Kathryn Whitaker (37)
Lead PreemieBabies101 Blogger - Kathryn Whitaker (TX) is the mother of six (including two 36-week preemies). Her fifth child was diagnosed with IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), born at 3lbs. 9oz. and then developed a severe surgical case of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). He has various medical needs as a direct, and indirect, result. On her personal blog, Team Whitaker, she writes about what she knows: big families, carpool, kids activities, faith, her beloved Aggies, specialist appointments and sanity checks with her husband. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest or contact her via email.
Kelli Kelley (25)
Founder, Hand to Hold - Kelli D. Kelley (TX) is the mother of two preemies – Jackson born at 24 weeks in 2000 and Lauren born at 34 weeks in 2003. She is the founder of Hand to Hold, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated providing support and navigation resources to families who had a preemie, who had a child in the NICU or with a special healthcare need, or who experienced loss. She has experienced the emotional fallout and isolation that having preemies often causes. As a direct result, Kelli has dedicated her life to offering hope and sanctuary to all parents who have had similar journeys. Contact her via email.
Kayla Aimee (3)
Kayla Aimee (TN) is the parent of a micropreemie Scarlette who was born at 25 weeks gestation at just 1lb 8.6 ozs. She was born in November 2010, and returned home the following April. All told, she spent 156 days in the NICU. Kayla Aimee is a stay-at-home mom during the day and blogs and scrapbooks in the evenings. Follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
Marty Barnes (8)
Marty Barnes (TX) is mother to Casey, a preemie born at 36 weeks. Casey suffered trauma during delivery which resulted in brain damage, and she has multiple medical needs as a result, including a life-sustaining feeding tube. Marty established the CLU Campaign, a grassroots inclusion project, along with her daughter’s site which chronicles their journey. Marty is an active community volunteer and currently gives her time to Hand to Hold, Mommies of Miracles, and Texas Parent to Parent.
Jennifer Beatty (7)
Jennifer Beatty (TX) is the mother of two active boys born early and a social worker employed by Hand to Hold. With her first son, she delivered at 36 weeks and experienced a brief overnight stay in the NICU for blood sugar issues. After fertility issues with her second pregnancy, Jennifer was devastated to have an emergency delivery at 30 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia. Though her younger son only weighed 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth, he came home after 45 days in the NICU at just over 5 pounds and is a strong and healthy preschooler.
Joel Brens (13)
As a father, Joel Brens (IL) wants to dispel the idea that dads can't be scared or emotional beings. His wife gave birth to their son via emergency c-section due to complications from diastolic umbilical artery flow at just under 33 weeks. Their son was born in May 2010 at 3lbs. 6oz. and spent 25 days in the NICU while his lungs developed and he learned to eat. Presently, he is undergoing evaluation for developmental and speech therapy but otherwise doing well. Community and support have been essential to Joel and his wife. You can connect with Joel on his Facebook page, via email or on his blog, Papas of Preemies.
Gena Brens (2)
Gena Brens (IL) is mom to Jayden, married to her best friend Joel, and a full-time office manager. Sometimes it is challenging balancing those roles, but she wouldn't change it for anything in the world. Jayden was born early due to preeclampsia, they just weren't anticipating a 32w6d delivery and a 25-day NICU stay. Even though his complications were few, it was still a trying time. Since having Jayden home and seeing him develop along the way, Gena knows the importance of having a support group, even after the NICU. Gena formerly moderated Life after NICU, an online parent support forum now moderated by Hand to Hold. Get in touch with Gena.
Kelly Brinegar (4)
A co-founder of Life After NICU, Kelly Brinegar is married to Tom. Their youngest daughter, Teagan, was born at 31w3d in June 2010. Their oldest daughter, Savanah, attends Goshen College, and they have a son in-law, Randy. She is a full-time mom, part-time staff member at SPOT 4 Kids, and a Senior Consultant with Thirty-One Gifts. Besides serving as a NICU parent support volunteer, Kelly is also active with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Autism Speaks. Send Kelly an email.
Amy Carr (22)
Amy Carr (TX) is a parent of a late-term preemie, Ella, born at 35 weeks. After an uneventful pregnancy, Ella's early birth and the complications that followed were a shock. Now in elementary school, her daughter is doing well and Amy enjoys using her marketing acumen on behalf of Hand to Hold, a cause she holds dear to her heart. You can find Amy twittering on behalf of Hand to Hold or send her an email.
