Hand to Hold

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How a Bump on the Head Led to a Great Idea
by Kelli Kelley, founder

NICU Now stackedA recent article in The Times theorized that if English philosopher, political economist and civil servant John Stuart Mill were around today, “his father would have dosed him not with Thucydides and Plato, but with podcasts.” Why? Because while the rest of the internet entertains with cat videos and fake news, the podcast is “unashamedly, almost brazenly intelligent.”

And Americans can’t get enough! Since 2008, the number of people who listen to podcasts doubled to more than 89 million.

I wish I could claim to have known these facts when I set out to create a podcast for NICU families, but it honestly took a hard bump on my head to make me see the light.

In November of 2015, I was diagnosed with a concussion after being struck in the head by a killer hit at my daughter’s volleyball practice. Unable to work, cook, drive, read or exercise, I grew weary of resting in a dark room. A friend suggested I listen to a podcast for entertainment. I slowly worked my way through dozens of genres including American History, comedy, news and politics.

The lightbulb finally went on, literally and figuratively.

When I heard an episode of the popular podcast Radiolab featuring journalists Tom and Kelley French titled “23 Weeks and Six Days,” chronicling the couple’s harrowing account of their preterm baby, I sat up on the couch and fumbled with the lamp. I had to write down my idea before it flitted from my recovering brain. “Create podcast exclusively for NICU families!”

Within days the Hand to Hold staff began to research podcasting, brainstorm topics and contact potential guests. We launched a tremendously successful online fundraising campaign, purchased our equipment and hired a producer. And NICU Now slowly began to take shape!

Hand to Hold’s NICU Now Audio Support Series is unlike any other podcast because it features important topics, such as identifying and understanding perinatal mood disorders common in NICU families, the importance of reading to your NICU baby and preparing to take home a medically fragile child. Parents can listen as they commute to and from the hospital, as well as at their baby’s bedside. We are confident a support-based podcast will help NICU families overcome many physical and emotional barriers they face accessing and receiving support. 

Episodes also include emotional interviews with guests including Tom and Kelley French, authors of Juniper, the Girl Who Was Born Too Soon, and bereaved mom Melissa Hinnant, founder of Grace and Lace, whose lacy boot socks won the support of investor Barbara Ann Corcoran on TV’s Shark Tank. In the NICU Now episode “Life Transformations after a NICU Stay or Loss,” Melissa shares about the loss of her daughter and how the experience crocheting for her baby while on bedrest ultimately led to her multimillion dollar women’s apparel company.

If you are new to podcasting but want to listen to NICU Now, it’s easy. Just go to handtohold.org/nicunow and listen directly from your computer. Or, if you have an iPhone, open the purple podcasts app, search for NICU Now, press play and away you go. NICU Now is also available on Android phones through the app, Stitcher.

Upon finalizing the NICU Now Audio Support Series, Hand to Hold will launch NICU Heroes, a podcast specifically for NICU professionals. Also on the horizon is our much anticipated series, NICU and Beyond, featuring stories of inspiration and hope about NICU graduates and their families, the medical professionals who care for them and the life transformations that often occur after a harrowing NICU stay.

Hand to Hold is proud to be breaking ground on new ways to provide mental health and emotional support. Special thanks to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Prolacta Bioscience, Huggies and the hundreds of individual donors who are helping Hand to Hold ensure that every NICU and bereaved parent who needs support can simply plug in their earbuds and push play.

Thanks for listening,


Huggies Launches Little Snugglers Nano Preemie Diaper, No Baby Unhugged Program

huggies nano preemie diaper

On February 1, Huggies® launched their tiniest diaper yet, the Little Snugglers Nano Preemie diaper, designed to fit babies under two pounds. Developed in partnership with NICU nurses, this newest diaper is created specifically for micro preemies, to promote developmentally appropriate positioning and protect their delicate skin.

