Positively the Heartland: Non-profit helps families in the NICU

Posted at 7:21 AM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 11:44:21-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — After enduring months of heartache, stress, and anxiety with premature babies in the NICU, two mothers Maryjan Fiala and Christi Rath are starting a non-profit for other parents called Embracing the ICU.

The plan is to provide amenities like meals, snow removal, and lawn services for parents on similar journeys.

Fiala hopes she can use her past for purpose after having a baby named Garrin who was 17 weeks premature.

"We really had no indication that Garrin would be born early, and we were really extremely shocked by his arrival, weighing in at just a pound and a half," Fiala said.

Garrin's journey culminated in hospital stays that felt like an eternity for Fiala.

"Having navigated through the NICU journey, then going home, and then getting readmitted to the hospital and spent another extremely long period in the hospital, having navigated 561 days total in-patient," Fiala said.

Fiala's story is one eerily similar to Christi Rath whose son Jackson was born 16 weeks premature.

Rath spent over 18 months in the hospital between 3 different facilities.

It's a mother's devotion, enduring constant trials and tribulations.

"I slept in a little recliner right next to his bed 24 hours a day, I didn't leave the hospital even to go grab lunch for 10 days, and I didn't go home to see my kids because we lived in Norfolk for 28 days," Fiala said.

"This is my first son, my first pregnancy, and I had tried for 8 years of infertility before we had him. So I walked my own journey," Rath said.

While both moms eventually got to take their sons home, they never forgot about those still keeping guard by a child's bedside.

"There are people that sit in the dark for hours and days on end with their child and they become forgotten," Rath said.

Rath's hope is that her non-profit will create a tribe of people that will take some weight off the overwhelmed parents.

"The cleaning goes out the door, lawn care goes out the door because that's not your priority and it shouldn't be, let's take some stress off of you, let's focus on what's really important and move forward," Rath said.

After seeing their sons push through incredible strides, these mothers find the strength to carry others from their children.

Embracing the ICU will first focus on the NICU with hopes to also help families in the PICU and Cardiac ICU.

For a link, click here.

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