Heart to Heart with Anna

A Heart Mom’s Journey While Choosing Joy

January 26, 2021 Nicole Groenewald Season 1 Episode 291
Heart to Heart with Anna
A Heart Mom’s Journey While Choosing Joy
Chapters
Heart to Heart with Anna
A Heart Mom’s Journey While Choosing Joy
Jan 26, 2021 Season 1 Episode 291
Nicole Groenewald

Do Heart Moms who have babies with heart defects have an easier time of things? Why would a Heart Mom write a book? What might entice a Heart Mom to start a podcast? Answers to these questions and more are in this week's episode of "Heart to Heart with Anna."

Nicole Groenewald is a Heart Mom to Henry who has HLHS. At the time that Nicole found out about Henry's diagnosis, she felt like she might never be happy again. Her husband had been ill, and the Groenwalds had already filed for bankruptcy due to mounting medical bills. Then one day, she read that babies can feel their mother's emotions before they're born. This set her on a path of changing her emotions and choosing joy. At first, she started with simple things like music and self-care. As her challenges grew in life, she became more determined to pursue a joyful life. Today, she works to inspire and encourage others to pursue joy with intentionality, and has started a website and podcast called "Moms of Heart!" Today, Nicole joins us to talk about her and Henry's journey and the benefits of choosing joy.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Nicole's podcast -- Mom's of Heart: http://momsofheart.com/podcast/?fbclid=IwAR0RnRYa4S3boRRr5FCu18M9sEqFXhf0BxpnGqjR0XSKS6dl5pPpRbh9SwM

Nicole's podcast -- Chase Joy 100 Ways: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/chase-joy-100-ways/id1506207814

Nicole's Hospital Journal:  https://momsofheart.com/shop/hospital-journal/

Anna Buzzsprout Affiliate Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=16817

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If you enjoy this program and would like to be a Patron, please check out our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/HeartToHeart

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Show Notes Transcript

Do Heart Moms who have babies with heart defects have an easier time of things? Why would a Heart Mom write a book? What might entice a Heart Mom to start a podcast? Answers to these questions and more are in this week's episode of "Heart to Heart with Anna."

Nicole Groenewald is a Heart Mom to Henry who has HLHS. At the time that Nicole found out about Henry's diagnosis, she felt like she might never be happy again. Her husband had been ill, and the Groenwalds had already filed for bankruptcy due to mounting medical bills. Then one day, she read that babies can feel their mother's emotions before they're born. This set her on a path of changing her emotions and choosing joy. At first, she started with simple things like music and self-care. As her challenges grew in life, she became more determined to pursue a joyful life. Today, she works to inspire and encourage others to pursue joy with intentionality, and has started a website and podcast called "Moms of Heart!" Today, Nicole joins us to talk about her and Henry's journey and the benefits of choosing joy.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Nicole's podcast -- Mom's of Heart: http://momsofheart.com/podcast/?fbclid=IwAR0RnRYa4S3boRRr5FCu18M9sEqFXhf0BxpnGqjR0XSKS6dl5pPpRbh9SwM

Nicole's podcast -- Chase Joy 100 Ways: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/chase-joy-100-ways/id1506207814

Nicole's Hospital Journal:  https://momsofheart.com/shop/hospital-journal/

Anna Buzzsprout Affiliate Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=16817

Links to 'Heart to Heart with Anna' Social Media and Podcast Pages:

Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/heart-to-heart-with-anna/id1132261435?mt=2

MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/annajaworski
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HearttoHeartwithAnna/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hearttoheartwithanna/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaJaworski
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGPKwIU5M_YOxvtWepFR5Zw

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hearttoheartwithanna/ 

Website: https://www.hug-podcastnetwork.com/

If you enjoy this program and would like to be a Patron, please check out our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/HeartToHeart

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/HearttoHeart)

Nicole Groenewald:

So I'm thinking okay, if he's got to come into this world, ready to fight the battle of his life, this is how he's entering the world. What emotional state does he need to be in? What emotions does he need to have experienced leading up to this to give him the power and the motivation to fight through this shop and I thought he has to know joy.

