From NICU Mom to NICU Nurse
Leigh-Anne Lefurge, March of Dimes, (860) 815-9353, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, September 15 is National NICU Nurse Appreciation Day
Connecticut Mom Becomes NICU Nurse After Premature Birth of her Daughter
Twelve years ago, April Boccasile of Suffield, and her husband Aaron, spent months sitting at the bedside of their daughter, Isabella, born 14 weeks too soon. An early birth after the healthy, full-term delivery of their oldest child, Max, they watched their daughter, who weighed just one pound 12 ounces, slowly gain strength and weight (“after walking in the shadow of death,” said April). After four months in the neonatal intensive care unit, Isabella was finally able to come home.
“With Isabella we went into the NICU totally blind sided, we had never met anyone that had a premature baby,” said April. “We took things day by day praying that she would survive. Today, she is healthy and strong.”
In the NICU, the Boccasile’s learned about the March of Dimes, a national organization with the mission to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. They quickly became involved as local Ambassadors, sharing their story and fundraising at events such as March for Babies.
“We credit surfactant, a therapy developed with March of Dimes funding, for helping to save her life. It helped mature and strengthen her lungs,” April continued. “There is nothing more important to us than to give back and to raise awareness about preterm birth and infant death by educating others that it can be prevented and has to be,” said April.
While volunteering gave April an important outlet, she often thought back to her days sitting bedside, fascinated by the doctors and nurses who were working so hard to support the needs of their critically ill patients. An elementary teacher, April made the decision to return to school with the goal of receiving her degree to become a NICU nurse.
April gave birth to their third child, daughter Ava, in 2002 and received her nursing degree in 2006. She now works in the NICU at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
“I am now a NICU nurse because I am so grateful for the care that Isabella received. I couldn't imagine doing anything else,” said April.
The dedication of NICU nurses everywhere again impacted their family in 2011, when their daughter Lily was also born too soon but was too early to survive. In tribute to their daughter, April launched a blog, Lily’s Amazing Grace, to support parents after a loss.
“Our organization works with NICU nurses closely and we’re constantly amazed with their knowledge, courage and compassion. It has been a unique opportunity to watch April’s journey over the years, and to now see her at the bedside of families. She knows what they are going through because she has walked in their shoes,” said Leigh-Anne Lefurge, director of communications for the March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter.
Sunday, September 15th is National NICU Nurse Appreciation Day, and to April and all the NICU nurses working so tirelessly in hospitals around Connecticut and the country, the March of Dimes says thank you for your dedication and support to babies and their families.
Photo: April Boccasile, pictured with Marc Spencer from the March of Dimes, set on a path to become a NICU nurse after the premature birth of her daughter 12 years ago. She is now a NICU nurse at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.