The secret to living is giving. – Tony Robbins
That’s the driving motto behind Team Hand to Hold member Cesar Romero‘s passion for giving back. Cesar joined Team Hand to Hold in early January and threw himself into fundRACING for NICU and bereaved families, raising over $1000 in just two weeks. And for a good reason – Cesar himself is a NICU dad. Read his story below.
On July 19, 2018, my wife, Jennifer, was admitted to the hospital with severe preeclampsia. Four days later, her doctors decided it was time to induce and ran a series of blood work before administering mediciation to begin the induction.
At 10:30 a.m., Jennifer’s OB called us, telling us that she booked an OR for noon and that she was on her way to perform an emergency c-section. Jen was showing signs of organ distress and was only 32 weeks pregnant. Within those 90 minutes Jen and I were were thrown the scariest news we had ever faced together. As she was prepped for surgurgery, we spoke to her medical team about what to expect during the c-section and spoke to a NICU medicial team about what to expect once the baby was born. We literally had no idea what to ask, and we were both scared about what was about to happen.
At 12:10 p.m. on July 23, 2018, our daughter, Lucia, was born. She announced herself with a scream. I was called over to announce the gender, as we had wished for it to be a surprise. Our three pound, ten ounce baby girl was wrapped up, brought over to Jen to see, and then was rushed over to NICU where she was hooked up to machines and oxygen and placed inside an incubator. It would be over 24 hours before Jen would be able to see her again and other day after that before we could hold her. Lucia spent 39 days in NICU under the amazing care of doctors and nurses at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in Austin, TX.
My wife didn’t have the bandwidth to focus on anything else besides her recovery and Lucia. So I took it upon myself to find and ask for help. That’s when I stumbled upon Hand to Hold. I noticed the flyer at the hospital advertising the NICU Now podcast and decided to dive deeper. I reached out to Hand to Hold via email on behalf of Jen and requested a mentor for her. They exchanged emails and texts, and it was very helpful having someone to share this experience with. The resources and mentoring helped us better understand what was happening and made many of our feelings feel normal.
I am running the Austin Half Marathon in memory of my mom, Sonia, who passed away in May, as well as in honor of Lucia, and to raise awareness and support for Hand to Hold so that they can continue to support other NICU families.
Without the resources from Hand to Hold, our experience would have been scarier and lonelier. Nothing prepares you to give birth to a preemie or for the journey that follows.
Preemies, however, are the strongest little beings you’ll ever meet, and I am honored to be running this race in their honor.
Want to support Cesar in his quest to raise awareness and support for NICU families just like his?
Visit his Team Hand to Hold fundraiser here!
All photos courtesy of the Romero Family.