Anna Jaworski:

Welcome to "Heart to Heart with Anna." I am Anna Jaworski and your Host. I'm also a Heart Mom. My son is a 26-year-old pharmacy tech at our local hospital. He was born with a single ventricle heart and he is my inspiration and the reason I host this podcast. I'm very excited about today's show to feature a special Heart Mom. Today's show is entitled 'A Heart Mom's Medical Journey While Choosing Joy.' Nicole Groenewald is Heart Mom to Henry, who has HLHS. At the time Nicole found out about Henry's diagnosis, she felt like she might never be happy again. Her husband had been ill and the Groenewalds had already filed for bankruptcy due to mounting medical bills. Then one day she read that babies can feel their mother's emotions before they're born. This set her on a path of changing her emotions and choosing joy. At first, she started with simple things like music and self-care. As her challenges grew in life, she became more determined to pursue a joyful life. Today, she works to inspire and encourage others to pursue joy with intentionality, and has started a website and podcast called "Moms of Heart." Today, Nicole joins us to talk about her and Henry's journey and the benefits of choosing joy. Welcome to "Heart to Heart with Anna," Nicole.

Nicole Groenewald:

Thank you so much. It's such a privilege to be a guest on your show.

Anna Jaworski:

Oh, that's so sweet of you. I'm so excited to have another podcaster on my program. It's not every day I get to speak to someone else who's doing the same kind of thing I am and who knows exactly what kind of challenges we face.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah.

Anna Jaworski:

And a Heart Mom to boot. So let's start with talking about your pregnancy with Henry. What was your pregnancy like? And how far along were you before you discovered he would have HLHS?

Nicole Groenewald:

Four years ago right before Christmas, we found out he had a heart defect. I was at the 20-week ultrasound and they said, "Something just doesn't quite feel right about the heart." They mentioned a few things, but they kind of made it seem like it wasn't a big deal. But they referred me to the cardiologist for a fetal echo. And we had struggled to get pregnant to begin with. So my mindset was like, 'there's no possible way anything could be wrong with this miracle baby.' And so when they sent us to cardiology, the whole time, we're doing this echo, I'm chatting with the tech completely oblivious, joking, having fun. And we go back to speak with the doctor and I'm convinced he's gonna say, "Oh, this was just an extra precaution. Everything's fine." And he started the conversation with, "So you have three options. You can have an abortion, you can take your son home on hospice, or we can talk about palliative care." And my world shattered in that moment.

Anna Jaworski:

Oh my gosh. So first of all, like me, it wasn't real easy for you to get pregnant. I went through the same thing. It seemed like it took forever for us to get pregnant. But on top of that you had other challenges going on? Tell me about your husband's illness.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, I wish it was even just one thing, but it's actually three major things that had kind of accumulated. So he grew up in a really neglectful abusive situation, emotional and I guess kind of physical because there was medical neglect. He got an ear infection when he was a kid, not very uncommon, but his parents refused to take him to the doctor. As a result, the infection grew to the point that it had created a tumor inside his middle ear and it was like all just this massive oozing infection; it wreaked horribly, like that smell of infections that's awful. So by the time he finally got in to a proper doctor, which only happened because he passed out at school and the school nurse took him to the doctor, (that was the only reason he even saw a provider to begin with). He was taken in for his first surgery to clean out the tumor and get a fresh start. Between that time about age 12 up until age 27 I think when he moved here, he had five total surgeries, cleaning out this cavity inside his ear so he has no eardrum, the middle bones are all gone. And it'll re-infect because there's no eardrum to protect it and keep it sterile. So...

Anna Jaworski:

Wow

Nicole Groenewald:

...he's had problems with that. He also has a Chiari malformation, which some of the listeners may be familiar with. To make it less technical -- essentially, the brain is falling down into the spinal cord, like where the spinal cord should be. And so he had to have surgery for that the year before we got pregnant but still has some symptoms that never resolved. And then he has complex PTSD from the abusive situation growing up. So all three of those things, there was just a lot going on. He still remains to have challenges and struggles. So I kind of have two patients I have to care for. I'm a nurse as well. So my family is now my patient care clientele.

