Meet Ivette! Ivette is a NICU Family Support Specialist at Hand to Hold helping to reduce the negative impact of a NICU stay and ensuring the best outcome for the entire family. She supports NICU parents at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas, North Austin Medical Center. Ivette is thrilled to join Hand to Hold as a Family Support Specialist and to support NICU families in person or in group settings, all with the goal to reduce the negative impact of a NICU stay and ensure the best outcome for all families.
A preemie herself, Ivette grew up hearing about the challenges she and her family faced when she was born at 28 weeks gestation in South Africa. After losing her first son to stillbirth at 20 weeks gestation, Ivette was surprised by the amount of women who came forward to share their own stories of loss. She instinctively felt that more support and education was needed for mothers during all phases of pregnancy and postnatal care.
Ivette and her husband had two more children, another loss, and then experienced first-hand the exhausting emotional and physical toll a high-risk pregnancy can cause when she experienced PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) at 19 weeks gestation. Ivette spent 13 weeks on full bedrest, 10 of them on the antepartum ward. Their youngest son was born at 32 weeks gestation and spent 86 days in the NICU.
When her son was six months old, Ivette experienced severe postpartum anxiety and depression which required an in-patient hospital stay. This was a very traumatic experience which shed further light on the lack of support and resources available to mothers.
As soon as she and her son were well enough, Ivette knew she had to use her own experiences to advocate for others and to raise awareness about anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among NICU parents and better education and screening for mothers in general. Ivette became certified as a Mental Health Peer Specialist with the goal of working within the antepartum and NICU population. Ivette also holds certifications as a Wellness Recovery Action Plan facilitator and a Diversity and Inclusion workshop facilitator.
Prior to joining Hand to Hold, Ivette worked as a Peer Mentor for Austin Mental Health Community and Travis County Mental Health Public Defender.
Ivette, her husband, and four children live in Round Rock, TX. She is proud to be able to raise her children from her cross-cultural lens, and loves exposing them to her South African beliefs and traditions. Ivette speaks English, Afrikaans, Dutch and Zulu.