“Our Mission is to create an active & supportive alliance of Preterm Birth Survivors/NICU Grads & Community Members.””Our Mission is to create an active & supportive alliance of Preterm Birth Survivors/NICU Grads & Community Members.”
The snow had barely melted off the long steeply inclined driveway as I pushed the gas pedal, propelling me to the house where three of my children were waiting. Relieved and happy to arrive home safely, I anticipated the hot bath I prepared after dinner would feel so good to my cold feet. Almost six months pregnant with my second set of twins my body was swollen, sore and naked. Preparing to step into the tub my eyes were drawn to the floor beneath me. Frozen with horror upon seeing my mucus plug lying there, my heart dropped, breath stopped, and my labor pains began to play their dreadful rhythm. Unwilling and unprepared, my NICU journey began.
Checked into the hospital that would serve to station the next three days of labor, I was told by hospital staff that the twins would not survive birth at 24 weeks gestation. Even so, medications to delay the birthing process were provided. For three days I researched funeral homes that would be willing to cremate the ever-small twin bodies. I washed my face compulsively in an attempt to keep my soul present through the tortuous process that possessed me.
On the fourth day of labor I was transported by ambulance to an alternative hospital that had a high level NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). There I was told by a Labor and Delivery resident that there was a slight chance the babies may survive. The young doctor asked what my feelings were regarding life-saving efforts in relationship to the very early birth of the twins? I had been exploring this issue deeply for days. Looking directly into the resident’s questioning eyes I responded “I do not want to imprison a soul in a body that has no ability to function”.
Hours later the birth process reached its climax. Alone on the hospital gurney in the delivery room my son was born. The attending resident was in another room having a party with a beautiful woman, a Victoria’s Secret model per staff conversations, who had come into my room earlier appearing as an Angel of Death. As the party continued, I screamed for help, but it was several minutes before anyone from the Labor and Delivery team came to assist and provide care. My son, partially birthed, was unattended and I felt helpless. When the medical team arrived, Cruz was removed from my body, dying in the process or very shortly after. As Cruz transitioned, and to my complete surprise, his twin sister Kathryn arrived, her tiny voice shattering the silence. The NICU staff, arriving swiftly, surrounded Kathryn, taking over her care and much of her life for the next several months.
Eventually Cruz was brought to me for a brief encounter. Although grateful for the opportunity to hold him, I regret not being more present in those elusive moments. Over time, I have come to recognize the precious potential for healing that time spent with the deceased child may hold for the parents, and the emergent need for guidance and support the unprepared and overwhelmed travelers experience is those critical moments of the preterm birth journey.
Seeing Kathryn, a few hours older, all 1 lb. 8 oz. of her, I first witnessed “BIG” technology on a tiny baby. Covered with fine black hair, sporting a body with no butt, unformed ears, and fused eyes the infant proclaimed her presence. Encased in glass and metal, bejeweled with IV’s, a large intubation tube, and attached to all sorts of strange medical life support equipment, Kathryn was exquisitely beautiful.
Following his brief journey into life, Cruz disappeared for a week into the mystery of death and hospital convention. My questions regarding his whereabouts were only vaguely addressed. Due to his small size Cruz journeyed with a larger, unknown body through the cremation process. Within the tiny bag of ashes a perfectly shaped hip bone confirmed his existence.
And so our NICU journey continued…
The label on the isolette said “Baby B, Kathryn”. My intention was to call the infant by her middle name, Keeley, but by the end of her 4 month stay, the NICU that saved her had formalized her name; Kathryn. Who is this tiny brown being covered in hair fighting to survive, I wondered? Standing in the NICU for the first time, the resounding question for me was “what do I do now, and how can I breathe without screaming?”
Every NICU family arrives with its own particular luggage and life that is left behind, forever transformed by the evolving NICU journey. NICU families have deeply held stories to tell. We too traveled from an origin that was both unique and complex. Our NICU story will focus on the NICU journey itself in order to attempt to connect with the NICU community, which we call The Neonatal Womb, through aspects that may reflect the collective experience.
On March 19, 1991, the day the twins were born, the NICU’s only available information for NICU families was a pamphlet for families whose child had died and while this was useful for entering the dark, it provided no direction towards the light. There were no books, publications, resources or technology available to guide the NICU family journey. Staff was busy attending the critical medical needs of the preemie. NICU families were not seen as part of the patient experience, and therefore were left without guidance, support, training, or accessible and emergent access to resources. Mothers were initially included only to the extent that if they choose to pump breast milk, the breast pumps and storage containers were provided on site. My experience was one of navigation without compass or illuminated pathways.