Chris Cavazos (8)
Chris Cavazos (TX) is the father of three. His youngest son, Jaxon, was born at 23 weeks weighing 1lb. 4oz. and endured numerous procedures and various conditions: PDA ligation, NEC, ROP, GERD, a long time on the vent, chylothorax and seven surgeries. He spent 192 days in the NICU. As a father, Chris felt helpless. Throughout the NICU stay, he learned how to cope with the situation and make his son’s and family’s environment as positive as possible. Chris wants to share his experiences with other fathers so they know it is okay to have emotions and to let them know they are not alone.
Franchesca Cox (6)
Franchesca Cox (TX) is a wife, mom, writer, artist. She also gave birth to three beautiful babies, all premature. She founded Still Standing Magazine in May of 2012 as a tribute to her first daughter, who passed away after 13 days in the NICU. The magazine focuses on inspiring healing and community among bereaved parents. You can find her on facebook and her blog.
Dani Curliss (10)
Dani Curliss (TX) is the mother of two, Kylie and Austin. Kylie was born 10 weeks early, weighing 2lbs. 10oz., and Austin was born at 37 weeks. Both babies were born early due to preeclampsia. Kylie is now three and has no lasting complications from her prematurity. Dani and her husband have made their life mission to raise awareness of prematurity and preeclampsia and she shared Kylie's NICU journey on her personal blog. She learned a wealth of information during their six-week NICU stay, and finds healing from their experience by helping and encouraging others with their story. You can find Dani on Pinterest, or email her at email@example.com.
Alison Epps (4)
Alison (TX) has one child, James. He was delivered by emergency c-section at 22 weeks 6 days gestation, he weighed 15oz. and was 10 ½ inches long. He endured a 160-day NICU stay with 4 surgeries and multiple complications. He is now an active 2 ½ year old who recently spent 6 weeks in the hospital with RSV and pneumonia. Due to his prolonged hospital stay Alison resigned her position with ECI and is now a full-time stay at home mom. You may connect with her via Facebook at 22w6d, her personal blog, www.22w6d.com, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. She hopes to encourage change in hospital policy so babies born at less than 23 weeks gestation will be given a chance at life.
Lindsay Franks (2)
Lindsay Franks (NC) is the mother to Pierce, a 23 week preemie. Despite the odds, Pierce overcame a 4.5 month NICU stay. Today he is a healthy and thriving toddler. Pierce works hard in daily therapy, but has already come so far. Lindsay blogs about her family on her Little Baby Pierce. In addition, she founded and runs Pierce's Project, a non-profit that supports families of micropreemies in the Charlotte, NC area. You can find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
Stephanie Goley (8)
Stephanie Goley (MA) is the mother of three, full-time stay-at-home mom, part-time educator and military spouse. Her oldest child, Kai (6) was born full-term, but experienced birth trauma causing significant brain damage. He spent 17 days in the NICU and is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, dystonia, cortical visual impairment and seizure disorder. He is non-verbal and non-ambulatory, relying on others for all his basic needs. Stephanie is interested in fitness and having fun adventures with her family. She is passionate about creating the best life possible for her son and seeking out alternative therapies to help develop his potential. You can find her on Facebook and her personal blog about Kai, written from his perspective.
Erika Goyer (2)
Erika Goyer (TX) is the parent of three sons. Her first son, Carrick Michael, was born in 1990 at 27 weeks gestation and weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces. He died soon after his birth due to complications, including Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN). Erika went on to have two more high-risk pregnancies and two healthy sons. Her oldest son experienced developmental delays. He was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and has special health and educational needs. Erika is a family support navigator and program director for Hand to Hold where she shares her passion for helping parents gather the skills they need to be both nurturing caregivers and powerful advocates for their children.
Melissa Haber (9)
Melissa Haber (NY) is mother to Daphne, a surviving identical twin who was born at 27 weeks 4 days, moments after sister Leah passed away. Daphne was in the NICU for five long months, and had open-heart surgery to repair a congenital heart defect when she was six months old. At three years old, she continues to battle kidney disease and other delays related to her prematurity. Daphne is proud to have the greatest big sister in the world, six-year-old Lucy. The family lives outside of New York City. Melissa blogs regularly about life with a former micropreemie, parenting challenges, and loss and grieving. You can also follow her on Twitter.
Babs Haller (7)
Babs (TX) is the mother of premature twins, Jack and Kate. Jack was delivered at 24 weeks following an umbilical cord accident and died. Kate, born two weeks later, spent 59 days in the NICU. From age 4, she has required occupational and vision therapy. Babs is passionate about supporting families affected by loss and prematurity, raising funds for prevention research, and serving as an awareness ambassador. Babs is proud to have been the first staff member of Hand to Hold. View a video about her experience or email her.
