Immediately after delivery, his wife’s blood pressure spiked and his infant daughter was rushed to the NICU, where she stayed for 20 days.
Suffering from post-partum pre-eclampsia—and requiring her own life-saving treatments—his wife wasn’t able to see her newborn daughter for eight days.
“We were first-time parents, so it’s very different to see your newborn in the NICU—connected to a feeding tube, a breathing tube and the incubator,” Matt said. “And then having to leave her at the end of each day.”
After her 20-day stay, Emma had finally gained the weight and enough strength to be released. She didn’t have any major complications; she was just small and needed to grow more.
“When we brought her home, she was still so fragile,” Matt says. “We had no idea how to take care of this small, fragile, premature baby.”
They were connected to Nurses for Newborns, a United Way partner agency. Nurses sent a nurse to visit Matt and his wife in their home each week to support them as they learned to care for their new baby.
“Nurses for Newborns … I really attribute to our daughter doing as well as she’s doing today,” Matt says. “For the first year of our daughter’s life, we had a nurse who would come and check on her. She would do all the growth assessments and medical assessments and make sure that she was hitting all of her milestones. It was really important knowing that we could call her at any time with any kind of question. As new parents, that was such a comfort to us.”
A few years later, Matt was presented with the opportunity to join the staff at Nurses for Newborns—to share his story with the community and encourage others to support their work.
“It was a fun adventure because of the background and connection that we had. I really felt that I wasn’t just doing a job, but I was doing something that I knew that helped people. I was helping those nurses go in the homes of those medically fragile babies … just like our daughter was. It’s such a joy knowing that I’m helping those services—just like we received—to happen.”
Matt says the largest part of the population they serve is medically fragile babies—those babies who are born premature, are faced with a medical condition or had to spend time in the NICU.
“Families don’t always know how to take care of such small, fragile babies. It’s scary enough just taking care of an eight-pound baby but to take care of a baby that is three pounds, four pounds when you bring them home … that’s stressful on a family. They don’t know if they can carry a baby a certain way or how much to feed a baby.”
But Nurses for Newborns also serves mothers who are struggling with medical issues, mental illness or substance abuse—or teen moms who don’t have the financial or social support they need.
“Sometimes we even start seeing moms before the baby is born,” Matt says.
There are no economic or income requirements to receive services at Nurses for Newborns. Their support is available to anyone who needs it.
“When Emma was born, we felt like we probably would have been fine. We told ourselves that we had money to go to the doctor; we had good medical care,” Matt says. “But for someone to come to us and say … ‘Hey, there’s this organization that will send a registered nurse to your home who will help you and teach you how to take care of this little baby of yours,’ and for us to be able to say yes to that … was such a blessing.”
Emma turned six in November and is in the middle of kindergarten. Matt says she’s a social bug who loves playing soccer, anything pink and purple and wants to be a vet when she grows up.
“She’s our little miracle baby,” Matt says. “My wife and I say that we lived life backwards. We’ll have been married 23 years and so we had her late in life, late in married life. She’s our little miracle and she just brings so much joy.”