PREEMIEWORLD: How long have you been working in your field?
LEANNE: I’ve been a mental health counsellor for just over 12 years and supporting preemie families since 2015.
PREEMIEWORLD: Why did you choose your current profession?
LEANNE: I was on the top of a mountain with an archaeological surveying crew and I was digging a test pit. As I was sifting through the dirt with my hands I went numb and heard a voice ask, “Who are you helping?” I sat there for a while, I took a picture of that moment, but I can’t explain what occurred. The question created a cascade of events that lead me to getting my Masters degree in Counselling Psychology and starting the work that I now do. After my son arrived 9 weeks early in 2014, I decided to transfer my years of experience as a clinical counsellor over to helping the world of families who have been through tough stuff with their kiddos, as well as supporting the staff of organizations who serve those families. This started My NICU Family and is now adding the NICU Mental Health Society.
PREEMIEWORLD: What do you want other professionals to know about what you do?
LEANNE: I transform the fears and built-up anxieties from traumas that occur during pregnancy, delivery or in a NICU, into strengths and strategies that help us learn to listen to that parent intuition. I provide workshops, seminars, support groups and other presentations to families and organization staff members.
My social media platforms offer videos and pieces of education so mental wellness can be found on the level that each individual and family needs in that moment. Through all of my work I fill in the gaps that systems don’t seem to recognize or have resources for.
PREEMIEWORLD: What advice do you give to preemie parents?
LEANNE: You are the expert on you and your child. If you have questions, ask them. Don’t be afraid to get involved in whatever programs, therapies or appointments your kiddo is needing. The more you’re involved the more your kiddo will thrive. I often say that the caregiver has to care for themselves first and in constantly changing ways. We are ever changing and just looking at our kiddos reminds us of that. As they grow, we grow, and in turn, so does the way we care for ourselves. Helping professionals also need to be aware that we preemie parents need them at their best, so taking time to self-care is essential for them too.
PREEMIEWORLD: Fun Facts: Tell us a fun or quirky fact about you.
LEANNE: I believe in Angels and I love rainbows, unicorns and anything else that brings the sense of magical enlightenment into my life. I enjoy them so much that my home office looks like a unicorn threw up all over it! LOL!! Kiddos love the space and it helps me be my true self.
PREEMIEWORLD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
LEANNE: Please remember to connect with spirit. Whether it’s the higher power of Buddha, God, the Universe, Mother Nature, or anything else, connecting with a positive energy source can lessen that worry of feeling alone and increase your abilities to staying grounded when having to make tough decisions. You are Loved, always.