“Dear NICU Mama” Connecting, Supporting, Celebrating Mothers and Newborns
the group started in April 2019
FARGO, N.D. — Martha Mink’s son JP weighed one pound and nine ounces when he was born in 2015.
“He lived for only three days,” Mink said.
But that wouldn’t be her only experience in the NICU.
Her daughter JJ was born in July 2018 at only three pounds.
It wasn’t until she got home from the hospital that she finally realized how emotionally taxing both births had been.
“I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety,” Mink said.
That feeling of isolation is one that resonated with Ashley Ham.
“When you become pregnant, you envision what you want your birth to look like, what your start to motherhood will be like and I personally didn’t have any close friends who had gone through a NICU experience or had a traumatic birth,” Ham said.
Wanting other NICU mothers to cope with feelings similar to her own, Ham, Mink and Kendra Loch, another NICU mother, decided to create a solution with their non–profit “Dear NICU Mama.”
“One of our taglines of Dear NICU Mama is ‘welcome to the sisterhood,'” Ham said.
Ham says it’s a sisterhood of about 170 mothers you can’t find in just any of the several online, medical blogs.
“There’s something incredibly healing when you are able to connect with someone else who’s gone through a similar experience as you,” Ham said.
In addition to providing some support to mothers who found it difficult to deliver their babies in the NICU, Dear NICU Mama is also celebrating their experiences through a photoshoot.
“Even though at the last photoshoot all of our NICU experiences were so different, we felt so united at the end of it and it was so powerful,” Ham said.
The group also writes letters to mothers in the NICU and has created a podcast to reach both moms here in Fargo–Moorhead and someday, hopefully across the rest of the country.
“I’d love to see other talented photographers and mothers becoming peer mentors in their local hospitals because what we know is that hospitals are stretched thin,” Mink said.
As these women begin to at least scratch the surface, it’s about reminding as many NICU moms as possible there’s always someone to lean on.
“They don’t have to do it alone. There’s truly a group of women who want to surround them and love them and celebrate what you and your baby have overcome,” Mink said.
Dear NICU Mama will host its first event on self–compassion and self–care after leaving the NICU on September 28th at Concordia College.