Feb 26, 2013 11:32 PM by Erin Steuber

Lafayette Non-Profit Helping Families with Premature Babies

One out of every nine babies born is premature. That means they were born earlier than 37 weeks, sometimes weighing as little as a pound. One Acadiana non-profit, has made it their mission to make the hospital stay a little easier on families.

Meet 19-month-old Lillian Stafford. By the looks of her now you'd never know she was born 17 weeks early, only weighing 1.7lbs.

"It was rough. It's not something you expect when you're pregnant. You never expect to have a baby that early," said Lillian's mother, Amber Stafford.

Lillian spent 5 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and for the first two weeks her parents couldn't find clothes that could fit her.

"We would go and look for premie clothes everywhere. You can find premie clothes that fit a five pound baby, but to fit a one pound baby, you're not gonna find that," said Amber. "Just to see her in something other than a diaper and tons of wires connected to her, it felt normal for once, you know ,we were on a roller coaster and it was comforting to see that."

Enter Heartstrings & Angel Wings, a non-profit based in Lafayette with a mission to support premature babies, and their families, through donations of handmade clothing and accessories. It was founded 5 years ago, by a mother and family who is no stranger to the NICU.

"It helps you get through. For me, when I had clothes to fit my daughter, that is all I could do. They told me when I could, or could not, hold her, when I could, and couldn't. touch her. But every now and then, I could give her a bath and get her dressed, and that was the only thing I could control, and it helped me get through," said Founder of Heartstrings & Angel Wings, Jennifer Patin.

Coming up on March 9th, Heartstrings & Angel Wings will be hosting their fifth annual gumbo cook-off. It is an all day event being held at Henry Guidry Park in Henderson. Admission is $10 for adults and gets you all-you-can eat gumbo, as well as live music starting at 2 PM. For more information, and how you can participate in the cook-off click here.



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