Today’s SelfMade story is one that brings so much warmth to our hearts. Kate O’Keefe of Knits for NICUs is sharing her story and mission of keeping bringing awareness of the NICU experience, as well as experiences after the NICU.
Tell us a little bit about your business
I started Knits for NICUs early this year. I had made a blanket for myself because the arm knitting was interesting to me and I was really looking for something to do at home. To be honest, I have struggled with anxiety since my baby was born a micro preemie. It was important that I fond something to do for me, I needed an escape. It took me a little bit to get the blankets just right. The first few were very basic, and my nurse and I laughed as I tried to make the blanket and kept getting confused. When I finally finished one, I posted it on Instagram, and a friend asked me to make one for his wife that evening. It was a surprise and delight that someone liked my work. While talking with my mom about the blankets, I was reminded how special the blanket was that she made us and sent from Colorado when we were in the NICU. I knew in my heart that was something I wanted to give to other moms.
Your personal background is central to your business. Can you share your story with us?
NICU moms are near and dear to my heart because we spent over 6 months in the NICU and in the hospital before we came home with Barrett. Barrett was born 22 weeks and 6 days gestation. He was 4 months early and weighed only 1 lb, 4 oz. I had complications from the start of the pregnancy, so we were just over the moon that Barrett survived.
We were thrilled to be in the Duke NICU among so many brilliant nurses and doctors. I put on a brave face and visited often, listening to the doctors everyday to get his updates, but there was not much we could do. He had several huge hurdles right from the start. It would be months before I was able to hold him because of the surgeries and procedures he was going through. Many days I just showed up and watched him sleep and rest.
He did recover wonderfully, he gained weight, he healed, and he got much stronger. We took him home 6 months later, but that was just the beginning. I soon became the mom of a 3 year old, newborn, and became the full time nurse. I was responsible for his care, PT, feedings, medications, oxygen, heart monitor in addition to other normal baby routines. Months later, we got approved for nursing at our house during the day. We are extremely blessed that he’s so healthy and is no longer on medication or oxygen. He plays and gets into things just like any other toddler. We currently have the nursing because of Barrett’s feeding difficulties and he continues to go to therapy, and I know that we will have more hurdles in the future as he grows.
How did you get started?
When did you know you wanted to pursue Knits for NICUs?