Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

NICU dad x 2 – the story of Jack and Josie

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Kyle Daddio and son JackIf there is one father who can talk about being a NICU dad, it is Kyle Daddio.Kyle Daddio and daughter Josephine

His son, Jack, was born at 26 weeks, more than 3 months prematurely. His daughter Josephine “Josie” came along three years later, born at 26 weeks as well. Both babies weighed one and a half pounds at birth.

Jack spent 121 days in the NICU, while Josie clocked in at 91 days.

Fortunately, Jack is doing well now, and Josie has recently gone home from the NICU to join the family.

In honor of Father’s Day, we asked Kyle to share his feelings about being a NICU dad, and to offer tips to new dads going through a similar experience.

What was the hardest moment you experienced in the NICU? 

February 13th, 2014, when our son Jack was 7 weeks old. It was the worst day of my life. It was a Thursday and, like I had been doing every day, came into the NICU early in the morning before work to read the newspaper with Jack while he was in his isolette. On Monday evening of that week Jack’s nurse had noticed that his belly started to become distended and was concerned. They began pumping him with antibiotics, running tests and getting x-rays.

The result was that he had Necrotizing Enterocolitis, NEC, which is an infection in the bowels. By Thursday morning his condition had not improved and the NICU staff was doing everything they could not to have to perform surgery. On that Thursday morning while I was reading the paper with Jack, he flat-lined. I was rushed out of the room while all the nurses and doctors ran in. His stomach was so distended that his lungs did not have enough room to fully expand, and it eventually became too difficult for him to breathe even on a ventilator. I was let back in the room about 30 minutes later to see Jack on an oscillator. I called my wife Katie to come down to the hospital and the doctors notified us that surgery was now more possible.

When he flat-lined again at 2pm, surgery was now necessary and the surgeon came in to speak with us. He notified us that given Jack’s small size (2/1/2 lbs) they were unable to know exactly how severe the infection was, and that this type of surgery at his size, given his current condition, had a success rate of less than 50%. A nurse then approached Katie and I with some holy water and said “I read on your form that you’re Catholic. You should baptize your son now.” We baptized him, and then followed the nurses and doctors as they wheeled Jack into the operating wing.

In the hall approaching the OR, Jack flat-lined for a third time. They resuscitated him and brought him into the OR for surgery. At that point we had no idea what was going to happen. We went back down to the NICU family room and sat silently waiting for a report from the OR. Many of the NICU nurses came and sat with us during that time, which was an incredible gesture. After nearly 2 hours, a call came down from the OR that the surgery was successful and Jack would be back down to the NICU for recovery in an hour or so. They removed his sigmoid colon and gave him a colostomy bag. The surgeon later told us that from a surgical standpoint it was a very good situation. The infection was focused on a small area that could easily be removed and should not have long standing effects on Jack’s GI tract. He is now a happy and healthy 3 1/2 year old and has had no resulting issues.

As a father and husband, how did you take care of yourself as you were taking care of your family throughout this difficult period?

My one advice I always tell other dads is you have to cry. You have to process your emotions at some point otherwise you will never get through it. For me, it was most mornings in the shower. On the nights that we actually slept, I would wake up in the morning and think “how am I going to get through another day of this. This isn’t how it was supposed to go.” Once those emotions hit you, you can’t push them down, you have to let them out, otherwise you’re not helping yourself and its going to begin to affect those around you.

The second thing you should do is use your support system. We were lucky enough to have our family near when Jack was born in NY, and they were absolutely amazing. When Josie was born in Colorado, family began jumping on flights the second they got the news. My father arrived the day before we delivered and my mom and brother arrived the day she was born. They made sure we had nothing to worry about other than being at the NICU with our kids, and they were very good about taking us out to get our mind off of everything. Taking us out for dinner, taking us to the movies, anything to step away from everything for a few hours.

Any tips for new NICU dads on how to support your wife or partner during this process?

My wife takes care of everything in the house, so anything I could do to shorten that list was help to her. With our son Jack, he was born while we were visiting our family in NY, so we were living at my aunt and uncle’s house for the nearly 5 months while he was in the NICU. It was an incredible gesture for them to have us but it wasn’t home. So I traveled back to Chicago to get some items that would help with our everyday lives.