Kathryn’s brain bleeds and declining weight (from 1 lb. 8 oz. to 1 lb. 3 oz.) culminated in a lifesaving heart surgery at a mere 3 and ½ weeks of age. The surgery, performed without anesthesia (due to medical standards at that time), was provided by a pioneer in cardiac surgery, and supported by a staff that trusted the renown and very brave surgeon. My spiritual self kept the rest of me present at a time when so much of me wanted to disconnect. My older twins, Seth and Ciara, played quietly in the designated family area while we waited; me not knowing if I wanted the wait to end. Eventually, a staff member came to inform me Kathryn had survived the surgery but her condition was critical. I never met the surgeon, a very private person I am told, whom I deeply love and appreciate. Over time I learned about her dynamic and impressive accomplishments and esteemed career.
During her NICU stay we visited Kathryn multiple times daily. The steroids she was given provided her with chubby cheeks in two localities. Over time the precious and anticipated “peanut” shaped head formed giving her a cartoonish appearance. Kathryn recognized the music I had played to her when she and Cruz resided within the confines of my womb. We watched her ears form, her eyes open, and were terrorized and yet proud of her ability to remove her intubation equipment, setting off all kinds of frightening alarms, forcing the World to acknowledge that she was a force to be reckoned with. Two months after Kathryn was born she experienced her first bath. The nurse placed Kathryn in a very small metal bowl and Kathryn, a Pisces, clearly expressed her love of water. Following this immersion a milestone occurred and I held Kathryn in my arms for the very first time, a fragile yet tender encounter.
One particular member of our NICU staff did advance my desire to participate in the healing and well-being of my child. A respiratory therapist, a surviving preemie himself, who clearly had healing capacities beyond his job title taught me under his supervision and guidance to massage and “tap” Kathryn’s spine in order to support her very weak respiratory functioning. We both understood the healing potential touch bestows, and I provided this treatment to Kathryn for several years following her hospitalization. This healer empowered me, a gift I desperately desired at that time when I felt I had so little to offer.
During our NICU journey, NICU staff was fully and appropriately immersed in providing care to the premature infants and clearly the medical focus was directed toward the neonate patient. Families were unattended for the most part, not seen as participant team members and not provided with resources to empower their abilities to positively participate in and support the NICU and their journey. On our NICU journey we were allowed to observe the Neonatal Womb, but in general were not educated to appropriately and powerfully engage. Moms that choose to provide breast milk for the neonate (requiring consistent and arduous pumping several times daily) did have a visceral opportunity to contribute to their child’s health and survival, while other family members were left with little if any ability to meaningfully contribute, engage, empower their roles within the Neonatal Womb. The impact on the NICU fathers/other parent was often devastating especially given the then current general action-oriented nature of men in their roles as protector/provider. In this regard the NICU journey, even now, can devastate a family unit.
Two months after Kathryn was born, our insurance carrier required a transfer to an alternative medical center that was not as well certified or as competent as our prior provider. In order to ensure Kathryn was not put through unadvised medical procedures that had already been performed by the initial NICU provider, I was guided to intervene, educate and monitor the staff. The drop off in care was clearly evident, and but for a knowledgeable traveling NICU Nurse the staff was clearly less qualified to provide quality care and treatment. When Kathryn left the NICU following an additional two month stay (4 months total) she wore a white 18 inch doll dress with a matching bonnet. Only a few hours prior to discharge were Kathryn’s oxygen ensuring nasal prongs removed. Our family was not prepared by staff to confidently care for the still tiny infant weighing barely 4 pounds. Kathryn terrified us for months as we took turns watching her chest move up and down, ensuring her breath and vitality.