In 2016, Hand to Hold founder Kelli Kelley served on the Huggies® Nurse Advidory Council, which identified the need for better education for care providers and parents about diapering in a holistic manner. The result was Every Change Matters: A Guide to Developmental Diapering Care, which includes a guide and handy tool for every day clinical use offering practical information on how nurses and parents can incorporate elements of developmental care into their diapering practices. Read about how Kelley took that important first step in bonding with her micro preemie son, Jackson, in The Hug I Had Been Waiting For.

huggies logoHand to Hold is thrilled to welcome Huggies® as a sponsor for the NICU Now podcast. Huggies® believes deeply in the Power of Hugs, and knows that a “hug” can happen in many forms, especially with fragile, premature babies. That’s why every Huggies® diaper and wipe is inspired by parents’ hugs. For nearly 40 years, Huggies® has been helping parents provide love, care and reassurance to help babies thrive. Their No Baby Unhugged program is Huggies’® promise to ensure all babies get the care they need to thrive, including hospital hugger programs, specially-designed products for the smallest of babies, on-going clinical resources and diaper donations. 


More Good Stuff

In the NICU, Blood Equals Life

preemie NICUHow often do you think about the blood in your body? Kari Akin's micro preemie received nine blood transfusions during his 128-day stay in the NICU. Kari discusses why becoming a blood donor is an important, life-saving act for many preemies.

When I Knew I was a Father

preemie twinsEveryone has defining moments in their lives. For guest blogger and preemie dad Kevin Zelenka, his expectations for fatherhood went from dream to reality when his twin sons were born five weeks early. Read his touching story of strength and inspiration.

Bonding with Your Medically Fragile Baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

MilesThere are many ways to start bonding with your baby, even during his or her NICU stay. Dawn K. Gibson, LCSW, breaks down the bonding process and how parents can begin that process through kangaroo care, gentle touches, breastfeeding and more.

Connect With Us

Like us on Facebook!Follow us on Twitter!Watch us on YouTubePin us on PinterestNICU Family Voices 28nicu family forum 28

Austin Housewives in the City makes care packages for NICU moms! 

housewives in the cityIf you're in the Austin area, Hand to Hold will be the spotlight organization for Austin Housewives in the City's Margarita Madness Networking Sip+Shop Social on Wednesday, February 22. Donations will go towards making mini care packages for NICU moms in honor of Mother's Day. Find more info here and register for this free event on Eventbrite.

Save the Date for the 2017 Baby Shower Luncheon!

baby shower umbrellaOur annual Baby Shower Luncheon is scheduled for Friday, October 20, at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Austin. Joining us will be our special guest speaker, author Kristin Schell of The Turquoise Table, and local musician Randy Rogers. If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Jennifer Hayhurst.

Hand to Hold at NPA

We'll be attending the National Perinatal Association's 2017 conference in Atlanta March 9-11. Stop by our table to visit with us and learn more about Hand to Hold's vital support resources.

Support Runners; Donations Matched

kendra scott logo

A NICU stay is a marathon, not a sprint. As an official 2017 Austin Gives Miles charity partner, donations to Team Hand to Hold will be matched up to $10,000 by the Moody Foundation grant via the AGM program. Donations must be received by Feb. 28, 2017.  

Please consider donating towards this match and supporting one of our 30 dedicated runners/walkers. Your donation ensures NICU families have a Hand to Hold throughout their journey. Visit www.handtohold.org/run.

Thank you to our 2017 team sponsor, Kendra Scott.

Save the Date: Kendra Scott Cares 2017

kendra scott store

Looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift? You’re invited to a fun shopping event on Tuesday, April 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kendra Scott’s newest Austin location - Lamar Central. Bring a friend and shop for good! Kendra Scott will donate 20% of sales to Hand to Hold. Kendra Scott - Lamar Central, 3800 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Kelli visits VictoriaVolunteer your time to write supportive notes to be given to families in the NICU now and to say thanks to NICU staff during special recognition months. Or virtually correspond with a family who has had an experience similar to yours by becoming a Helping Hand peer mentor. Whether you have a little or a lot of time, we have a spot for you to make a difference today. Get started.

Connect to Support on Your Schedule

Julie Cruz and hubbieA baby's NICU stay or loss can be a lonely and isolating experience. Let our experienced Family Support Navigators help you connect to information, resources and support to help make the journey easier for you. Send us a request to begin

Past Issues

Read past eNewsletters.

   About Hand to Hold
Hand to Hold logoHand to Hold is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. 

Hand to Hold - www.handtohold.org - 855-H2H-NICU

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