The Lion Tales Foundation is born
The Lion Tales Foundation was inspired by my experience as a single mother having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 224 days, and miraculously bringing him home. My son Leo was born unexpectedly (15 weeks early) weighing just over 1 pound, classifying him as a micropreemie. The NICU journey was highly unpredictable and I woke up each day with real fear about his chances for survival. As time went on Leo needed 5 surgeries, each being a traumatic experience for him and me. Together, and apart, Leo and I spent nearly 8 months in the NICU at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian in New York City.
One night, sitting by Leo’s bedside and watching him fuss through the glass of his isolette, I was upset by not being able to lull him to sleep in my arms. So I opened the little window and started reading him nursery rhymes from a Mother Goose book. Reading to Leo was therapeutic for me, and I hoped it was the same for him. One of his nurses suggested that I record some stories on a tape recorder. I had a mini recording session that night in my apartment using an old iPod touch. It felt gratifying to be able to “do” something for Leo, even when I couldn’t be there.
The next day, I put my iPod in Leo’s isolette and it stayed with him as he got bigger and transitioned into a crib. After what felt like a short leave, I was back working full-time, and liked knowing that my voice was always with him. My dad recorded stories too, and Leo responded to hearing voices. The stories became the go-to remedy for Leo. Whenever he needed to be distracted from the loud noise of the machines in the NICU, or comforted when he was crying, or in need of help to drift off to sleep, storytelling was the solution. The nurses recognized the power of story therapy and played the recordings for Leo when he didn’t have a visitor. I started to think of these stories as Lion Tales, or stories of courage.
The Lion Tales Foundation was born to help families in the NICU who need access to Lion Tales of Courage. We look to use technology to enhance communication, give access to bedtime stories and to personal tales like Leo’s and mine. The foundation is dedicated to make the roller coaster ride of a NICU experience just a little smoother, and give families a way to actively contribute to their baby’s healing and development.
We strive to achieve our Vision through new programs and initiatives:
Storytelling in the NICU aided by technology
Research projects aimed at helping NICU babies and their families
Creation of a Digital Quilt of Courage