KANSAS CITY, Mo — Some of Kansas City’s tiniest babies are celebrating their first Halloween a little bit early — and in costume. A costume party broke out inside St. Luke’s neonatal intensive care unit.
Nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital said they understand how important it is for families with babies in the NICU to celebrate holidays, calling them milestones.
Pumpkins, Barbies and butterflies took over the NICU at St. Luke’s.
Celebrating Halloween a little early, families got to pick out a costume for their baby and a March of Dimes photographer snapped a cute picture.
“We’re both really into Halloween. We always dress up,” mom Cicy Li said. “So I’m excited that he could take part in that tradition here even though he’s in the hospital.”
She and Dustin Wooden are dressing son Leland Wooden as a donut.
“We both have a deep love for donuts,” Li said laughing.
Leland was born premature at 32 weeks. His parents said he’s surpassing expectations and growing well.
“So far, he’s cleared every milestone,” Wooden said. “I’m super grateful.”
Clinical resource nurse Mindy Smith said they don’t take those little victories for granted. They’re celebrated in the NICU.
“The milestones are super fun to celebrate,” Smith said. “We try to celebrate all of them, like baths, holding and, obviously, Halloween and holidays in general. All of the normal baby things we try to celebrate in general in the NICU.”
While they can’t take him home to go trick-or-treating this year, Li and Wooden are grateful for this memory: getting to dress him up in costume for his first Halloween.
“It’s too bad we can’t trick-or-treat, but maybe I’ll bring in some candy and maybe we can set it around him a little,” Wooden said.
“We can trick or treat in the NICU,” Li said.
They have a message to other parents with babies in the NICU.
“It’s really hard to know that your baby is in the hospital, especially at night when you’re watching them on camera and other people are taking care of him,” Wooden said, “but once you know the staff’s as good as they are, it helps.”
“Everything is temporary,” Li said. “This is just the first leg of his journey coming home, but it’s really good to know that he’s taken care of here.”