First the new mother feared for the survival and longterm health of her twin boys, born precariously early and taken straight to the neonatal intensive care unit before she could hold them.
Then came a lingering worry the babies wouldn’t know her as their mother.
“Sometimes I wonder if they think the nurses are their mums or if they know who we are,” said Brooke Crutchfield, whose sons have spent the past eight weeks in the NICU at Rush University Medical Center.
Yet Crutchfield takes comfort in a small piece of fabric she leaves behind in each of their cribs after visiting — a 6-inch handmade cotton heart that carries her scent so the babies can sense her presence even when she has to be away from their bedside.
The cloth hearts were given to all NICU families recently as part of a new program at Rush to help strengthen the bond between parents and their preemies during these often-tumultuous hospital stays.
The parents take the hearts home and wear them against their skin,