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Most of us expect our pregnancies and deliveries to go exactly as we plan them to, but as we all know: life is full of curveballs. There is a special tribe of parents who know what it is like to have a preemie (or two or three), which often results in time spent in the NICU. A change of plans like this can make many parents feel like they have no control, because all the care is in the experts’ hands once they enter that unit.

As a mom of two children, I know what a gift it is to have wonderful people who want to be there for your babies as much as you do. Knowing that your children are being held in the arms of committed volunteers when they aren’t in yours is an immeasurable relief. This is why I love the Huggies No Baby Unhugged* program.

Huggies is spreading the word that hugs help babies thrive, whether they are born on their due date or come prematurely. Touch can give even the littlest of preemies benefits such as improved sleep, stabilized body temperature, reduced crying, and healthier brain development. Handing over a Hug Plan* is a simple step to participate in a vital part of your baby’s care from the moment he or she (or they!) arrives—however early that may be.
Ever wonder what it feels like to have a baby in the NICU, or whether your experience was like other parents’? Here, women share their stories, which you will find full of strength, hope, and heart:

“Life in the NICU is a dance; two steps forward, one step back, until the day they start talking about sending you home.” – Lizz, delivered at 28 weeks

“You will be changed. It’s impossible not to be. But I like to think that life’s moments and milestones are a little bit sweeter, knowing that they almost didn’t happen.” – Elizabeth, mom to 25-week twins

“With our twins being our first children, it was all we knew, and it so quickly became our way of life. We were there for five weeks, so we had the opportunity to settle in, find a routine, and we had an amazing primary nurse that I could count on to be there every day, instead of a revolving door of new faces. Of course we wanted our girls to come home, but once they were home, we missed the care and support we received in the NICU. It was our entry into parenthood, and it’s interesting how you can miss something like that. It was their first home.” – Leigh Ann, mom to 31-week twins

“I was very confident about caring for my baby when she came, after all, I was a teenager when my own siblings were born and had had some practice. But when I did my first diaper change in the isolette it was like trying to perform surgery with my feet. I stuck my hands into the openings and proceeded to accidentally wipe baby poo on the side of the isolette so that by the time the nurse intervened, both the baby and the equipment needed cleaning.” – Nicole, delivered at 34 weeks

“Over time you start to appreciate the obvious love NICU nurses have for their jobs and some of them will start to feel like family.” – Megan, mom to 33-week twins

“There is a friendship that comes quick and sweet to all the preemie moms in NICU. We come in, not needing to know each other’s names and we smile and nod, through tears, but it’s an ‘I see you.’” – Alexandra, delivered at 34 weeks, 32 weeks, and 35 weeks

“I felt so torn between being at the hospital and being at home with my older daughter. I wasn’t able to do it all…[but] I was lucky enough to have a village help me.” – Sheri, delivered one baby at 32 weeks, 6 days, and mom to 32-week twins

Are you expecting? Check out the No Baby Unhugged program to learn more about the power of hugs, as well as how to make sure that your baby—and all babies—get the skin-to-skin contact they need to be as happy and healthy as possible.

*Copyright: Huggies

Photo: Getty