My daughter was born 16 days after her due date. I was induced on the 14th day. The drug called Pitocin (meant to induce labor) didn’t work. My OB shrugged and told me we’d try again in two days if my labor didn’t progress on its own.
Fast forward two days. I was lying in a hospital bed having another Pitocin party. After eight hours, my little nugget showed no signs of wanting to see what life outside my uterus had to offer. “We’ll give it another half hour,” said my doctor. “If nothing happens we’ll just schedule a C-section.” My contractions started as soon as my doctor left the room and my daughter was born four hours later.
My labor was fast and furious and my baby was healthy. We left the hospital a couple of days later. Her going home outfit was a white dress with little embroidered violets. I remember the delight in doing up her little buttons and finally getting to dress her in all the cutesy outfits I’d so carefully picked out.
I never attached any meaning to something as basic as putting clothes on my baby. I took it for granted because why wouldn’t I?
Amanda Huhta gave birth to her son at 25 weeks gestation. The Arizona mom reported being in tears over not being able to dress her child. Since preemie babies have so many wires and tubes attached to them, getting them into a baby outfit is about impossible. Getting them out of a baby outfit if there’s an emergency might waste life-saving minutes.
“You never really think it’s important until you can’t find anything for your kid to wear. It’s like a rite of passage being able to put something on your baby.”
And that’s true. We don’t really stop and think of it that way until we miss the opportunity. There’s a saying about not missing what we don’t have but I don’t think that’s true for all things. We have certain expectations of what motherhood is going to look like and when life throws a curve ball, little things, like dressing your new baby, stand out. Those little things matter.
Fast forward three years. Huhta’s son is a healthy 3-year-old and she is paying it forward to other NICU moms. With the help of her mom, she’s making shirts specifically designed for preemies and handing them out for free to parents at the Tucson Medical Center.
“My mom taught me to sew specifically for this project,” explained Huhta. “I’d never sewed in my life.”
If you’re wondering how exactly these tiny shirts work, it goes something like this: “You put the baby flat on it and it just folds over with Velcro, so if there is an emergency, they can just rip it off,” explains Huhta.
A local news station highlighted her efforts to recruit volunteers to help sew more shirts which would allow more families to receive them. She was hoping to get 20 or so volunteers in the Tucson area.
Huhta got her wish and then some. She now has a volunteer sewer in every state. As if that weren’t awesome enough, this cause has reached Ireland, Brazil, and Australia. I bet it doesn’t stop there.
Huhta’s initiative is called Twenty-Five and Four and is named for her son who was born at 25 weeks and 4 days. He weighed a mere 1 pound 12 ounces and spent 110 days in the NICU. If you’d like to donate money, volunteer to sew a shirt, or sign up to receive a shirt, visit Twenty-Five and Four’s website. This amazing mom has dreams of turning her project into a bona-fide non-profit and is seeking legal assistance and funds to make that happen.
“This is exciting but overwhelming,” Huhta told Babble. “I had a big vision for what would happen with this project in the future and now the future is here. The folks that volunteer to sew are awesome but what I really need is cash. I send out 3-4 shirts a day and they cost nearly $7 each to ship. I use the priority mail prepaid envelope because I want the shirts to reach the families quickly.”
Twenty-Five and Four is set up for cash donations.
Winnie the Pooh said, “Sometimes, the littlest things take up the most room in your heart.” If you or someone close to you has a preemie story, this probably resonates. If you’re like me and never considered the fact that a mom of a preemie is missing out on something as simple as dressing her baby, well, now you know. A baby outfit the size of your cell phone might not seem like much but to the mom who gets to gently place it on her child’s tiny body, it’s a very big deal.