel and make some of your own (or get someone to make them for you) One of the things we did was make personalized onsies with ironons. My mother made a personalized isolette cover out of fleece for Ella. We have used that blanket so much and was her play mat for awhile and now E sleeps with it. You could get some festive fleece and make a cover. I am all about felt garlands right now you could do something like this for behind their isolettes or even on the front of them.
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.89901904.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php%3Flisting_id%3D30765505&usg=__coHB8BwBanTVsjZw_UfU14H_WpM=&h=886&w=1000&sz=147&hl=en&start=14&sig2=2AaUgMfvCMm1qXifXsjbuQ&zoom=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=tbFxkQhPd-S6iM:&tbnh=132&tbnw=149&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dfelt%2Bchristmas%2Bgarland%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1T4RNTN_enUS353US353%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=LE72TNT4BYS0lQfersTMBQ

  7. Candice says:

    You could do holiday blankets to put over their isolettes. Stockings hung up on their beds would be cute too. If they are wearing clothes you can get different holiday outfits and recieving blankets to put them in. Our NICU had different rules about what could be hung up around the beds so check with yours first. Good luck and congratulations!

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  9. guarros says:

    My daughter started in the NICU – we decorated (not for Christmas as much for “interior” design/support) – with pictures, lining her bed. Sure I know she couldn’t really see much at that point, but my thought was – if by chance she opened her eyes and COULD see something? Why not our smiling faces? You could do Christmas photos of “yore” maybe even pictures of trees/lights festive up their room a bit. I love the stocking idea. Or the blanket / hat one! If you have a favorite ornaments/ decoration maybe you could bring it in; just so you have that little piece of Christmas with you?

  10. Marcy says:

    My friend in NICU told me first, check to see what is and isn’t allowed as each hospital is different. At his hospital, most parents decorate walls and doors but for safety reasons, keep them away from the beds.
    He said Christmas Teddys are popular with most of their parents. Also, last year, he had a family do a diaper tree. It’s a lot like a diaper cake but it’s decorated with ornaments. He said it was a big hit!

  11. Elizabeth Brueseke says:

    Don’t know if someone already posted this or not, but here’s an article I stumbled across when I hadour twins…
    http://typeaparent.com/tips-for-celebrating-and-coping-with-christmas-in-the-nicu.html

  12. Korinna says:

    (New reader here! Started following your story the day of your delivery. I’m just so, so happy that your kidlets and YOU are doing so well.)

    My daughter was in the NICU over Christmas and we checked with her primary nurses first as to what was/wasn’t kosher. We bought a new Christmas-y blanket for the top of her isolette, brought in family pictures and hung up a stocking with her name on it.

  13. Mary-Lindsey says:

    In response to Mary’s comment…don’t know if you have a Hobby Lobby where you are, but they have little Christmas trees for about $5 (1.5 ft. tall). You can then buy an ornament kit there to decorate it with, for about $5,. They have tons & tons of themed packaged ornaments – sports, princess, hair stuff, tractors, etc. It would be cute to get them their own little trees & they could have them year after year to decorate. Love checking in on your trio!

  14. Erin says:

    I think a lot will depend on the rules of your NICU. When my twins were born, our NICU didn’t allow many decorations (we were there for Easter). If I remember correctly, the only things allowed on the counters by the isolettes were one stuffed animal and several cards. We were also allowed to tape one item to the outside of the incubator, but we left the cute name-cards with the footprints that they NICU nurses made on the night of their births. Definitely try to find Christmas outfits, if you are allowed to put them in clothing by that point, it will make you smile to see them dressed in red and green! Even if you can only put on holiday-themed hats, you will love it!

  15. Brooke says:

    I like the idea of tiny stockings. You could make little banners in Christmas colors with their names. Super easy with cardstock, scrapbooking paper, and ribbon: http://oopsey-daisy.blogspot.com/2010/03/happy-birthday-banner-manly-version.html

    This Etsy seller has the cutest little hats, too, if they can have warm cozy head-wear: http://www.etsy.com/shop/kathyneilsen?ref=seller_info

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jenny!

    So happy to hear all is going well. My little girl was in NICU and we did the blanket thing over her isolette. One thing that always makes me feel in the Holiday spirit is Christmas music- can you perhaps bring some with you to play when you are holding them to sing along with? Or perhaps plan a little holiday sing along on Xmas Eve- even if it is just you and your family, the memories would last a lifetime. I just had a thought about holiday socks if they are not wearing clothes by then….perhaps only one sock as my daughter had a light sensor on one foot. Gotta run…said daughter is waking up!! Your blog always inspires me- thank you!

