NICU parents pay it forward

NICU parents pay it forward

Catherine Fullerton and Tom Hancock were overjoyed and anxious when they learned they were expecting twin girls. Given the complicated nature of the pregnancy, they entrusted their care to the high-risk obstetrics experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Despite the care team’s best efforts, the babies came too soon. The couple lost one of the babies in utero and relied on the hospital’s social workers to cope with their sorrow.

Their baby Violet survived the premature birth and spent 73 days in the hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) being nursed to health. Today, the two-year-old is a “healthy, energetic, mischievous toddler,” says her father.

“We wanted to give something back to the Brigham for all the care they gave to us and Violet during that first year,” explains her mother.

Soon after Violet’s birth, Hancock decided to join the hospital’s 2012 Boston Marathon team. While he was an experienced marathoner, this was his first time running for a non-profit. “It felt symbolic to run for a cause,” he says. “It was fulfilling.”  

More recently, the couple made a contribution to BWH for renovations to the NICU that will offer nurses and families a state-of-the-art environment with more privacy, comfort, and quiet.

They dedicated a portion of their gift to the perinatal palliative care program to help other families facing a loss. “When we lost one of our babies, the social workers were amazing,” Fullerton says. This contribution provides much-needed support for the hospital’s annual Service of Remembrance for families grieving the loss of an infant. 

“The NICU was just incredible,” Fullerton says. “The quality of the nursing was outstanding. They are so experienced and so wonderful.”

“And calming,” adds her husband, listing several nurses by their first names. “We wanted to do something for the nurses and other people in a similar situation to us.”