Packard group seeks quilts for each newborn in intensive care
Text and photograph by Robert Dicks
Ten-day-old Kate Oebker is falling asleep amid the monitors, catheters and tubes surrounding her isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit at Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital. Shes recovering from surgery to repair a hole in her diaphragm that had thwarted the growth of her lungs.
But when mom Janiece covers her newborn with a petite homemade quilt,
one with a blue bear nestled in a sea of multicolored moons and stars,
everyone around Kate smiles. They see that this quilt makes Kates
world a little brighter, a little warmer and a little bit more like the
nursery that awaits her at home.
Making and donating these homemade quilts is the mission of nurse Katie
Teague, leader of the hospitals NICU sewing committee.
As a Packard NICU nurse for the last 11 years, Teague knows how terrifying
this environment can be. The doctors, nurses and other caregivers
strive to provide emotional support for the family, in addition to caring
for the babys medical needs. But the NICU is not a nursery, its
not a playroom, its nothing like home, says Teague. Thats
where the sewing committee comes in.
The committees 15 members began the NICU quilt project in September
2002. The group meets quarterly to create a fresh batch of quilts, with
designs including everything from geometric shapes to animals, balloons
But the quilt also helps bond mother and child during times of separation. Many
moms take the quilt home and sleep with it or hold it against their body
for several hours. That way, the quilt carries the essence of mom when
she returns it to the baby, says Teague.
Our goal is to make a quilt for every one of these babies, says
With 1,600 newborns admitted to the NICU each year, thats a lot
of quilts. This year the committee has made about 75 and area sewing
groups have donated an additional 500, says Teague.
The effort is greatly appreciated. As Oebker says, These quilts
mean so much to a family whose child is ill. They personalize the experience,
they add warmth, they add color, they add a sense of home. Its
a precious and loving keepsake, and it will always have meaning for us.
Packards NICU sewing committee also accepts homemade blankets
from volunteers. For more information about how you can make and donate
a quilt or blanket for Packards NICU babies, visit http://quiltsforbabies.lpch.org.
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