Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NICU Shadow Box

During Samuel's NICU stay, we gathered quite the collection of mementos - ranging from one of his first teeny diapers (not used, don't worry!) to the nasal cannula that replaced the infamous ventilator.  I'm sure some of the items would seem a bit odd to the average person, but for us, they mark a milestone or struggle worth remembering.

However, despite my desire to save each keepsake, I didn't know what to do with them.  They aren't exactly coffee table material.

I eventually decided to display some of the items in a shadow box.  Michael and I made the interior frames that divide the box into sections (difficult to see in the following pictures) and I recovered the padding at the back of the box.
The finished product:

Carolyn, one of Samuel's primary nurses at ACH, let me dress him up in this outfit on day 59 - he was two and a half pounds.  He wore the sunglasses (found beneath the hat in the picture) while he basked under the Bili light for his first two weeks of life.  His already tiny diapers were folded down so that the Pampers logo didn't show...in order to make it fit his body better.

The birth certificate was given to us completely blank except for his footprints.  I suppose they were too busy trying to save his life to bother with something as insignificant as a keepsake.  His footprint was the size of a small paperclip.

A night nurse made this hand print for us on day 32 by pushing his hand into a piece of modeling clay.  Samuel's kidneys were not working well and he was very swollen.  The hand print is rather plump compared to what it should have been.

The pacifiers were major milestones.  Every time he graduated to a larger size, I got a little giddy..."He is ACTUALLY growing!"  The orange one looked SOOOO big for the longest time.

These are the name badges we had to wear to be admitted into the NICU.  The top was for ACH and the bottom was for UAMS (if you're wondering about the 'BB POPE'...we didn't have a name for him until he was almost a week old!)

This was Samuel's snoodle.  It played a small role in his NICU journey, but it was a special keepsake for me.  The snoodle is meant to introduce the baby to the mother's scent while they are unable to be touched or held.  I was told to keep the doll next to my skin for several hours, then put it in the isolette with him.  I refused for the first week.  I didn't want to expose Samuel to any germs that could set him back.  But on the day his bowel perforated, I thought to myself, "What if he dies without ever knowing me?"  That night I touched his body for the first time as I put my hand on him and prayed for him...then I gave him the snoodle.  

The last section is a bit of an assortment.  From top to bottom:  his baby bracelet (which he never wore); the abdominal drain placed in his belly after his bowel perforated; a pink swab that they used to wipe his mouth; to the left is his ACH identification bracelet; I wore the yellow bracelet during my stay at the Ronald McDonald house; the wires are the last set of monitor leads he wore before being discharged from the hospital; at the bottom is an x-small blood pressure cuff.

We still have several bags of keepsakes left from his eventful NICU stay, but I'm not sure what to do with them.  If you have a creative way of displaying or keeping items, I would love to know!


  1. If they are pretty small mementos that you don't actually want to display, someone was telling me today about repurposing old plastic VHS cases (the Disney-type ones that open like a book.) Put a picture in the front and then command strip the case to a wall and it looks like a thick picture frame but you can have mementos inside.

    And I think I sound confusing-- here is a linkL http://www.ohdeedoh.com/ohdeedoh/good-idea-diy-vhs-case-photo-frame-with-secret-storage-divaani-blogit-158152

    Just another idea!

  2. I love this! I still don't have Jack's NICU stuff displayed anywhere. It's just all together in one of his drawers. I was thinking of doing a hope chest or a pretty box full of those treasures. I love this idea though!

  3. The shadow box turned out great. I've been meaning to do the same thing with the twins' NICU stuff, but instead it's just in a box. One of these days, I'm going to get around to doing it.

  4. Love this! Thanks for sharing. What a great visual to help show Samuel what his early start was like. I originally found your blog when I had my son so early and was spending hours and hours in the NICU. You had just had your 2nd baby.