Ask any NICU parent and they will tell you that having a baby in the NICU changes you. Some of us measure our lives as “pre-NICU” and “post-NICU.” Others, like myself, started our parenting journey in the NICU, not getting the opportunity to experience the joy of bringing a healthy baby home immediately. Either way, parents rarely emerge from the experience unscathed.
If there is one thing NICU parents want others to know, it’s this:
A NICU stay impacts the whole family.
NICU parents face many challenges. Research shows that parents of preterm infants and babies born with special health care needs often struggle with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Without proper support, the stress can have a profound impact on the entire family unit, often resulting in depression, separation, divorce and child abuse. It can cause stress among siblings, discord among outside family members, and more.
And the stress does not subside when baby comes home. In the weeks and months after discharge, parents must navigate complicated insurance and health care systems to advocate for their children. They are faced with complex medical equipment, detailed medication schedules, numerous specialists and complicated medical bills. In some cases, our former preemies struggle with learning disabilities that continue to leave us grappling for answers and searching for tools with which to help them.
But among the struggle, there is hope.
Because of our generous supporters, Hand to Hold is now providing direct support to more than 250 families each month in hospitals here in Austin, and thousands of other individuals have found support through our blog and online communities, NICU Family Voices, and NICU Family Forum. 2017 will bring many exciting new avenues for support, and we need your help.
This holiday season, we’re asking you, our generous supporters, to give a gift of just $25 that will connect a NICU family to the vital support systems necessary to navigate the weeks, months, and even years ahead. Your generous gifts will go towards:
- Connecting families with support via our toll-free support hotline,
- Matching and training of volunteer peer mentors for families in the NICU and beyond,
- Creation and maintenance of resources for parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs, and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications,
- Maintenance of our wide-spread online support communities, including the Hand to Hold Facebook page, NICU Family Voices and NICU Family Forum, and our upcoming podcast,
- Various programs including sibling support, bereavement resources, in-hospital events, and more.
We thank you for your continuous support as we hold the hands of these families through their journeys.