Madeline was born in November, so she spent her first Thanksgiving and Christmas in the neonatal intensive care unit. The NICU is always a scary and sad place to be, but the family holidays really emphasize the loneliness that comes with an extended hospital stay.

A few months ago many of you voted and wrote amazing things about my family and this blog. Because of that, we were chosen as the winner of the Best Overall Blog on With it came this prize:

We turned around and gave the money to Friends of Maddie. That money funded forty Family Support Packs – enough for an entire NICU.

As you all know, Mike and I have made a few trips to the labor and delivery unit of the hospital. It happens that Madeline’s NICU is right next to L&D, so I have been reminded often of the babies living there, and of the sixty-eight days the NICU was our Madeline’s home. Mike and I thought the week before Christmas would be a good time to make a special trip to the NICU. We hoped to brighten the days of the families and also thank the nurses and doctors for their continued hard work.

On Wednesday, I loaded up my mom and cousin Leah, and off we went to the NICU with a load of Support Packs and enough cookies from the local bakery to feed a small army.

Outside the UCLA NICU

It’s very hard for Mike to go to the NICU at UCLA because it reminds him too much of those first few horrible days when Maddie’s life was touch and go. I, on the other hand, like to go there because I get to see the people that are responsible for giving me seventeen months with my daughter. They are the people who cared for her tirelessly, who never gave up on her even when the situation was so dire. Any opportunity I can get to thank them I jump at. Last Wednesday was no exception. I was happy to see many of the nurses that cared for Madeline, including one of her primary day nurses that I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

The best part, though, was handing over the support packs to the NICU Director. It’s always nice to send out support packs, but there is something especially meaningful about bringing them in person. Being there in the NICU and seeing some of the families sitting at their child’s bedside reminded me that there truly is a need for Friends of Maddie.

Thanks to all of you we are working to meet that need.

If you would like Friends of Maddie to come to your NICU in the New Year, please email friendsofmaddie at gmail dot com.