Preemie Pride supports parents of premature infants

January 05, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Linda Standiford of Finksburg went to Greater Baltimore Medical Center on an errand recently, and ran into a woman who was crying in the waiting room.

Mrs. Standiford asked what was wrong. The woman replied that her baby was born prematurely at 25 weeks and weighed only 1 pound. The mother was scared and worried.

Mrs. Standiford looked over at her daughter Mandy, 3, who was trying to tear up a bulletin board in the room. "That was a 24-week baby," she told the woman. "She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces."

The new mother "looked so relieved," Mrs. Standiford recalled.

Mandy's grandmother calls her "our miracle baby." She beat the odds, 5 percent chance of survival, that doctors at GBMC gave her at birth and then beat their predictions that even if she survived, there was a good chance she would be mentally retarded or physically disabled.

Mandy occasionally accompanies her mother on business calls to new mothers of premature babies, serving as a small ambassador of hope. Mrs. Standiford shares her experience and knowledge through Preemie Pride, a local support group she helped organize for mothers of premature babies.

She also serves on the coordinating council for the Carroll County Infants and Toddlers Program, which provides services to developmentally delayed children from birth through age 3.

Mrs. Standiford started her business, selling clothing for premature babies, after she discovered a problem: How do you dress a preemie?

"When Mandy was 2 months old, they told me I could start to dress her," Mrs. Standiford recalled. She and her mother hit the malls looking for clothing that would fit a 3-pound baby and found -- not much. She had never thought about how to find clothes for a preemie. The situation hadn't presented itself with her first baby, Kelly, now 5.

"People say to me, 'What's the difference between preemies and newborn? Can't I just buy a newborn size?' But there's a difference," she said.

To illustrate, she places a sleeper sized 0 to 11 pounds beside a sleeper designed for preemies. The standard sleeper looks large beside the one made for preemies.

Mrs. Standiford thought she had found a solution when she bought doll clothes for Mandy. She took the clothes in a bag to GBMC, stood beside the incubator where Mandy lay attached to assorted tubes and asked herself, "How am I going to get this on her?"

Baby clothes are made with snaps for easy dressing and undressing; doll clothes aren't. Baby clothes are made to take frequent laundering; doll clothes aren't, as Mrs. Standiford learned when she washed the clothes before taking them to the hospital. Embarrassed, she put the garments back in the bag.

Eventually, she found four outfits for Mandy. She also found that she was not alone. "Everybody at the hospital [with preemies] had the same problem, not just me," she said. "So I thought, why not put all these things together in a catalog?"

Her business, TLC -- for That Lucky Child -- Clothing, is one of only a few of its kind in the Baltimore metropolitan area. She doesn't sew and has no desire to make baby clothes. Even if she did, the markup to cover labor costs would put the price out of range for most parents, she said.

The TLC catalog, with a photo of Mandy at the age of 7 months on its cover, offers preemie clothing from major manufacturers such as Carter as well as items from Oh So Small, a company that manufactures clothing exclusively for premature babies.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.