Walk for Babies at Akron Zoo benefits NICU

2013-05-20 13:39:18 by Megs Pollock, Patient Family, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

During a conversation we had with an Akron Children's employee a couple of months ago, he mentioned an event called Walk for Babies. It's an event celebrating the neonatal intensive care unit at Akron Children's Hospital.

Randy and I were excited about joining the group in honor of our little peanut. Though we feel our 9-day stay doesn't come close to those who are there for months, we still felt encouraged to help other families who will be facing the shock, uncertainty and fear that comes with having your sweet child in such a unit in a hospital.

While in the NICU, Randy and I talked about how we would love to give back to the NICU or someday give back to the Reinberger Family Center. Had it not been for the love, care and support of the nurses and doctors in the NICU, and staff at the Reinberger center, I'm sure our experience would have been very dark as opposed to the light given to our situation.

Once we found out about Walk for Babies, we were thankful for Sam and Shelby for taking the steps 6 years ago to start this parent-led event.

The parents on the panel meet with the NICU staff to discuss where the money raised should go.

This year they were able to purchase several kangaroo chairs. These chairs are created to assist mommy's and daddy's with much needed skin-to-skin contact with their infant to help with bonding.

Research shows this contact helps lower stress, improve survival rates, reduce pain responses, and more. While we were in the NICU there weren't always enough chairs for the families to participate in this kind of care. We are so thankful other families will be given this opportunity.

This year's Walk for Babies drew more than 1,000 people. We had no idea it was this big of an event. We are sure if the word was out there even more families would participate.

Families put teams together to walk through the Akron Zoo for a fun-filled day. One team had more than 93 people. Of course, not realizing the magnitude of the event, we had three.

We were decked out in our Team Sofia shirts in honor of our butterfly friend Sophia Isabelle Dente. Her NICU stay lasted 20 days then she was released to be home with her mommy and daddy until she passed into heaven's arms.

As I looked around, it gave me hope for families. I know sometimes these children may pass, but the staff and doctors truly care for these babies as if they were their own.

The stress that may come with such a position sometimes overwhelms me with the thought. They truly are heros.

One of our own hero's spoke for a moment during the ceremony, Dr. Harriet Feick. She is someone who stepped up to the plate for our family when we needed it most.

Before Peanut was born, she gave us a tour of the Reinberger Family Center and the NICU, and was there for me as I anxiously made calls to help prepare us for our little angel.

One of my questions was who would be our neonatologist the day of his birth. To be honest I don't remember who she told me it would be, mainly because she made it a point to be his doctor. She made it a point to be there for us. AMAZING!

Dr. Harriet Feick holds Jordan

We made sure to get a picture with Jordan's first doctor at the event.

It was encouraging to hear other stories from families, including a mom who has a little girl with spina bifida. It was encouraging to see her walking around the zoo enjoying her time with her team.

Spina bifida is such a hard diagnosis to compare other children to because every child is going to be different in what they are able and unable to do. It was still refreshing to have someone who can relate in a different way than those around you without a diagnosis.

It was definitely an event that will be placed on our calendar for next year. We would love to be in contention for largest team, but we'll have to come up with a great name and plan.

I'm so encouraged to know people are out there like Sam and Shelby who have the vision to help other families facing a crisis and who are willing to take a step or a walk to make the experience a little easier.

Read more about Megs’ and Randy’s journey of raising a child with spina bifida through her blog, Labor of Love.

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