Why Finn the Panda?
I felt lost in the NICU. I felt alone. I felt afraid. I often felt like a part of the problem instead of the solution for Finn. I had to throw away every thought I had about what it would look like to have this newborn and adapt to the world of having a preemie.
I had to learn to hold my hand on my baby instead of instinctively stroking his skin. I had to learn to change his diaper through incubator holes and navigate around wires. I had to say ‘okay’ sometimes when the nurses told me I couldn’t hold him, but could sit by his incubator instead. I had to separate the act of feeding my baby and holding my baby, scheduling pumping times around hold times
IT. WAS. HARD.
And yet, all I wanted was to do more—to bond more with my baby; to be more present. This is why Finn the Panda exists.
I had finally come out of the blur of the NICU and all the feeding struggles we had once home, to then have him re-hospitalized for RSV four months later. I didn’t realize it then, but I had PTSD the moment I walked back into the hospital. It was very real, and very scary. The beeping monitors, the nurses, the cannula…it was all so overwhelming to me and I just didn’t want it to be happening.
We transferred to another hospital with a PICU and my husband and I would stay by Finn’s side for the next 10 days while he healed. We once again went home, tried to pick ourselves back-up, and enjoy our family, but I carried around so much baggage. I had fear that he would get sick again. Guilt that I’d let him get exposed to RSV. Shame for how scared and angry I got. None of this was profitable, and none of it was helping me be a good mother to my sons.
Then one night, as I had so many times before, I got into bed overwhelmed and at my limit and I begged God for His help. I asked him to give me something good, to give me something to help fix all the wrong that I felt, and He gave me Finn the Panda. He gave me the idea of something, even if it was a small thing that could have helped my Finn and me in the hospital and could help other babies and their families. It could help bond them and comfort them; it could bring a mother’s or father’s or caregiver’s presence to babies even when they can’t always be there. YES! This is what I will turn all that wasted energy into. And so it began.
It has been a yearlong process to get where we are today. It has been a lot of work, a lot of growth, and a lot of healing to bring Finn the Panda into the world. If he can help just one family, it is all worth it.