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Tiny Costumes for Our Tiniest Patients

WakeMed NICU babies are in for a special Halloween surprise, thanks to the skills of a few parents and the fundraising efforts led entirely by former WakeMed NICU mom, Amanda Walker.

Below, Amanda shares her NICU story and how these loving donations are making a big impact in the lives of our tiniest patients and their families.

Amanda Walker: Our WakeMed NICU Story

In 2011 my first child, Lydia, was born at Rex hospital. After a difficult pregnancy with various complications ranging from Hyperemesis Gravidarum to Bell’s Palsy, our daughter was born at 41 weeks, weighing 10.6 lbs and measuring 20.5 inches. Severe complications were the furthest thing from our minds, until my water broke and the water was green.

At the time of Lydia’s birth, we discovered that she had severe meconium aspiration, which spiraled into Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of a Neonate (PPHN). She also had an Apgar score of 3 at the time of her birth, and the doctors weren’t sure if she would survive the night.

We were transferred to WakeMed Raleigh, first Lydia around 3 am, then myself the following afternoon. She spent a total of 22 days in the NICU at WakeMed and came home a month after her due date, healthy and back up to her birth weight.

NICU halloween costumes

Making Halloween Special for NICU Babies & Families

WakeMed NICU Advisory & Parent Support co-chair, LaToshia Rouse, reached out to our group in late August mentioning that she wanted us to create these costumes. No one was really sure how to raise the money to cover the costumes.

That night, I opened my laptop and wrote up a quick bit about our past and what we hoped to accomplish this Halloween for the current NICU families. I made a post on my private Facebook page, my neighborhood page and a private Facebook group belonging to my husband’s company.

By the end of the weekend I had raised four times the amount we had initially estimated needing for this amazing project. I was completely overwhelmed by this outpouring of support from our family and friends, and I was (and still am) incredibly thankful to have such wonderful people in my village.

The best part of the fundraising was feeling the support all these years later from so many people who didn’t even know me at the time of our NICU stay.

So many people that we know have had an experience with a NICU with their own children. They understood the purpose and would have appreciated similar events for their own NICU baby.

Samrth Patel NICU baby Batman

Bringing Comfort & Joy to NICU Families

This project allowed me to gather and create a tangible item that reflected the comfort and joy that I know the families need in these difficult days of NICU parenting.

It is not an easy road, and being in the hospital over the holidays is incredibly difficult.

Halloween is a big deal in our home, and our NICU baby is nearly 6 years old now, so this project also allowed her to see us giving back to where she got her start in life.

I am so thankful for this project in allowing me to find a way to make a positive impact on the families. It has helped inspire me to find more opportunities to create items for the NICU in the future.

lakeisha brunson nicu baby butterfly

About the Halloween Costumes

Patterns for the Halloween costumes were obtained from Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. The WakeMed NICU and Saint Luke’s NICU are both part of the Vermont Oxford Network (VON). The Family Advisors of hospitals in the network share ideas that they have used at their hospitals.

These costumes were done by the Kansas City NICU in 2016, and when they shared it to the group, we asked them for the patterns. By the time we received the patterns to make the costumes, it was too late for us to make the costumes for Halloween 2016.

As a result, we held the patterns all year, waiting for the next Halloween in hopes of being able to get these made for the WakeMed NICU.

Special Thanks

Regarding Amanda’s fundraising efforts, LaToshia Rouse, co-chair of the NICU Advisory & Parent Support (NAPS) of WakeMed, stated:

We are grateful to Amanda for fundraising 100 percent of the money needed to supply all of the materials for NAPS to do this project. Amanda’s story is amazing because her fundraiser was totally unexpected.

Without Amanda’s efforts, we were unsure how we’d be able to make the costumes we had dreamed of for literally one year. 

Amanda & Jordan Walker

About Amanda Walker

Amanda Walker is married to her high school sweetheart, Jordan, and together they have two children, Lydia (5) and Felix (2).

In her free time, Amanda knits, plays games, binge watches TV and enjoys planning events & activities. She loves traveling and is working on visiting all of the national parks in the United States.

Donate to the WakeMed NICU

*Interested in supporting the WakeMed NICU?

Make a donation to the WakeMed Foundation, and select the “Neonatal/Intensive Care Nursery” designation from the drop down menu.

We also encourage you to learn more about the NICU Advisory & Parent Support (NAPS). Additional contact information is below.

LaToshia Rouse
Parent Partner/Co-chair NAPS of WakeMed