Anna Jaworski:

Is that how you met him - as a nurse?

Nicole Groenewald:

No, actually, he was in South Africa when we met. We met on Match.com.

Anna Jaworski:

Oh, my goodness.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah.

Anna Jaworski:

Wow. A Match.com success story?

Nicole Groenewald:

Yes.

Anna Jaworski:

Wow. Well, it sounds like a miracle that he found you and it sounds like he needed somebody just like you to be with him.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, we've been through quite a journey. So he's been here seven years, and in that time, he's had six major surgeries. So the brain surgery and ear surgery, two abdominal surgeries, and then he shattered his leg right after Henry got discharged from the hospital the last time so he had to have surgery on his leg.

Anna Jaworski:

He shattered his leg - was he in a motorcycle accident?

Nicole Groenewald:

He was coming down the stairs for our first date night since Henry had been born. And he had just gotten out of the shower and was coming down strutting his stuff all dressed up fancy and got dizzy as a result of the ear issues that he has and fell down the stairs. And as he fell his leg turned around all the way the wrong way and shattered his tibia.

Anna Jaworski:

Oh, my goodness! This poor man!

Nicole Groenewald:

So our date night was in the hospital?

Anna Jaworski:

Oh, my goodness, poor thing. Wow. So he's deaf in one ear? Or at least extremely hearing impaired if not completely deaf.

Nicole Groenewald:

He's 80% deaf so he can hear the vibrations. And that's it.

Anna Jaworski:

Right. Because he has bone conduction and that's it?

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah.

Anna Jaworski:

Wow. Wow, that's a lot to deal with. And then to be told, you're going to have a baby who has this major heart issue? What went through your mind, Nicole?

Nicole Groenewald:

I think at first, the grief was really overwhelming because we'd been through I mean, so much hard things with his medical health, he had just gotten laid off. In part because of some of his medical challenges. He was struggling to do his work well, but because he's a green card resident, he's not eligible for some of the services that we have available to us like disability and things like that, that when you're faced with these kinds of ongoing medical challenges, he just didn't have those available. And so things were really hard. And then we get this diagnosis. And it just kind of felt like the one hope - the one good thing that was happening - now all of a sudden wasn't. And I just fell apart really. I feel like I cried every day for two months straight. I had a hard time keeping it together at work. Even just going to work. I had a hard time trying to focus on my job. I was a mess. And really early on, after a day or two after we got the diagnosis, because it's Christmas season, I decided, you know, let's not put up the Christmas tree. Let's not do any of the normal Christmas tradition things to try and not associate this grief with Christmas. And let's just allow ourselves to indulge in this grief for a little bit - not forever, but to allow ourselves to experience the emotions we're feeling. And maybe our friends and family won't get what we're going through. But at least together as a couple we can take some time and grieve. And I think that was honestly one of the healthiest decisions we've made in this whole process.

Anna Jaworski:

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The opinions expressed in the podcast are not those of Hearts Unite the Globe, but of the Hosts and Guests and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to congenital heart disease or bereavement.

Rejoiner:

You're listening to "Heart to Heart with Anna. If you have a question or comment that you would like to addressed on our show, please send an email to Anna Jaworski at [email protected] That's [email protected] Now, back to "Heart to Heart with Anna."

Anna Jaworski:

Nicole that was a really powerful picture that you painted for us right before the break of having Christmas, but not having Christmas. Allowing yourself to grieve instead and put the holiday on hold. So tell me about when you discovered the baby could feel your emotions and how you decided to make a change in your life.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, so right about when we decided 'okay, we're just going to allow ourselves to feel this grief.' We said 'about a month' and right as that month was coming to is kind of the end of January and we're kind of feeling like it's time to put this grief aside. Start choosing joy. We decided we were going to have a baby shower and we want it to be a joyful celebration of his life. Even if his life was only a day or two long, we wanted to take time to celebrate that in a place where there might be more hope than there might be later. So we're trying to intentionally choose these ways to choose joy. And part of that was the baby shower. But also, right in this time, I came across an article that talked about how when you're pregnant, your baby can feel your emotions. So I'm thinking, 'Okay, if he's got to come into this world, ready to fight the battle of his life, this is how he's entering the world. What emotional state does he need to be in? What emotions does he need to have experienced leading up to this, to give him the power and the motivation to fight through this...

