This article was originally featured in the BWH Bulletin.
Jennifer Burling was never good at sitting still. So when her obstetrician ordered her on modified bed rest midway through her pregnancy, the Rhode Island mom knew she was in for a challenge.
Wanting to pass the time with a hobby, Burling asked her mother to teach her to crochet. Burling decided to pick something easy and practical: a couple of baby hats for her daughter. But once she got started, Burling says she just kept crocheting, ultimately making 88 baby hats that she and her husband, Sam, recently donated to Brigham and Women Hospital’s (BWH) Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). They donated another 10 hats to the American Heart Association.
“Our daughter, of course, has a bunch of these hats, along with some slightly misshapen sweaters,” Burling joked. “I thought, ‘All right, I’m going to need to find somewhere to give them to, because our daughter really doesn’t need a hundred hats.’”
Burling crocheted the hats in a range of sizes to accommodate babies at all stages of growth. This includes several tiny hats for angel babies, a term for infants who die before, during, or shortly after birth, as a way to honor their son, Isaac, who died at birth.
“One of our most cherished items of his is the little hat that someone had taken the time to knit, and that was the only thing I ever I saw him wear,” said Burling, showing a framed photo of Isaac wearing his tiny blue hat. “Hopefully, lots of these hats go to babies who get to go home, but unfortunately, some of those parents may just be taking a box with mementos.”
The family celebrated the birth of their daughter, Evelyn, at BWH. Although born eight weeks premature, Evelyn is healthy and growing in BWH’s NICU.
“We have felt we are receiving the best care at BWH,” Burling said. “Our doctors, nurses and the support staff all have gone above and beyond to be sure that not only Evelyn and I receive the best medical care, but also that Sam and I have felt very supported emotionally.”