Welcome to the NICU Parent Club… chances are you never planned on being a member. I remember that when I first ran across Life After NICU how much the message resonated with me. It’s true. When I imagined being a parent I never imagined what that could mean. I assumed my journey into motherhood would look like it had for my mom and her mom and all the other moms I had been blessed to have around. I never imaged that it would begin with a stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I never imagined that the same day my baby was born might also be the day that I would have to begin preparing for the possibility that they might die. But that’s what happened.
I felt so incredibly alone. After the initial trauma – and the weeks and months of just trying to survive – I looked around and realized that I wasn’t alone. A whole NICU community that I had previously never even known existed became my community. First it was the doctors and nurses and then, eventually, it was the other families. These were the people who came to me and told me their stories, who let me know that what I was feeling was normal and also gave me hope that I could get through this.
That is the beauty and the brilliance of what we have in the Life After NICU community. It is that place we can go where no matter how strange we think our question might be or how remote we think the possibility is that someone else might understand or empathize there is ALWAYS someone who says, “Yes, me too! I feel that way. I know what that’s like.”
While we are just a little bit sad that Aimee and Gena are taking a step away right now and won’t be with us every day, we are so honored that they would trust us with their “baby.” And we are so excited to see how their boys grow and develop over the coming months and years. They are only little once! Soak it in, gals!
We as fellow NICU parents from Hand to Hold are humbled, excited and thrilled to be a part of making sure Life After NICU continues to thrive as a parent peer support community on Facebook. The Life After NICU blog posts will be shortly incorporated into our Parent Blog, PreemieBabies101, so they will live on. Once more, Gena and Aimee will be added to our blogger roster so they can continue to contribute to the community on their schedule. It is so important that we have a place where every parent can feel like they’re part of the club. Thank you so much Gena and Aimee for creating this special place.
Meet the New Life After NICU Team
Erika Goyer is the Program Director and a Family Support Navigator with Hand to Hold. She has three sons. Carrick was born at 27 weeks and lived for a day and a half before passing away from complications of his prematurity. She went on to have two more high-risk pregnancies and numerous interventions to welcome her other two boys into the world. She is exceptionally grateful to all the NICU parents who came before her who held her hand and to all the NICU parents who have come after and let her share their journeys.
Jennifer Beatty, MSW, is a NICU mom, social worker, an amateur shutterbug and Hand to Hold’s Family Support Navigator. She is taking the lead on the day-to-day running of the Life After NICU Facebook Parent Peer Support Forum. Her first son Ty delivered at 36 weeks and experienced a brief overnight stay in the NICU for blood sugar issues. After fertility issues with her second pregnancy, Jennifer had an emergency delivery at 30 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia. Though her youngest only weighed 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth, Liam came home after 45 days in the NICU at just over 5 pounds and is a strong and healthy preschooler today. These experiences have given Jennifer a heart for working with families going through the tremendous emotional and physical struggles faced by NICU families.
Amy Carr is Hand to Hold’s Public Awareness Director and a parent of a late-term preemie, Ella, who was born at 35 weeks. After an uneventful pregnancy, Ella’s early birth and the complications that followed were a shock. Now in elementary school, her daughter is doing well and those who aren’t in the NICU parent club would never guess what those early years were like and how isolating it was. She uses her marketing savvy to keep Hand to Hold’s online and social presences rocking and rolling, with the goal of ensuring that NICU families always have a safe place to find a fellow parent who can relate to what they are going through and resources and education that will help them with the important work of parenting and caregiving. She wishes communities like Life After NICU, PreemieBabies101 and Hand to Hold were more prevalent when her daughter was tiny.