Donate Bibs &Blankets; to NICU Preemie Families
Organized by: Lindy Carter
In August 2004, I was visiting my husband who was completing USAF Tech School in Biloxi, Mississippi. I hadn't seen him all that much since he entered into basic training just the previous month so I was excited...especially since we had just found out that I was pregnant right before he left.
The first few days were great, but many of you will probably remember that during that same month and year, Biloxi was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. It wasn't pretty. We lived in a windowless building with limited supplies for about 10 days before the AF could make arrangements for us to leave and when we did we joined a small caravan of other displaced Airman first driving to Alabama and then to California.
I wasn't feeling well. We were cooped up so I wasn't able to exercise like I needed to. There was no water so our drinking supply was limited and you could forget about bathing. There wasn't a lot of food options either. The AF supplied us with those pre-packaged military meals, but after a few days the amount of salt in them gave me headaches, so mostly I slept.
When we finally arrived in California, I was immediately checked out by a doctor who ordered bed rest. A few days later, I woke up with terrible back pain. I took a long bath, took a longer nap and then woke up and repeated until finally around 2 a.m. I couldn't take it anymore. I called my doctor who ordered me to the hospital.
On the drive there, I read in my "What to Expect" book that I was possibly going through pre-term labor. My husband and I expected that they would give me a shot to stop it and then send me home. I mean, I was only 23 weeks pregnant at this point.
When we arrived, a monitor was placed around my belly, but a heartbeat couldn't be detected. One of the nurse practitioners came in for a physical examination and determined that she could feel the baby's feet and that he was coming.
I was rushed upstairs for an emergency C-section and Cole was pulled from me shortly after, not breathing. I had no idea what was going on and I never held my son or heard him cry until a week later. He was rushed right away to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA. About 10 hours later, a nurse handed me this polaroid. It was the first time I saw Cole. He was 13" long and weighed less than a pound, but he was alive and that's what mattered.
A few days later when I was released I was able to go see him. For some reason I thought he would have a private room, but when I entered the NICU there were babies everywhere. I don't know all the circumstances surrounding their arrival to the NICU and maybe this is terrible to say, but I'm glad we weren't alone. It was all the other babies and all the other parents and those folks taking care of our kids that kept me from going crazy. It was amazing to watch them heal and grow and go home. We were happy for so many of them.
We saw a lot of babies go home. Cole was in the NICU for six very long months. We spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and birthdays in there. It had become home for us. Which sort of brings me to why we're here today. The NICU was home for us and we wanted it to be warm and comfortable for Cole, but shopping for baby things was the last thing on my mind.
See that hat??? Someone made that for him. Someone made him a lot of hats and booties and blankets. He got stuffed animals and other keepsakes. It seemed like every time I left and came back, even if I was only gone for a few minutes, there was something new for him.
There were a lot of volunteers working and donating and loving our kids. The one volunteer that was making all those things for my kid, she died not too long ago and while I'm sure there are people still trying to make these things and give them to kids like Cole, maybe someone should try to pick up where she left off and give them a hand.
So, Cole and I talked about it and came up with an idea together. I don't know anything about knitting, but I can sew (something I'm thankful to my grandmother for). So, I'm going to use my sewing skills and help with what I can.
If you donate $10, I'll make a bib and deliver it to a California NICU. If you donate $20, I'll make two bibs. If you donate $30, I'll make three and so on. If you donate $50, I'll include a burp cloth in a complimentary fabric.
All bibs are made from 100% cotton materials (preferably organic cotton). All bibs are pre-washed in hypoallergenic detergent. I use Velcro enclosures (many use snaps, but I prefer Velcro so to limit a choking hazard). The fabrics Cole and I choose are vibrant and colorful. They are soft to the touch which is pleasant for the baby. So, that's kind of it. I went through a bunch of bibs and burp cloths during Cole's stay in the NICU and they were okay (standard white bibs that aren't in the best condition and I didn't get to keep them).
These bibs get to go home with the family and some of those families don't have a lot and the last thing they're thinking about is buying bibs and burp cloths while their baby is in the NICU waiting to go home.
Last year, he helped collect blankets to give to the homeless shelter, so it would be great for him to continue and share that charitable spirit that so many are in awe of. He's a sweet and amazing kid.