From October through the end of the year, staff members with General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital’s Maternal Child Unit crocheted festive hats for 23 babies born at the hospital during December.
Six nurses and one doctor produced a total of 40 caps for the holiday season newborns, including the first baby of the new year.
“We’d give them their first bath and bring them back with a cute little Christmas hat,” said Sarah Mize, MCU nurse. “The parents — you could tell they really appreciated it, and they thought it was really special that the nurses here made that for their baby.”
Capt. Cherise Blair said using down time to make the hats contributed to an overall holiday spirit of giving.
“(It was) a personal touch — just to show that they’re not just a number,” she said. “It caught on because it was just so adorable and fun. It helped with morale and camaraderie in the unit, too.”
Mize said working in the MCU is exciting by itself, whether the parents are welcoming their first or fourth baby.
“I love this job because more times than not, you’re with somebody on one of the happiest days of their life,” she said. “Sometimes, even if it is the third or fourth baby, it might be the dad’s first time being there because he is a (service member) and maybe he’s missed the first couple ones.”
Capt. Emily Rogers, a doctor with the MCU, said she learned a new skill to participate.
“One of our nurses had taught me how to start the hat and so I spent the rest of the night finishing hats,” she said. “I was on call, so I was here all night anyways.”
She added that she was familiar with knitting, but that crocheting — and doing so left-handed — was a different story.
Audrey McDaniel, a nurse with the MCU, spearheaded the project, according to her fellow staff members.
“She just started buying stuff, and people that worked with her who (wanted) to learn or were interested in it, she would teach them, and we would just do it with her,” Mize said. “That was her own time and money that she used to start getting supplies. Other people pitched in, too, but she really started it.”
Mize said the team kept all the hats that were not given out, and they expect to continue the tradition next winter.
“It would not surprise me if every time a holiday comes up, we have a special holiday hat from Audrey,” she said. “That’s just what she does. I’m sure we’ll have more festive hats to come.”