NICU babies are fragile in many ways. Underdeveloped and compromised immune systems, complicated by the use of steroids to support the development of the infant’s lungs and physical growth, and numerous other medical conditions, render exposure to people in general, well – dangerous! In the NICU and following discharge, exposure to people outside of the caregivers and immediate family may be significantly restricted, sometimes for many months. The separation and limited exposure available to children and other family members limits bonding opportunities with NICU infant. Technology, now expanded, offers current NICU travelers enhanced opportunity to build connection with family members in a safe, progressive, interactive fashion. The issue of limiting infant exposure becomes especially difficult once the baby leaves the NICU and goes home. Well-meaning family members want to see, touch, connect with the infant and may not understand the danger to the infant created through exposure to airborne and contact pathogens. Lack of resources to educate family/friends, who are also a part of the Neonatal Womb, and conflicting emotions of the parents/caretakers as they care for the infant may create stress, separation and conflict within the extended family unit. While the NICU parents/caregivers seek to protect the NICU infant, family members may feel rejected, useless, and denied the roles they imagined for themselves in the premature infant’s life. Currently, the availability of technology has the potential to educate, include, and connect the extended family throughout the NICU journey while supporting the infant’s health and reducing stress for family members.
When Kathryn was about five months old a group of family members arrived unannounced at the house to meet the surviving twin. Although asked not to visit and provided with the associated medical recommendations and precautions they pushed through the door into the room where Kathryn abided in her little red crib. My heart sunk knowing the meeting was a dangerous one. Feeling angry and powerless to protect her in that moment I was aware of the visiting family members determination to stake a claim in Kathryn’s life, and their total dismissal of the precautions related to Kathryn’s well-being. The situation was difficult, and Kathryn ended up in the ER shortly following the family exposure, critically ill, unable to breath. The ER visit was one of several that occurred following graduation from the NICU unit.
Long before Kathryn’s birth I had observed through my professional career the harmful and sometimes deadly effects of long term steroid use. Reaching her first birthday, Kathryn remained under treatment for her chronic lung disease and I perceived myself as slowly killing her as I blew the steroid towards her face three times daily. ER visits for treatment related to Kathryn’s chronic lung disease were frequent and profoundly disturbing. The Universe answered my constant prayers for guidance at 5:30 AM one morning when the local news program ran a one-time only report citing research confirming the dangers of long term steroid use. I did not hear the report ever broadcasted to the Public again, but once was enough to confirm the “Truth” I had long acknowledged deeply within.
In 1992 the late renown Sylvia Browne was a locally known psychic residing in the Federal Way area south of Seattle, WA. Guided to seek alternative healing for my daughter, I met with Sylvia Browne who listened to my needs and referred me to a well-known horse healer who lived in Oklahoma. The healer, who preferred to work with horses, not humans, agreed to provide distance healing to Kathryn via surrogate (Kathryn was too ill to travel). Within a week of the healing session, Kathryn was successfully weaned from steroids completely, and she has not since been to an ER, emergency walk-in or general medical clinic for medical treatment for her lungs.
After Kathryn’s distance healing at about age one, the ER visits ended and a new-normal developed. I nursed Kat until she was a bit over three years of age, believing with conviction that breast milk was crucial for her survival. I continued to provide Kat with the back and chest massage and tapping that the respiratory therapist/healer had empowered me with. In prayer and meditation daily I saw Kathryn and her siblings healthy and happy. Playing biddy sports and taking swimming lessons starting at the age of 3 yrs. Kathryn seemed different from the other kids in that she was so small and so affectionately distracted by her fellow classmates and team members. Playing tee ball, Kat would stop and hug each player as she ran the bases. The deep grove the intubation tube had created in Kathryn’s mouth generated a series of very displaced and disorganized teeth, requiring braces starting at age eight (an eight-year process). Around the time the braces were applied, Kathryn came home from school and announced that she wanted to be called Kat and then she said, “I want to be a humanitarian when I grow up”. I stared at her and thought “you have got to be **** kidding me!”, and in that moment my role in her life changed and my parental responsibilities were dramatically redirected.
Entering the pre-teen years Kat’s height surpassed the estimated maximum height of 4’10” the medical professionals had anticipated. At age 17 yrs. Kathryn underwent a hymenectomy, and we were told that it was not uncommon for female preemies to require the surgery. Kat played various school and private league sports, usually in a leadership capacity. She was strong-willed and often chose to do things her own way, at times creating conflict with authority figures. Kathryn determined she wanted to attend the most culturally diverse high school in Washington State at that time in order to globalize her worldview, and Mariner High School in Everett, WA. was the perfect place to accomplish that objective. Over time, Kathryn exhibited unexpected skills such as the ability to Latin dance, Krump and perform dissections in science classes with ease. Attending college in Missouri, Kat made friends with students from all across the globe and in the process developed intermediate Portuguese language skills. I wonder what effects the 60 plus transfusions Kathryn received while in the NICU played in the development of her global attraction and development of unanticipated talents. Did her emergent connection with her heart surgeon transfer to Kathryn, whose current intent is to become a trauma surgeon, influence her path forward?
