Jennifer Fagan and Her Daughter Natalie Grace

Fagan FamilyJennifer Fagan had her daughter Natalie Grace at 26 weeks due to placental abruption. She and her husband Mike have two other children. In addition to serving as a Helping Hand Peer Mentor, Jenn has also been helping facilitate a NICU support group at North Austin Medical Center. She shares below what volunteering to help other parents means to her.

How did you find out about Hand to Hold?

I can’t remember who specifically shared it with me, but it was one of the moms in our mom’s group that met once a week at the hospital while our kiddos were in the NICU.

What made you want to volunteer? What have you gotten out of it?

Hoping to be there for other families was our first reason. There were times we felt alone or isolated. We didn’t know anyone who had gone through delivering a premature baby. Two different opportunities really showed us the value in having someone who has gone through what you’re being faced with to support you. The first was through a weekly mom’s group for the moms with babies in the NICU. The relationships I developed through those get-togethers provided me with comfort, laughter, shared tears, strength and understanding. Second, we received an email from a family at our church who had heard of what we were going through and they reached out to us, listened, prayed and encouraged us. These things helped us to see first hand how impactful that type of support can be. To have an opportunity to be there for someone no matter how great or small, just to let them know that you are there for them, is our hope. We also want to do our best to make positive things come forth from a tough time in our life.

What has connecting with other parents meant to you?

Connecting with other parents is invaluable. We had opportunities to sit down with, share emails and phone conversations with parents who knew exactly how we felt and we know that provided us with strength. Knowing that you’re not alone in a situation that can be very isolating makes all the difference. To be understood by another person helps you to heal.

What would you like to share with other NICU families?

What helped us personally was our relationship with God and the community of people He placed around us. Other things that helped were to take it one day at a time, journaling our emotions, milestones and questions. Getting to know the staff that was caring for our baby helped us make the hospital feel like our home. Lastly, getting together with people who had been through what we were going through was invaluable. It can be hard to take that first step to reach out for help; we would just encourage you to do it. Having the support of another parent who has gone through it and has survived the experience helps in so many ways. Having a community of people like Hand to Hold, full of resources and experience, will help in lightening your load and in preparing you for the future. We remember feeling like we needed to figure out so many small and large details… and fast. Some take time to research and time was the last thing we had. What a wonderful resource Hand to Hold is. They’ve done all of that legwork already.

What would you tell people who are thinking about volunteering?

For us it has been a way to make something positive from what was a trial. It has allowed us to share our experience in hopes of bringing another family strength and hope. The thought of helping someone to not feel alone but to feel understood overwhelms us with joy. Hand to Hold offers many opportunities to support other families and to make a difference. We are thankful to be a part of the H2H family.

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