Approximately 78 out of every 1000 babies born in the U.S. yearly require a stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Bonsie Skin to Skin Babywear would like to sing the praises and share the story behind one special organization who supports NICU families and NICU medical professionals. Just reading about each of their team members will fill you with awe and admiration at the trials each mom has faced, their bravery, and the countless ways they lift up other NICU moms. Dear NICU Mama was created by two NICU mothers as a way to connect with other NICU moms, offer assistance, and celebrate each unique journey.
We spoke with Ashley Ham, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Dear NICU Mama, about the creation of this remarkable movement.
“In 2019, my son Silas was born prematurely at 28 weeks and had a subsequent NICU stay of 87 days. There, I found myself sitting alone in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) 300 miles away from home watching my premature baby fight for his life through the walls of an incubator. It wasn’t long before I began to feel the pangs of isolation, trauma, and loneliness that so many NICU mothers do. Martha (another NICU mama) reached out to me via social media and soon after we met for coffee. We were both struck by our instant bond, how we immediately felt less alone. It was then that we realized the need for sisterhood and community among women who understand the unique motherhood journey in the NICU.
Soon after, we created Dear NICU Mama, a movement dedicated to pulling mothers out of isolation and into community. We provide unlimited online support and advocacy resources through our website and social media pages, including our private Facebook support group and the Dear NICU Mama Podcast, which features stories of encouragement from NICU Mamas from around the country.
Additionally, we hold events ranging from guided-meditations to our annual conference event which features keynote speakers talking about maternal mental health after the NICU. Last year our annual event featured 100 women from 32 different states and 4 different countries. During the pandemic we launched our “Girls Night Out” virtual events, which are monthly support groups to touch base and connect with moms from all walks of life.
Finally, we work with over 100 medical centers across the country for our Hospital Outreach Program. While COVID-19 has changed the nature of our work with hospitals, we’ve continued to grow our relationships with NICUs across the country. We provide free print materials, welcome cards, and Hospital Support Kits to hospitals to help connect mothers with our resources. We want to bridge the gap for moms when they come home from the NICU so they know they are not alone!
Thank you to Ashley and the rest of the Dear NICU Mama team for the incredible work you do!