One of my favorite books to read to my kids when they were young was Little Miss Spider. It is a sweet story about the love of an adoptive mother. “On the very first day of Miss Spider’s life, she pops out of her egg to find her brothers and sisters scooting all around her. But where is her mother? Lucky for Little Miss Spider, kind and caring Betty Beetle is there to fill the role.” I have thought of this story many times over the past month since reading the story of our NICU Grand Prize Giveaway winner, Tracy Regusci of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
The challenges that preemies face often do not end at the hospital doors. The first months home can be riddled with feeding issues, medical equipment, medications, follow-up appointments and the fear of re-hospitalization due to the immaturity of the baby’s immune system. Some face years of occupational, speech and physical therapy. Some may have hearing or vision loss. Many struggle with Sensory Integration Disorder, ongoing respiratory issues, and experience learning or developmental delays. As a parent, it can be emotionally, physically and financially exhausting. But as a parent, the love for your child propels you through each and every obstacle and drives you to advocate for them, provide for them and ensure their every need is met, whether you can meet those needs yourself or you are faced with the heartbreaking decision to find an adoptive home that can give them the best chance at a healthy life.
It takes a special person to knowingly take on these challenges for a baby that is not their own – and an even more rare individual who is willing to take on these challenges for twins. But that is exactly what Tracy and Matt Regusci, winners of Hand to Hold’s NICU Grand Prize Giveaway, did when they decided to adopt identical twins, David and Jonathan. Born at 25 weeks gestation, the boys faced considerable challenges at birth and the adoption agency struggled to find a family willing to open their hearts and home to babies that would require specialized care following their hospital discharge. (See Tracy’s full story on the blog this Friday.)
As she prepared to bring her sons home from the NICU, Tracy found Hand to Hold which served as an important resource not only during their NICU stay, but over the past two years. When Tracy learned about the Hand to Hold NICU Grand Prize Giveaway, she knew she had to enter because she wanted to give back to the hospital that not only met the medical needs of her sons, but loved them and cared for them as their own children until adoptive parents could be found. The NICU Grand Prize Giveaway, presented by Hand to Hold, offered families a way to raise awareness about the challenges of life after NICU while raising vital resources to support the mission of Hand to Hold. As the top fundraiser, she won a prize package worth more than $5,000, including two kangaroo chairs, two breast pumps, a one-year subscription to Hand to Hold’s NICU Resource Library, medical reference and children’s books, helpful medical equipment and conference registration at two professional development conferences for NICU staff. We are grateful to the following organizations for providing products and services for our campaign: Acacia Neonatal, Barefoot Books, Dandle LION Medical, Dr. Sue Hall, Hand to Hold, Kasey Mathews, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Medela, National Association of Neonatal Therapists, Neotech Products, Synova Associates, and OFS Brands (Carolina).
Too often, NICU graduates face not only the challenges associated with preterm birth, but that of finding parents who will love and care for them despite their many special health and developmental needs. We are so grateful for the Regusci family for giving back to Hand to Hold in an effort to support other NICU families and look forward to celebrating with them as they gift the Grand Prize to their home NICU at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center during a presentation next month.
As Little Miss Spider finds out, “For finding your mother, there’s one certain test. You must look for the creature who loves you the best!” To the foster parents and adoptive parents who love, shelter and nurture NICU babies around the world, we say thank you. And to the NICU professionals who shower these special children with love until their forever family can be found, our deepest adoration, respect and appreciation for ensuring these special children know they are loved.