It is the universal lesson of being present and letting go that our children, no matter how long or short their journey, presents to us. Following Kathryn’s announcement that she wanted to be a humanitarian, I exposed her to many great minds and healers through the process of attending book signings and lectures. Kathryn would carry the books through the lines for a handshake and a signing by the likes of Dr. Larry Dossey, Dr. Bernie Siegal, Bruce Lipton Ph.D., Marianne Williamson, and Dr. Deepak Chopra. I recall Deepak’s surprised look at seeing a child so small asking for her book to be signed. He said to her, “Where is your mother?”. I laughed. Kathryn’s spirituality and healing abilities developed over time. She sought shamanism training through Bastyr University, attended lectures by Dr. Mehmet and Lisa Oz, and participated in a non-traditional volunteer experience and medical shadow with John of God in Brazil. Kathryn nourished a loving connection with our beloved minister and teacher Imam Jamal Rahman (The Three Amigos), his dear friend, Rabbi Falcon, and she shared a hug and prayer with the beautiful and generous Amma. I was gladdened as Kathryn connected with the amazing health care providers and staff, magnificent doctors, NICU babies and family members at the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Centers as her mentoring process was thus enhanced and my responsibilities shared. She has since manifested some of the World’s best possible mentors to guide and challenge her.
At times I think about the lyrics of the song “The Dance” (lyrics by Garth Brooks) and wonder if I would have agreed to this dance with Cruz and Kat knowing the challenges I encountered? In reflection, I so appreciate the surrender that not knowing presents, the richness and power that faith reveals.Out of such pain and chaos, unimaginable beauty and exquisite love prevail.
Approximately 12 % of babies born in the U.S. are born preterm according to the March of Dimes. Statistically NICU parents encounter a very high level of divorce and often experience the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD in NICU parents is socially unrecognized and is often undiagnosed and untreated. The constant exposure to death, the breath by breath effort to sustain life, a myriad of medical complications due to preterm birth, interacting with a womb so different than the natural womb, overwhelming financial challenges, the unexpected and permanent disruption and reorganization of so many lives and immediate need to create balance within chaos produces untold stress for NICU/preterm birth journeyers. As preterm birth parents, we have the longing and potential for healing. So often, the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other rhythm that carries us through the NICU orientation becomes a life pattern, and the needs of our feeling bodies are never heard or healed.
At 28 years of age, continues to pursue her academic education and medical school in order to develop skills to help those in need, Kathryn stands tall at 5 ft. 5 inches. Proudly wearing her surgical scars as her Zumba Instructor shirt whirls around her, Kathryn dances to the music of the global community she embraces. Knowing she has much to experience as a preterm birth survivor Kathryn’s life journey continues to expose itself, seeking to be heard and healed. Despite the common thought that a NICU survivor cannot remember the early trauma of their human beginnings, nothing could be further from the truth. The body and brain are one, and although a preterm infant is without language skills, the body has memory, feeling, and knowledge stored within the vast energetic system that contains the human experience. Epigenetic and super gene sciences continue to expand our understanding of the wildly complex, beautifully sensitive nature of a life journey.
As Kathryn continues to understand, explore, recognize and empower her healing potentials, both self and other oriented, my hope is that she will continue to heal, grow and engage with other NICU/preterm birth survivors. Perhaps through connection they will shed light into the mysteries of life for a preterm being nurtured and supported within the Neonatal Womb, and their companionship will deepen their breathe, open their hearts, inspire them, and carry them forward with courage and resolve.
It was a beautiful sunny Spring day in Washington State. The cherry blossoms were beginning to peek through the treetops, painting the outside entrance of the Medical Center in bursts of soft pinks and deep reds. My stomach felt as if it was going to burst as I put the car in park and gathered myself for the meeting about to transpire. I was a 21 year old woman taking footsteps back into the starting place of my life journey.
