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Summer of Independence for My Preemies

Jackson on his bikeMy two children were preemies and spent time in the NICU. My son was born at 24 weeks and my daughter was born at 34 weeks. I never intended to be an over-protective mom. But, I think my children's preterm births predestined me to obsess over germs and acquiesce to cut their meat at the dinner table.  I worry way too much about their social affairs, grades in school and extra-curricular activities. Have I become a helicopter mom or is this typical behavior for the mother of preemies?

To ensure my kids don’t grow to resent me and rebel at every opportunity – or end up living at home for the rest of their lives – I decided this would be the summer of independence for my own sanity as well as theirs. We are making simple changes, but the impact is palpable. From making lunches to helping with laundry, both kids are showing me that they are way more capable than I have given them credit for. And they are enjoying their newfound independence as well.

It has not been without incident. We almost had a small house fire when my son, Jackson, tried to heat up his Pop-Tarts® in the microwave without first removing them from the foil wrapper. But such growing pains should be expected as they learn to navigate the relatively unexplored terrain of food preparation and simple household chores.

Nurturing our baby birds to prepare them for flight is a process.  It is not easy for any parent. But for those who have endured a NICU stay, watched our children struggle to breathe and overcome countless medical and developmental challenges, learning to let go may take longer and possibly be a bit more painful.  While we certainly celebrate our tiny super heroes’ herculean accomplishments, it is hard to flip that maternal switch to let them soar on their own. With a fire extinguisher at the ready, I will persevere on my quest to help my kids learn to be a little more self-sufficient and self-reliant this summer and relish a little newfound free time!  

Happy Independence Day,
Kelli Kelley 
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director

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Lunch & Learn - A monthly, free educational program for parents and healthcare providers. June's topic disussed finding accessible summer activities for all children; handouts are online!

NICU Support Group - Monthly support groups are held at St. David's Medical Center & St. David's North Austin Medical Center. July dates coming soon.

July 7 - Sibling Sundaes, a fun educational program for siblings with a brother or sister in the NICU, will be held at St. David's North Austin Medical Center, 2-3 p.m.

Preemie Power LogoAugust 24 - Preemie Power Family Celebration at the Ball Park - All are invited to enjoy free, fun activities for the kids, a ballpark buffet, a ballgame at the Round Rock Express and fireworks! Sponsorship opportunities still available! 

Mondays, 9-1pm - Volunteer to provide NICU respite at the Ronald McDonald Room at North Austin Medical Center or at the new Ronald McDonald Room at St. David's Medical Center. 

Preemie Power Super Heroes

Mighty MykahMeet Mighty Mykah who was born at 32 weeks and weighed just 1 lb 5 oz., the size of a 24-weeker. She spent 106 days in the NICU. was diagnosed with NEC, and faced three surgeries. She's now two and has amazed the doctors with her progress. Her parents believe Mykah is their superhero "because her smile is contagious and can make you fall in love with her with just one look in her eyes" among other reasons! Be inspired by more Preemie Power Super Heroes.

Making Connections

Hand to Hold has been making connections at the National Premature Infant Health Coalition Connections 2012 Conference, at the ribbon cutting for the new Ronald McDonald Room at St. David's Medical Center and at Father's Day events at local Austin NICUs. Can you connect us? Send an email to info@handtohold.org.

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   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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