Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Preemie Knit-a-thon Contest!!!

When I was pregnant with PeeWee our worlds were rocked almost every time I went to the doctor. She loved to surprize us with something new and unusual each visit. Which meant many visits to the doctor. Around 16 weeks we found out about her heart defect, so they decided that even though they were already watching me closer than normal, I would be cautiously monitored from there on out.

At my visit on 31 weeks and 1 day, I was rushing and running late, when I arrived on September 29 my blood pressure was higher than normal. They figured it was from the rushing to arrive and since they were set to monitor me for an hour anyway, they hooked me up and watched it. Watched it rise out of control. Went down the hall to my OBGYN and it had risen even higher. Up to the danger zone. They admitted me to the hospital, made phone calls to round every one up and we waited. I was loaded up on medications but since they knew about her heart defect and she was a tiny munchkin at that point, they risked it and decided to keep me pregnant for as long as my body would keep her in.

31 weeks and 6 days, things seemed to have calmed down and they felt confident that I would be a long term guest in my lovely hospital room. I was pretty well pampered, had the same nurses each shift and was well looked after. 32 weeks and my exam and daily ultrasound looked good, the baby had grown a lot and they felt like when she said it was time they'd take her. A c-section was planned from the beginning to avoid any unnecessary trauma during birth, so we were set and just waiting it out. About 15 minutes after the doctors had come by my placenta abrupted and PeeWee needed out NOW.

Fast forward to the surreal delivery, the recovery, and then her hospital time, which included a trip to California to have open heart surgery among other adventures too numerous to list.

When she was born at 2lb 15oz, she was smaller then most dolls I had seen, a tiny little thing, smaller by about a pound than they were predicting from her measurements in fact. She was closer in size to a baby running about a month behind. My mother started knitting, like an insane person she knitted tiny hats for PeeWee to wear, to dress her up. To match her outfits. I managed one teensy hat in my four days still in the hospital, knitting loaded up on the drugs made me cross-eyed.

Some days we came in and found PeeWee in a tiny hat we had not knit for her. Blankets showed up out of no where. Tiny little hand made clothes, tiny hospital gowns, all sorts of things which were delights to find each day. Preemies are just like regular babies, they spit up and poop and everything else on their clothes and need several changes a day. Plus they have spills or their things hit the floor and need to go home to be sanitized before they can be worn again.

When she was discharged the day before her due date (a small miracle considering the setbacks then leaps and bounds the kid made) I decided I would do my best to give back to the hospital's NICU down the line. I've done that in several ways over the last few years, but my favorite thing is the preemie knitting. I've made a marathon out of it from the dates I was admitted to the hospital until she came home. So this year, I decided I would start early. I'm cheating on the yarn diet to buy a few balls of super-soft baby yarn, I am out of it since my last knit-a-thon, the 43 hats, if you've been reading for a while.

Yarn required for this must be acrylic, cotton or microfibers. It must be very soft and gentle. It must be wash and dry safe. No animal fibers or scratchy stuff, nothing that could cause a rash or discomfort for the babies, whose skin is extremely delicate. My hospital asks that the hats are washed in loads only with NICU items in Dreft with a second rinse, completely dried then bagged. You must wash your hands before removing them from the washer to the dryer, then again when removing them from the dryer straight into zipper bags which are sealed closed to keep the hats as sanitary as possible. This keeps them from the germs we just have around us to protect the babies as much as possible.

PeeWee's head was the size of a tennis ball. When she came home it was about the size of a grapefruit. I try to make my hats in this size range, but they need and use whatever sizes come in. Our favorite hat we were given was a 2x2 ribbed thing with a big old pom pom on top, knit out of pink and blue yarn. I have brought hats in to the NICU that were fair-isle, intarsia, striped, solid, square, with tassels and pom poms and cording on top. We're talking let yourself go wild with silliness, it's so fun to get to the incredibly depressing ward and see a big goofy thing perched on your baby's little noggin.

If you would like to be a part of this leave a comment and you'll be part of a multi-prize contest. The knitting is going to run from now until November 29th, at which time I will pick winners from those who leave a comment here. Spread the word, if you mention this on your blog you get another entry for some luscious yarn, just let me know the link to the mention. Post a picture of your preemie knitting when it's all finished (again, leave me a link) and you get another entry. Send someone over and have them mention your name for another entry. You get the idea. The more the better. If you've done an amazing job making up the tiny things, there may be a bonus in it. If you can't knit something, but have yarn to donate, give a shout out here and hopefully someone will be able to use it. Email me at sarah(at)momsknitting(dot)com with your email, blog links and anything you're not comfortable posting in the open comments. I installed Haloscan comments so I can get back in touch with you. I hope it's going to work well. (I lost all my old comments when I did this though, I do have my old template saved if I run into issues)

Before you knit something crazy, please get in touch with your hospital's NICU and ask them about yarn requirements, some may be more restrictive than others. Most yarns that say baby in the name, are soft and washable, and do not have animal fibers should be safe. If you don't have a NICU near you but want to knit something, you can mail things to me, just let me know and I can get you the address to ship to.

The prizes are a surprize for now, I'll be sneaking in pictures along the way though. Some fun hats I have done in the past included tomatoes, yellow smiley faces, pumpkins (and jack-o-lanterns) a little horned devil, some santa hats, lots of color work, whatever struck my fancy at that moment. The hats are quick to do, an evening if you are fast, it's great TV knitting. Don't feel limited to hats though, this contest is open to all sorts of preemie things!

Thanks for helping out with this one!

***ETA being a part also means just being my cheerleader!***