Anyone who has ever had a sick child knows how agonizing it is to leave them at the hospital. Seeing them lying in the hospital bed or incubator is torture. And although parents know that life has to keep going and there are things they need to leave the hospital to do, the guilt and fear that comes with leaving their child can be crippling.
Mom Yamile Jackson knows this firsthand. When her son, Zach, was born 12 weeks premature 15 years ago, she couldn’t bear to leave him in the NICU.
“Leaving the hospital without your newborn is very difficult,” she said. “And I couldn’t imagine having my life without touching him.”
While nowadays it is getting more common for parents to hold their premie babies, as studies have shown the incredible benefits of skin-to-skin contact, at the time Yamile was told she could not hold, or even touch, Zach.
Wanting to have some sort of connection with her newborn son, she stuffed a garden glove and then slept with it overnight so it would hold her scent. The next day she asked the nurses at the NICU to put the glove in with Zach so he would have a piece of his mom with him.
The nurses loved the idea so much that they asked Yamile to make more gloves for the other babies at the NICU, and that’s how the “Zaky” was born. These gloves are now used around the country to simulate a parent’s loving touch and help the premie babies’ development.
Over the years the design has been improved to simulate the shape, touch, warmth, and weight of a hand and forearm so it really feels like the baby is being held by their parent.
One simple idea has made a world of difference for premie babies and their parents all over the country and the world.
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