Meet Debbie Morrow, the founder of Loving the Preemies, a group that crochet holiday-themed outfits for babies every year from UAB’s RNICU.

Written by: Anna Jones
Media contact: Hannah Echols

  • Infants from UAB RNICU and CCN in their turkey costumes made by Debbie Morrow and the group Loving the Preemies. Photography: UAB Medicine

  • Photography: Andrea Mabry

  • Infants from UAB RNICU and CCN in their turkey costumes made by Debbie Morrow and the group Loving the Preemies. Photography: UAB Medicine

  • Photography: Andrea Mabry

  • Infants from UAB RNICU and CCN in their turkey costumes made by Debbie Morrow and the group Loving the Preemies. Photography: UAB Medicine

  • Photography: Andrea Mabry

NOTE: UAB supports “Back-to-Sleep” and these infants were monitored during the photo shoot.

Every November, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is home to some of the cutest little turkeys around.

Most families in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UAB Hospital will be vacationing away from home and other family members; but the smallest UAB patients will always be ready to celebrate Thanksgiving in handmade turkey costumes thanks to Loving the Preemies, a group that crochet holiday-themed outfits for URNI babies every year. of the UAB.

Debbie Morrow, founder of Loving the Preemies, began crochet costumes for URNI babies in 2016 after her nephew and wife had premature quintuplets at UAB Hospital. Unfortunately, only two of the five babies survived. The family spent five months in UAB hospital before they could return home. Meanwhile, Morrow bonded with Sandra Milstead, a UAB URNI nurse, and the two began discussing a need for clothes small enough to fit the URNI babies.

Debbie Morrow delivers turkey and soccer costumes to the UAB Women & Infants Center. Photography: Andrea MabrYesPremature clothes are typically designed for babies weighing 5 pounds or more, and many UAB URNI babies are smaller. Morrow saw this as an opportunity to use his skills to give back. Morrow worked closely with Milstead to meet this need. While Milstead took the necessary steps of the babies to make sure the clothes would fit, Morrow created the patterns to use in crochet the outfits.

“During the five months we were here, the nurses at URNI have been so good at taking care of babies,” Morrow said. “During the holidays, they would take pictures of the URNI babies and give them to their parents to document their first vacation. One day, Sandra and I were talking about how difficult it is to find outfits suitable for tiny babies. I love to crochet, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to use this skill.

Morrow began to crochet outfits for babies; but as the need grew, she was unable to do it all on her own. In 2019, she decided to bring in other crocheters in the area, and that’s how Loving the Preemies began.

“My favorite part of this group is knowing that the families of these premature babies will have an outfit to put on their babies, no matter their size,” Morrow said. “I knew what our family and babies went through when they were here, and I just hope these outfits are a blessing for each of these mothers, so they can be at peace knowing that they have something. that will suit their babies. “

The group creates 100 to 120 themed outfits for each of the 10 major holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Each outfit is intended for babies weighing between 1 pound and 8 pounds. Each outfit is adjustable to ensure the best possible fit. Throughout the year, Morrow travels over 160 kilometers to deliver the costumes. To date, Morrow has manufactured and shipped approximately 5,000 costumes.

Turkey.interior.2Photography: Andrea Mabry“One of the best things about crochet costumes is that they help make a baby’s first vacation a party,” Milstead said. “Even at URNI, these babies are having their first Thanksgiving, and we want to help our families celebrate that.”

Milstead says each of the parents is extremely grateful when presented with the outfits, with some even crying tears of joy when they see their baby getting dressed to celebrate a holiday.

“When parents see their baby in holiday attire, it may be the first time they’ve seen their baby in anything that looks like clothing,” Milstead said. “These little hats and diaper covers bring such a sense of normalcy and happiness to parents, even if only for a few moments. It gives me great joy to see the face of a parent when they see their baby dressed.

Each outfit takes around an hour and a half to make, and all costs are covered by group members and donations. To learn more about how you can support or get involved with Loving the Preemies, join the group’s Facebook group.