With our second trip to the NICU with Josie, we had our 3 year old son Jack at home, so spending time with him so that Katie could be at the hospital with Josie was my main focus. Jack had school every day and therapy in the afternoon 2 days a week, and I was lucky enough to be able to work from home for the first 2 months of Josie’s NICU stay and help with Jack.

The most important focus for me was to make sure that Katie was getting as much time as she needed with our baby at the hospital.

What’s some advice you wish you’d had when your baby was born prematurely?

Knowing the possibilities. What are the chances that our child could be born prematurely? Why could they be born prematurely? If they’re born prematurely, what are the risks and things that can happen in week 1, week 2, etc.? We had no knowledge of anything dealing with prematurity. We had never been introduced to the March of Dimes or knew anything they did with prematurity research. It wasn’t on our radar and so we never thought about it. Our doctors never spoke about it and we never thought we were at risk so why would it ever happen to us? We joke now that after 212 days in the NICU between our two kids that we have a full year of nursing school under our belts. I have learned things and seen things that I would never have thought of prior to this experience.

We want to thank Kyle for sharing his story and giving his advice. We wish him, other NICU dads, and all fathers, a wonderful Father’s Day.

Please feel free to send a message to Kyle and his family or to share your NICU story with us.

A message from one NICU dad to another

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Special thanks to Jeff Bradbury, father of triplets born prematurely, for being our Father’s Day guest blogger.

Bradbury Family_rtcrTo All NICU Fathers on this very special day

Congratulations everyone. Happy Father’s Day. It’s still very unusual to say that phrase and remember that I am now included in the very special and very important group of people known as “Dad.” My father’s day like many of yours came early. Three and a half months early to be exact. I was told that my first father’s day would be in February and unexpectedly, it happened in early November. I actually celebrated my first Father’s Day 3 times with the arrival of my wonderful set of Triplets.

For three long months, my babies, otherwise known to the world as the @EduTriplets grew up in not one, but two NICU’s more than three hours apart from each other. If you are a father with one or more precious babies currently in the NICU I have three very important pieces of information for you.

TRUST

Trust in your NICU staff. Trust in your relationships with your family. Trust in your ability to keep your sanity while you are trying not to break out in tears every time the NICU door closes behind you as you leave to go back home. Trust that everything will be ok.

PREPARE

While nothing can fully prepare you for the moment your babies arrive, the fact that your babies arrive much earlier than expected completely throws your schedule off. For three months, both my wife and I had to work full time jobs, and also choose which NICU to visit at night. I remember leaving two of our babies one night and then driving to the local Babies R Us only to load up our brand new van (Triplet Mobile) with over $3,000 worth baby goods. Take the time to process everything while your baby is receiving the care they need by the amazing members of your NICU staff. When the day actually does come when you are allowed to bring your baby home, you won’t have the time to do the things you want to.

BE CREATIVE

I remember being shocked at the fact that my triplets were born in the middle of the second trimester. I remember being overwhelmed because they were not only living in separate hospitals, but separate states. I remember needing to vent but not knowing exactly what to do or where to do it. I decided to vent to my podcasting audience. I decided that when I was completely worn out from the heavy stress of the situation, the only thing I would be able to do is be creative. I know it’s hard to even imagine, but everyone needs to recharge their batteries in times of stress.

This year, I will be celebrating my 3rd Father’s Day. For the first time, my babies will be able to actually say the words “Happy Father’s Day.” I am very much looking forward to hearing it. I wish all fathers out there a very special Happy Father’s Day. You all deserve a gold star this year.Gold star

Jeffrey Bradbury is the father of the @EduTriplets who are now 31 months of age. He is the Coordinator of Technology Integration for Westwood Regional School District in New Jersey and the founder of the TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting Network. Find Jeff on Twitter @JeffBradbury and listen to his fabulous TED Talk! 

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

This post is dedicated to all dads, in honor of Father’s Day.

kangaroo-care-dadFatherhood is not supposed to start in a NICU.

When the birth of your baby is unexpectedly early or if your child has medical issues, you may find yourself coping with the stress of having your baby in the hospital. The anxiety and fear about your baby’s special health care needs can be overwhelming. Add to that the emotions your partner may be experiencing, coordinating work, NICU visits, and possibly other children, and you have one difficult situation.

But, a NICU dad is strong and resilient.

