Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Countdown to a Safe Halloween

Like many households with young children the countdown to Halloween in our home actually started when the stores began to deck everything in orange and black. Pumpkin decoration, costumes, candy and staying up late, what is there not to love about Halloween from a child's perspective? This year, our family is actually venturing out into the neighborhood to trick or treat, but from a parent and caregiver perspective Halloween presents some significant risks. The number of the child fatalities while walking are double on Halloween night any other night of the year. It makes horrible sense if you think about it, large numbers children are out after dark, wearing costumes that are often dark, costumes that may obscure their view and they may in their excitement not be using good road sense. What can we all, parents, kids and motorists do about this? Safe Kids has a host of fabulous suggestions and a strong reminder that whether or not you talk about pedestrian safety with your children usually, you should on Halloween. 

Some of my favorite suggestions, along with the basic pedestrian safety are those that make use of costumes to increase visibility:
  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and choose light colored costumes to improve visibility.
  • Choose face paint and make-up instead of masks, which can obstruct a child's vision. Look for non-toxic designations when choosing Halloween makeup.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as to be seen by drivers.
Check out the rest of the suggestions here and over the next week on TMC for Children's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

An additional suggestion for drivers, as you're turning in or pulling out of your driveway be especially aware of small children who might not be where you expect them. Perhaps before pulling out of your driveway make sure you have a clear view with no children on the driveway, or within a house or two of yours on either side.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Brother, Big Sister

Sibling Class
Our family just got bigger.  To help with the transition to being a family of four I registered our preschooler in the Big Brother, Big Sister class at Tucson Medical Center. Adjusting to the needs and joys of a newborn impacts the whole family, and amid all the excitement and craziness of a new baby in the house, older siblings can feel a little left out. My preschooler and I recently spent a Saturday morning in the company of six other soon-to-be older siblings learning some skills to aid in the transition.

Nikki CLS
Nikki, a TMC for Children's Child Life Specialist, led the ninety minute class, energetically involving the participants in play as they learned how to swaddle, feed, diaper and hold a baby. Nikki skillfully coaxed the children to discuss their feelings, excitement and concerns, about a new sibling as the children made bookmarks. Nikki highlighted the special role that siblings have for their new infant siblings, making them laugh, playing gently to encourage them to interact using jingle bells and rattles. The class was perfectly pitched to my near five-year old and engrossed her for the full ninety minutes. My daughter left excited to try her new found skills on her new sibling, well all except the diapering. She still isn't convinced about changing a dirty diaper. 

The Big Brother, Big Sister class is offered every month for just $15, you can find out more here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When the NICU is Home

Madison, a two-week-old premie, smiles as she rests in her mother's arms in the Tucson Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Monday, October 3, 2011. Madison was six and a half weeks early and now weighs four pounds and 20 oz.

With all births we hope for a gentle entry of a new being into the world, but sometimes that isn't the way it happens. When your child arrives early or there are complications, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) becomes your home. Melissa, a Tucson mother, shares her perspective about how friends and family can help when your baby has to be in the NICU for an extended time period. Melissa's baby M arrived quite a bit earlier than expected and is now a fabulous preschooler. 

 What can friends and families do to help? 
  • Say congratulations first.  When your little one arrives early, no-one congratulates you on the birth.  Welcome that baby to the world!  
  • Show up with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and two spoons.  If you don't know what to say, try, "I don't know what to say, but I am here for you" and listen without judgement. 
  • If the parents are like us, they are at the NICU 24 hours a day - Bring meals to the hospital.
  • Offer to take care of pets at home, get mail, water plants, etc.
  • If baby arrived early, they may not have got car seats, cribs, diapers, etc., yet.  Offer to pick up things or to have things shipped to your address so someone doesn't need to be home to sign for them.  
  • Offer to take the car and car seat to a certified installer to make sure it is installed correctly.  That one was on my list of things to do that I never got to.   
Esteban, a one-week-old premie, stretches his legs in the Tucson Medical Center's Neonatal intensive care unit, Monday, October 3, 2011. He was born five weeks early.

The one piece of -- well, not really advice, but just support, that I will always remember was from a coworker that I barely knew and had rarely communicated with.  It arrived via email two days after M was born.  He wanted to let me know that he and his wife were once brand-new parents to a preemie girl who started her life in the NICU and he understood what we were experiencing.  He also wanted to let me know that he was writing from California, where they attended USC's winter commencement and watched their preemie graduate with her MBA.  :-)  I really appreciated his sensitivity to my acute fears -- what does the prematurity mean to my child's future?  He nailed it right on the head without having to say something cliche, like "everything will be fine.  

Each family's experience is different. If your child has been in the NICU what could or did friends and family do to support you?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jacob takes off on an Adventure

CMN Jacob Send-Off 1
A few months ago we had the pleasure of introducing you to Jacob Mockbee, our Children's Miracle Network Champion.  

Jacob has been chosen to represent the state of Arizona for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champions program in 2011. Yesterday there was a special farewell event at the Swan & Sunrise Ace Hardware to launch Jacob and his family on their adventure.

Jacob, who is 13, has been treated at TMC for multiple medical issues related to his spina bifida, with more than 50 surgeries performed since early childhood.  He has been selected for the Children's Miracle Network program because of his courage in battling his health challenges.

The Champions program brings together children from across the United States that have tackled severe medical challenges. These patients represent the 17 million children that are treated at 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals every year. Through the Champions program, they will support fundraising campaigns for hospitals like TMC throughout the year.

The Mockbee family will join the other participating families on a special visit to Walt Disney World to join the annual CMN Celebration event in Orlando, Fla. The celebration unites hospitals, sponsors and celebrities to celebrate achievements, share best practices and honor the children who benefit from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ fundraising efforts.

Then, the Champions, including Jacob, will travel to Washington D.C., to visit The White House and Capitol Hill, where they meet with Arizona representatives to share their stories. The young patients will use the high-level contacts at the nation’s capital to inspire others to support children’s hospitals. 
-Michael Letson

Bon Voyage Jacob. Have a fabulous time. 
CMN Jacob Send-Off 2-1