MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN)- Experiences in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a difficult experience for many parents.
The CDC reports out of 3.7 million live births annually in the U.S.. about 8.28 percent are born with low birthrates and 10.02 percent of births are preterm. There are also many other reasons a baby might have to spend its first days in the NICU.
“If you do some research on NICU stays and postpartum there [are] a lot of families that their baby might have to have heart surgery or some really scary things,” said Nicole Cooke.
Cooke has experience with this during the birth of her first child, Chloe in July of 2019.
“[Chloe} went in there for possible infection and low temperature. Our first experience as mom and dad was not being able to hold our baby because she was hooked to the monitors and she had an IV in her forehead,” shared Cooke.
Cooke says, despite family support and help from the hospital, they still felt something was missing during the two weeks that Chloe stayed in the hospital.
“We really felt that we were so alone during this time because we had never met anyone who had gone through these things before,” she said.
Now, Cooke is working to provide care packages for other families staying in the NICU to show them support and comfort.
“We started with one basket as soon as we got home from NICU, to a family that we met there. We’re growing bigger and bigger, and we want to be able to give back to those families to know that they have support and that they’re not alone,” she said.
In the baskets are donated items like blankets, socks, lotions, gift cards for gas or food and notes of encouragement.
“…to let them know they’re not alone and to reach out for support,” shared Cooke.
Cooke has also started a Facebook group called Raye of Sunshine which helps keep her connected to the families dealing with NICU stays. This is where she learns what each family needs and works to collect donations. They are hoping to donate 30 packages this year.
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