Monday, May 14, 2012

Huntsville Hospital NICU Offers Terrific Family Support

My grandson has been in the NICU at Huntsville Hospital for almost two weeks now. It's really hard on his mom and dad because they want so desperately to bring their baby home. However, the incredible support they have received from NICU family support specialist Jennifer Bader has made their experience much less difficult than it might have been otherwise.

NICU family members make T-shirts for their babies. 
Jennifer's job is funded by a March of Dimes grant and the Huntsville Hospital Foundation's Melissa George Fund. She has such a passion for supporting NICU moms because she was a NICU mom herself when her twins were born four years ago in St. Louis. The support and encouragement she received during their NICU stay there buoyed her spirits tremendously. When she moved to Huntsville, she was passionate about giving other NICU moms that same level of support. She worked very hard to bring this program to Huntsville Hospital and is doing a fabulous job there!

Every week she has some kind of special activity for NICU moms. The night after Nicholas was born, family members were invited to make t-shirts for their babies. Over twenty family members showed up to create one-of-a-kind designs for their little ones. However, it wasn't just about making the shirts; it was also about building relationships.

Nicholas' thumbprint necklace
Last week family members were invited to NICU Bingo. Jennifer had created Bingo cards using NICU terms. It was a very creative way to explain many of the NICU policies and procedures in a non-threatening, low-key setting. Prizes included preemie diapers, socks, washclothes, baby journals and a keepsake pillow. Then on Thursday all the NICU mamas were treated to a spa day where they were pampered and made to feel just wonderful!. Each mother received a special gift from her baby, too. Jennifer had created tiny thumbprint heart necklaces. My daughter proudly wore hers to church yesterday and showed off Baby Nicholas' thumbprint. It is a gift she will treasure forever.

This week we're already looking forward to making picture frames for our babies.

Over the years I've spoken with many NICU families. Most have felt very thankful for the terrific care their babies have received. But there has never been the level of parent and family support that now exists. Huntsville Hospital is truly blessed to have Jennifer on board. And parents who have a NICU baby are so fortunate to have a family support specialist like Jennifer to encourage them and make the stay a little easier!

 For more information about NICU family support, you can contact Jennifer at 256-265-7377 or email her at jennifer.bader@hhsys.org.   Local businesses or families are welcome to donate snacks or supplies for the family waiting room and parent hours.

1 comment:

  1. That is really really great! What a wonderful woman to be doing these things for NICU moms. During such a hard, scary, and trying time in their lives there is a supportive light there to help them and guide them not only for their family but to help make connections to other families who know the same hardships as well. Truly an angel at work there!

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