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Amber Smitheram crocheted hats for the NICU in honor of her daughter Jadelynn, who weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces when she was born at 24 weeks. She spent 72 days at Tacoma General Hospital. This month, Jadelynn celebrated her 5th birthday.
Gift from preemie's mother reminds NICU parents they're not alone
“Five years ago, on Dec. 13, 2007, my daughter was born. She weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces.
I was 24 weeks and five days along.”
That’s the beginning of a letter that arrived this month, addressed to the moms and the dads who have a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma, Wash.
“When she was 12 days old, on Christmas, she had surgery to repair the PDA valve in her heart, and after 72 days in the NICU and ICN,
she went home.”
The letter accompanied a box. Inside the box were 72 colorful crocheted hats, handmade to warm tiny heads.
“Every time I went in the waiting room of the NICU, there was a basket of hats, and since it’s been five years, I wanted to give back and share my story with you. To give you hope and maybe bring a smile to your face, to know that you’re not alone.
“I’ve been on both sides of preemies. My miracle is Jadelynn. If you looked at her now, you wouldn’t know that she was only 1 pound, 10 ounces at birth, and that she had surgery (other than a scar). And then this March, the sadness of losing my son at 23 weeks. As a parent of a preemie, I know how scary it is to watch your child in an incubator (bubble) and feel helpless, but know that you are not alone, and that you’re in the best of care at Tacoma General.
“Please take a hat and know that many out there know what you’re going through. The hat you take is one of 72, to signify every day Jadelynn spent in the wonderful hands of the doctors and nurses of Tacoma General’s NICU and ICN. I wish you happiness and a healthy baby.”
The letter and the hats are a gift from Amber Smitheram, in honor of her preemie daughter, Jadelynn: two people who can look back at where they've been, and appreciate how far they've come.
Jadelynn is now 5 years old, happy and healthy. She even helped her mom make the hats. She picked the colors and carefully counted to 72: One for every day she spent in wonderful hands.
For parents in the NICU today, 72 tiny reminders that they’re not alone.