Amanda Huhta never guessed that looking for clothes for her premature son would bring her to tears. It was a stark reminder of the little things that parents can take for granted.
But everything changed for this new mom with the help of scissors, fabric, and a bit of adhesive.
As Tucson News Now reports, Huhta’s son was born premature at twenty-five weeks and four days old.
When the new mom wanted to dress her new baby, she ran into a harsh medical reality. The tubes and cords — combined with her child’s tiny size — made it nearly impossible for her to find clothing a micro-preemie could wear.
She tells KMSB News:
“I just remember being in tears not being able to put something on him. You never really think it is important until you can’t find anything for your kid to wear. It’s like a right of passage being able to put something on your baby.”
Wishing that her son could have the same bright and cheery clothes as any other baby, Huhta confided in her mother.
That’s when Grandma came to the rescue, designing a special shirt for preemies that could accommodate their medical needs.
The key, Huhta explains to KMSB, was the special closure:
“You put the baby flat on it and it just folds over with Velcro. So if there is an emergency they can just rip it off.”
Now a happy, healthy three-year-old, Huhta’s son no longer needs special shirts. However, while talking to other parents of preemies, Huhta saw that the clothing problem remained. That’s what inspired Huhta to start sewing.
She began replicating her mom’s design and giving the shirts to other NICU parents. She tells KMSB:
“Every time I talked to somebody I kind of got the same impression. They were like, ‘Well I wanted to put them in something but I can’t find any clothes. We have to wait another month before they fit.’ So I got an idea that maybe could learn how to sew … and I started making these little baby clothes.”
After a local new station picked up the story, Huhta began getting more and more requests for her preemie diaper shirts. The enthusiastic mom started the Twenty-Five and Four project (an homage to her son’s birth date) and began looking for volunteers to help make shirts for NICU families.
Huhta now has a volunteer sewer in every state and as much demand as she can handle. She tells Babble:
“This is exciting but overwhelming. … The folks that volunteer to sew are awesome but what I really need is cash. I send out 3-4 shirts a day and they cost nearly $7 each to ship. I use the priority mail prepaid envelope because I want the shirts to reach the families quickly.”
The project takes donations and promises that every penny goes to providing NICU families with special shirts for their preemies. Huhta writes on her website:
“I created this project to help parents. To, if only for a moment, relieve them of a small part of what is often one of the most difficult times in life.”
She says her purpose is to give these parents a “glimmer of hope” and “something to look forward to” during what she knows is a tough time.