The look on parents' faces when a mentor is there in the moment to hold space for their emotions and pain is what inspires us and our incredible team to keep developing and expanding our programs so that no family has to walk this NICU journey alone.
~Kristen Ezzo, The Tiny Miracles Foundation
I am excited to share my interview with Kristen from The Tiny Miracles Foundation. The work they are doing is amazing and much needed! Make sure to connect and support on Facebook, Instagram, and their website.
Tell us your story and how The Tiny Miracles Foundation began.
The Tiny Miracles Foundation (TTMF) was started in 2004 by Gwen Noto and Meredith Daniels. They took their experience of finding comfort and support among the connections they made with other preemie parents while their babies were in the NICU and decided to develop formalized support services for preemie parents by preemie parents. TTMF was one of the first organizations to offer a range of parent support services in hospitals for families of premature infants and we currently are partnered with 6 hospitals across Southern Connecticut. Fast forward to 2020 at the onset of COVID lockdowns when I assumed the role of Director of Family Services fresh off celebrating my son’s 1st birthday. My own story starts with 3 years of infertility and ends with my son being born at exactly 37 weeks via a planned cesarean section just hitting the full-term mark. At our anatomy scan weeks earlier, I was diagnosed with what doctors thought was a placenta accreta which resulted in weekly check-ins with a specialist to monitor the accreta and its impact on my son’s growth and development. I was told a hysterectomy was an almost absolute certainty given the severity of the accreta and that the plan would be to hold off my delivery to as close to 37 weeks as possible. Luckily, we made it to my planned c-section date at 37 weeks gestation with my son’s development being unimpacted. Doctors repaired the hole in my uterus, what they had previously believed to be an accreta, without the need for a hysterectomy. It was of no surprise that TTMF’s mission resonated with me on a personal and professional level because here was a foundation that offered integral wrap-around care and support during a family's most challenging time.
What kind of impact do you hope that your organization can have?
While hospitals can meet the medical needs of premature infants, we know emotional and other needs that come with having a baby born too early often go unsupported. We hope to fill this void by providing support, information, services, and supplies in order to promote the best possible care for these babies and family members who love and care for them. Research shows that direct peer support has a profound impact on maternal mental health. Through this type of connection, preemie parents supporting other preemie parents, we can do our small part in reducing anxiety, depression, other postpartum mental health conditions, and PTSD. All of our programs, spanning In the NICU and After the NICU, are designed with this core mission and goal in mind.
What inspires you to keep helping families dealing with prematurity?
As a foundation there is no better motivating factor than seeing the impact our support services has on families - the look on parents faces when a mentor is there in the moment to hold space for their emotions and pain or to understand a procedure their baby is going through and no words are needed because we just get it, hearing through testimonials by parents, NICU Nurses, and Neonatologists these connections provide hope, inspiration, and positivity when it all felt lost, knowing that we were there and that we understood this journey - this is what inspires us and our incredible team to keep developing and expanding our programs so that no family has to walk this NICU journey alone.
How can someone help support your mission and organization?
All of our programs and services are free of charge to families and would not be possible without the support of generous funders and donations. We are always looking for dedicated individuals who share our vision to join the Tiny Miracles family and help us expand and enrich the support services we provide in our community. Monetary gifts can be made directly here. We gladly accept donations of new or gently used items that are useful for families of premature infants such as newborn knit hats, sweaters, or booties, new or gently used preemie and newborn clothing, and preemie and newborn diapers. Business owners who have products that could potentially be helpful to parents of premature babies are encouraged to contact our office at 203-202-9714 so we can consider adding your products to our Tiny Treasures bags. We will provide a receipt for your charitable donations reporting. You can also shop to show your support at AmazonSmile and listing The Tiny Miracles Foundation as your non-profit of choice. Amazon will donate every time you shop. For those local to the Southern Connecticut area, we are always looking to expand and grow our mentoring support network both with virtual and in-hospital mentoring opportunities available. We also have many other volunteer opportunities you can be part of, learn more here.