I was introduced to the Little Giraffe Foundation in 2013.
After a month of my being on bed rest, our twin boys, Adam and Ryan, were born premature at 25 weeks and five days. Adam John was born at 12:16 a.m. on May 13, 2013, weighing 2 pounds and 5 ounces. Ryan Patrick was born at 12:17 a.m. on May 13, 2013, weighing 1 pound 15 ounces.
Little Giraffe FoundationThe Little Giraffe Foundation is dedicated to supporting neonatal research and helping the parents and patients of the NICU.
Based in Chicago, the organization last year granted $10,000 to each of two studies aiming to improve treatment of premature infants and foster improved health for the children as they grow. The organization also distributed nearly $6,500 to neonatal intensive care units throughout the country to support premature babies and their families and to help them bond.
Beyond funding programs at medical facilities, Little Giraffe reaches out to families while their children are in NICUs in Chicago-area hospitals. Volunteers deliver little gifts and bring care packages at holidays that include books for parents to read to their babies.
The Little Giraffe Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization. To learn more, visit littlegiraffefoundation.org
For about six weeks after they were born, both boys had their ups and downs, but they both had become very stable and were doing well. Both boys were in clothes and were working their way out of the incubator into a crib.
Sadly, at six weeks Adam had developed necrotizing enterocolitis, a horrific bacterial infection that attacks the intestines, and in less than 24 hours, our Adam was gone. Our precious Adam passed peacefully in our arms. He did not feel any pain, but we are certain he felt how much we love him.
Ryan spent another four months in the neonatal intensive care unit. It was a daily struggle to stay strong for Ryan while grieving for Adam and returning every single day to the place where we lost him. Ryan fought every day to grow stronger and we know that Adam was helping him along the way.
During this time my husband and I had to return to work, then came home to immediately drive to the NICU to spend as much time as we could with Ryan.
During one visit, there was a neatly wrapped book with a Little Giraffe Foundation sticker on it. After spending months on end in the NICU, the littlest gesture like a book seemed like a million dollars. It was an amazing feeling to know someone out there understood what we were going through and that someone was thinking of us.
I immediately Googled Little Giraffe and discovered that our story mirrored that of founder Amanda Santoro, who had also lost a twin. After Ryan came home from the NICU and continued to overcome obstacles, I knew I wanted to give back to the NICU community and hoped I could bring some joy to NICU families like I had felt.
It is also the perfect way for us to honor our son Adam. My family and I look forward to every holiday that we get to deliver presents to the NICU families and hope we are able to give them some joy and allow them to forget where they are, even for a brief moment.
I am looking forward to the Human Race and I cannot wait to represent such an amazing organization.