Knits for NICUs | SelfMade Story

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.

knits for nicus

How did you get started?

It did not take long for me to fall in love with knitting, but I could not make the blankets I wanted to with the needles at the store and I needed to be creative. My husband suggested I make my own from PVC pipes. He came home that night from work with pipes (How crazy?!) We cut them and shaped the ends with a table saw that evening. With those needles, my blankets took off. Now I have a couple sets that help me make different sizes. Knits for NICUs blankets are featured on Instagram and are purchasable on Etsy. The basic styles are represented on Etsy, however, I do custom orders all the time for moms. I take a lot of creative license with the blankets I donate and take care to personalize each one.

When did you know you wanted to pursue Knits for NICUs?

At he beginning of this year was that I was starting to really feel some of the feelings I had ignored during his recovery. I was feeling sad, stressed and anxious, and I am normally a very happy, bubbly person. When I started my blankets and donating to other moms, I found a way to connect and deal with my feelings. The more I gave away, the better I felt and making a little money at home helped ends meet. Before I knew it, I had people thinking of me when their friends were expecting a preemie baby. They were buying blankets for their children to support the mission. I still cannot believe that I have a real business have had the opportunity to reach so many moms already. For every blanket I sell, I donate a blanket to a mom in the NICU. People buy blankets to donate to moms as a way to reach out and show support. My hope is to raise awareness of the NICU experience and also the experiences after the NICU.

 

You can purchase Knits for NICUs on Etsy. Thank you, Kate, for sharing your story with us!

An entrepreneur at heart, Suree loves creating things from start to finish and is a true go-getter when it comes to new projects and challenges. Working on Girl Meets party is one of her passions and creative outlets. She’s always learning something new, and loves connecting with others.

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