He spends time in the NICU holding his baby skin to skin (kangaroo care). He sings and talks to his baby.

He asks questions and makes decisions about his baby’s medical care.Parents in NICU w baby R

He is reassuring and comforting to the mother of his child, as she physically and emotionally heals from pregnancy and childbirth, and copes with fluctuating hormones.

A NICU dad runs pumped breastmilk to the freezer, washes bottles and encourages mom to pump if she can.

If there are other children at home, dad becomes the coordinator of the home front. He makes lunches, runs kids to school, helps with homework, and reassures the children that mom will be home soon. Dad takes care of pets, cleans, grocery shops and hopefully delegates tasks to family members and friends to help out.

Through it all, it can be hard for a dad to take care of himself. He needs sleep, good food and breaks to exercise and relax. It’s important that he takes the time to re-fuel so that he can be the best champion for his baby that he can be. Relying on friends and family to help may not come naturally at first, but a NICU dad soon learns that it takes an army to get everything done.

Although becdad-with-preemie2oming a dad in the NICU was not the original plan, every path to fatherhood is unique. It has its own rewards and lessons. March of Dimes recognizes every dad’s efforts and dedication. We know that every dad is making a difference in his baby’s life. Dads are important, appreciated and very much loved!

Do you have a NICU dad you’d like to honor? Please share your story with us.

 

We’re born to appreciate parents!

Friday, May 31st, 2013

boc-fathers-day-55-1134-vert1The March of Dimes imbornto campaign is intended to engage with parents around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day since our quest for “stronger, healthier babies” truly begins with the most important people in babies’ lives – parents! Through our history, our support of parents has been an understated but crucial aspect of addressing the medical and public health problems that have been the focus of our mission. Only a parent can measure most profoundly the personal effects of illness and disability on a child. Our emphasis today on healthy pregnancy and healthy babies implicitly involves parents in our most important objectives. After all, this concern is at the basis of providing “News Moms Need.”

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are special occasions to honor one’s parents. In the 1950s the March of Dimes recognized Mother’s Day by selecting an annual “Polio Mother of the Year.” But the hoopla surrounding such publicity skirts the momentous fact that the conquest of polio was achieved by millions of women (and men) who joined “Mothers March,” the most successful fund-raiser of those years. “Mothers March on Polio” soon became “Mothers March on Birth Defects,” and the volunteer moms and dads behind these efforts were as much responsible for improving children’s health as the creators of vaccines and the leaders in perinatal breakthroughs. This is but one reason why we laud the contributions of mothers and fathers today.

From Virginia Apgar’s 1972 book of advice to new parents, Is My Baby All Right?, to our decades-long involvement in supporting families undergoing the traumatic experience of a NICU hospitalization, the March of Dimes has appreciated the role of parents in children’s health. Our current push for creating transdisciplinary centers for research on premature birth runs parallel to our propensity for collaboration and team-building, and the role of parents in these endeavors is just as fundamental to the overarching social goals of improving children’s health.

In 1955, the National Father’s Day Committee selected March of Dimes President Basil O’Connor as “Father of the Year.” In the wake of the success of the polio vaccine created with March of Dimes funds by Dr. Jonas Salk, his selection may seem to us all-too-obvious in retrospect. His daughters, Sheelagh O’Connor and Bettyann Culver, attended a recognition luncheon, and the requisite photographs were taken. Among the many letters of congratulations that O’Connor received, one close business contact wrote, “You are a good father, and you are an exceptionally good citizen and good friend.” It is in this spirit of warm appreciation that the March of Dimes pays tribute to mothers and fathers. Hats off to all moms and dads!

Every baby is born to…

Friday, May 11th, 2012

imbornto  is a new national campaign that benefits March of Dimes. It taps into our collective hopes, dreams and aspirations that we have for our babies and ourselves. The campaign illustrates that every baby is born to do something great, and no matter what you were born to do (dance, cook, build, create, fly!), March of Dimes helped you get there.

The imbornto campaign has two major goals: (1) to increase awareness of the mission of the March of Dimes and to teach people how March of Dimes has had an influence on everyone’s life and (2) to raise money for the organization’s vital research and programs. Take a look at what we want people to know.

The campaign will run every year from just before Mother’s Day through Father’s Day.