I arrived with sweaty palms to the hospital lobby and asked the volunteer at the check-in station directions to the Neonatal ICU Unit. Little did I know this station would soon become a familiar and frequent destination. Rounding the corner of the tiny café, I wound myself around a crowd of crisp lab coats, colorful scrubs, and anxious community members. Pressing the button of the Mountlake elevator I pondered what would take place. The elevator doors opened revealing a bright neon green sign that read “Neonatal Intensive Care Unit”. As a walked along the hallway, my eyes embraced a collage of beautiful portraits containing the short stories of various NICU Grads.
Enclosed behind sliding glass windows was the receptionist, who greeted me warmly. I told her my name and that I was meeting with the Medical Director. The kind receptionist escorted me to the unit lobby; a new glass enclosed structure that provided me with an outstanding view of South Lake Union. In nervous anticipation I sat admiring the ducks floating leisurely on the deep blue water as I awaited the Director.
Soon, a nurse arrived and introduced me to a sturdy man with white hair, a perfectly trimmed beard, and twinkly blue eyes. Shaking hands with the physician I felt a wave of emotion come over me. Before me stood a renowned health-care provider who had helped save my life. As we spoke, I watched tears glisten in his eyes as the doctor shared with me that he had never met an adult NICU survivor that he had treated. I was shocked to learn that care providers like him so often never got the opportunity to be personally thanked by the tiny patients they served. In that moment I realized our meeting was not only meant for my own healing but for his as well. I realized that a gesture of gratitude may provide validation for the services health care providers contribute to their patients each day. I felt comforted hearing his condolences for the loss of my brother and he asked me about my mother. I learned about his passion for neonatal care and love for his family. He shared with me some of my medical history including my habit of pulling the oxygen tube out of my throat, setting off alarms. Our shared laughter sent us into a place of radiant joy. I expressed my interest in volunteering in the NICU and told him of my interest in medicine. With a hug we ended our meeting and I provided my contact information. While parting, he told me he would have the nurse manager contact me regarding volunteering. And so my journey back into the NICU began…..
The next day I found myself speaking with the volunteer service managers to set up my schedule for volunteer orientation. Within the next two weeks I was signing the paperwork, getting my volunteer badge, and completing the week of volunteer orientation training. After meeting with the volunteer service manager I was given permission to waive the 6-month entry level program as patient escort and directly start my service in the NICU.
Next came a slew of shots required for the safety of the patients. Finalizing my immunization papers and obtaining my volunteer badge I found myself captured by the heart of the community that kept me alive. As I walked into the NICU for the first time what caught my eye was the private patient rooms adorned with name tags and décor personalizing the space for each family. In the center of the unit was the staff station lined with computers and headboards; its ceiling contained tiny star-like lights.
Touring the unit with Lori I was mesmerized by the tiny humans contained in the glass incubators, metal beds, and wooden cribs. I had no idea what my mom must have gone through in the months I was hospitalized. A turning point in my healing journey came to light when I witnessed my first 24-weeker. Watching her tiny body hooked up to various IV’s, laying in the blue light and ventilation of the incubator, I watched as she reached out her hand touching the glass window next to me. In my heart I felt our connection; I was once where she lay. Struggling daily to survive and thrive this little being was barely “keeping her head above water” until an amazing family came into her life! The effects of the couple’s loving visits were quickly noticed in the improvement of the baby’s vitals, and overtime, in the steady advancement in the baby’s overall health. Eventually, the baby left the NICU in the arms of the loving adoptive father and mother. The baby continued to grow and I have no doubt that the adoptive parent’s touch, attention, and deep love for the baby played a crucial part in the survival and vitality of the precious child. This patient’s story of hope has impacted my life and heart in ways that allow me to embrace our global preterm birth community more fully.
During the first few weeks of volunteering I interacted with various staff members, some of whom cared for me as a patient. I was overwhelmed by the stories, questions, and newfound information presented to me by my past care-providers.
Within my second week at the NICU I was able to reconnect to the respiratory therapist that cared for me daily as a patient. Growing up I heard stories of Berhane, the man now stood before me. This man was very important in my mom’s and my NICU journey. Berhane taught my mom our nightly ritual of back-tapping and massage we practiced until I was 12. His smile seemed familiar and I immediate felt at home in his presence. Berhane himself was born premature. An Eritrean native, Berhane is dedicated to providing loving care to each patient and their family. I admire his ability to connect so well with those he works alongside with each day. I believe he and I connect at a high capacity thru the heart, for Berhane has a very expansive and loving heart. I am grateful for the providers like Berhane that make significant impacts on our NICU family members.
