The Challenge to Find a Halloween Costume for My Preemie in the NICU

Halloween is one of those holidays that is supposed to be fun for everyone. Picking out your child’s first Halloween costume feels like a rite of passage for a parent.

For preemie parents, as it is with many other things, it is definitely different. My son was born at 24 weeks six days on August 10th. By Halloween, he had already had three surgeries and we were on the path to becoming a “feeder/grower,” words that I had longed to hear throughout our entire stay. As much as my 1-pound 11-ounce baby boy had grown in the 12 weeks since his birth, he was still only about 3-pounds, which made costume shopping impossible…or so I thought!

One of our NICU nurses suggested we go to “Build-A-Bear” and find a costume. Genius! I thought. It was amazing the selection we had to choose from after realizing my little one was about the size of a teddy bear. His primary nurse and I scoured the website sifting through page after page of costumes narrowing it down to three choices. I didn’t want to make him just another character from a movie or dress him up as an animal just for the sake of picking a costume; I wanted something representative of his life and of his journey — so we made him into a real life hero.

On Cooper’s first Halloween, he dressed up as a doctor! So much of his life was filled with doctors and nurses and surgeons and they are real life heroes, just like Cooper. Everyone in the NICU had a ball coming in to look at him, especially when we put his scrub cap on and told everyone he was his bowel surgeon.

So much normalcy is stripped from the life of a NICU parent and of a NICU baby. Life in the NICU is tough, especially during the holidays, but for just a few hours on Halloween, at the suggestion of a nurse and thanks to “Build-A-Bear,” we got to experience a little bit of normal.

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