Anna Jaworski:

sure

Nicole Groenewald:

...and,' I thought, 'He has to know joy.' Because if you only ever know grief and sadness, you're not going to be motivated to get through the hard things to get to more joy. And so I realized, if he's feeling how I'm feeling, I can't just put on a smiling face when I'm around friends and family and pretend to be okay, I have to actually feel okay, I have to actually feel joyful about him, and feel joyful about life, so that he can experience that and understand what he's fighting for.

Anna Jaworski:

I love that! I absolutely love that that is so brilliant. And it's a huge mindset.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah,

Anna Jaworski:

I mean, that is a deliberate decision, 'I am going to do this.' And I think anybody can do it. But I don't think it's easy.

Nicole Groenewald:

It's not. And I think probably because you're only really just meeting me now, hearing me now on the other side, if you knew me before, you would know this is not the kind of person I am. I'm the kind of person who is swayed by her emotions. And I'm, like, maybe a little emotionally unstable, tends to be my normal because I feel emotions big and I let myself feel them. If I'm feeling happy, then I feel happy. If I'm not, then I don't do anything about it to change it. And I honestly didn't even realize that there was a way that I could change how I felt. If I was in a bad mood, I was in a bad mood and everybody got to experience that. So this idea of 'Oh, I can change my emotions, to feel a different way motivated by my son feeling my emotions in a different way than maybe I'd be inclined to feel them' was kind of this great epiphany about life that 'I don't have to be in a bad mood because I feel in a bad mood, I can change that.'

Anna Jaworski:

Okay, so how do you do that? Because I find myself doing that sometimes, especially if I'm getting ready to record a show. Or when I was a teacher, before I would step into the classroom, I would stand outside the door. And I would say, "Okay, I'm dropping any baggage I have here because my kids don't need to know this." And then I would just go in with a fresh face and a fresh attitude. But how do you do it?

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, I think it really depends on the mood I'm battling with. I have some chronic illness issues, and I am struggling with pain and just not feeling well, frequently, especially - I'm pregnant so that adds to it. So if it's that kind of thing, then sometimes I just kind of have to give myself grace and say, 'Okay, I can be pleasant, even though I don't feel well and I might have to accommodate what I'm doing.' But if it's just kind of stinky, I-don't-feel-like-doing-anything-today-for-no-real-reason, I have found that playing music that kind of lifts me up and puts me in a better place, taking some time to meditate. Pray, spend time in Scripture, that all helps lift me to a better place. And definitely a found having habits of health have helped as well. Taking my vitamins, exercising regularly, eating healthy, those simple things have all made a dramatic difference. And I really didn't think that simple things like that would really make an impact. But I found the more that I've worked on this journey of changing my mood and changing my emotions, that they actually do empower me or make it easier to make those decisions.

Anna Jaworski:

I agree 100%. I'm the same way, if I'm in a blue mood, which does happen every now and then, I'll put on Pandora. I love Pandora because I can choose the artist and give myself some Hall and Oates or some Billy Joel (chuckle) somebody I know the words to the songs or somebody who I know can bring me up - like I love to play the song "Happy." And I don't know about you, but I'm kind of like a closet dancer. I don't like to dance in front of anybody else. But if nobody else is around and I find myself moved to dance, just the process of moving and being happy while I'm moving to the music can totally change my attitude and totally change the way I feel for a while. I mean, maybe not for the entire day but it will put me in a much better mind frame to move on and do what needs to be done.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, I get self-conscious even with myself about dancing. I am a little bit more of a serious personality. But I found that playing with my son is an easier way to bring out my playful and happy side. And so that's another way as I'll either go sing or play with him or dance with him or something like that. That helps, too. But if I try and do it on my own, it just makes me more grouchy.

