Nicole Lamar knows first hand the fear of sitting with neo-natal specialists to discuss the risks associated with premature birth, and the helplessness felt when confronted with the hard facts: will my child walk, talk and function normally?
“The Doctors at Brigham and Womens didn’t candy coat it, and nor should they,” the young mother, who teaches second grade at in Danvers, explained. “Maggie was coming early, there was no turning back, and we needed to know all the factors.” T
The Lamar family’s baby girl, their second daughter, was born at 29 weeks, 5 days and she was in the NICU for two months.
The Lamars were approached with an opportunity by Dr. Amir Lahav to join in on a little known pilot program developed by the NICU specialist. Lahav, a father of premature twins himself, believed premature babies stand a better chance of overcoming developmental delays when they are in an environment that more closely resembles the womb.
The 31-year-old was one of the first new mothers chosen to participate in the study, where she was audiotaped reading, singing and speaking to her new baby, as well as her heartbeat was taped so that all could be played to Maggie during times the new mother couldn’t be at the hospital. “The sounds were actually muffled so it would sound more like what the baby actually hears when she’s in the womb,” said Lamar.
She continued, “When I was going to have a preemie, and met with the NICU Dr.’s and there was no going back-believe me, they tell you the worst case scenario-there is no way not to worry. I felt nobody was offering me much assurance. When they offered me the study, I was like, ‘sign me up!’”
Now, a thriving and happy 13-month-old, the proud mother reported Maggie is continuing to gain weight and grow at each pediatric check-up, and she is hitting her milestones, a feat Lamar attributes to the study.
Having come through that tunnel of fear, and into the light of a new day, Lamar was seemingly the perfect candidate to become more involved with the new study, from a parent’s perspective. This month, she was named the Chairperson of the Parent Advisory Board for the Lahav Lab, and will establish contact and follow up with former parents and babies of the study to see how the children are continuing to progress over time. Having gone through similar experiences, in her new role, she will also be a shoulder to new parents of premature babies just entering into the program.
"My primary job is to work with the researchers and parents, both currently enrolled in the study and past parents to facilitate discussions around how we can advance the current study and to discuss new research opportunities for preemies," she explained.
Finally, Lamar will look into funding for the program that she feels so benefitted her daughter, as she currently learned that most of the funding is established through grants.
“The researchers from Brigham’s looked for parents to have a voice in the hospital. I felt that we are out of the woods, and they helped at such a critical time in our lives, I wanted to give back,” Lamar explained.
The first fundraising event on Lamar’s agenda is a half marathon in Gloucester, that she will participate in with sister Tammie (Halstead) Ryan, who also teaches at Thorpe Elementary. “My sister Tammy and I saw there was a beautiful half marathon in the name of the lab, so I figured lets do it in honor of how good Maggie is doing and for a great cause.”
The Twin Lights Half Marathon will take place, fittingly, on Mothers Day: Sunday May 12th, Mothers Day morning- in Gloucester, starts at good harbour lighthouse, and ends at twin lights in rockport. To donate visit the Lahav Lab website.