A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds
Last month I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the 33rd Annual NANN Conference in Rhode Island. Although I was only able to stay for a small portion of their conference, it was a wonderful experience. Cheryl Chotari (from Pebbles of Hope) and I presented together. Our NANN presentation was called “Activities to Help NICU Parents”. We both shared different things that nurses could do to help parents feel more comfortable caring for their babies and we also discussed better ways to communicate with NICU parents.
Last year I was a Keynote Speaker on the final day of the NANN Conference in Palm Springs, California and that was a very special experience for me. You can read about my experience, as a Keynote Speaker at NANN 2016, HERE.
This year I only had to drive for three hours to get there! It was wonderful to see and spend time with so many of the NICU nurses that I met last year, as well as some of the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurses from my daughter’s hospital.
Dr. Jackson is the founder and president of her company, which was inspired by the premature birth of her son Zackary, sixteen years ago. After his birth, Dr. Jackson created the Zaky and Kangaroo Zak. Both are products are designed to improve the developmental care of babies in the NICU. The Zaky helps calm babies while they are in the incubators, bassinets and cribs by providing comfort and can even be worn by parents before being placed on the baby, so that the baby can become familiar with the parents scent. The Kangaroo Zak is a product used to encourage and prolong kangaroo care sessions between parents and baby. Many studies have shown that babies who are kangarooed very often will have a lower heart rate, sleep more and even have a shorter stay in the NICU. Who wouldn’t want to be hugged by their mom and dad as much as they could? Please visit the Nurtured by Design website to learn more about these amazing and necessary NICU products.
When I wasn’t with Dr. Jackson, I was spending time with my friend Mary from The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund. I have the honor of being a member of their Board of Directors and to play a small part in many of the wonderful things they accomplish. Morgan’s Fund raises money that goes straight to the doctors, nurses and scientists who research ways to treat and prevent premature babies from getting Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) while they are in the NICU. NEC is a deadly disease that causes the immature intestines of premature babies to perforate and spread toxins throughout the blood. Unfortunately, it has a high rate of mortality and leaves many babies with lifelong problems. Morgan’s Fund is trying to eradicate this terrible disease and I’m trying to do my part to assist.
I also got visit with Trish Ringley from Every Tiny Thing. Trish has been a NICU nurse since 1997 and started her company to develop products are a one-of-a-kind and specialize at bringing joy to families with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. You have to check out her stuff!
No NICU related conference would be complete with a visit with my friends at Draeger. If you’ve talked to me at all in the last 5 months you probably heard me go on and on about Draeger’s new incubator, called Babyleo. It’s amazing! It’s everything I wish I had in a temporary home for my daughter while she spent 4 months in the NICU back in 2012. This incubator does it all and then some. It allows you to customize the screen you look at all day so that it can feel more like home. It has a mattress warmer for when the hood is open for a long period of time. It allows you to use your elbows to open and shut it to reduce germ transfer and it even has a kangaroo care mode. These are just some of the reasons why I love Babyleo.
This past August I was brought to Draeger’s headquarters in Telford, PA with Deb Discenza from Preemie World to film a series of education videos for them on how to use their Babyleo and what it’s like to have a premature baby in the NICU for so long. Deb and I really enjoyed it. Our videos should be up on their website soon. You should visit their website to learn more and to see how you can get it into your NICU. Click HERE to read about the Babyleo incubator. I keep telling them to hire me to sell their incubator in NY. Let’s see if they agree 🙂
Anyway.. back to NANN.
There were several inspirational Keynote Speakers at this year’s conference, along with many other smaller session speakers.
They Keynote Speakers included Joe Tye (Opening General Session: The Florence Prescription for Building a Culture of Ownership); Kelley French (General Session II: Telling Stories in the Dark: The Healing Forces of Attention, Instinct, and Love); Marcus Davey (Bonus General Session: Transforming Care for Extremely Premature Babies) and Pam Spivey (Closing General Session: Joyful Journey: The Life and Times of a Neonatal Nurse).
I truly enjoyed my short time there and I hope to return next year 🙂
Oh.. and here is a quick reminder that November is National Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17th is World Prematurity Day.