I write a monthly column over at AlliOSNews. It’s a techie site – extolling all the goodies and gunpowder on the Apple OS. (SHINY TOY!) I’m TechMom. And these are my stories on how technology is really used. This is what you must deal with as I am a Silicon Valley nerd by day.
(I’m well aware it’s Wednesday. If you want TechMom Tuesday on Tuesdays, head on over to AlliOSNews for all things Apple. TechMom Tuesday is typically published the first Tuesday of every month. I reserve the right to rant more or less as the technical goings-on, well…go on.)
Seventeen years ago, the creator of MyPreemie app became a NICU parent. Three years ago, I did. It’s an overwhelming experience – and literally one of life or death. It’s not easy to cope with the situation at hand, plus learn a new normal as you decipher the terms, diagnoses and reality being thrown at you. (Not to mention the extreme hormones of a pregnancy cut WAY too short.)
I took to the interwebs, researching every phrase, fragment and acronym uttered by anyone wearing a hospital ID badge, until my own doctor revoked my Google privileges so I could focus on being a parent. The creators of MyPreemie app chose to do something more productive. They wrote a book, Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies. But as we’ve continued careening down the path of developing technology, there is now an app specifically for NICU parents.
But how else do you parent a baby in a plastic box? I could place my hand over the entire being of my sons’ bodies (making sure not to stimulate them) and I could learn every iota of information thrown at me.
Let me be the first to tell you, my iPhone was always by my side during our months in Chez NICU. It was a familiar comfort and link to the outside world – that which carried on per usual despite my new normal.
So let’s begin with what is obviously the most glaring criticism of MyPreemie. WHERE WAS THIS APP 3 YEARS AGO?!
Alas, this is not a bug that can be fixed (nor do I have any desire to return to that time of terror and the lavender elephant-adorned walls), so instead I will share it with you. There are actually no words to eloquently elaborate upon how helpful this app would be for NICU parents struggling to deal/categorize what’s going on with their baby. But I shall try.
The art and theme that welcomes you into your journey is adorable and calming – invoking a Classic Pooh style and feel. It fits perfectly with the nursery you should be in, rather than the one swaddled in wires and beeping alarms (oh my god – THE BEEPEING. So. Much. Beeping.) My favorite touch is the kangaroo character with her little joey. (Jeopardy trivia: All kangaroos are born extremely premature. They then finish developing snuggled warmly in their mothers pouch.)
The Home screen lists the name of your little one, a precious photo and the current adjusted age. (The TechTot examples seem a bit wonky given how many years out we’re out.) And, important for those of us with multiple tiny ones, you can add multiple babies into the app.
Every day in the NICU is an adventure in updates – grams, progress, milestones. The Diary in the app allows you to create a daily snapshot of the dance. Record your nurses (you’ll get to know many), and note the medical, psychological and emotional occurrences with every two steps forward, one step back. It may seem silly to you now. But trust me, you’ll want the record.
The growth chart. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time my boys received a diagnosis of “he’s tiny,” I would be relaxing on a tropical isle while the terrific TechTots received the finest tutoring paradise had to offer. Each day I entered the unit – “Did we grow?!” (And I love the fact that the app automagically translates grams and pounds. Because growing in grams always seems way more impressive by the numbers.)
Need to check with the social worker? Remember to ask the doctor about the head ultrasound? There’s a digital notepad built right in. Write all your questions down. Because even though you’ll tell yourself you’ll remember to ask the nurse about wimpy white boy syndrome – when this thought hits you during a hazy 2 a.m. intimate session with your breast pump – you will forget by 2:04 a.m.
Similar to the reminders list is the Treasured Momentos checklist. Write down all those little items you’ll want to scrapbook/frame/burn in effigy. Check them off as the nurse cuts off the ankle monitor on the momentous occasion known as Discharge Day.
Still confused? Just click on the Pocket Guide icon. It’s a searchable preemie-palooza of glorious information and definitions. It even suggests questions you may not have thought to ask because you had no idea with the medical staff was talking about anyway! (Click “Remember to ask” and the app will populate your reminder list for you.
It is a bit pricey $6.99. But worth every penny in my mind. (Disclaimer: I received the app for free, but I was not paid for this review and all spirited opinions are very much my own.)
Thankfully, the audience for this app is small. And in contradiction to how a “positive” review should end, I hope you never download this app. Because that would mean you need it.
But should you find yourself whiling away the hours in a neo-natal intensive care unit, get this app. If you know someone learning to parent their preemie, tell them about this app.
Download it here.