A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the 2024 NICU Parent Network Leadership Summit. This summit is particularly meaningful to me, as I am a member of their Board of Directors. But honestly, the most special part about going to this summit each year is the feeling that I am coming home.
Our members have all experienced either pregnancy loss, infant loss or had a baby that spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Some experienced two or all of these difficult situations, allowing our group the ability to connect to one another on a unique level as we discuss initiatives, policies, practices and advocacy efforts designed to improve the lives of NICU babies and parents across the country.
The NICU Parent Network is the premier US-based professional organization of NICU parent leaders who collectively represent the needs and best interests of NICU families. Together, we envision a world where every NICU family is an essential and integral member of their baby’s care team.
Unfortunately I had to miss the first few hours of our summit because I am a science teacher during the day, and did not want to miss a full day of classes this early in the school year- but I did arrive in Louisville, KY just in time for the networking reception and awards dinner.
You can view the entire agenda by clicking HERE. You can view the general summit website by clicking HERE. This will allow you to view the impressive itinerary, presentation summaries and speaker biographies.
One aspect of our summit that stands out as a testament to our connection to our members is the creation of our Wellness Room. This is a room filled with scents of essential oils, where relaxing music is playing and comfortable seats are available for those who need to take a break from the presentations, and for those who need time to collect their thoughts or take time for reflection. We also have a trained peer mentor available to meet with any attendees who may be experiencing distress or dysregulation caused by the nature of some of our discussions. Some of our presentations discuss birth trauma, NICU trauma, family difficulties, parenting struggles, medical procedures, self-care (or lack of) and all of the lived experiences and consequences of associated with a stillbirth, death of a child, birth of a premature or medically fragile baby, and life it has created for us.
All of this being said, we also had many uplifting presentations that always give our members the strength and motivation to continue to serve the NICU community, and we manage to have a great deal of fun together, too!
I recently read that the average person will read an email for just 9 seconds before moving on to something else unless they are required to continue on, so I will keep this short and sweet even though this is not just a typical email- and I will allow you to see just how special our summit is through the photos below. Enjoy 🙂
My cup is full.
Thank you to the sponsors who made our conference not only possible, but a success. The NICU Parent Network is lucky to have the support of Chiesi, Dr. Browns, Project NICU, Prolacta Bioscience, Sanofi and Sobi. Another showing of gratitude goes to NPN’s Executive Director Keira Sorrells and the Summit Planning Committee, for putting together a perfectly organized and rewarding event. And last, a special thanks to our event photographer, Fusion Photography, who took over 500 photos, including several of the photos I included in this post.
And please remember that this month is National Prematurity Awareness Month, with November 17th being World Prematurity Day. This is a big deal in our home, so be on the lookout on our social media for all things PURPLE, to show our support and spread awareness for all premature babies and their families. Please share these with your own circles so that we have a larger reach.
And last, tune in on November 15th, between 4:00 and 4:15 pm (Eastern Time) to hear me speak live from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital on the radio, on 100.7 WHUD. I am honored to share the circumstances surrounding my high-risk pregnancy and our premature birth journey and NICU stay with listeners with hopes that it spreads awareness and that those able will donate to the hospital that saved our lives, so that they can continue to provide the resources needed to save more lives.
X(Twitter) : twitter.com/JenniferDegl
Thank you for your support 🙂