You probably saw the “big announcement” but to put it sweet and to the point, I’ve added a Mark’s Mission tab to the Homepage! I should also add that I was recently accepted into my top school’s Master of Public Administration program to hopefully someday soon establish Mark’s Mission as a NonProfit Organization (501c3). This is the story of how it all came to be, and what you can do to help give back to our local NICU families!
Link to the Mark’s Mission Tab: Mark’s Mission
Link to make a contribution: Mark’s Mission Amazon Wishlist
Shortly after Mark came home in 2019, I began to think about how to give back to the team that saved my son’s life. I could’ve provided lunch one day, or maybe given gifts to those who cared for Mark on a daily basis (his Primary nurses). I wondered how other families had given back to the NICU and it became a thought filled with memories and flashbacks of our time there.
After a complicated pregnancy and traumatic delivery, Mark spent 115 days in our Hospital’s NICU. For the first 38 days of our NICU journey, I was unable to hold Mark. He was intubated and the oscillator keeping him alive would become deadly if I picked him to hold him the way he needed to be held. There are certain methods of care that promote bonding between mother and child. Some methods promoted bonding through physical contact, scent exchange, and warmth like breastfeeding (my body wouldn’t cooperate), and kangaroo care (I couldn’t do it until he was a month old because of the vent). Then there are other moments of bonding that promote closeness from afar, like reading books to the baby (so they may hear your voice outside of the womb), and scent hearts (the fabric that the mother wears under her clothes and then gives them to the baby. In return, one sits in the incubator for the baby to have across them). The mother and baby exchange these scent hearts to promote bonding and help increase milk supply in the mother.
During our stay, there were many milestones that full-term babies get to experience that many preemie parents do not. The joy of seeing Mark in a onesie was an emotional moment, forever frozen in my mind. It was a moment that made it all feel so “real”. For the longest time, Mark was in only a diaper and in a box. He was a patient, not a baby. It was hard to picture him in clothes, mittens, and a hat. It was a shock to see him in clothes for the very first time. Soon I began to wonder if other parents felt this way- sadness that our normalcy was gone, fear that our chance for bonding was passing by, and shock when we see our child go from diagnosis to patient to person.
During our baby shower, we were grateful to have received a ton of newborn size clothes. Most people expect a healthy, average-sized newborn to come home from the hospital. Some of the newborn clothes from the baby shower were so big that Mark wasn’t able to wear them until he was 9-12 months old. There were very few preemie clothes at the baby shower and we were grateful for the ones we received. We were also fortunate enough to be able to go out and purchase more preemie clothes. However, this required careful planning. Our schedule was jammed packed between NICU, home life, and work. In addition to all the stress and frustration with the daily rollercoaster that was becoming our life, we had to make time and allocate finances to go out and make these purchases, wash them in a non-scented, hypoallergenic detergent, and bring them to the NICU. We also had to take them home to wash and return them too.
Many people may not be aware of the financial burden that comes with traveling to and from the hospital every day, or the costs of eating meals from a drive-thru. Your first thought may not be that they do not have clothes for this child who is much smaller than they planned. There are special bottles and nipples that preemies require. The parents may not be able to hold their child so they rely on reading to promote bonding, and perhaps books are a luxury expense for them.
It is my dream, my goal, my ambition in life to build a Non-Profit Organization called Mark’s Mission. This organization will create programs focused on Maternal and Child health by addressing health disparities and social determinants of health. I hope to provide support and resources for families during their NICU stay and after they are discharged from the hospital.
Since 2019, Mark’s Mission has successfully donated over 300 preemie onesies and sleepers, over 80 board books, and 5 Milestone Journals. We are continuing this tradition and soon it will be an official Non-Profit Organization. We are currently accepting donations of items to help promote bonding and significant moments for families in the NICU. With your kindness and generosity, we hope to surpass last year’s donations and expand our donation locations to other local NICUs.
We are currently asking for donations of the following:
- Preemie onesies (for any gender)
- Preemie sleepers (for any gender)
- Board books (easy for wipe down )
- NICU Milestone Journals (similar to baby books but specific to the NICU)
For ease and your convenience, you may purchase these items here and have them delivered for donation as part of Mark’s Mission.
*Mark’s Mission is not an established 501c3 (YET). Donations and Contributions made are NOT tax deductible*