Frustration, anger, insight and guided creativity, an undeniable need to contribute and a passionate love and concern for the Global Neonatal Womb (pre-term birth community) were the dynamics that birthed the Neonatal Womb Warriors blog in February 2016. Here’s what happened…..
As my volunteer NICU experience progressed a NICU Nurse Manager approached me about joining the NICU Advisory Board as a volunteer and NICU Grad representative. After gaining more information about the purpose of Advisory Boards, I agreed to join the council and felt honored to be a part of this aspect of the NICU. I was informed that I was the first NICU grad to serve on the Board. Initially, intimidated and awkward in the company of Medical Directors, Nursing, Physician, Resident and Therapist staff and parents who had children born in the NICU, I was mentored to provide appropriate input, to listen, learn and contribute. With the guidance of two important mentors I quickly understood the level of responsibility associated with serving on the Board and gained confidence to become more engaged in our monthly meetings. I also experienced tension from some of the staff and parents whom questioned my ability to contribute valuable input to our initiatives. Over time this dynamic transformed with some Board members, and I felt increasingly supported by the Mom’s serving on the board, most of whom were also healthcare professionals. As both a NICU grad and child of a NICU parent I was very interested in learning from the mothers and medical providers on our council. There were no NICU fathers present on the Board at that time. The Board focused on the care and needs of the mothers and patients. The trauma experienced by the fathers/other parent, caregivers, and healthcare staff was not generally addressed. After serving on the Advisory Board for a two-year period the Board underwent significant management changes, and new Federal regulations were being implemented for the management of Medical Advisory Boards nationwide. I was informed that my two year service on the Board was completed and would not be extended. Based on the fact I was neither a NICU parent nor a provider I was dismissed.
When one door closes , another opens
Have you ever felt agitated, inspired, empowered by a personal perception of injustice or disrespect? I am the person who suffered the preterm birth trauma, and I am the recipient of the life-saving care provided by broad community efforts that kept me alive. I am the adult survivor whose life is profoundly affected by the preterm birth experience. I have a Voice and I will be heard. The belief that because a person does not have language means that no experience took place is beyond antiquated and is completely false. The perspective that because the NICU or preterm birth baby survived is good enough in itself, and that the preterm birth experience ends at the conclusion of critical care is at best naïve, and at the worst, incomplete and destructive. My return to the NICU awakened me on a very visceral level to an ongoing need and opportunities for healing. Each patient, family member, disgruntled parent and provider I engaged with revealed that the opportunities for wellness did not end for community members when a baby was discharged.
My Mom and I had worked diligently to identify a platform for a foundation to contribute to the NICU/preterm birth community but found that the resources she had been denied as a NICU parent were increasingly developing and made available to NICU travelers locally. We searched to identify ways we could meaningfully contribute to the Neonatal Womb community despite the fact that we did not have great financial abundance. Shortly following my dismissal from the Board, we discussed the impact we felt the lack of wisdom, education, and common sense leading to the denial of the worth of the preterm birth grad perspective potentially had on the Neonatal Womb community, and how the support, well-being, and availability of healthcare providers also represented a serious exclusion. We began to see how large the Community was as a whole and how many people worldwide shared the preterm birth journey, and noted that they were often not well connected or adequately supported. We continued to ask for guidance in our creative efforts to contribute. Late one night, my Mom was on her computer working when she was guided to consider starting a blog focused on representing the preterm birth grad community while identifying and including all community members. Although we really didn’t know what a blog was, we agreed to pursue this course of action with curiosity and openness in order to create for ourselves and others new perspectives for experiencing and understanding the preterm birth journey globally while providing a Voice to the preterm birth. And so the Neonatal Womb Warriors blog was born…..
Annually, over 11 out of 100 babies (Warriors) are born preterm globally. Imagine how expansive our global Neonatal Womb community including all of our members is! Research, in the very early stages due to the recent and increasing survival rates of preterm birth babies, tells us that Warriors may have healthcare concerns such as PTSD, heart, lung and other medical issues that may require attention as we age. Our lives are creating the need for more research and we serve as a foundational resource for providing research and for developing treatment. As we continue to explore the global preterm birth community/Neonatal Womb I know that our community engagement and collaboration will empower healing for all of our global family, our family.