They said that community support helped them through tough times and they want to do the same for others.
Having a child fighting for their life in NICU is a tough time for all parents. It brings up a mix of emotions, hopelessness and impatience as a parent waits to take their child home. However, in these distressing times, constant support from the community can make it a bit easier. The Novod family remembers exactly that as they look back on the time when their child Saul was in NICU.
Saul was born prematurely at 28 weeks in 2014. Although his parents were aware that bringing him home may take months, his health began to deteriorate fast. After 20 days, Saul passed away in the NICU. His mother, Kimberly Novod, told WWLTV, "To be with your child and never know if today is going to be the last day, is not something you can imagine."
Kimberly along with her husband Aaron Novod decided to establish Saul's Light, an organization named after their beloved son, one year after he died. According to their website, "their mission is to provide all NICU and bereaved families with the resources and community they need to heal and thrive."
They also gave East Jefferson General Hospital a Moses Basket and a CuddleCot. It helps to preserve the baby who has passed away, allowing bereaved parents and family precious moments to say goodbye and take photos to keep in their otherwise empty arms for a lifetime. Three years later, the couple has a 16-month-old child Josephine but their efforts through the organization have not slowed down, per Inspire More.
Black women are 55% more likely to give birth prematurely! Services like Saul’s Light help families through the trauma of losing their child in the NICU. Although this service is needed we MUST address why Black women are more likely to give birth preterm! https://t.co/gtTBw0ipw9— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 8, 2022
Kimberly has opened up about her emotions and difficulties through the premature delivery of Saul. She wrote on their website, "I loved knowing that my baby was inside of me. Hearing the heartbeat for the very first time. That strong beating heart." However, everything changed when she had to go through with the birth. She added, "I will always remember seeing him for the very first time. The wonder of him. His beautiful face. His tiny hands. His nose looked just like mine. We named him Saul which means prayed for."
When Saul's health deteriorated the parents were not given an explanation. They were just told that they don't have enough resources to treat him and he was moved to the Children’s Hospital. It was discovered that Saul had no "viable" brain tissue but his parents did not lose hope and celebrated Sabbath with him in the hospital room. Kimberly shared, "I dressed him and combed his hair. We sang to him. We held our son and told him how much we loved him." On the same night, their son passed away in their arms leaving a void that a lifetime can't fill.
However, Kimberly and Aaron decided to turn their grief and give back to the community. Saul's Light is dedicated to spreading awareness about the problems of preterm delivery and the needs of NICU babies and children, in addition to assisting families. Recently, the state of Louisiana designated September as NICU Awareness Month, which the group honored on Facebook.
Speaking at the #DEFINEforum on the importance of centering families in the #NICUexperience, Kimberly Novod founded Saul's Light, after losing her pre-term infant, to provide support and community to bereaved families and families with babies in the NICU. https://t.co/OIYd4mtP9t pic.twitter.com/uvzFFJf52A— Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative (@cpcqc) October 4, 2022
"We have only been able to move forward because of the amazing support we received during and after Saul’s life from our families, friends, and community," they shared. "The goal of Saul’s Light is to ensure that other New Orleans families who must endure the experience of having a baby in the NICU receive the same support."