- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - Christi Bauman says giving birth to a preemie brought with it plenty of things out of the ordinary for which she wasn’t necessarily ready.

“It’s a little overwhelming, a little scary” said Bauman, of Bay City. “It’s something you are not prepared for. I was anxious and scared all at the same time.”

Bauman’s son Kolton was born on May 16, 2008, nearly two months premature. She says meeting the 4-pound, 9-ounce Kolton for the first time was anything but normal. The sight of him dressed in a three-month size outfit with tubes and wires attached to his little body was overwhelming.

“He didn’t look normal or comfortable,” she told The Bay City Times ( https://bit.ly/KIfWDb ), noting the oversized clothes made him look smaller than he really was. She said it wasn’t long before her husband Rob went out and purchased preemie-size clothes.

That experience led Bauman to establish PJs for Preemies, a drive to collect preemie-size clothing for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw.

Now in its fifth year, this year’s drive continues through Jan. 31 with donations of preemie clothing size 0-3 months needed. Bauman said pajamas, clothes and sleep sacks all are needed, adding any item donated should close with snaps and buttons to accommodate tubes and wires. Sleep sacks with zippers are acceptable.

“I think families have to have the clothing to make part of the parenting seem normal,” Bauman said, adding Kolton is now a happy and healthy 5-year-old.

LeeAnn Chadwick, nurse manager in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Covenant HealthCare agrees.

“We not only take care of the baby but we have a whole family to take care of,” she said, adding that the more comfortable parents are with their preemie baby, the better the bond will be between parent and child.

Covenant’s NICU is the only level three NICU this far north in the Lower Peninsula. This means the NICU can take care of medical problems typical with premature births except for heart and lung bypass or congenital heart defect surgeries. The NICU technically serves 16 mid-Michigan and northern counties but routinely goes beyond that region.

Bauman’s goal is to collect 1,000 pairs of pajamas this year. Last year she collected 890 pairs. The more donations the better, because on any given day at least 35 of Covenant’s 55 NICU beds are in use by preemie babies and very sick full term babies. Some babies are in the unit for weeks or months. The staff also sends an outfit or two home with parents in need and shares the surplus with the community through various organizations. The NICU and staff cares for about 700 babies each year.

To help reach the goal this year, the Bay City-based Just for Kids Foundation and Graff Chevrolet are matching donations collected from area drop off sites. To help with the success of the drive the Bay City Meijer, Walmart and Target stores also donated more than $1,200 in store gift cards which Bauman is using to purchase more pajamas.


Information from: The Bay City Times, https://www.mlive.com/bay-city

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