Anna Jaworski:

You're so funny, Nicole. Oh, my goodness, well, let's get back to Henry's birth. Okay, so you made it through the pregnancy. You made this major change in your lifestyle by choosing happiness. And then it finally comes time for the baby to be delivered. Take us through the delivery.

Nicole Groenewald:

I struggled, even picturing what the delivery would look like because I am, in addition to being trained as a nurse, I'm trained as a doula. Until we got Henry's diagnosis, I was going to have either a home birth or a birth center birth, and we were in talks of that when we got the diagnosis for his heart defect, and that obviously changed the plans.

Anna Jaworski:

Yeah, so that's another loss.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, we moved from Salt Lake to Houston at 36 weeks pregnant. So he was delivered at Texas Children's Hospital, but I didn't really get a chance to meet any of his doctors, or do any kind of prenatal conversations or build any kind of rapport with the team, because we had just moved and we had to transfer insurance. And so I've maybe had two prenatal appointments in Houston before I delivered. So there was a lot of discomfort for me, I didn't get to see the birthing suite, or any of the things to kind of just help prepare my mind or wrap my head around what was going on.

Anna Jaworski:

Sure.

Nicole Groenewald:

So I went into it with a mindset of just kind of struggling to begin with. And then I was induced, which I wasn't thrilled about, but I had come to expect at that point. And I wanted to try and do the induction without an epidural. And they were okay with that until the contractions started. And then I felt like the doctor kind of manipulated me because then she came in and said, "You're a high risk for C-section," which hadn't been brought up until this very moment in the middle of contractions. "And if we have to do general anesthesia for a C-section, that's harder on Henry's heart. So I want to do an epidural." And I said, "Fine, do an epidural, but run no medication through it. I want to do this on my own." And it turns out placing an epidural and not running medication through it is really painful.

Anna Jaworski:

Yes! Oh, my gosh! I can't even imagine!

Nicole Groenewald:

I ended up calling her back after about five minutes and then I called the Doctor back and I said, "Actually can we just run like the lowest dose possible through just so that I'm not feeling that in my back." And I was really frustrated because it changed the nature of my contractions. And I felt like they were harder to cope with than it was without the epidural. So I ended up having a lot more than I wanted to. And the nursing staff didn't listen to me. I think I was one centimeter dilated at the start of the whole process. And within six hours, I was like my body is pushing. I think it's time I told that to the nurse and she said, "No, honey, you have hours to go" and I said, "Well, I'm not pushing, but my body is! Can we just check? I think I'm dilated to a 10." And she refused to. She said, "The doctor will be in in a few hours." And I said ,"Okay, well, if it's going to hurt this much (because he's like crowning at this point), then I'm going to need some more of this epidural if we're not even close to being done." So she had the anesthesiologist come in and bump up the epidural a little bit more. He hit me hard! I mean up to my shoulder, it's like I can't feel a thing. And I'm ready to take a nap. which honestly isn't a bad thing. Because it's like one o'clock in the morning. I'm pretty tired. But I can't feel my contractions and the doctor came in and he's like, "Okay, you're at a 10 Let's go."

Anna Jaworski:

Oh, my gosh!

Nicole Groenewald:

I'm like, "Well, my contractions. If you had checked me when I asked for you to check me, we wouldn't have this problem." So they let me take a nap dilated at 10 for an hour, which was really uncomfortable. And that gave them time to get the team all ready and everything and they got everybody all together. And they came in and I was having to just push when he said to push because I couldn't feel when my body was saying it was time to push. So it was a little traumatic for me just because that feeling of not being heard, like for me is really is a hard thing for me to process.

Anna Jaworski:

Yes,

Nicole Groenewald:

So that was really frustrating. And then I was also told that I could hold him for - my understanding was up to 30 minutes, as long as he came out pink and stable. And his Apgar was like an eight or nine. He was fantastic. And they let me hold him for like 30 seconds and then they took him and then I didn't get to hold him for another 24 hours.

