How Spare Key Helped Our Family Bounce and Not Break (Financial Assistance During a NICU Stay)

We were not expecting to have a baby during our vacation that summer. On the day Jax was born, we had yet to do a single thing to prepare for our baby’s arrival: no nursery, no clothes or supplies, no savings in the bank for maternity leave. The only thing we had done was decide to start preparing when we got home.

Instead, I went into labor and had our baby when I was only 23 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I spent 3 days in the hospital before I was discharged and then we had to leave our tiny infant son all alone in a plastic box. The hospital where Jax was born was 1.5 hours away from home; sometimes traffic would stretch the drive to 3 hours one way.

That drive gave me a lot of time to think.

We were wrapping our heads around the grim statistic that our boy had only a 4% chance of healthy survival. We were learning how to parent a baby who lived hours away in an isolette and could not be touched. I was learning how to pump breastmilk.

I was worried about how we were going to pay our bills.

Thankfully, I had many hours of vacation time saved up, but I knew that wasn’t going to last. Steve had to take time off without pay. He struggled with having to choose between seeing our son or working.

spare key

When my vacation hours finally ran out, I tried to balance work and hospital time. I started bringing my laptop to the hospital with me and was able to work next to Jax’s bedside. But there were always distractions: Jax’s heart rate would drop, his oxygen levels would plummet, there were rounds, and cares, and forms to fill out, and exams. And I never got as much work done as I needed to, so I would go home and try to squeeze in a few more hours, but all I wanted to do was sleep. And cry.

We were struggling to make ends meet, but we needed to be near our son.

I was exhausted trying to find that balance.

We needed help. So, when my friend told me about an organization called Spare Key, that helps families with sick or hospitalized children by paying one month’s mortgage, I knew we had hope.

The day they called to tell me we had been approved, I cried. I mean, I bawled. The sense of relief was so incredible – we were going to stay current on our mortgage. I could focus on Jax’s health instead of our finances for a while. I could breathe a bit easier knowing that our home was safe.

Spare Key helped us in our darkest hour. Because of their help, we were able to be with Jax when he was the sickest. We will always be grateful for this organization.

Spare Key can help you, too.  If your family is struggling to make ends meet because of your child’s hospitalization or illness, please contact them! They help families in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota, but are planning to expand their reach this year, so apply even if you don’t live in these states.

There is hope. There are resources. You don’t have to do this alone.