Celebrating the Heroes of the NICU
by Kelli Kelley, founder
NICU professionals hold the lives of our precious babies in their hands, literally making life and death decisions every day. To NICU parents, they are often seen as everyday heroes for their tireless commitment to a very challenging profession.
They are the ones who give new, terrified NICU parents our first tour of the NICU, who introduce us to our fragile babies, who pat our hands and give us hugs when the news is bad and who teach us to hold and care for our babies so we are prepared to bring our precious bundles home.
They love our babies as we love them. But while they are keenly aware of the responsibility for the babies in their care, they may not fully appreciate the deep impact they have on the lives of the entire NICU family.
I distinctly remember a few days after Jackson’s birth, a feeling of intense loneliness came over me. I felt I had been stripped of my precious baby, and I was devastated by the hideous scar that now stared back at me from where he was supposed to be.
An amazing nurse sat with me and held me and rocked me and let me cry. It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my NICU journey because she showed me true compassion. She did not try to reassure me that my baby would live. She did not offer to call my family or pastoral care. She simply sat with me, quietly, acknowledged my pain and assured me I was not alone.
Nurses are in a unique position to acknowledge and address many of the challenges NICU families face during the NICU stay and beyond.
Yet few NICUs offer staff education in optimal methods of communication with parents in distress. Giving staff tools and techniques to help them support families who are in crisis can help foster positive and trusting relationships between them. These relationships and staff sensitivity to families are crucial building blocks of family-centered care.
Hand to Hold’s new NICU Heroes podcast, specifically produced for NICU professionals, will strive to fill this gap in education. Topics will focus on the psychosocial needs of NICU parents, optimal communication skills when supporting NICU parents during and after trauma and best practices in family-centered care. Following the tremendous success of Hand to Hold’s NICU Now podcast for NICU families (since February, the podcast has had more than 11,000 downloads in 38 countries), we are confident the podcast platform will provide a convenient, effective way for NICU professionals to earn continuing education credits but more importantly, learn to more effectively support NICU parents.
Hand to Hold believes that NICU parents are often just as fragile as their babies. Their wounds are not as visible, but their trauma is just as acute. With additional training and effective tools, the sensitive care that nurses take with babies can be extended to their parents, ensuring better outcomes not only the babies in their care, but for the entire family unit.
Hand to Hold mentioned on TLC's Outdaughtered
Development Director Jennifer Hayhurst recently made a trip to Houston to meet the Busby family and their quintuplets, from the popular TLC show Outdaughtered. The quints were born at 28 weeks, each weighing around two pounds. Danielle and Adam Busby, along with their business partners, hosted a fundraiser at Rush Cycle benefiting Hand to Hold. It was a great day to share our mission with new supporters in the Houston area and to hear more about Danielle and Adam's story and the challenges they faced during bedrest, a long NICU journey and after discharge. They are committed to ensuring that all NICU families have the support they need. Watch for Hand to Hold on Outdaughtered, airing on TLC on Tuesdays at 8 PM.
Endorse Hand to Hold for the WEGO Health Awards
Hand to Hold is honored to be nominated for the WEGO Health Awards in the category of Best in Show: Podcast for the NICU Now podcast. If you or someone you love have have been impacted by a NICU stay and know the importance of getting support when and where you need it, please endorse us today!
More Good Stuff
NICU Nurturing & Nutrition
This month Hand to Hold is proud to release a comprehensive FREE resource to the NICU community, courtesy of Prolacta Bioscience®. Our latest free resource, NICU Nurturing and Nutrition, was developed for parents currently in the NICU who may have questions about how to meet their medically fragile baby’s nutritional needs.
How My Marriage Survived the NICU
The stress of the NICU takes its toll on relationships, especially a marriage. Erica Kingsbury speaks honestly about the struggles she and her husband faced during their NICU journey, and how other couples can work together to overcome this stressful and difficult time.
4 Lessons on Breastfeeding in the NICU
Throughout August we've celebrated Breastfeeding Awareness Month with a range of experiences from nursing to pumping. Breastfeeding in the NICU is a daunting task, but it can also be an amazing achievement. Blogger Shanna Thompson shares her tips on providing breast milk for a preemie and why celebrating the small victories is so important.
Connect With Us
Welcome New Board Member, Dr. Loyd
Dr. John D. Loyd, MD, MPH, is the Division Chief of Neonatol-ogy at Dell Children's Hospital/Seton Family of Hospitals. On his relationship with Hand to Hold, Dr. Loyd says, "Having walked so many families through the life-changing challenge of the NICU, I am so thankful to have a partner like Hand to Hold to come alongside these families and help them see life on the other side."
Who are Dr. Loyd's NICU heroes? "The nursing staff are my heroes!" he says. "They bring a level of dedication, training and ability to bear on these infants' medical care day after day in a way that blesses families generationally as they care for babies, parents and grandparents."
Tickets & Tables Now Available for 2017 Baby Shower Luncheon
Tickets, tables and sponsorships
are now available for our 4th annual Baby Shower Luncheon. Join us on Friday, October 20, for an afternoon with guest speaker Kristin Schell, musician Randy Rogers and other fun activities. Our diaper pull and silent auction are back with prizes including a yacht tour on Lake Travis, limo rental, a private mansion on the lake, spa treatments, restaurants and more. Learn more about this event or contact Jennifer Hayhurst for sponsorship information.
Run/Walk for Team Hand to Hold!
Lace up your favorite tennis shoes and join Team Hand to Hold to walk/run in the Paramount 5K on Sunday, February 18, 2018. Run or walk in honor or memory of your child to ensure current NICU families have the support and resources they need during a NICU stay or following the loss of their baby. Strollers welcome! Learn more at handtohold.org/team.
Dates to Remember
Sept 15: NICU Nurse Appreciation Day
October: RSV season begins
October 15: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day
Volunteer 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
A 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.
Read past eNewsletters.