Anna Jaworski:

Oh!

Nicole Groenewald:

Because they got all hooked up to stuff and then I only got to hold him because the nurse broke a bunch of rules and let me hold him. (chuckle) She let me hold him for like an hour and do some skin to skin later at midnight the following night.

Anna Jaworski:

That's just so traumatic Nicole! Gosh, my heart is aching for you!

Nicole Groenewald:

It's the emotional stuff as a mom you get frustrated with and I keep having to remind myself - he's healthy. He's fine and what Texas Children's does amazingly is they save babies. That's why we were there - is for them to save my baby. And so he's alive. And so when I start getting frustrated about this emotional trauma, I remind myself of that, and it helps a little bit. But in that, as I'm now preparing for another delivery, I've been struggling with some of this trauma from Henry's birth of just the fear of these things happening again. So yeah, delivery wasn't the best. But it also could have been a lot worse.

Anna Jaworski:

Absolutely. Well, it does sound like it was extremely traumatic. And I can imagine that you might even have a little bit PTSD based on that experience, because it went on for hours and the feeling that you're not being heard. It strips you of your validity as a person.

Nicole Groenewald:

I think, especially when you're in the vulnerable position of delivery, because when you're trying to cope with those contractions, it's really hard to advocate for yourself, or to really communicate in any way because you just trying to deal with the pain (chuckle)

Anna Jaworski:

Right! Absolutely, absolutely. I'm guessing that based on all of these experiences, you decided to write a book, tell us about your book,

Nicole Groenewald:

What I did just publish - I'm really excited about and I think your audience might be interested in - is a journal for when you're in the hospital with your kids, it can be for the first time they're just born - that process - or it can be later on if they're having another surgery, or even something minor or not heart-related. And it helps you make sure that you're taking care of yourself when you're in the hospital. It helps you communicate with nurses and doctors, tracks the I and Os [Inputs and Outputs] and daily cares and all information overload that happens while you're in the hospital. There's ways for you to track that and record it and process through it. As well as the last part of the journal there is journaling prompts, so that you can process through some of the harder questions that you might be inclined to avoid while you're in the hospital. And this is actually the third rendition of this, we've been selling it as a PDF on my website for a couple years now. And we've created it into a way that it's like a bound book, as a journal, there's two weeks per book. So if you're in the hospital for more than two weeks, you can buy several of them. It's like a memoir of your hospital stay. So then you've got littles, and they're older and then asking questions about what can you tell me about my open heart surgery, I've learned now as a parent, you kind of begin to block some of that stuff out. And it's harder to answer those questions. Or if a mom comes and says, "Can you tell me about what this is like?" I don't really remember it because you blocked it out. And I wish I had a tool like this to be able to just document and record and process while I was in the hospital with my son. And the feedback I've gotten from those who've been able to use it has been tremendous. And so I've made this one to be really easy. You just order it online, and it comes straight to your door. And you can order several of them in case you're going to be there for a long time. But that's the first thing and then the next book that we have coming out will talk about more about this mindset shift of choosing joy in the midst of the trials that you might be going through.

HUG Info:

"Heart to Heart with Anna" is a presentation of Hearts Unite the Globe and is part of the HUG Podcast Network. Hearts Unite the Globe is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing resources to the congenital heart defect community to uplift, empower, and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resources pertaining to the CH D community, please visit our website at www.congenitalheartdefects.com for information about CHD, the hospitals that treat children with CHD, summer camps for CHD survivors and much, much more.

Anna Jaworski:

So you've been able to grow from your trauma and reach out to other people, which I think is really beautiful.

Nicole Groenewald:

And it's also given me less anxiety about future hospital admissions because I feel more equipped to handle being in the hospital because I have this tool that I can use.

Anna Jaworski:

You also have a podcast. So let's talk about your podcast. Now. How did you birth your podcast and how is that going?

