Expecting a Bright Future for NICU Families
For many years following the preterm birth of my son, I dreaded attending baby showers. While I was happy for my friends and wanted to play my part in helping them celebrate the approaching arrival of their child, I was invariably besieged with resentment, anger and guilt. It was incredibly difficult to eat cupcakes and smile as the expecting mom patted her beautiful round belly while talking about her birth plan and complaining about her swollen ankles.
I felt like a fake, a phony, and a bad friend. I wanted to laugh out loud about their birth plan. I wanted to yell at the guests who chirped about their hours of labor and eight pound babies! I wanted to admonish them for neglecting to realize that many moms don’t get to experience the joy of a full term pregnancy. Didn’t they know that instead of selecting items for a baby registry, I sat by my baby’s incubator and willed him to breathe and that I waited months for him to wear a onesie?
After meeting thousands of NICU graduate moms across the country, I have learned that my emotions were not unique. It took me many years to work through my negative reaction to pastel colored invitations that seemed to arrive weekly in my mailbox. But, I am happy to report that the most recent baby shower I attended was a blissful experience -- due in part to the fact we were celebrating the very healthy full-term pregnancy of a former NICU mom.
At Hand to Hold, we are expecting a bright future for NICU families. From our national peer-to-peer support program to our innovative NICU Resource Library, NICU Graduate Handbook, comprehensive website, and compassionate bereavement program, we are dedicated to providing critical support, education and resources to ensure best outcomes for the most vulnerable families.
To celebrate (and to prove my emotional growth), Hand to Hold will be hosting a Baby Shower-themed luncheon on Friday, November 14, 2014, from 11 am to 1:30 pm in Austin, Texas, to raise funds in support of our mission. We invite you to join us for an afternoon of bubbles and games, a delicious lunch and an inspirational message from nationally recognized speaker and author, Kristin Armstrong, who will share reflections on the magnitude and meaning of motherhood.
Tickets are on sale now. If you are unable to join us, please consider purchasing a gift from our gift registry. Gifts can be made in honor or memory of a special child in your life and will help ensure all NICU families have a Hand to Hold following preterm birth, a newborn's NICU stay or the loss of a baby. I hope you will join us for this joyous occasion!
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director
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