Individuals can support March of Dimes and the imbornto campaign by shopping, dining or donating at locations where they see the March of Dimes imbornto logo. Information about the companies supporting the campaign can be found at www.imbornto.com. Additionally, donations can be made through that site or via www.marchofdimes.org.

Becoming a brand new dad

Friday, June 18th, 2010

first-fathers-day1Today’s guest post is from a friend and colleague in our IT department who just became a dad last month.  Happy Father’s Day!

So, fatherhood…

I’d certainly been told what to expect, of course, from sources far and wide.  I’d come to the conclusion that anyone who ever said they were ready to become parents for the first time was, frankly, full of it, and that a state of mild panic was perfectly appropriate.  So for a span of about six months I proceeded to quietly panic.  Painting the nursery with a faint sense of dread.  Buying a crib set while chewing off my fingernails.  It all came down to maintaining a calm exterior while my insides were slowly spinning down into themselves like a sink with a slow drain.

All of this lasted right up until it was, for a lack of a better term, go time.

I have to admit that working for March of Dimes was a blessing and a bit unnerving at the same time.  My wife was in a higher risk category for complications during pregnancy due to a thyroid condition and the fact that she had gone through IVF in order to conceive.  I knew all about vitamins, folic acid, proper prenatal checkups, all of these things that form so much of our core message, but I also knew full well everything that could go wrong.

I’m a worrier by nature.  As we went to our regular checkups everything was fine, which helped a little.  My wife was of course taking everything in stride, as she usually does.  I found new worries to dwell on as the medical situation looked better and better – was I going to be a good father?  How are we going to pay for college when credit hours will be six million dollars each by 2030?  Is she going to have to come home on weekends to reset my trans-dimensional flux conditioner so it stops blinking “12:00” all the time?!

But the months passed and I actually found myself growing calmer and more focused on the things that needed to be done.  I picked up the necessary supplies, we made all our arrangements to have my family fly in around the due date, got the nursery prepped and ready.  And we made it to the due date without any problems.

And then she was here, and wow.  I’m not going to bother with all the clichés about the beauty of birth and all that, because I’m squeamish when it comes to blood.  But once they had checked her out and everything looked good, I had a moment of real relief.  We’d made it this far, and we had a healthy, screaming 7 pound 11 ounce daughter. 

Since that point, it has been a little strange getting used to the overall mechanics of fatherhood.  Diapers seem to be solely my department.  She is endlessly fascinated by her own feet.  Well let’s be fair, I find her feet pretty fascinating too.  Learning how to properly feed has been interesting, and I’m not sure my Led Zeppelin shirt will ever be the same again.  I’ve also learned that that first cry is practically an air-raid siren telling you that you need to get that bottle warming, and get it warming NOW.  Otherwise those cries will escalate to the point where her legs are shaking and she sounds like an upset donkey.  And heaven help you if THAT happens.

But when I hold her, all of the little worries just go away.  She makes funny faces, she grabs my beard, squeezes a finger and it’s all worthwhile.  Snuggle time has become the best part of my day, and I expect it will be for a very, very long time.

Let’s keep Dad around

Monday, June 14th, 2010

father-and-sonMonday usually is Mom day at NMN, but today, it’s all about Dads.  This is National Men’s Health Week.  These guys do a lot for the kids, the family, the home and deserve a little attention. 

My own father died a number of years ago, but he left me with lots of fond memories.  I’m lucky that my husband is a Mr. Fixit and he can repair just about anything in my house.  Picking up his socks or magazines – not so much.  When life seems like unbridled chaos, he somehow manages to help me find a calm space in the storm.  When the kids were growing up, he made hilarious and quite inventive Halloween costumes for them. He went to parent teacher conferences.  He held their hands when they were sick – he has held my hand, too, when I was very sick.  He is out of town this week and I miss him.  Don’t get me wrong, I love eating cereal for dinner and watching “chick flicks” until the wee hours, but he adds a great deal to my life, our lives, and I sometimes notice it most when he’s not here. I want to help keep him healthy so he’ll be around for many more years to come.

I recently found this great website for men’s health by the CDC.   It lists all kinds of things boys and men need to consider to stay healthy.  Check it out… and have a great Father’s Day this weekend.

