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As a mom who has had a sick child in the NICU, and later in the follow-up clinic, I cannot imagine how different our journey would have been if I had not received the help and care that I did from Mattea’s medical team. Being in the NICU with your child can be an extremely scary experience and their support makes a world of a difference.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the doctors that completely changed my experience, Dr. Bree Andrews and Dr. Joanne Lagatta. These wonderful ladies are training the next generation of “helpers” and I’m so grateful to have them talk about what caregivers can expect from their time in the NICU and follow-up clinic.

And most importantly, how everyone in the hospital has the power to “help the helpers”. Even in situations where help is not directly offered to you: all you have to do is ask.

Dr. Bree Andrews is a neonatologist and the Chief Wellness and Vitality Officer for University of Chicago Medicine. Her area of expertise is NICU follow-ups, where she helps families as patients head home and navigate life after the NICU.

Dr. Joanne Lagatta is a neonatologist with a Master’s Degree in Health Services Research. She especially enjoys her role in the NICU advocating for patients and families who are trying to coordinate plans between multiple healthcare providers and transitioning home from the NICU.

Today, they’re sharing their best advice on how to feel a little more confident as a NICU caregiver, including advice for parents that don’t feel engaged with their medical team. They touch on topics like emotional depletion, being overwhelmed at the hospital, and speaking your fears out loud as a family.

They remind us of the power of reaching out to other parents going through a similar journey, as well as sharing your accomplishments as a parent, no matter how small.

These ladies made my experience in the hospital feel much less scary, and I hope today’s episode leaves you feeling a little more confident in your journey as a helper.

Key Takeaways with Dr. Bree Andrews and Dr. Joanne Lagatta

  • Navigating life in the NICU and follow-up clinics as a caregiver to a sick child.
  • How everyone in the hospital is a helper, and how to ask for help if it is not directly offered to you.
  • Transitioning home from the NICU and finding a “new normal”.
  • Advice for parents that don’t feel engaged with their medical team.
  • A simple reminder that medical care practitioners can’t read your mind and it’s okay to talk about your worries to show doctors your areas of concern.
  • Finding a child life expert and how they can help you through this journey.
  • The importance of reaching out to other parents, finding community, and celebrating the small wins.
  • How the PreeMe+You app is helping parents be more active at the bedside.
  • Dealing with emotional depletion and making space for your feelings.
  • Being ready to see the good side, even when things are not going well.

Dr. Bree Andrews and Dr. Joanne Lagatta Tweetables

  • “What was so special about Dr. Meadow is that he wasn’t just a ‘look at the numbers’ person. Where he really moved the needle is that he asked ‘what’s important to the family?’” – Dr. Joanne Lagatta on Dr. William Meadow’s work
  • “Community is really critical to parents. As a physician, I cannot necessarily introduce you to another parent because of confidentiality, but YOU can introduce yourself to anybody in the nursery.” – Dr. Bree Andrews
  • “It’s hard sometimes. You have to take the time to get yourself back up. It’s okay to be mad, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to have something be tiring, take a break, and come in for more.” – Dr. Joanne Lagatta
  • “Not all my questions in the NICU were answered with an ‘it’s going to be okay’ but I went forward with a lot less worry in my head. Our brains want to create these stories, and if we don’t have a real picture of what it might look like it’s incredible what our brains will come up with.” – Jamie Freedlund


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