Katrina Moline and Bryce

Our baby Bryce came barreling into our lives and hearts when I was just 24 weeks along. He delivered at our home actually, and we gave him CPR until the paramedics arrived.

Despite the severe emotional trauma of Bryce’s birth it would prove to be those following months that would take their toll on us. I found that we put so much effort into surviving the NICU that we were ill prepared for the struggles of being home with a medically fragile baby and no nurses or doctors to quell our many fears and concerns. I began seeking out other preemie moms online, through the website Meet Up, on Facebook and through any other avenue I could find. But time and time again I found myself disappointed by the lack of availability for what seemed like a simple service.

And then one day at yet another specialist appointment, a fellow preemie mom, Allie Alter, recognized Bryce and as we briefly visited, both anxious to relate to someone, she mentioned Hand to Hold. At that time, a bit over a year ago, Hand to Hold was just getting started but I immediately called and offered to help – eager to connect in any way possible. Kelli Kelley sweetly informed me that I didn’t qualify to mentor yet (due to the short time we had been home from the hospital) but after talking with me, which I very much appreciated, she connected me to my mentor, Stephanie. Stephanie and I both lead busy lives with our precious boys taking precedent and so although we sometimes find it difficult to get together as often as we might like I know I can call on her anytime. And even more importantly, I know she gets it, I mean really gets it. That, to me, is priceless.

In addition to being mentored by Stephanie, we have attended both discussion series events to date and plan to continue to do so. The quarterly events have been tremendously helpful as we navigate the post-NICU world with our special needs son. We have gained valuable information on a variety of important topics ranging from ways of coping with our struggles, to parenting strategies for children with Cerebral Palsy and therapy beyond ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). We’re very much looking forward to the upcoming Discussion Series in February as the divorce rate for children with special needs exceeds the already staggeringly high rate for all U.S. marriages .

It’s hard to imagine where our little family would be today without Hand to Hold. I fear we’d be less prepared for the many challenges of this special kind of parenting. As I personally witnessed at the recent Preemie Power event, if you get a room of preemies together you’ll find a wonderfully diverse collection of amazing children and their super-dedicated parents, happy to prove the old cliché right: it takes a village to raise a child. Read the full Moline family story.

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