Delivering Hope NOLA provides support to mothers of prematurely born infants.
August 12th, 2016 by: Mary Olivio
Scared. Alone. Unprepared. These are just a few words that described my emotional state after delivering my youngest son by emergency c-section at 27 weeks. While in the operating room — seconds after his birth — Liam was rushed away into the resuscitation room, and all I could see of him was the back of his tiny head. Liam was born at 15 ounces and 11 inches; he was the length of a pencil. Hearing his birth stats, I couldn’t help but feel pessimistic about his outcome and I knew we had a tremendous journey ahead of us in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The first time I entered the NICU, it felt so cold and scary. Even though I had my husband by my side, my life was suddenly filled with NICU nurses and doctors. While there were people all around me, I felt lost and hopeless. What I wanted most was someone to share my experience with, someone who understood this chaotic and overwhelming situation that I had been thrust into with little warning. Then, a care package was delivered to my son’s bedside. The care package had essentials I didn’t even know I needed to survive the next 101 days. These items included antibacterial soap, hand lotion and quick snacks, but the most valuable thing that was included was a letter from a former NICU mom.
A friend from high school had reached out to a college friend of hers who had recently given birth to a baby girl; the friend, Jessica, and her newborn daughter had just been released from the same NICU that Liam was currently in (of course, that’s typical big-city, small-town NOLA for you, right?). Jessica was quick to reach out to me and deliver this thoughtful care package, pulling from her recent experience in NICU life. From that simple care package grew an instant bond. I messaged her on Facebook, and it felt so good to share my concerns and frustrations with someone who had “been there, done that.” Over Liam’s 101-day journey in the NICU, I spoke with Jessica frequently, and she was and still is a huge asset to me.
When we finally left the NICU, I realized I wanted to be able to provide the same thoughtfulness I had received to other families across the New Orleans metro area. A few “preemie moms” and I started small, delivering holiday care packages to the new NICU parents — but our operations quickly evolved into what I am proud to call one of my greatest achievements, Delivering Hope NOLA.
Delivering Hope NOLA is a group of local preemie moms who know all too well how lonely the NICU can be, especially during the holidays. While we accept we cannot heal a newborn, or make time move faster for a mom, we are confident we can help families through this very difficult time. We have made it our goal to help make the holidays a little brighter for New Orleans NICU families. We have also done a delivery in May in recognition of National Parents of Preemies Day. In addition, we hold quarterly support groups. This group has come to mean so much to everyone involved, and we were thrilled when Delivering Hope NOLA was officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) in 2015. Our dream is to one day have a mini care package with contact information to a local NICU mom for every baby born in the New Orleans area. We feel the best way to get through a NICU stay is with the support from others who have been there and survived.
While the NICU stay was daunting, I’m so proud that the other moms and I have taken lemons and turned them into lemonade through Delivering Hope NOLA. I’m thrilled to be a part of such a great organization of women who can help others through our personal experiences. Delivering Hope NOLA has multiple fundraising events throughout the year, so please look us up on Facebook or visit our webpage at deliveringhopenola. org. For sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, email [email protected].