Celebrating a baby’s milestones is a rite of passage for every new parent but what do life events look like for babies who are born prematurely?
Australian mom Amy Purling decided to create milestone cards applicable to parents of preemie babies, inspired by the journey she went through with her own son who was born last year.
“I mostly want other preemie moms to know they are not alone,” Purling told InsideEdition.com. “NICU can be quite isolating, and parents may feel like others don’t understand.”
She explained her son James was born with a rare platelet disorder, in addition to being born 10 weeks early. He spent the first five weeks of his life in the hospital.
Despite James’ precarious health at birth, a nurse placed the baby on Purling’s chest and took a picture.
“Since that moment, I document every little milestone he reached, and I quickly learned the importance of celebrating the little things,” she explained.
She started using a journal to keep track of special moments with her son, but quickly realized the generic milestone cards she purchased—which reflected steps a full term baby might go through—just didn't apply to her family.
“We were celebrating milestones that seemed so simple to everyone else, such as his first suck of his [pacifier] and finally being able to breathe on his own, but they were absolutely huge in the NICU world,” Purling said. “With each new milestone, we could breath a sigh of relief and a weight was lifted from our shoulders.”
Gorgeous 25 Weeker Blair has been having some ups and downs and keeping his Mumma @jayjay86xx on her toes, but what a little fighter he is proving to be 👊 Please send all of your extra love and strength to Jess, Blair & their family this week 💙 This milestone card is part of my new 'micro-prem' range. As a premmie parent, these milestones are ones you never wish to reach, but once bubs conquers an infection or the ventilator, it is certainly something to celebrate 🙏
Once James’ health was doing better, Purling decided to write down all the milestones she was proud to celebrate with her son. When she realized nurses and other parents could relate, she decided to use the time she had off for maternity leave to turn her list into a creative project.
She said she spoke with other preemie parents to grow the list of milestones, taught herself how to use design programs, and reached out to printers about bringing the cards to life.
“I was doing all of this in between naps and after James’ bedtime, and I swear, even in my sleep,” Purling joked.
Last December, she launched her business, Miracle Mumma, and it immediately took off. Purling’s cards are now available both online and in Australian and American stores. She also donates many sets to other preemie parents, with hopes it will give them something to look forward to, as the cards have helped her family in their own process.
“Celebrating these steps allowed me to have hope and keep going,” Purling said. “It added a form of normalcy to a frightening and unknown situation, and I wanted other parents to be able to do the same.”