Michelle Hensel (8)
Michelle Hensel (TX) is the mother to three children. Her oldest daughter was born full-term and she unexpectedly delivered her twins at just 23 weeks 5 days, with each weighing 1 lb. 2 oz. and 1 lb. 8 oz. They spent 133 days in the NICU. Although they still face challenges due to their prematurity, they are now active, healthy toddlers. Michelle chronicles her family's journey with former micro-preemie twins and their big sister on her personal blog.
Summer Hill-Vinson (1)
Summer (TN) delivered her son 14 weeks early in July 2010 as a result of preterm labor, and he was in the NICU for 3 months. She unexpectedly developed severe preeclampsia with her daughter, almost had her in another state while on vacation, and delivered her 11 weeks premature in January 2013. Both babies weighed 2.5 pounds, and they were in the same NICU for a combined 150 days. Summer has recently started blogging about life with preemies at Two Tiny Babies
Heather Hucks (3)
Heather Hucks (NC) is the mother to a 24 weeker, Tucker, who weighed 1 lb 7oz at birth and spent 151 days in the NICU. She still balks at the sound of a fast food fry machine alarm that sounds eerily just like a brady alarm and has come to learn that Tucker’s NICU list of complications is somewhat mild when it comes to a 24 weeker. So far, he has no major issues from his prematurity. Heather has also learned to resist sneaking a peek at the playbook for life. She has seen through this experience that she isn’t the author and doesn’t write the plays. She works full time, blogs about her family, and tries to limit cupcakes to one a day. You can read about her parenting rookie stunts at Team Hucks or find her on Facebook.
Elaine Jones (7)
Elaine Jones (Canada) gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Caitlyn, on April 5, 2006. She was born at 28 weeks due to severe preeclampsia coupled with HELLP Syndrome. She contracted NEC and on the morning of April 16, Easter Sunday, Elaine held Caitlyn in her arms as she passed from this life to the next. Life changed forever. A year later, Elaine created Babies with NEC, a website to help parents, like her, share their story and network together. She personally contacts every parent and finds therapy in helping them. Elaine is the proud mom of two other children, Zoe and Phoenix. You can also contact her on Facebook.
Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn (1)
Carolyn (Ontario, Canada) is a mother of three premature children. In 2008 her first son arrived at 31 weeks; she trusted her instincts and made it to the hospital in time. In 2010, she had fraternal twin boys at 27 weeks. The twins NICU stays lasted 3 months and just shy of 4 months. During this time Carolyn felt extremely isolated and began to reach out via social media. On her personal blog personal blog, she writes about raising preemies, twins and parenting topics; you can also find her on Twitter. Currently, she is a peer health worker in her local multiples organization, Chairs Multiple Births Canada’s Preterm Birth Support Network and joined the Board of Directors of Canadian Premature Babies Foundation.
Kasey Mathews (10)
Kasey Mathews (NH) is a mother of two, her son, Tucker born on his due date at an even 8 pounds, and her daughter, Andie born at 25 weeks, weighing 1 pound 11 ounces. Kasey is a writer and author of the memoir, "Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood," in which she openly and honestly writes about her fears and uncertainties as a preemie mom. Kasey considers herself a student in the lessons of everyday life, and regularly observes and finds unexpected meaning in seemingly ordinary events. Her life-lesson stories and much more can be found on her website, www.kaseymathews.com. Follow her on Twitter.
Kathy McClelland (1)
Kathy McClelland (TX) is mom to two beautiful boys and both spent an extended period of time in the NICU. Her first was a 34-week preemie. Early in her pregnancy she suffered two pulmonary emboli, which revealed two blood disorders. Then late pre-term she developed preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. Baby one weighed 4 lbs, 14 oz and was a feeder/grower spending three weeks in the NICU. Baby two was a surprise on multiple levels. Hoping to not repeat the NICU experience a second time, she delivered a 5 lb, 9 oz baby at 37 weeks. However, he was soon diagnosed with a rare syndrome and spent two months in two different NICUs. She writes about faith and finding beauty and hope on her personal blog.
Melissa McMurchy (10)
Melissa McMurchy (OH) is the mother of twin daughters, Brooklynn and Kendall, born three months early, weighing 1.4 and 2.7 pounds. Brooklynn coasted through all milestones and is currently only behind in speech. Kendall, with an eleven-month hospital stay, is a bit spunkier with three broken bones, multiple blood transfusions and six surgeries under her belt. The journey has been long, but the lessons many. Melissa is a lover of sports, the smell of rain and miracles. You can follow her on Twitter or on her personal blog, Two Miracles.
