As some of you might know I’m a Program Facilitator for NICU Helping Hands. I work at Harris Methodist in Downtown Fort Worth, where I have been dedicated to supporting NICU families there since December of 2016. My son Marshall was admitted to the NICU in 2013 following an emergency c-section. I often connect with NICU families by sharing Marshall’s NICU journey. What you might not know is I can relate to the babies in those isolettes on a more personal level beyond being a NICU parent.
That’s because I am a former Preemie.
I arrived into the world following an emergency c-section at 36 weeks gestation due to preeclampsia, and was promptly admitted to the NICU. My biggest challenge was nutrition and weight gain, and with the assistance from an NG-Tube I was able to meet those challenges at a steady pace. During my NICU stay my parents would drive back and forth from home to hospital for more than 50 days.
I recently took a “NICU to Now” photo and hung it up in my office at the hospital. It’s a conversation starter that usually ends with me saying “That was me in the NICU”. This is always followed by a look of surprise and the question, “You were in the NICU too”?
While there is certainly always a connection between myself and current NICU parents because I had also had a baby in the NICU, the realization that I was a preemie myself and a NICU graduate, provides NICU families with additional hope. Not only am I “just like them” – a NICU parent, I am also “just like their baby” – a NICU preemie, and I graduated from the NICU.
I don’t know if you have ever seen hope. It usually isn’t something tangible, but seeing a parent’s reaction to this information is just as close to grasping hope in your hands as you can get. And I’m truly humbled to be able to provide that to every parent of a preemie and every NICU parent I come in contact with every single day.
Of all the support I offer families, telling others about my journey from “Preemie to Program Facilitator” is certainly my favorite thing. Remember you are not alone on this journey. We are always available to support you and encourage you along the way.