The fifth in a series of profiles of real people with real challenges…who were helped by SNOO.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Ellyn, 62, works around the clock for weeks at a time. The New Jersey-based nurse puts in a full shift then heads home to volunteer for the day’s remaining hours, as a kind of a foster parent called an interim care provider.
Ellyn cares for newborn babies from the day they’re released from the hospital until they move to permanent homes for adoption, or in some cases, return to live with their birth parents. The babies need 24/7 care, so she tag-teams it with the younger of her two grown daughters, Jamie, 29, also a full-time nurse who takes shifts opposite her mom’s when a baby’s in the house.
These big-hearted women have had 6 babies in their care over the past year. And each of these 6 little ones slept in SNOO Smart Sleeper. Ellyn purchased SNOO in the first week it was available, telling us it started out as an “experiment.” She wanted to see for herself if how it worked vs. hearing about it from other people.
“Usually because we’re nurses we get low weight babies,” explained Ellyn. “The majority are around 4 pounds, and they feed a little bit slower. You have to take extra time with feedings, and you want them to sleep as best as they possibly can so they can protect themselves by adding body weight.”
Ellyn’s desire to boost the sleep and health of these tiny babies drove her to try SNOO—in addition to knowing how important back-sleeping is from her experience as a nurse.
“I’ve always been a baby safety lady,” Ellyn told us. “I was working in a hospital when my own kids were born, and I used to see SIDS babies come in; I also saw a lot of horrible accidents where parents rolled over on their children because they had them in the bed. So, the fact that the baby is swaddled when they’re in SNOO—that they stay on the back and can’t turn over—that is a big difference for me.”
Ellyn & Jamie’s First ‘SNOO Baby’
The baby’s name was Maya, though she is called by a different name today.
“Some babies are named by their biological moms, and some babies come to us with no names. Usually, we get a cue from the child as to what would be a good name…It’s a temporary name, of course,” explained Ellyn.
The first time Maya was laid down in SNOO, she fell asleep immediately.
“It wasn’t even like a minute! My daughter and I were very interested that she would fall asleep that quickly. Honestly, we were just experimenting ourselves.”
Ellyn ended up sleeping Maya in SNOO 100% of the time because she weighed just 4 pounds and had some issues with temperature regulation. Ellyn felt the swaddling helped the little girl stay warm and reported that she slept incredibly well and gained weight phenomenally—getting up to about 7 pounds in just 2 weeks.
“We had her for Christmas which was fabulous,” Ellyn said, with pure joy in her voice. “She was just a 100% happy infant. She, of course, was adopted, and she’s in a very happy home now. No sleeping issues with her; she loved her SNOO from the minute she had it.”
The Difference SNOO Made
Ellyn’s other 5 infant guests responded similarly, falling asleep quickly and sleeping great in SNOO. As for her experiment, she concluded: “I’d have to say that not every baby loved any of the other bassinets but they all loved the SNOO!”
“I would never do this again without SNOO, because I did not get a lot of sleep with my own kids,” she added with a laugh. “But, that’s another story!”
SNOO even made an experienced caregiver like Ellyn more confident: “When I don’t use a SNOO, I feel like I have to listen in case something’s happening with the baby because they don’t make a lot of noise—you sort of have to be in tune to them. I slept more deeply because I had a sense of more confidence that the baby was safe with SNOO.”
The ‘Why’ Behind the Work
Ellyn’s path to becoming an interim caregiver is a fascinating one. Pediatrics was not part of her nursing background; she worked in cardiac rehab, home care, acute care and hospice. In fact, it was hospice that sparked her interest in caring for babies.
“The connection with the hospice is that you are helping a person going from one world to another…and it’s the same thing with the infants. I started wanting to engage with babies that were just born whose moms were in some way in need of help… I just wanted to be there to make it a little easier for them because I had it fairly easy myself in that I had children when I wanted them and they were healthy and I was healthy.”
The mother-daughter duo went through a 7-month process, acquired federal security clearing, went through many rounds of interviews and a home check to become approved volunteers. In talking about the work, she says “We’re the lucky ones. We get to help out and enjoy the babies.”
Our conclusion? We think the world is a better place with people like Ellyn and Jamie.