Janice Teppo volunteers at a hospital to give love and attention to preemies who need it. The babies in the hospital gained another caring grandmother, and their parents got some peace of mind knowing someone is watching out for their kids. With all the warmth that she gives to others, Teppo deserves nothing but the best.
In the US alone, 11 to 13% of babies are born prematurely. A birth is classified as “preterm” when the baby comes into the world before 37 weeks of pregnancy finishes. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), skin-to-skin contact is highly encouraged to help with the baby’s development. Through this “kangaroo care,” preemies stay warm and are less stressed. A more relaxed and socialized baby will have a more stable heartbeat and breathing pattern. Especially with more complicated cases, premature babies need all the care they can receive to get through the tough time.
All parents want to provide their babies with this care, but majority need to leave the hospital to go to work. This is where Teppo’s help comes in. Since 2015, she has been a cuddle club volunteer at the DHR Health Women’s Hospital in Edinburg. She visits the NICU to hold the babies as they gain enough weight and strength to go home to their parents. While she genuinely enjoys providing this care, Teppo believes she is also repaying a debt to God. She had a sick baby herself, and she prayed that if they make it through it, she’ll pay it back in the future.
Every week, she holds the babies who need it, says prayers for them, and hands out blankets to parents who need to wrap their little ones in some warmth. She also stops by the NICU when the parents of the babies need to go back to work. Her neighbours also love the fact that she’s doing this, so they contribute to her good deeds by making homemade blankets for her to give away.
Many parents are thankful for her help, and they feel more at ease knowing there’s someone watching over their fragile little one. They know that someone is holding their baby when they cry, singing to them, and making sure they’re warm. Without their NICU grandma, many parents will be in a state of constant anxiety because they're worrying about the health of their baby.