NICU LOVE: IN-UNIT SUPPORT GROUP
Love for Lily’s facilitated NICU Love group meetings provide safe, welcoming, and regular opportunities for individual and small group connection, building community and easing the loneliness and fear that often accompany a NICU stay. This often unexpected and unfamiliar path for parents quickly brings to the surface difficult emotions and thoughts of uncertainty, failure, shame, and guilt, mixed confusingly with happiness and joy at the arrival of their children. Many people have not been taught how to navigate these experiences, but with the guidance of trained facilitators, the parents attending our group meetings not only gain new skills, but they also learn that they are not alone in their NICU journey.
In addition to our in-unit meetings, NICU mamas and Dads from any hospital looking for a supportive community and collective wisdom can join our private Facebook groups:
UC Health – Anschutz
Avista Adventist (Centura Health)
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s
St. Joseph’s SCL Health
Boulder Community Health
NICU Love support groups offer facilitated conversation, sharing of stories, and collaborative skills building. Three core skills are emphasized: emotional literacy, stress management, and understanding and navigating key relationships with medical staff, family members, and other allies.
The objectives of the NICU Love program are:
- Building community
- Teaching breathing techniques and other coping skills
- Teaching relationship skills and problem-solving strategies
- Processing trauma
- Alleviating isolation and fear
- Assisting families to navigate the medical system
- Providing referrals for families to other specialized services and professionals
LASTING LOVE: POST-NICU MOMS GROUP
Lasting Love is a mothers’ group designed around the needs of mothers and their babies that is open to them for one year after discharge. Weekly group meetings provide information and education on topics relevant to NICU mamas, a welcoming community of kindness, compassion and shared experience, and a safe space to bring immune suppressed infants. It is an inclusive community and is open to all mothers of NICU babies, regardless of the hospital where their child was born or hospitalized, including hospitals not currently served by Love for Lily.
Love For Lily’s NICU Love program addresses the above-listed goals and objectives using the following strategies:
- Visiting contracted hospitals regularly to meet with families new to the NICU.
- Providing weekly in-unit group meetings for parents of NICU babies.
- Collaborating with NICU medical staff to address unmet social and emotional needs of current and future NICU parents.
- Delivering essentials bags of supplies for all families with infants in the NICU of the hospitals where we serve.
- Maintaining regular communication with medical staff and administrators of NICUs.
WEEKLY FACILITATED GROUP MEETINGS
NICU Love’s in-unit support group meets for two hours on one day a week for facilitated conversation, sharing of stories, and collaborative skills building. Three core skills are emphasized: emotional literacy, stress management, and understanding and navigating key relationships with medical staff, family members, and other allies. A trained facilitator leads group discussion where it is most needed in the moment, whether that be with sharing of a birth story and information about a child’s condition, relating difficulties handling strong emotions, asking questions about healthcare issues and treatments, sharing experiences or asking for advice in meeting financial challenges or relationship problems, learning to advocate for themselves and their children, or getting help accessing mental health and non-medical professional resources. As needed, the facilitator leads brainstorming and problem-solving sessions, connect parents to other professionals, and bring in experts to provide information and strategies around specific issues facing those parents.
Weekly meetings alternate between a mothers-only group and a family group. Alternating meetings this way allows the groups to provide appropriate support where it is needed most. Research shows that mothers bond differently without their partners present and are able to express more fully how they are feeling. But it is also important that the whole family is thriving in-unit, so on alternate weeks the group meetings are open to all parents.
LOVE CAMDEN & FREINDS
This Love For Lily group offers bereavement and grief support, love, and guidance to families whose lives are forever changed by the loss of a baby. Created by parents who have lost infants of their own, the group provides resources to help families as they navigate their loss, including immediate support such as information on how to tell your family, advice for how to plan a memorial, and the stories of those who have come before. Together with the company JellyCats, the program gifts each family with a stuffed animal, precisely weighted to match the birth weight of their babies, providing a tiny comfort for parents’ empty arms. For families with living siblings, a matching “lovie” is gifted, offering connection and comfort for even the smallest members of the family.
Love For Lily’s goals in all of our programming are:
- To provide social, emotional, and logistical support to families with children who have been hospitalized in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of area hospitals.
- To provide non-medical services that aim to connect parents to other NICU families and to community resources that may reduce the incidence of postpartum mood disorders in this population of parents.
- To educate and empower the families of NICU infants to take a more proactive and involved role in the care of their children while in the NICU in order to help alleviate feelings of helplessness and fear and to strengthen bonds between babies and parents.
- To connect all families served with available and appropriate therapeutic and community resources as needed.
Love for Lily provides one-time grants of monetary assistance to insured families of children who spend four weeks or longer in the NICU. The grant program seeks to ease some of the burden of medical debt on these families and support them in receiving therapies, services, or modalities after discharge that contribute to the health and well-being of their children.
Essentials Bags are given to every family expecting a two week or longer stay in the NICU at hospitals where Love for Lily serves. These bags include basics like a toothbrush and face wash, things that can make a world of difference after a long night or many long nights. The bags also contain a journal for parents to record memories and thoughts or for nursing staff to capture precious moments that happen while mom and dad are away. We include other donated items that bring comfort, supporting the well-being of parent and child.