One of the proudest things I’ve done to date (besides birthing two precious boys) is co-founding the wonderful non-profit organization, Delivering Hope NOLA. It has been over 4 years since my family spent 101 days in the NICU with my son Liam, and I’m so happy those days are behind. While I’m forever thankful for the incredible care the nurses and doctors provided, something was missing. I felt alone. I felt that as hard as my family and friends tried to relate to my situation, they just truly had no idea the heartache and anxiety I was feeling on a daily basis.
I searched for support groups, blog posts, books, etc., anything to help me get through this roller coaster of a ride. I came up mostly short handed. I quickly decided that I wanted to help other families experiencing the same thing. This is how Delivering Hope NOLA started – from just an idea of former NICU moms to the reality that is now a 501(c)3.
One of our co-founders, Erin Dizinno:
“After experiencing the NICU twice, it became very clear to me that there is a need in our community to provide support to the families of NICU and intensive care babies. We are very fortunate that we have exceptional neonatal care available to us, but there was very little support for the family. I felt like it was my calling to help bridge this gap. There are still more we can do but I am amazed how many families we have reached in such a short time. After speaking with other moms who felt the same way Delivering Hope NOLA was born.”
Our Care Packages:
During our 101 days, we spent multiple holidays in the NICU including Christmas. I was for sure having a “Blue Christmas” that year but you can imagine the sparkle in my eyes when I saw a care package that was waiting for me at my sons bedside. I was in tears. Someone took time to hand pick essential items for the NICU life and included the sweetest heartfelt hand written note. Coming from someone who has “been there, done that” filled my heart with so much hope. I saw an end at the tunnel. I cherished those items from a baby book I kept at the bedside (where the nurses placed his footprints in), antibacterial soap, baby blanket, snacks, etc.
Delivering Hope NOLA has delivered holiday care packages since 2012. We initially started out at just one hospital but this past holiday season, we delivered over 200 care packages to the metro area hospitals!
We also deliver smaller care packages in May for Parents of Preemies Day. Our long term goal is to be able to provide a care package to every family in the NICU in the New Orleans Metro Area. It seems like a big task but we are so hopeful to make this a reality!
One of our most recent recipients shares her experience, Ashley Pettiette:
“Our twins were born just a few hours shy of 30 weeks and stayed 75 and 85 days in the NICU. The care package sent by Delivering Hope NOLA was such a beautiful surprise during a scary time in our lives. Not only was it filled with things that we needed and things we’ll cherish forever, but the DHNOLA ladies continued to support me throughout their NICU stay and even beyond. The encouragement we received was invaluable and I’m thankful to have made a lifelong connection with local ladies who share the same experiences as our family has.”
Caring for a preemie is much different than caring for a full term baby. When I look back at my oldest son, he did everything pretty much by the book. Milestones were met, was growing on the growth charts, and was the typical normal baby and then toddler. Once I brought my son Liam home, I had no idea what to expect.
I left the NICU with paperwork for Early Steps, a follow up with my pediatrician and TONS of specialists! I went from having a doctor or nurse to answer every question to being totally alone. I had no idea what to do or what to expect. What is adjusted/correct age? What is early steps? You catch my drift, I was lost.
And besides caring for my tiny nearly 4lb “newborn” baby at home, I was a nervous wreck. I needed support but it was hard to take any time for me. Also, I didn’t know where to turn. Call my OB? Call a therapist? I was just as lost as to how to care for myself as I was to care for Liam.
With Delivering Hope NOLA, we wanted to be able to provide support past the NICU stay. We hold quarterly support groups in hopes to answer any and all questions and provide support to NICU families. Whether it’s asking recommendations for specialists, tips for how to survive RSV/flu season, or just to share your experience with others, we are all ears!
One of our support group attendees Lindsay Albarado states:
“Having a sick baby in the NICU proved to be very difficult. When we went home after 5 months, I felt like no one truly knew what I was experiencing. I wasn’t looking for someone to help me figure out how to take care of a tiny baby, I needed someone that had gone through what I was going through emotionally, on the inside. DHNOLA support group gave me an outlet to talk to moms that had been there before. While all of our situations are unique, the support groups gave me a sense of security. When I found this group, I finally felt like I was not alone. Now that life has settled down, the DHNOLA support group has given me the opportunity to help others that are experiencing a similar situation.”
Delivering Hope NOLA at Bloom:
We are beyond ecstatic to be one of the charities of choice for the upcoming event, Bloom Mother’s Day Brunch. There are fantastic giveaways and for every items you bring on our wish list, you will receive a raffle ticket. Please stop by our table and introduce yourself! We thank you in advance for your donations and support, we truly appreciate it.