This foundation, Delivering Hope NOLA is near and dear to my heart because my son was born at 29 weeks gestation weighing only 1 pound 15 ounces. He stayed in the NICU for 78 days while he learned to maintain his temperature, breathe and eat on his own and essentially to grow.

I was unable to hear, see or hold my baby when he was first born because he was taken to the resuscitation room. It was over 24 hours until I was able to see him and a week until the first time I could hold him. I will never forget the first time the nurses placed him on my chest for “kangaroo care.” I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital in the hopes that he was having a good day and I would be able to hold him, kiss him and sing to my baby as he lay in my arms.

He was this little tiny peanut connected to multiple wires, monitors and tubes. My husband and I would sit at his isolette for hours each and every day watching our little man endure many obstacles. He managed to overcome pneumonia, countless needle sticks, and airway complications. This was a helpless feeling that no parent should ever have to endure. I’ll never forget the emptiness I felt each and every time I had to leave the hospital without my baby.

During our NICU stay with Graham another mom sent me a care package, it consisted of a thermal bag for my breast milk, granola bar, journal, pen and water bottle. I still have the thermal tote and cherish it dearly. The NICU is a lonely place filled with highs and lows, ups and downs. No one can ever prepare you for this type of experience, but having the support from someone who has been in your shoes and understands what you are going through helps tremendously. The NICU is known as a “Roller Coaster” and to be on that ride is like no other, especially during the holidays. Today my son is a happy, healthy rambunctious 4 year little boy.