Helping Others

Exposures: I Care: Familiar with crises, these parents share experience, care

Jennifer Cantzler speaks softly over sounds of puffing ventilators and beeping monitors while sitting with Elfleda Macaraig in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Sutter Children’s Center.

Camped out in front of her daughter’s incubator, Macaraig doesn’t let breathing tubes discourage her from adorning her newborn in a hot-pink feathered headband.

All is calm for the moment, but the past two months have been anything but easy, with hours spent in the NICU cradling her twin daughters born prematurely at 25 weeks’ gestation.

As a Sutter volunteer, Cantzler is part of a small group of moms who all delivered babies in the NICU and now do weekly rotations as parent advisers, offering firsthand knowledge and support to families in distress. In 2011, Cantzler also delivered twins prematurely, two sons born at just under 23 weeks’ gestation. Only one twin survived.

“I always tell parents that I was sitting in that chair just like you are now,” Cantzler said. “When they’re feeling scared and lost and alone, it’s just nice to have another parent to talk to who’s been through it before.”

To suggest a community volunteer for the I Care column, contact Lezlie Sterling at

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