Today, we’re happy to feature an interview with Ariana West, one of our NICU Ambassadors!
How did you find out about Graham’s Foundation and the NICU Ambassador program?
We had been looking for years to stay involved with our NICU by helping other parents who had gone through a similar experience as us. One day, I was on Facebook, and I came across a friend of mine who liked your page and I clicked on it and we learned that Graham’s Foundation was truly everything we had been searching for in a charitable organization. So, we immediately sprung into action and contacted you to see how we could get involved.
Are you a parent of a preemie? If so, please share your NICU experience.
We have two boys, Shai and Cooper. Shai was born at 31 weeks at 2 pounds, 1 ounce. Our delivery and being thrust into NICU life happened very quickly — going into the hospital one night and having our baby via emergency c-section the next evening. We had an amazing NICU experience and are so grateful for everything we learned and all of the incredible people we met there. While, of course, it was not easy, we feel that we were in the best hands possible — both for us and our son. We admire NICU nurses and neonatalogists so much and are in absolute of awe of how they saved our baby and so many others. They will forever be our family for all the did for us and Shai and they showed us a much softer, supportive side to medicine that is very rare today.
What is your favorite part of being a NICU Ambassador?
We were probably most surprised by how much fulfillment we got from delivering our first care package. We were so grateful for the experience, and to be able to help comfort other families and share a bit of light at the end of that NICU tunnel. We know, sadly, that not every situation is a happy one, but I think our story can give hope when, while you’re in the midst of your NICU stay, you don’t always feel so hopeful. Being a NICU ambassador connects us to other families and will continue to connect us to a long line of NICU parents who will give more to us than we could ever give to them.
How have you gone above and beyond the call of duty as a NICU Ambassador?
We don’t think we have gone above and beyond, we just want to help. As we mentioned, we had been looking for a long time to give back to the NICU that gave us so much. So, we are just so incredibly grateful to Graham’s Foundation for giving us the means and opportunity to do so. We’ll continue to do whatever we can to make Graham’s Foundation successful and be the best NICU ambassadors we can be!
What experiences or reactions have you had when interacted with parents in the NICU?
We met with one mother and her daughter and she wrote us the most beautiful thank you note after we visited her. We couldn’t believe how WE were being thanked, when all we wanted to do was thank her. We just heard from her yesterday and her daughter is home after 3 months and doing well.
What ways did Graham’s Foundation play a role in your NICU experience?
Unfortunately, we did not know about Graham’s Foundation when we were in the NICU, but it will continue to play such an important role in our lives from here on out. Had we known about it, we would have been so grateful to have someone who we could talk to, a resource guide that we could have looked at, and so much more. But now, we get to share Graham’s mission with others and get to be there for them directly.
For you, what is the number one way that you find that you can help parents of preemies through your role?
Just listening. There are so many emotions that people go through in the NICU, so many setbacks, and yet, moves in the right direction. We just want to be there for others, to listen to them, comfort them, and have them know that, as much as we can, we “get it”. We have found that with other parents of preemies, there’s an unspoken bond, and we would just want to extend that to anyone we meet.
Have you considered helping new preemie parents by becoming a Graham’s Foundation NICU Ambassador? We’re still seeking Ambassadors in the following states:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
Apply to become part of the program here!