2009 National Ambassador Dad

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Michael and Katelyn HallHi, I’m Michael Hall, father of the 2009 March of Dimes National Ambassador Katelyn Hall.  Being the father of a micro preemie is very difficult. Katelyn was brought into this world so tiny and early. She weighed less than 1 pound. Our family had many long nights in the hospital and often wondered if this small package had enough strength to fight through the infections that were thrown to her so early in life.  We spent these long nights wondering what we could do to help our child with no final answer. Our answer did come when we found out that because of life-saving research funded by the March of Dimes, Katelyn survived.  Katelyn is now 5 years old and inspires me and my wife Ashley every day. Katelyn is the absolute joy of our lives. Every day she improves and always has a smile on her face. This is my 5th Father’s Day with Katelyn, and I feel blessed.  She was only given a 5% chance to survive and she defied all the odds.  Every day is Father’s Day to me based on her very tough start in life.  I can not thank the March of Dimes and all of the supporters enough for what they did and what they are doing to save babies.  Please keep up the hard work even during these hard times so that every baby can be born healthy. The March of Dimes offers information and support especially for dads. You can read all about it in the Just for Dads section of their website. Dads can also blog about their experiences and connect with other dads on Share Your Story. Happy Father’s Day!

Guest Post: Growing Into “Dad”

Friday, June 19th, 2009

james-soohoo-and-babyMy name is James and I am the host of the March of Dimes community for NICU parents (www.share.marchofdimes.org).

In honor of Father’s Day, I have a confession. Very few people know this, but I didn’t have that BIG moment when my son took his first breaths. The nurse whisked him away quickly to clean him up. When she was done, she tried to hand him to me and I backed up a little and said “no thank you.”

Later that night when my wife finally had her room, they wheeled his little…well, I’m not sure what it was (it looked a little like a hamster cage) over to us. She picked him up and held him. It was probably a beautiful moment that I wasn’t paying attention to. Instead I looked at my watch, wondering how to gauge the appropriate length of time I needed to stay in the room without calling attention to myself. I figured 20 minutes. I lasted 17.

The next day wasn’t much better. I could have been back at the hospital by 8:30 am. I was up and ready to go, but managed to find things to do at home. I arrived at 2pm and that was because my mother-in-law doesn’t have a car and needed me to drive.

When I got there, I was terrified and ambivalent. I knew my life had changed. “Dad” was a word that I didn’t know how to wear. It was like trying on my father’s clothing. Not only that, but it was clothing that was too big for me.

I would like to, of course, report that when I did finally walk through the doorway…that it was instantly better. It would get much better as the days passed and I can say that I absolutely adore my sons and love being a father and wouldn’t go back for all of the money in the world.

That day…well, my wife handed him to me and I instantly felt weak and needed to sit. My brother took a quick picture and I briefly managed a half smile but what I was thinking was “what is the appropriate length of time I need to sit here, holding him, without causing attention to myself.” I lasted 45 seconds.

Dads-to-be gaining pregnancy weight, too?

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

dad-and-bellyWhen I first moved in with my husband years ago, I began to notice that my clothes were feeling a little tighter and I was jiggling in places that I hadn’t really jiggled before. I was happy to be living with the man I loved, but the weight I gained was a little too much to be “happy” pounds. I quickly realized that being around him and his cheeseburger-and-french-fries and kung-pow-chicken take out dinner orders weren’t helping me to keep a healthy diet. And it was hard to be satisfied with a grilled chicken salad when a juicy New York Strip steak was staring at me from across the table. Since then, I’ve managed to introduce new healthy foods in both of our diets. But the experience made me wonder: how much does one partner’s eating habits affect the other’s?

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times Motherload blog mentioned a British poll that found some men in Britain gain an average of about 14 pounds during their partner’s pregnancy. The respondents attributed the weight gain to a number of reasons: 1) eating out more often; 2) more “pregnancy” snacks around the house; and 3) eating more food and in larger portions so mommy-to-be won’t feel so bad for eating a big meal. Pretty interesting, right?

Pregnancy weight gain is just one of the sympathy pains I’ve heard that some fathers-to-be can experience. Alongside pregnant moms, some dads may also experience nausea, back pain, fatigue and food cravings.

Mommies, did your partner experience sympathy pains during your pregnancy? Daddies, what “pregnancy pains” did you find yourself having?