Nicole Groenewald:

So it was along the same lines of the process of coming up with the hospital journal. The process of Henry's birth and then we went for his Glenn and he was struggling to eat after his Glenn so we had to have a feeding tube placed and then he got RSV. So we were in and out of the hospital that first year a lot. And in that time of just sitting in the hospital trying to be productive, but also feeling completely overwhelmed. I had this idea that I really wanted to help other parents in the process. At that time, the only podcast I could find about kids with heart defects or actually really any kind of medical need challenges at all for parenting kids like them was yours. And aside from that I couldn't find them. I found them now and some of them did exist then, but they were kind of hard to find. One of the things I wanted to do was to create a really valuable resource for parents who maybe were finding themselves in my shoes or maybe later on for more encouragement, and to create a community where parents could connect and rid themselves of some of the isolation that comes with having a child with extra medical challenges.

Anna Jaworski:

Sure, sure.

Nicole Groenewald:

So that was kind of how it came about. It's called "Moms of Heart." And we're on all the major podcast platforms. And it's been a kind of a journey of learning the process of podcasting, and learning, branding and some of the business stuff. So there's a lot of confusion in some of the episodes. But I think we're falling into a good rhythm and really starting to accomplish that goal that I originally set out with.

Anna Jaworski:

Your podcasts has changed names a little bit?

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah

Anna Jaworski:

that's okay. I listened to it when it was "Chase Joy," Chasing Joy 100 Ways," I think that's what it was called.

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, "Chase Joy 100 Ways" and that's actually a separate podcast that is still available on all the major platforms as well. And you can find out more about that one at ChaseJoy100Ways.com. But I found that I wasn't getting as much traction with that one because there was no clear audience of who would benefit from that podcast. And with "Moms of Heart", my clear audience had always been moms of kids with extra medical needs. That resonated more with people and even when I wasn't posting to that podcast, I was still getting more listens to that one than I was with the new one. When I was in business school now and talking to my professor about some of this branding challenges I was facing, I realized, 'Oh, I should probably go back to "Moms of Heart" because there's a clear audience there. And that was really still my goal and messaging. And I just got a little confused on how branding works when I shifted a couple of episodes on "Moms of Heart" talk about the "Chase Joy" podcast, a couple of them talk about "Authentic Sisterhood," which was the precursor to "Chase Joy" because there's been some challenges along the way, but we have some clarity now. So it's "Moms of Heart," and probably by the time you're hearing this episode, there will be several episodes posted there with this kind of more clear vision and clear tangible help along this process of being a mom or being a dad of a child with medical challenges.

Anna Jaworski:

You and I are both Heart Moms; you're also a nurse. So neither one of us went to school to learn how to be a podcaster. In fact, when I went to school, I'm so old, they didn't even have podcasts. The word 'podcast' did not exist. Tell me how hard it is for you to actually do your show and to produce it. Do you feel like it's something anybody could do?

Nicole Groenewald:

I do think so. Because now with YouTube, and there's several podcasts that actually talk about the process of creating a podcast, I learned pretty much everything I've done up to this point for free. My hosting is for free my recording, my editing, all of it was for free. Some of it now I've started paying for just because I want the upgraded features. But it's all possible to learn. And honestly, if you're just stuck in the hospital it's kind of the best thing to have a project to divert your attention to or even if you're home and just struggling. I ended up deciding not to go back to work as a nurse. My family are patients enough for me as it is. So I was kind of feeling like I lost my purpose. And digging into this podcast has really given me purpose back and I feel productive. And like I'm being useful in this world again with doing the podcast. And I love that there's so many free resources now. And so whenever I get stuck doing something I'm trying to do, I'll go check YouTube, or some of the other podcasts that I subscribe to and look to see if they have an episode about that issue that I'm struggling with. But I think it's actually really not as hard as it might seem. It's really just, I think, a matter of deciding to do it.

