Occupational Therapist, Joyce Jung Machin, developed an idea spring of 2022 that focuses on little infants who do not have the same opportunities as others due to their home circumstances.

There are some infants in the NICU who do not have parents to visit, hold, or nurture them. At times, it is due to the illness of the mother, protection of the infant with the involvement of DCFS, or a premature birth via surrogacy and the biological parents are not in the same county, state, or country.

One such infant was delivered here at MCWHLB in spring 2021 with no family members to hold, thus it was the medical team of occupational therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, nurses, doctors, etc who were her family. Joyce initiated early holding for this infant and made a memory book in hopes for this baby to keep it with her knowing there were people who cared for in her earliest of days.

Joyce spent a year overseas in Romania providing occupational therapy services for abandoned children in the orphanage. It saddened her to realize that these children did not have any mementos from their early years. A baby book would be very treasured to these individuals.

“My past experience in Romania definitely impacts my work today, my heart goes out to these babies. This project has been in the works since last year and I’m glad that the team received the idea so well. Nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, child life specialists, etc have become so excited to join efforts” said Joyce.

When Joyce returned to California, she wanted to make a difference here for the children she cares for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. The NICU at Miller Children’s & Women’s is one of the largest in the state and treats nearly 1,200 critically ill and premature babies each year. Due to being such a large program, that has level IV status meaning it can care for the sickest babies, many premature infants receive care here, including those in the foster system.

“The first foster family that I made a baby book for was so grateful to be able to have this for the baby. I believe it will help with attachment and bonding between the infant and their family” said Joyce.

Joyce thought it would be beneficial to capture their early moments while the patient was in the hospital and send baby books home with their foster families to keep. Some milestones that are captured include the baby’s first bottle, first bath, first outfit, first time meeting their family. It is a very special project and keepsake for these little babies.

“My goal for these babies is for them to have memories of their infancy,” said Joyce. “No matter where their journey takes them, I think it’s important for them to have their beginning story.”

Joyce hopes that the babies who are discharged are able to save the baby book as they grow older and cherish the memories of their birth.