Amanda Huhta’s first birth story didn’t quite go as planned. Her son, born at 25 weeks, 4 days, weighed in at 1 pound, 12 ounces, leading to a 110-day-long stay in the NICU and a wardrobe full of outfits much too large. One thing the new mom took comfort in? A tiny, handmade outfit that was just right for her preemie, courtesy of her mom.
That was three years ago. Now, Huhta is paying her mom’s kindness forward, sewing shirts specially designed for small NICU babies and the tubes and wires that keep them healthy. The project’s name, Twenty-five and Four, pays tribute to her son’s early arrival. She estimates that with the help of volunteers, she’s given out about 200 outfits across the country so far.
“We want to make the NICU journey a little less dark,” Huhta tells The Bump. Any parent of a preemie—or friend of a parent of a preemie—can submit a request for a free shirt on TwentyFiveAndFour.com, indicating the baby’s weight, stye and material preference. The shirts will arrive pre-washed and in plastic bags to protect against germs. Their velcro design simplifies the changing process, even with tubes in the way.
One of the most inspiring parts of the project? How quickly it’s taken off.
“[We’re growing] through word of mouth and all the attention we’ve been getting in news stories and Facebook shares,” Huhta says. “My only act of ‘recruiting’ was a local story on Tucson News Now. After that it, snowballed! Volunteers donate their time and materials to these babies and have been doing so much for us. Without them, this project wouldn't be able to thrive. They are phenomenal people with hearts to serve and they deserve a huge thank you!”
Thanks to those volunteers, Huhta says Twenty-five and Four is very close to becoming an official nonprofit.
“We want to make sure these shirts remain free for families, so we can’t wait to get sponsors on board,” she says. “I’d like to eventually team up with other charities and groups helping NICU families. We have big plans for our future.”