Becoming a mom can be overwhelming. Sleepless night, developing a new routine and learning an infant’s queues can lead to anxiety and stress. For infants with unexpected health complications, their parents worry only multiplies. That’s the case for Mary Memmolo.
On May 29, 2013, Mary’s daughter, Maggie Rose, was born with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, a condition that occurs when meconium, an infant’s first stool, gets into the lungs of an infant during or before delivery, at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
She was quickly transferred to the Patty Ribakoff Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she spent the next forty five days. Mary, along with her husband Michael and oldest daughter Skyla, never left the baby’s side. “It was a stressful and lonely time for us. It was also confusing and hard to watch nurses and doctors perform the parenting tasks we were hoping to be doing like changing diapers and bathing her,“ says Mary. Skyla, Mary’s older daughter, particularly struggled with her sister’s hospitalization balancing her emotions and boredom.
The family did find uplifting and hopefully moments in their interactions with MGHfC staff. On Father’s Day, 18 days into Maggie’s hospitalization, Michael received a special package consisting of a water bottle, lip balm, motivational cards, and small candies from Project Sweet Peas, a volunteer organization that supports families of premature or sick infants.
The gift, coupled with Maggie’s improving heath, was a burst of energy and happiness the family needed. When she was discharged from MGHfC and a short stay at Mount Auburn Hospital, Mary and Michael were excited to bring their bundle of joy home, but still felt the stresses of a long hospital stay and knew other parents in similar situations would feel the same.
With that insight, Mary reached out to Project Sweet Peas asking to lead donation efforts to the MGHfC NICU. “We wanted to help other families see those positive moments with a personal touch. Even though we do not know them personally, we know what they are going through and we are there with them in spirit,” says Mary.
On February 6th, 2017, the Memmolo family visited their former home away from home dropping off 20 care packages full of supplies donated by friends and family. Skyla and her 2nd grade classmates also crafted handmade valentines for siblings of NICU patients, with the hope of raising their spirits along with their parents. The bags consisted of the classes’ art project, knitted baby blankets and sweaters, puzzle books, scent dolls and toiletries and Skyla is already planning additional sibling specific donations throughout the year.
“Our family is dedicated to the MGHfC NICU and its patients. Bringing happiness to families in a time where those moments can be few and far between is our mission. This experience has been so rewarding for my family, it’s so nice to know we are helping spread happiness to others!”’ says Mary.