Organized by: Stephanie Bentley
EVENT DATE Dec 20, 2014
We will put everyone who donates' names on the sticker with the gifts. NOTE: As of 11/9/14 we have 61 sets of receiving blankets and 50 - "On the night you were born" books. The NICU said that is what they need most. People are also making blankets. (They said they do NOT need hats).
Our son, Jackson, was born at 27 weeks and 1 day (13 weeks premature), 5 days before Christmas weighing a whopping 2lbs 5oz. Needless to say with the scary thoughts of him potentially dying or perhaps having severe medical issues, Christmas gifts were far from our mind. Not to mention his first Christmas was supposed to be in December 2014 not 2013! He was supposed to be born in March 2014. It was every parent's worst nightmare.
I had done nothing wrong. No drugs. No alcohol. No gestational diabetes. No high blood pressure. He just came. We are convinced he kicked his way out.
I had an emergency c-section at 4:30p on 12/20/13 and was released at 6:00p on Christmas Eve. Every store (except Target) was closed. I made my husband drive me to Target to get our little boy his first Christmas gifts. What do you get for a baby who won't be home for God knows how long, if ever? As I waddled through Target in severe pain, we picked out two little gifts. It was by far one of the worst moments of my life. To know my little man, someone I had hoped and dreamed about for so long, would spend Christmas in an isolette (incubator) and not at home with us was beyond heartbreaking. I cried the entire time in Target and looked like a hot mess.
Christmas morning was agonizing. I was hormonal from just giving birth and in severe pain form the c-section and I missed my munchkin. I hated leaving him alone (even though Jack had no idea and will never remember it). My husband and I spent a few hours with family that morning and then went to the hospital. What we saw when we arrived was amazing. Every single baby in the NICU (50 of them!) had gifts. Many gifts. From previous NICU parents who had been in our spot previously. They attached cards with their personal NICU journeys in them. The cards were inspiring and hopeful. Jack got receiving blankets and toys. Scott read him "Twas The Night Before Christmas" which someone gave Jack!
I cried. Hysterically. If you know me, I am NOT a crier. It was so incredibly kind of people to do - to buy gifts for grieving parents. Parents they will never meet. For babies they will never meet. To just give them one moment of happiness in an incredibly scary experience.
We were very fortunate. Jack only spent 72 days in the NICU. He had a small bout with NEC (very serious intestinal issue), a small PDA heart murmur and retinopathy of prematurity (eye issue). All of it has since gone away and he is now a wonderfully healthy 8 month old (as of 9/1/14). But I belong to a few preemie groups online and many babies stay for longer than 72 days... some even more than a year. Many have to have grueling surgeries. Some don't ever come home. The hospital told us that the holiday season sees a higher % of preemies being born due to stress. ANd even sadder, many preemies are abandoned so these gifts might be their only ones.
On 12/25/13, Scott and I decided to raise money to do the same thing (Scott's idea!) for this upcoming year and God-willing years to come. But we can't do it alone.
Yes, it's true. The babies will NEVER remember this. But the parents will and believe me it DOES do something positive.
If this story tugged at your heart even just a little please consider donating. Any amount. $1 is great! We are asking now because we know as it gets closer to holiday time, money gets tighter for all families. Scott and I will be buying as many gifts as we can for these NICU babies and their families around our son's 1st birthday on December 20, 2014. We will deliver them to UMass Memorial in Worcester near that day. And we will be doing something extra special for the 3 babies who are in the 3 bed spaces he stayed in over his 72 days.
The NICU said that books and receiving blankets are most needed. They get hats year round so they aren't needed. If you would prefer to make blankets please let me know. That would be great too!
Thank you for your time!