Mother of premature twins launches library for Memorial Hermann Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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When Stephanie Laskoskie returned to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center with her 5-year-old twins last week, it was like coming home to family to her and her children.

She and her husband Clint’s twins, Gage and Sadie, were born 17 weeks premature, each weighing a pound and a half when they were born. They spent five months at the NICU. There they bonded with the staff and they became like family to the Laskoskies, including their two older children, Hunter and Lauran. Although the twins are now five years old, the family remains in contact with NICU staff.

“From day one, when we walked through the doors of the NICU, the staff treated us like family. They were honest with us. They were kind and compassionate to our other children as well. We have kept these relationships over the years and it really felt like coming home, ”she said.

On Thursday, they returned to the NICU unit where the twins were born to offer hope and encouragement to families currently on the same trip as in 2016. They also brought Christmas magic with the visit of the ” Santa Nate ”.

Laskoskie said it was especially important to support these families during the holidays.

“It’s such a challenge to juggle real life and life in the hospital. You cry so much when you have a baby born so early. It’s like so much has been stolen from you. You don’t get pregnancy photos, you don’t get newborn photos, you don’t even have the option of holding your baby first or giving her her first bath. You don’t get any of those milestones, ”Laskoskie said. “When you add vacations to that, it also feels like you’re having your vacation stolen. I feel like it is a little more difficult to have the NICU experience while on vacation and it is especially important to raise families and let them know that they are not alone.

They delivered books to a library set up by Laskoskie and delivered special care packages to every family with a baby at the NICU and to families in labor and delivery last Thursday.

Laskoskie’s experiment turned into two books aimed at encouraging families of premature babies.

Through her experience as twins, she realized the power of books and reading for premature babies.

“At first, they were extremely fragile. We couldn’t even make noise in the room. If we needed to talk to a nurse, we had to go out, ”she said.

Finally, they were stable enough that the nurses encouraged him to read to them.

“I remember going through the shelves of my older kids, going through all the books and trying to find something suitable to read to them. The closest thing I could find was ‘The Little Engine That Could’, “she said.” But I didn’t feel good reading it to little babies who were fighting for their lives. I started talking to them about life and telling them that they were supposed to do great things in this world and move mountains.

Over time, this hymn evolved into two books and a library for Memorial Hermann’s NICU unit.

Her first book, “My Baby is a Superhero,” is aimed at siblings of premature babies.

“It explains the world of the NICU in a non-threatening way using superhero gear to describe the NICU. It also reminds siblings that they’re superheroes too. It was really important for me to see at the time what my three and six years old went through. It’s hard on the whole family. They go through each step of the process with you.

They donated the library to NICU in 2018 as part of Laskoskie’s “My Baby Is a Superhero” release.

His second book, “From Small Beginnings”, was recently published. She said the first box she received went straight to the hospital for distribution last week.

She said about 2,000 more copies arrived last week and they would spend Christmas week sending copies to nonprofits and families doing Christmas campaigns for their local neonatal intensive care units. .

For Laskoskie, she said reading to her twins gave her the first opportunity to bond with them.

“They had 34 days before I could hold them. And there were long stretches in between when we weren’t able to hold them because they weren’t stable enough. Reading was really the first way I felt I could relate to them and that they remember my voice. I felt like they could really feel our relationship through reading, ”she said.

At first they didn’t see any real reactions from the babies, but as they got older and started to get closer to the newborns they then noticed that they were looking for the voices of Laskoskie and his family while They were reading.

Laskoskie also runs a small support group for families with a baby at the NICU called “From Small Beginnings”.

“We are sending care packages to the NICU siblings. It used to be around the world, but because of COVID-19, we mostly ship to the United States, ”she said.

In 2022, the From Small Beginnings group is working on a project with Memorial Hermann to donate a “graduation wall” to the NICU unit.

It will be a superhero theme and families can snap a photo to celebrate their graduation from the NICU unit. The wall will also commemorate their statistics and their journey through the NICU.

“When we graduated after five months in the NICU, we kind of walked out and thought, ‘That’s it. There is no parade or party? We want to give this experience to other families, ”she said.

She also credits “Santa Nate” for the special magic that happened at the hospital last Thursday.

During their visit to the NICU, Labor and Delivery, and Pediatric Unit, each child was able to spend time with Santa.

“For a lot of the families in the hospital, it was a little more Christmas magic that they needed,” she said. “We organized it and brought the donations, but ‘Santa Nate’ brought the Christmas spirit.”

For more information on From Small Beginnings, visit www.smallbeginnings.org or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/smallbeginningsorg.

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