Outstanding Central Texas Medical Professionals Receive Awards
Love for our children is primal – before even hearing the first heartbeat we dream of holding them and kissing them and protecting them with the ferocity of a lion. But for some moms (like me) and many dads, too, when a baby is born preterm or with special health care needs, the natural bonding experience expected at birth sometimes does not happen on its own.
Following my son’s early birth at just 24 weeks gestation, I felt tremendous guilt for my lack of the natural mother instincts to protect and fight for my medically fragile child. It was years before I understood and acknowledged that my emotions were normal and what many mental health experts classify as Anticipatory Grief, which happens when we prepare ourselves emotionally for the possibility of our baby’s death. I was scared to allow myself to love my son because I was so scared of losing him.
After six weeks I finally held Jackson for the first time. It was then that I knew he would come home and, regardless of the challenges, we would face them as a family. It was then that I allowed my heart to open so I could love the tiny, precious miracle that had been given to me.
I was very blessed to have a caring team of medical professionals along this difficult journey who were attentive not only to my fragile son's care but also to my own and that of my family. That care began with the obstetrician who provided my prenatal care and the emergency c-section that we did not expect. That care continued in the NICU where nurses, neonatologists and social workers counseled me, consoled me and educated me during the long, hard days my son and later, my daughter, resided in the NICU. Post discharge, my children continued to require special care and our pediatrician and specialists have been trusted partners over the years as my husband and I made important decisions to ensure our children had the best start in life. My story is not unique - medical professionals are critical partners in the care of mothers, fathers and their newborns every day.
On February 13, 2014, Hand to Hold will recognize four medical professionals with “For the Love of Babies” awards for the strong support, compassionate care and excellent medicine they provide to Central Texas babies and their families. We invite you to join us to show your support of these outstanding medical professionals and the tremendous impact they and Hand to Hold are having in our community and across the country. Learn more about the event and get your ticket.
The award winners this year represent excellence in the fields of social work, obstetrics, neonatology and pediatrics. We hope you will congratulate them especially if they have made a difference in your life, too!
Nancy Sheppard, LCSW, Seton Healthcare Network
Nancy Sheppard is currently the Perinatal Services Outreach Coordinator for Seton Healthcare Network. In 2013, Ms. Sheppard founded the Austin Perinatal Coalition to bring together programs, agencies and professionals who provide medical, mental health and psychosocial services and support to the perinatal population along the continuum including preconception, pregnancy, delivery and through the first year of a child’s life.
Dr. Christopher Seeker, Austin Area OBGYN
Dr. Christopher Seeker has been with Austin Area Obstetrics, Gynecology & Fertility since 1988. He has a heart for working with mothers who have experienced high-risk pregnancies so they have what they need for a healthy birth.
Dr. Audelio “Sonny” Rivera, Jr., St. David’s HealthCare
Sonny Rivera, Jr., MD, FAAP is a neonatologist and director of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Dr. Rivera has dedicated his professional life to caring for the sickest newborns and researching how to improve their health by way of better nutrition. He co-founded the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin in 1998 to make donor human milk more available to preterm and sick babies and established Austin’s First Steps High Risk Follow-Up Clinic in 2011 to provide specialized care to former NICU babies.
Dr. Kelly Thorstad, Lone Star Pediatrics
Dr. Kelly Thorstad is a board certified pediatrician and founded Lone Star Pediatrics in 2003. Dr. Thorstad has taken a very special interest in treating children who have had a NICU stay since the early days of her career. Because of her compassion, advocacy and the extra time she takes with each family, she receives high marks from families and many referrals from neonatologists.
We are grateful to our sponsors St. David's HealthCare, Cook-Walden Funeral Homes & Cemeteries, and Mead Johnson Nutrition.
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director
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