As the parent of two children born full-term and healthy, I was not fully aware of the challenges so many families face when their child is born early or with special healthcare needs until a friend’s child was born at 27 weeks gestation. Although they received a great deal of support from family and friends, it was still a very long and difficult journey.
Last year, I was introduced to the mission of Hand to Hold and it really resonated with me as well as the members of my band, The Mrs. Our debut single, “Enough”, had just been released and we were on a national tour that showcased our “magic” interactive mirror that asks women to describe how they felt about themselves and provides positive, encouraging feedback in response to their negative descriptions of themselves. Unfortunately, so many women feel inadequate, we don’t think we measure up to what society says we should be, or even our own expectations of what we think we should look like, or what we feel we should have accomplished in our lives. The Mrs. is on a mission to smash that narrative and help women know that they are Enough! We want to empower women through a message of self-acceptance.
In our first meeting, Kelli Kelley, Founder and Executive Director of Hand to Hold, shared with me the emotional response she had when she first heard our song, Enough. She explained that women who experience preterm birth, infertility and loss often feel like their bodies have failed. That they were unable to do something that was supposed to be a natural part of being a woman. That in some way they had failed their partners, babies and themselves. And sometimes these overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and grief can last for years (if not a lifetime) if they do not seek support.
I am so moved by the impact that Hand to Hold is having in the lives of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and bereaved families in Austin and across the country. It is a testament to the tremendous healing powers of peer-to-peer support and the empowerment of being part of a larger community that can share resources, experiences and knowledge.
One of the greatest gifts of forming The Mrs. band has been our ability to help support tremendous causes across the country that have such meaningful impact in the lives of women and families. In honor of Hand to Hold’s 5th Birthday, The Mrs. has pledged a gift of $25,000 — but we want to double that gift! For every dollar you donate during Hand to Hold’s Giving Day Challenge on September 3, 2015, The Mrs. will match your gift up to $25,000.
It is my hope that The Mrs. will be an outlet for creating positive change in our community and across the country. With your help, we can ensure every NICU family has a hand to hold during and after a NICU stay or loss of a baby. Please mark your calendars today and give generously on September 3!
Andra Liemandt is the founder and drummer of The Mrs., an all-female rock band in their 30s and 40s with a hit single and an inspiring message. Considered by her bandmates as “the driving force” behind The Mrs., Andra’s passion, strength and positive energy has turned a personal project into a female empowerment movement to change the often negative way women see themselves — and to convince women everywhere that they are, indeed, ENOUGH! Andra is determined to bring a new genre of music to the forefront that connects with women like her, with songs about motherhood, balancing personal relationships, careers, marriages and friendships, and other true-life experiences that real women can relate to. Starting out as more of an athlete than a musician, Andra began playing drums “later in life,” both to occupy herself while her daughters were taking music lessons, and to set an example by showing them that hard work pays off. She was quickly hooked, fitting practice into any gap of time she’d find between professional and parental commitments. Andra’s heart is always with her husband and two young daughters, but her soul is with The Mrs. Between work functions, workouts, afternoon activities and the bedtime routine, Andra can’t stop practicing her drums, writing and dancing to new songs, and dreaming about bringing her message to women everywhere that “it’s never too late to try something new.” Follow her band on the Web, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.