Katrina Moline (9)
Katrina A. Moline (TX) is a special needs mom to her micropreemie, Bryce. He was born at 24 weeks at home, where she and her husband gave him CPR until medical responders arrived. He spent 150 days in the NICU at Dell Children's in Austin, TX. Bryce has hydrocephalus with a VP shunt, is legally blind with glasses, has mild cerebral palsy and severe, global developmental delays. In July of 2012 she gave birth to her second child only one day shy of 37 weeks and with no complications. She posts regularly on her personal blog about life with a micropreemie, her struggles, accomplishments and family.
Afton Mower (196)
After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks. Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks. The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices. Send a message to Afton.
Andrea Mullenmeister (1)
Andrea Mullenmeister (MN) is a stay-at-home-mom for a little adventurer. Jaxson decided to meet the family while they were on vacation! After a terrifying helicopter ride, Jax was born at 23 weeks 3 days weighing 1lb 8oz. He suffered from severe ROP, humongous inguinal hernias, Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia and severe hyspospadias. After 93 days in the NICU, Jax came home. He is a happy and mostly healthy toddler with only minor issues. Andrea volunteers on a parent advisory council for "Jax's" NICU and shares their story to give other parents hope. She writes about the life of her micropreemie at An Early Start. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
Dina O'Brien (2)
Dina O'Brien (TX) is a mother to four boys and a licensed pediatric psychologist. Her youngest son, Reece, was born at 36 weeks due to Dina's severe placenta previa and Reece's omphalocele. He endured a 36-day NICU stay, 7 surgeries and 3 months of hospital stays his first year. Dina admits her professional background in pediatric health psychology did little to prepare her for the challenges she and her family faced. However, the experience now gives her an edge in better supporting her patients, their families, and in educating healthcare providers and other parents. You can contact her via email or visit her website.
Rachel Pasquale (7)
Rachel Pasquale (ME) is the mother to Isabella, her only child, born at 23 weeks, weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. After 107 days in the NICU she and her husband welcomed home a healthy baby. Despite being well supported during her entire journey, Rachel felt a profound sense of isolation, often feeling that those around her did not truly understand what she was going through. Her desire to help herself and others feel less lonely navigating the NICU led her to Preemie Babies 101. In addition to contributing to this website, Rachel is a member of the NICU Family Advisory Council at the hospital her daughter once called home. You can contact her through Facebook or via email.
Samantha Pridgen (14)
Samantha (KY) is the mother of Roxy, a micropreemie turned preschool princess. Roxy was born at 29 weeks weighing only 1 pound, 9 ounces. Now a healthy 4-year-old, Roxy has no long-standing complications from prematurity. Samantha writes about her family as well as Roxy's early arrival and prematurity at Mommy to a Princess. You can also find Samantha on Twitter, Facebook, or email her at email@example.com.
Bea Smith (8)
As a nurse, Bea Smith (TX) found the roles reversed when her son was born with a congenital condition, imperforate anus (IA); he had no anus. He had surgery at two days old, spent a week in the NICU and has had three more surgeries to create an anus and to correct his spine. Diagnosed with VACTERL, an association of conditions, he also has kidney/bladder problems and had a tethered spinal cord. Bea is the mother of two daughters in addition to her son. She is adjusting to her role as a rookie special needs mom, balancing family, friends and work with a little humor and a lot of faith, chronicling it all on Caring Bridge.
Keira Sorrells (11)
Keira Sorrells (MS) is the mother of triplets, Avery, Lily, and Zoe, born at 25 weeks. Avery and Lily spent four months in the NICU and Zoe was there for 9.5 months. After coming home, Zoe was rehospitalized at 14 months and died suddenly from a secondary infection. As a result of those experiences, Keira founded the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation which offers support to parents of premature infants and those who have lost an infant; as well as the Preemie Parent Alliance, which connects parent-led, preemie support organizations across the country. Her faith and connecting with preemie and bereaved parents has given her hope when it was hard to find. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook or on her personal blog.
Aimee Sprik (132)
Aimee Sprik (IL) is mother to Connor, born unexpectedly early at 26 weeks, in December 2008, due to an infection. Connor, with his parents, survived a complicated 120-day NICU stay, which changed their lives forever. Since bringing her son finally home, she's felt passionately about volunteering her time and resources to supporting fellow NICU parents, both at the hospital where Connor was born, and by co-founding Life after NICU, an online parent support forum now moderated by Hand to Hold. You can follow Aimee on her personal blog, Sprik Space, or send her an email.