CaraMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia, NC is now becoming widely known for having a remarkable tradition. This hospital has created a little ceremony that celebrates premature newborns that are leaving the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). When these premature babies leave the NICU, the hospital celebrates by giving them a special surprise.
Newborn babies can be admitted to the NICU for a variety of reasons, but the most common reasons are because the baby is sick or born premature.
When a child who is born 6 weeks or more premature leaves the NICU, it is a big achievement. One nurse at CaraMont Regional, Melissa Jordan, came up with a unique way to celebrate these newborns moving out.
Melissa Jordan is constantly making sure that these babies are being cared for and loved on. She makes sure that the parents get to bond with their baby while they’re in the NICU as well.
Melissa is ecstatic when a baby is healthy enough to leave the NICU, so she started researching ways to make graduation hats. Ever since than, the NICU staff at CaraMont Regional has held a little ceremony when a baby leaves the unit.
During this exciting ceremony, these babies receive a handmade graduation cap. Along with the graduation cap, a professional photographer in the community Bella Baby Photography provides a photo shoot free of charge.
The graduation caps include a message that says, “X days behind me, a whole lifetime in front of me,” with the number of days that they have been away in the NICU.
Melissa called Bella Baby Photography and requested that they come take photographs of the NICU graduates. The photographer offered these pictures to the parents at absolutely no charge.
Melissa told writers at Buzzfeed that the graduation is specifically for babies that were born at 34 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. She said that it is not only an achievement for the babies, but for the parents as well.
Melissa made this program 6 months ago with the purpose of celebrating this big milestone in the babies’ lives. She was inspired to start this after spending time with a susceptible premature baby that was born at 29 weeks.
When the baby born at 29 weeks was ready to discharge from the NICU, the family had bought a onesie for him that said, “NICU grad.” After seeing the onesie, Melissa wanted to make the day more special so she went home and made a customized graduation cap.
Melissa said the day that the baby was discharged, the staff went in singing and dancing. They then presented the homemade cap, which left his parents smiling ear to ear.
After the staff witnessed the smiles on the parents of this child, Melissa and the staff instantly knew it was something they wanted to continue on doing for the rest of the families and babies.
Melissa continued on saying that leaving the NICU can be joyful but can also be scary and nerve-wracking at the same time. She said doing this is a little way of bringing some normalcy to taking the babies home.
Ever since the program begin, 14 babies have graduated from the NICU. That includes 3 sets of twins!
Melissa said that they eventually hope to make a wall with the graduates photos. She said it can help give parents that have a child in the NICU some hope and reassurance.
This wonderful unit is doing some cool things! I will be looking forward to hearing more stories of babies that have graduated.