Friday, December 2, 2011

Tiny toes, a tour … and a few tears

November was a HUGE month for St Mark’s Quilters, and I have lots to tell you. It’s going to take me a few blog posts to cover it all, so please stay with me.

TeresiaPhoto by Teresia on Flickr

Dahlia Brigham, the Fundraising (and “Friend”raising!) Manager for RPA Newborn Care invited us to go and see the nurseries where some of our tiny quilt recipients spend their first days, weeks, or even months of life, and with an armful of Blankets of Love to deliver, a few of us were very excited to accept.


All year we’ve been stitching these mini-quilts to be given to grieving Mums and Dads of little bubs who sadly pass away during or after being born at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital here in Sydney.

However Dahlia showed us another side to the story – the three levels of care for babies who survive their passage into the world but are born early, or with serious medical problems, such as respiratory distress, needing extra care.


Out of respect we didn’t take photos of the babies we saw, but this photo below (from the front cover of their 2006-7 Review) will give you some idea.


Photo by Ray Riley for SSWAHS-RPAH Audiovisual Services

Most of the humidicribs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery had a doting Mummy (and sometimes a Daddy too) sitting by. The skin-on-skin sensation is supposed to be very therapeutic for all newborns and the sight of a big burly man tenderly cradling his tiny daughter against his bare chest under a t-shirt was something I’ll never forget.

Some gently stroked a sleepy head, some just gazed in wonder and love at the tiny miracle that is a newborn and some, I’m sure, prayed fervently that God would continue to breathe life into their little one, making him or her stronger with every passing day.


Our enthusiastic knitter, Margaret, took along some beanies she’d made, and handed some of these to the parents who so kindly allowed us to intrude on this very private experience. There were tears all round – happy ones – as we had the privilege of actually meeting the bubs whose little heads will be warmed by Margaret’s beanies, and the parents were touched by the kindness of a stranger.


We’re not the only patchworkers who’ve given quilts to RPA Newborn Care. We saw these cheerful coverings keeping some of the bubs cosy in the Special Care Nursery, the final level of care before they go home. 

Not only will our quilts be used in the nursery, but we’ve asked that the babies be allowed to take one home. So not only will our Blankets of Love help parents in their loss, but for parents celebrating the triumph of their baby’s survival after a rocky start in life they will become a reminder of the dedication of the RPA Newborn Care team (and its volunteers!).


But wait, there’s more! We just couldn’t help ourselves.


For all sorts of reasons (keeping the light out, keeping the warmth in) the medical team like to cover these humidicribs a lot of the time.

Some of the covers we saw were purpose-made, but there simply aren’t enough, so flannelette throw-overs are being used. We thought it would be nice to make some quilted covers like this for the nursery, but in fun baby fabrics, with flaps that can be lifted up for easy access to the armholes.

So watch this space!


These are just a few of the Blankets of Love which we gave Dahlia as a “down-payment” on the day of our visit. Our wonderful quilters have made more than 70, which we’ll deliver in the next few weeks.


Yes, this photo is slightly different from the first one.

(L to R – Margaret, Michelle, Di J, Di B, Liz and Dahlia Brigham. Di C was there on the tour too.)



  1. This post has brought a tear to my eye, as a mother of a baby that spent time in neonatal intensive care and then several weeks in special care, anything you can do to make that foreign scary place more comforting is wonderful. I'm pleased to say that child is almost 12 and about to start high school..we are so lucky to have him, perfect in every way now...Di, I would love to contribute to your group.....are there any guidelines or specific needs.....just let me know. Ann-Maree

  2. Di, God Bless for all the work you and your friends are doing. My Boys only spent a few hours in ICU but apparently it was long enough for them to make some important decisions... as the next time I saw them they were both wearing Footie Beanies - for opposing teams!!!!

  3. Wow what an amazing posting - now all we need to know is how to make the blankets. A tutorial would be great. Keep up the awesome work lovely ladies:)

  4. Oh, how lovely! Our quilting group was invited to morning tea a couple of months ago at Springwood Hospital where we donated quilts but I was too sick to go!

  5. How absolutely wonderful that you got to see where your labors of love are going! Wonderful post! blessings, marlene

  6. hello, I just stumbled across this site - I have no idea if you are the same group that gave us a quilt, but I hope it is because we loved it so much and still have it sitting on our lounge at home. My son was born early and spent over a year in hospital after his birth. I lived with him in the hospital and after a while it became a kind of home too. But the quilt was such a lovely human touch to an otherwise completely institutional environment. My son also loved the detail and colours on the quilt and spent many an hour tracing over all the patterns and shapes. It's a wonderful gift to parents and children. Thankyou so much for all the time that goes into these beautiful quilts. Merry Christmas! xMadeleine


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