When I was first married, Joan lived in my neighborhood. We went to the same church, and we became friends. When I was pregnant with my first son, we moved, and I lost touch with her. That is until my second child was born. My daughter needed the special care of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The morning after her birth, I walked from my room — in another wing of the hospital — to the NICU to hold and feed her. When I walked into the NICU, her assigned nurse for the day was my friend Joan. I was so relieved. Joanie brought such calm and peace with her, reassuring me that my little one was going to be fine. As I held my daughter, Joan sat by me and we talked, just catching up on the intervening years, and her very presence was healing for a stressed out mom.
Fast forward a few years. We have moved again, and so, apparently, had my friend Joan and her family. When we walked into church our first Sunday in our new neighborhood, guess who we saw in one of the first pews we passed….. Yep, it was Joan and her family. We were neighbors once again! It’s been so much fun to have her be part of our lives again.
Last fall, Joan was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the blood vessel lining in her leg. She elected to have her leg amputated. I watched her go through the experience with her perennial good cheer and positive attitude. No matter what the situation, she just found a way to be a force for good for everyone around her, even though all of us were there doing our best to comfort and serve her. A few months later, as her pain continued, they discovered that the cancer had spread. Her particular cancer is aggressive and angry, so she underwent chemotherapy in an effort to stop its progress. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy treatment was not effective and made her too weak for further treatments.
I began organizing our spring challenge this year before I was aware of everything that was happening with my friend and her family, but now, as we launch yet another NICU challenge, I want to host the challenge in honor of my friend Joan, as a way to thank her for her years caring for the tiniest and most vulnerable of babies and their families. As you make your hats this month, I hope you’ll keep my friend, her husband, and her children in your thoughts and prayers. During our recent Christmas challenge, more than 50,000 hats were donated worldwide. I hope that we’ll see an incredible response just like that this spring in her honor.
Welcome to our first Spring NICU Challenge, and the eighth NICU challenge we’ve hosted over the past few years. We always hold a challenge at Christmas time, and I’ve had so many requests for a spring challenge that I decided to put one together this year. The official challenge is to make ten (or more!) baby hats this month and donate them to a NICU, hospital, or birthing center near you. Read on for the details!
Some babies need help when they are born. They may need extra care because they were born too early, and therefore still need time to be ready to enter the world. These tiniest of babies are often fighters, despite weighing no more than a couple of bananas! Even full-term babies may end up in the NICU, because they have troubles like breathing adequately, staying warm, or regulating their blood sugar. In the NICU, babies often cannot wear any clothing except a little hat on their heads because of their tubes and wires. The hats serve a two-fold purpose: helping the baby keep their body heat stable, and helping their families see the sweet baby beneath all of the NICU paraphernalia.
Some of our previous challenges have focused exclusively on preemie hats. We’re changing things up just a little bit this time. We’ve had lots of feedback that hospitals need the newborn sized hats even more than the preemie sized hats. That’s because there are lots of late-term babies — babies with big heads! — who need the intervention of the NICU. So our challenge patterns this spring focus on newborn sized hats. Hopefully this will also help some of you who don’t have a NICU nearby. You’ll be able to take your hats to any hospital or birthing center to bless families in your own community.
Ten designers have each contributed a newborn-sized hat pattern to our challenge this spring. Because there are 30 days in April, we’ll be sending out a new pattern via email every three days so that the challenge runs throughout the month. You are welcome to use all of the patterns, only one of the patterns, or any combination of repeats (or your own patterns) to make your 10 hats. We ask that you share a photo of your finished hats with us before you drop them off to your local hospital/birthing center/NICU. You can post the photos to my Facebook page or you can email them to me. We will share the photos so that all participants can enjoy the results. To receive the patterns and join the challenge, enter your email in the box below to subscribe to the challenge patterns newsletter. Every third day through the challenge, you’ll receive a new pattern. You’ll also receive coupon codes from the designers and other updates when you join in.
Sign up below to receive the challenge patterns. Please list your name and email, and if you feel so inclined, the state or country in which you reside. We’d love to see where all of these little hats are going! Please do not forward the patterns to others who want to participate; instead, please ask them to join in the challenge so that we know how many people are participating. This sign up is how we track the number of participants in the challenge. Thank you again for joining us! If you have issues with the form below, here is a different sign up form that’s hosted by our email company.