Emily Fawaz lives in Fort Collins with her amazing husband, three wild and loving kiddos, and two incredibly tolerant dogs. She is an occupational therapist, but is currently staying home to care for her three boys aged two and under. Her oldest two kiddos are twin boys born at 28 weeks at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.
During their 16 weeks in the NICU, as well as the months following discharge, Emily developed a strong passion to support and advocate for fellow NICU families. Just 17 months after the twins were born, their family was blessed with another baby boy — this time born at 39 weeks, right on schedule! In the moments between diaper changes, meal prep, laundry, park trips, reading the same book 100 times in a row, setting up hot wheels ramps, and the best triple snuggles ever, she participates in various programs to support NICU families, including providing lived expertise and guidance to DEFINE, Love for Lily, and Parent to Parent of Colorado. Emily is also a FIRST program champion participating our 2021-2022 cohort.
Through CPCQC’s FIRST program, Emily has been certified as a Patient Family Partner of advocacy and quality improvement. Additionally, Emily serves as the Chair of the NICU Resource Connection Committee under the NICU Consortium Partnership. The committee of volunteers has developed the NICU Resource Connection, a website that allows families to access statewide resources through a customized search engine filtering services by county and service category. As life allows, Emily also plans to continue to support NICU families in a professional manner as an OT in Early Intervention.
Even on the best days, the NICU is a hard, devastating, and traumatizing place to be. Reflecting on my experience, I had very few barriers keeping me from actively engaging in my twins’ care, and yet the process of bonding, figuring out my role as their mom, and coping with the trauma of my experience was a huge challenge. Therefore, it is hard for me to even imagine how much more challenging it is for parents with multiple and/or significant barriers keeping them from engaging in their infant’s care in the NICU. This is why I believe so deeply in the work of DEFINE. It is critical for the health of the family and the child both during the NICU stay and transitioning home to be deeply involved in their child’s care. We can never take away the pain a parent feels when they have a child in the NICU, but we can help support families to bond with their children, feel seen and supported through the trauma they experience in the NICU, and feel confident in providing the care and affection their child needs when they go home.”– Emily Fawaz