Have you ever heard of baby cuddling at Florida Hospital For Children? Today on the Lifeline, our publisher Sheila Kramer writes about her experience starting as a volunteer in the program, her training, and how it turned out to be far more rewarding than she ever imagined.
I’m not proud of this, but other than serving on a committee or two, I’m not much of a volunteer. I’m not beating myself up about this because I do work full time and, while my children are grown and out of the house, I am a very hands-on grandma.
Several months ago a friend posted on Facebook that she had just come from “cuddling” at Florida Hospital for Children and she described it as being the best part of her week. I was intrigued.
After a little fact finding, I decided to take a step forward. I was disappointed when several of my attempts to connect with the volunteer department went unanswered. I was discouraged but not willing to let this go. Just one more email proved successful. I scheduled my first “job” interview in about 30 years.
I was anxious - I lost sleep - but I persevered.
Once you pass the online, written, and medical tests, you’re matched with an experienced “cuddler” to teach, guide, and generally support you throughout the 8 required training sessions.
Five weeks in and my trainer and I were asked to help with a baby who had been born addicted to cocaine. Baby June had been crying for 24 hours. The cry was not like anything I had ever heard from a baby before. The nurse explained that she had been removed from her morphine the day before and she was unable to be comforted - she asked us to just hold the baby for a while. I quickly learned that newborns who are going through withdrawal have the same symptoms that adults facing withdrawal have - pain, nausea, headaches, sleeplessness, and more. Rocking, talking, singing, bouncing - all the tricks I have used over my lifetime to soothe a crying baby would only make this baby feel worse. I sat holding onto baby June tightly, letting her know I was there. After loving this little girl for just under an hour she finally calmed down and stopped crying. I was moved to tears. Even though it was time for me to leave, I sat holding on to her for another hour. Although she didn’t sleep for more than two or three minutes at a time she remained quiet. It was time for me to go. I carefully stood up and placed her into her crib - praying that this movement wouldn’t upset the calm - and it didn’t. The nurses were amazed, my trainer was amazed, and I felt like I had created world peace.
I expect that this will be something I will do for the rest of my life. It takes so little and it has taught me so much - mostly to appreciate all of the healthy babies in my life and to know that a paycheck doesn’t necessarily reflect the importance of work.
Want More Information?