In the early days of establishing Perfectly Preemie around 1995, I found myself drawn to a unique volunteer role at my local hospital. No, it wasn't about strumming guitars or belting out tunes—I became a NICU rocker, providing comfort to tiny bundles of joy. My motivations were twofold: firstly, driven by an immense love for babies, and secondly, a genuine curiosity about the needs of preemies. With my own child-rearing days behind me and my kids navigating elementary school, I dedicated Saturday mornings to rocking babies and folding laundry in the NICU. This hands-on experience complemented the research-based designs I'd already developed with the guidance of nurses at Tacoma General. However, as my children grew older, life became busier, and Perfectly Preemie flourished, my volunteering commitments had to take a back seat.
Ever since those days I love hearing stories of people who have found their love in rocking these little miracles. This week I read one of those inspiring articles about a Grandma who's superpower is rocking preemies!
Grandma Joy is an 84-year old grandma who after retiring decided to add cuddling to her schedule. In a interview with Taylor Holt with WDIO ABC news, she shared:
"I come in every Thursday and it just depends on what baby need to cuddled at any time, and the charging nurse will always tell you what room to go into," she said.
Yes, her job is simply - spreading love. She's been volunteering at Essentia for the past 15 years. She started in the old NICU.
"Then, they told me that they were in the process of planning this new NICU, where each baby would have private room and that they would be asking for volunteers to be "grandma rockers' and so I said, sign me up."
Every week now, she and several other 'grandma rockers' cuddle babies.
"We don't do any diapering or feeding. We just cuddle a baby when they need to be cuddled," she said.
Sounds like the dream job, right? RN Kelly Sandy says it's also essential for babies like Dillinger.
"He's what we call a growing preemie," said Sandy.
"It's so important for their development to know they are being held and touched and to hear a voice," said Grandma Jo.
"It's just so important for bonding, for love and like Grandma said, the voices do calm them down and they love it," said Sandy.
It's also a big help for parents and nurses who can't always be there, and it's not just the babies who enjoy the presence of Grandma Jo.