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NICUs unsung heros - a Dad shares his journey

Recently a Mum, Charlotte, came through our ReadyStepGrow program and shared her husband's reflections as a result.  Although Dads can not often make it to our programs, this is a moving story about how families as a whole can benefit through our approach and a husband's tender tribute to his wife.

Image courtesy Benjamin Scot Miller

How did you feel in the SCN/NICU?

As we had lost Rosie the year before, I was grateful and very happy to have Neo with us. So I was the "Happy Dad" in the room. I wanted to participate in the routines, change nappies, bath him etc. I even had the nurses smiling when I played him Pink Floyd for Babies one evening. It was not easy leaving him there after each visit and it was hard watching my wife go through the "separation anxiety" each time she left and sat at home without him. We managed to alleviate this anxiety by taking lots of photos and videos and also the occasional Skype or Face Time call, when one of us could not be there.

I did look around and saw the first time NICU/SCN parents looking horrified and bewildered as their bundle of joy was hooked up to screaming machines and was being fed through a tube stuck in their noses. They were petrified to hold or touch the fragile being lying in front of them. I wanted to tell them that it could be a lot worse, as we knew it could be, however they did not need a shock story at that moment. They needed encouragement and coaching, which we gladly offered, whether they wanted it or not.

Life outside the SCN went on. Fortunately my work allowed me flexible work time (as most places do if you just ask). So I took on the role of "afternoon shift school and other duties" for our 5 yo. It was fun and gave me insight into what my wife does. Yes it's a juggling act with work, home and now SCN as well, but if you explain it to everyone they understand and back off when you are in SCN mode.

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Readystepgrow's parenting program and the attachment relationship

The marshmallow experiment is now famous. The little child is offered a marshmallow that they are free to eat immediately. But if they can hold off eating their marshmallow until an adult comes back into the room several minutes later, they will be given 2 marshmallows. Children who were able to hold off (and it's very funny watching all the things they get up to in order to distract themselves), were found many years later to be better at many things, including their school work and social relationships. It makes sense, because if we can delay an immediate reward, we can achieve more along the way. To be able to study, for example, requires the child to put off lots of nice rewarding things so that exams can be passed. Yet the child knows there are more rewards later by studying now.

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2013 Reflections on the Start up of ReadyStepgrow

ReadyStepGrow (RSG) programs launched in 2013 with an eager team who had heads full of knowledge and hearts full of enthusiasm. Our core aim was to get what is in our heads into the minds of mothers of prematurely-born babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Why did RSG want to do this?

(i) families are often floundering with their premmie and concerned about what they can do for them
(ii) premmies are at-risk for every developmental problem
(iii) little brains are exceptionally "plastic" and a safe, nurturing and challenging home environment will make the brain make the connections that are needed
(iv) we encourage parents to become knowledgeable, empowered and proactive in creating this enriched environment for their premmie – ideally, this will start right from birth because the most "plastic" time for brain growth is the first 3 years of life.

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Keep the miracle going

The stress of having a premature baby

When a premature baby is photographed and the family story told in a newspaper, it is often accompanied by the term "miracle baby". Certainly the survival of  babies as young as 22 weeks of gestation can seem like a miracle Some years ago, the chances of these babies surviving was close to zero. Indeed the US President John Kennedy

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Raising happy secure children and what we can learn from dogs

In this morning's paper (The Sunday Age, April 7, 2013) there were 2 articles about dogs. One featured the "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan and the other was entitled "Lessons from my Dog" (Hilary Bennett, Sunday Life).  Circle of Security helps parents unpack what is happening in any one moment with their child. There is such an overlap in the wisdoms from Attachment Theory, Circle of Security and other research as well as this ‘dog stuff’, I just had to share it with you. First, from "Lessons..."

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  • Aimie

    support for premature children Paediatric Occupational Therapist "I found the work you are doing to support premature children and their families, so inspiring. From Read More
  • Andrea

    Sia born at 30 weeks Sia was born in her 30th week. The hospital did everything they could to stop her but she had a Read More
  • Asha & Maya's story

    Asha & Maya's story ReadyStepGrow "helped reduce my girl's separation anxiety and their need to be physically with me all the time, it increased Read More
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Tue Jun 27, 2017 @10:00 - 11:30AM
Tuesday Toddlers (Term 2 2017)
Tue Jul 18, 2017 @10:00 - 11:30AM
Pre-Kindy (Term 3 2017)
Tue Jul 18, 2017 @11:45 - 01:15PM
Tue Baby Prems (Term 3 2017)
Wed Jul 19, 2017 @10:00 - 11:30AM
Toddlers (Term 3 2017)
Wed Jul 19, 2017 @11:45 - 01:15PM
Tiny Premmies (Term 3 2017)

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