Anna Jaworski:

I agree 100%. I have Buzzsprout as my host... ...for my podcast. I love Buzzsprout. They

Nicole Groenewald:

Yeah, me,too are amazing. They have a podcast about podcasting, and I listen to it religiously. I love it. I don't know if you listen to it. But if you have, they've been nice enough to read some of my questions on the air and answer them. (laughter) They are amazing. And whenever I go to podcast conferences, I always make a beeline for the Buzzsprout booth. And so I know Alban and I know Kevin. (chuckle) I had a chance to meet the team. And when you know your team, and then you have a problem, you can reach out to them. It just feels really good. They're very nurturing with the way they treat me. And so I love Buzzsprout, in fact, now I'm an affiliate so there'll be a link in the show notes. If anybody wants to find out about Buzzsprout go ahead and sign up. If you sign up with me, then I get a little something and you get a little something. They're just really an awesome group to be with. They're just amazing. And I agree with you. I think that it's not too hard for somebody to do. You just have to really want to do it. And then as I became more really intentionally focused on really wanting to help parents and not just spout off my stresses for the week, I became more intentional about crafting episode topics and ideas and resources to go with the episodes. And I think it's become a lot more useful for listeners. But I think that there's something also to some of those just random musings of your brain. Sometimes it just attracts people. So even if that's all you start out with, I think just starting and going somewhere with it, it grows and morphs into something beautiful, pretty much always if you keep with it,

Anna Jaworski:

I think if you keep with it, and if you're authentic, and when I was listening to your program, I felt like I had a new friend. (giggle) It's so funny. We were talking about that during the break. It's like, I feel like I already know you. I feel like I'm already friends with you. And part of that was because your whole vision of finding joy and making joy part of your life, I thought, 'Yes! Everybody needs that! Everybody needs to hear that. Everybody needs to embrace that.' Because choosing joy, choosing to find that good in what you're living makes a huge difference, especially for all of the people around you. So kudos to you, I felt you were very authentic, because in your podcast, you talked about the struggles you had. And I thought, 'Oh good! She doesn't have all the answers. (laughter) She's struggling just like I am.'

Nicole Groenewald:

I definitely don't claim to have all the answers and actually I ask a lot of questions on my podcast and invite people to come and join me on Instagram or fill out forums on my website to give me some feedback, because I don't have all the answers. And I really want it to be more of a community-centered journey, not just on my journey, because I don't have all the answers. I don't claim to know what's best for everyone. But I think collectively we can get answers to help you with the challenges you're struggling with. And whether that's your journey to joy or maybe your journey through the hospital or whatever obstacles you're facing, I think together, we can find a way forward. And it's when we're trying to do it on our own or listening to someone just being really bossy that we might have some troubles. So I try to not be bossy.

Anna Jaworski:

You don't come across bossy at all. Nicole, it has been such a delight to have you on the program. I just have absolutely loved this. And I wish there had been a podcast like yours when I was in the hospital with my child because it sucks feeling like you're all alone in this. It really does help to hear that there's somebody else who has been down this path and they've survived it, their child has survived it and you're going to survive it too. And you really do a nice job of connecting with your guests and connecting with your audience and making them feel like they're part of your community.

Nicole Groenewald:

Well, thank you and I feel the same way about your podcast. It definitely got me through some hard days. So thank you for all the work that you've put into doing your podcast as well.

Anna Jaworski:

Oh, thank you, Nicole, you just made my day. Thank you so much for coming on the program and talking to us about your story. I have a feeling I'm going to have to have you come back because you have a lot more to share.

Nicole Groenewald:

I'd love that!

Anna Jaworski:

Friends, don't worry, I will have links to her podcast and to her journal. So you don't have to worry about taking notes. Just look in the show notes. And for those of you who don't know what show notes mean, it means the description so if you're an apple podcasts or iTunes, it's just the description. I always try to put links in the description to make it easier for those of you who are listening. But that's it for this week's episode. If you enjoyed this episode of "Heart t Heart with Anna," please take a moment and leave a review n whatever platform you use o listen to our show. And rememb r my friends, you are not alon

Conclusion:

Thank you again for joining us this week. We hope you have been inspired and empowered to become an advocate for the congenital heart defect community.