Volunteer "Cuddler" in the NICU (neonatal ICU)
I was a baby “cuddler” over a year in Memphis at a large hospital, and when I moved to CA I had to spend two years on the cuddler waiting list at a large hospital. Now I’ve been a cuddler here 1.5 years and I love it, especially with my occupational therapy knowledge that helps with developmental play and most of all, calming babies undergoing drug withdrawal.
Obviously due to confidentiality we can’t share pictures or too much information. However, my friend had a baby at “”my” NICU for nearly six weeks, so I got to cuddle their baby when they couldn’t be there. My friends had a small cubicle-room to themselves in the step-down unit, so it was relatively calm. They gave me permission to post this picture of us cuddling! 🙂 Their baby is now doing absolutely fabulous, by the way. It helps when the baby has AMAZING parents. Plus the baby’s parents both work in special education, so they essentially have a black market rehab team available to them at all times… 😉
Many times, people who want to be cuddlers have a vision of gently rocking babies in a quiet room. In reality, you’re often in somewhat chaotic environments (depending on many factors) with a baby screaming in drug withdrawal, or a (stable) preemie covered in tubes/wires. It’s still lovely, it’s still exactly what I want to be doing, it is exactly what the babies need and the parents and nurses appreciate, yet it can be stressful. Every once in a while though, you end up in a rocking chair with a sweet little baby in a cubicle room, and it’s quiet and dim, and the baby only has a basic three-wire monitor cord meaning it’s easy to maneuver, and the baby just wants to be held, and then you can hum and rock and meditate and love, just you and the baby. That’s peace.