Did you know that September is NICU Awareness Month? Project Sweet Peas is dedicated to helping parents with babies in the NICU with care packages, educational information, and more. With locations around the country, Project Sweet Peas supports nurses and families to ensure that every baby is valued and receives the best care. Learn more about their work here!
What inspired you to start Project Sweet Peas?
My first son, Gabriel, was born full-term with a rare birth defect that gave him a 50% chance of survival. We were unaware of his birth defect until after he was born, and very unprepared for an extended hospital stay. He spent his entire short life of 55 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which was terrifying and very traumatic. After he passed, I started connecting with other families who had gone through a similar experience. When sharing our stories, we talked about the things we wish we had known, and what would have made our experience a little easier. With those conversations we found a need to give back to those who would come after us, to provide support and let them know they are not alone. From that need, Project Sweet Peas was born.
Can you tell me about Family-Centered Care for those who aren’t familiar with the NICU?
Family-centered care is an approach that recognizes parents and care-givers as important members of their baby's healthcare team and actively encourages the family to participate in both care and decision-making. Family-centered care has been proven to lead to better health outcomes, shorter lengths of stay, and improved family and staff experiences. Families are not just visitors to the NICU, they are an essential part of the healthcare team.
What kind of support do you provide to families?
Our programs support and empower families through NICU care packages, remembrance memory boxes, in-hospital NICU events, peer-to-peer support, NICU family financial aid, remembrance vigils, and educational materials.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love interacting with NICU and bereaved families and being able to provide direct support. My absolute favorite part of the job is connecting with families that we worked with months (and sometimes years) after they have left the NICU, and hearing about how their little one is doing. These tiny NICU warriors are incredible and able to overcome so much, it is truly inspiring. Knowing that we made their family's NICU experience a little bit easier, keeps me pushing forward.