While many valentines will be handed out today at schools and workplaces, probably few will be as meaningful as some given earlier this week at Northside Hospital-Forsyth.
Nurses in the special care nursery created unique Valentine’s Day cards for families of premature babies in their care.
Babies born too early remain in the special care nursery until strong enough to feed on their own without problems, gaining weight as they should.
Thelma Chibangamoto of Roswell received her special valentine Tuesday after nurse Heidi Frank took time to do a photo shoot with baby Joealla and dad Joey Micallef.
Mom wasn’t aware of the photos, which Frank used to make her valentine.
They feature the tiny Joealla, who was born at 29 weeks on Jan. 10. She weighed just 2 pounds, 4 ounces, born early because of a fibroid mass in Chibangamoto’s uterus.
In the special care nursery since, Joealla today weighs a little more than 3 pounds.
Chibangamoto said the time hasn’t been easy, but things are looking up each day.
“I used to just cry, cry, cry, but now I’m better,” she said.
Tuesday was different, when she received her special valentine, a pink heart with a poem inside.
One photo on the card features a yawning Joealla, and in another, her tiny feet create the “v” in the world love.
Micallef said the support of the special care nurses has been invaluable during his daughter’s journey.
“With the mom having the baby early, it’s hard enough,” he said. “But all the little things they do here make a difference.”
Sandra Grady, special care nursery coordinator, said staff members take every opportunity to help the families of babies in their care. That could be addressing medical concerns or helping with day-to-day practices like capturing milestone moments.
“They take pictures at every holiday,” Grady said. “They do scrapbook pages for them … they’ll do things like their first bath or feeding. They always try to make something special.”
Added Frank: “Our parents are very special to us, they’re part of our family … it’s nice to give them something during a stressful situation to make it a little better.”
That means a lot to parents like Chibangamoto.
“We don’t think of those things,” she said. “You’re confused and you’re just thinking of the baby getting better.
“I forget to take pictures myself, so with Heidi always taking pictures that’s so good.”
Now she’ll have a special keepsake of her baby’s first Valentine’s Day, just like any mom would want.