‘The Story of Me’ helps parents mark important milestones
Karen Prunty, Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Department of Neonatology in Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) Crumlin, spoke to us about the ‘Story of Me’ – an initiative she spearheaded to support new parents.
Can you tell us a little about how the Story of Me cards came about?
The neonatal team care for over 300 babies per year and are acutely aware of the impact of having a newborn baby in hospital has on parents. Working in the neonatal area, we often hear parents describe feelings of sadness at missing out on so many stages of their baby’s development and the little milestones that are normally achieved.
Parents tell us they miss out on the newborn phase; however babies pass many milestones that are unique to them during their hospital stay and we wanted to help parents to mark these special moments. We wanted to provide support to parents and create something unique to CHI for these babies.
The funding for ‘The Story of Me’ cards was generously provided by Children’s Health Foundation.
What is the purpose of ‘The Story of Me’ cards?
The aim is to create lasting memories and mark significant moments with bespoke cards as well as to help parents reflect on their baby’s journey and the triumphs achieved. We also wanted to optimise the parental experience of having a baby in hospital. The cards help parents reflect on their baby’s journey and what triumphs have been achieved.
I consulted with a variety of stakeholders including parents, staff, and designers and looked at different types of milestone cards. We then created our own unique cards that are specifically for a baby in hospital in CHI. They were designed to help create markers of each baby’s time in hospital. The cards captured and memorialised the small victories.
On the back of each milestone card is a space for parents to write about a specific moment or specific week, creating their own unique memory book ‘The Story of Me’.
The parents are also provided with a poster which is designed to help them remember all the people who cared for their child.
How have parents reacted to the cards?
Over 80 families have marked their CHI journey through the milestone cards and the feedback has been universally positive. Parents love the fact the cards celebrate their baby’s progress, ‘The Story of Me’ creates an everlasting story for families to cherish.
One parent said: “When you find yourself at the side of a tiny bed with a very sick baby, there is a feeling of helplessness, you are lost in your role as a parent. Marking their milestones allows you to celebrate their progress, it’s real, it’s theirs and it’s so wonderful to watch. It allowed me to feel part of her progress…our little miracle.’