It’s pretty amazing that in the modern world, there are so many hospitals prepared to help premature babies survive. Some babies born at only 23 to 25 weeks gestation actually have a chance at life because of the wonderful care they receive at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Although the advancement of medicine is encouraging to parents, it's still scary when their baby is born several weeks or even months premature. They see their babies with tubes throughout their bodies and sometimes can’t even hold them yet. Premature babies (also known as preemies) usually need to gain enough weight and breathe on their own before they can go home. This can cause some babies to have longer stays in the NICU than others.
In order to help cheer up parents in Iowa whose babies came earlier than expected, a non-profit organization called The Preemie Project aims to bring a little happiness to their stay in the NICU. Volunteers knit, crochet, and sew all kinds of clothes and bedding for preemie babies and donate the items straight to the hospital. This past Thanksgiving, the organization donated themed hats that were pumpkins, turkeys, or anything related to the holiday.
Dixie Sandlin, whose baby girl was born at 28 weeks and is in the NICU, was so grateful for the volunteers and their generosity.
"It just brings light on the whole situation, having her be able to dress up and look like a normal baby even with the cords around her,” she said.
Staying in the NICU is stressful and “nerve-wracking” as Sandlin describes, but The Preemie Project hopes to ease some of that stress and bring smiles to parents’ faces while they are there.
The Preemie Project was founded in 2005 by Laura Parish. She simply wanted to help families whose babies were in the NICU by knitting hats and booties for the babies. She contacted local hospitals and was granted permission to donate the items. Her mother, Linda Aker, now runs the organization. It has grown so much over the past 14 years, that people from all over the country are donating to it.
Right now, the organization is working on Christmas-themed hats and booties. If you would like to help donate, you can visit their website for more information, or send an email to email@example.com