The youngest — and arguably, cutest— patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center were photographed celebrating Halloween in hand-stitched costumes made with love.
The stars of the day included Winnie-the-Pooh, the Doublemint Twins, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Project Sweet Peas, a national nonprofit that assists families with babies in neonatal intensive care units, donated 50 costumes to premature babies at the Boston hospital.
Molly Wylie, the family program manager in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, said Beth Israel began working with the organization six years ago when Diane Hrenko, who had twins treated at the NICU, wanted to give back. Most of the volunteers, Wylie said, are parents of “NICU graduates,” or babies who have been treated at a NICU.
“As a NICU mom myself,” Wylie said, “anytime I felt someone was thinking of me or of my baby — it helps. All of these things really help to normalize the experience, and make it feel a little more OK.”
Professional photographer Kelly Lorenz, a parent of two Beth Israel NICU graduates, took pictures of the costumed babies and edited the high-resolution images for the parents, free of charge.
“In a lot of cases, this is the baby’s first photo shoot, and it’s really special. . . . We want to celebrate all of these milestones with our babies,” Wylie said.
Lorenz, like others who have had their babies at the hospital’s NICU, built lasting relationships with the staff and has continued to be involved with the hospital, Wylie said.
“[Lorenz] was really grateful to come and give the parents a little bit of joy and celebration during such a hard time,” she said. “You can tell she had goosebumps when she saw the babies in the costumes. Even though there has been a passage of time since her babies graduated from our NICU, I think it’s a very healing experience to come into the unit as a parent and give back.”
The program also gives the families gift cards, care packages, gas cards — and in honor of the Red Sox winning the World Series, hand-made baseball caps for the babies.
“It’s really important. It brings the staff a lot of joy, too. It’s a really happy day for everyone to see these sweet little babies dressed up,” Wylie said.
Cynthia Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.