“It was pretty hard,” Brittany Vinciguerra said. “I didn’t get to see my baby, hold my baby, I didn’t get to do any of that.”
Parents of newborns are faced with plenty of challenges when their child is prematurely born. Unless you’re a parent of a prematurely born child you probably don’t understand what many of the parents go through. Bill Anderson certainly didn’t.
“When you have a premature baby,” Kelly Gallagher explained, “you have to leave them in the hospital and it’s the most awful feeling in the world.”
The fairytale childbirth that so many look forward to can become a complicated situation when the children come earlier than expected. Luckily, Kelly is doing everything she can to help comfort them.
Tara Yancer, mother of premature twins, is one.
“Since they’re two months, early I kind of have to go back to work while they’re in here being taken care of,” she said, “so I can save up some more leave so when they come home I can be there and actually spend time with them.”
Kelly was one of the mothers faced with the reality of premature twins. Bill met her at Holy Redeemer Hospital, where she gave birth. Although she raves about the care both she and her twins received, having preemies opened her eyes to the experiences of so many families.
“We spent three to four weeks here in the summer of ‘14 at Holy Redeemer Hospital,” she remembered. “They came home, they are healthy two-year-olds now, but back then I spent about three months trying to figure out a way to try and give back.”
Give back to the nurses and doctors who treat families so well, and give back to the parents who are facing an experience most are unprepared for. Her desire to give back inspired Kelly to launch The Superhero Project.
“The Superhero Project is an organization that supports families with NeoNatal intensive care babies.” Like superheroes, it does “anything from gift cards to words of encouragement, to care packages, and the Angel Eyes Cameras have been the biggest thing we’ve done so far.”
Kelly has become a regular at Holy Redeemer. She has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support families and to install Angel Eye Cameras. The cameras attach to incubators and allow parents to see or even speak to their children 24 hours a day.
They’re great for new mom Tara.
“Anytime I’m thinking about them and wondering how they’re doing I just turn them on,” she said. “It could be 3:00 in the morning, 12 in the afternoon, and I can just see that they’re breathing.”
The cameras are used by parents who can’t possibly stay at the hospital constantly, but also by parents who are separated from their children while facing complications from the birth.
Brittany explained how she found out.
“My husband went to the NICU and he came back and said, ‘Brit, you’re not gonna believe this. You can see him live,'” she recalled. “He logged in and we could see him right on the camera.”
They’ve also become a way for nurses to give the parents cheerful notes or updates on the progress of their children.
Bill asked a nurse about leaving notes by the cameras.
“Yeah. Like if they drink from the bottle we’ll leave a note,” he learned. “Or on holidays, Happy Mother’s day.”
And Kelly found out something, as well.
“It changed me to know there’s a way to give back and change people’s lives for the better if you’re willing to dig deep,” she explained.
Bill said the day in NICU and the challenges the parents face was new to him, but what wasn’t new was seeing another person who learned from their own challenges, and figured out a way to support others who may face them in the future.