  17. Definitely check before you go all out. Our NICU sister was a tyrant (love you Jackie!) she didn’t even allow a small teddy bear or anything, so you wouldn’t have been able to decorate.

    I agree with the holiday themed incy covers, or quilts or blankets, we were allowed those.

    Maybe a little Christmas bible verse or picture on each incubator. What about some cute shots of your babies faces and then a little santa hat photoshopped on each one?

  18. Jada (CarolinaPantherFan) says:

    Last year when my DD spent her first Christmas in the NICU we hung a stocking on her isolette in addition to what the NICU decorated with and on Christmas day the NICU along with volunteer gave us a bag of goodies.

    BTW, I am so proud of E, T and C they are doing so well!!

  19. Alena says:

    I don’t have any experience, but if they don’t allow actual little tree’s or garland, can you print pictures of decorations around your house and sort of stage their area’s with a picture of the tree, garland, lights, stockings, fireplace, presents.

  20. Elizabeth Brueseke says:

    Oh, can you put window clings on the isolettes?

  21. Sara T. says:

    Last year my brothers fiance’ was in the ICU for 3 months, unconscious and on a ventilator due to complications from the H1N1 virus. She was put under and on the vent on 11/9 and was not able to be taken off and gain consciousness until mid January (we thought we were going to lose her for a better part of that time). While I have never experienced the NICU (our daughter is 2 years old and was full term), I know that spending the holidays in the hospital while someone you love is fighting for their health/life, to put it midly, SUCKS. We made her a huge sign and everyone signed it… friends, family, nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, janitorial staff!!!! We also had a small tree, Christmas lights, lots of cards and a CD player with Christmas music playing 24/7. I asked her later if she got sick of it somewhere in her “dreams”!
    It was tough but we made the best of it and gathered around her day and night praying for her to come back to us. We have developed strong bonds with the nurses who cared for her and what started out as horrible was a beautiful miracle in the end. I will pray for you and your sweet babies and I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas – decorated or not (I’m sure the NICU is pretty limited on what you are able to do) it will be one of your most memorable. They are precious… congrats!

  22. Megan says:

    We didn’t spend the major holidays in the NICU (just 4th of july and labor day). BUT, I had a neighbor who loved to sew and got fabric at the sewing store and made blankets in red white and blue. Do you have anyone who’s asking you “what can I do?” Well, if they have a sewing machine, get them busy with some holiday themed blankets. This lady continued to make us ones for other holidays even after we came home.

    We always needed large ones for underneath them covering the “bed” and then smaller ones that were rolled up around their head or to hold a paci or whatever.

    Happy Holidays!

  23. becca says:

    Jax was in the NICU on valentines day and they decorated the area around his bed with little hearts hanging from the ceiling, some pink and red tinsel stuff on the sides of his warmer, made him a name tag that was red with hearts. Some elderly women that sew things for the NICU also made drawstring “laundry” bags (really just for burp cloths, blankets, socks, hand mitts and hats because he wasnt wearing clothes) with red hearts on them.

    I would ask the nurses if you could bring in tiny trees with small decorations on them, and maybe some Christmas lights on the tree. I’m sure they would let you bring stockings for each baby too. I’m so sorry that you’ll be spending your Christmas in the hospital but I am hoping that they can come home with you very soon after!

  24. Katie says:

    We were home by Christmas, but something really really neat and fun that a NICU nurse did I will treasure forever, and may be y’all can by then too? She did Austin’s footprints and made them into reindeer! It was so so cute! It’s a great memory/keepsake. If they’ll let you, I highly recommend it! You can decorate and then keep them 😉

  25. amazing work, mama! so very proud of you! the babies are little but they honestly look SO strong – they are clearly thriving! it will be amazing to watch them grow – thank you for sharing them with us all! hope you’re having a wonderful start to the holiday season getting to know your precious babes & learning to do the preemie-mom thang. (; XOXOXO!!!

  26. Brenda says:

    I have a 30 weeker in the NICU right now. The nurses let me put window clings on the isolette. We decorated for halloween, and I keep hoping to go home, so I haven’t changed the holiday yet. =/

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