Becoming a parent can be overwhelming. Sleepless nights, developing a new routine and learning an infant’s needs can lead to anxiety and stress.

For children with unexpected health complications, parents’ worry only multiplies. That was the case for Mary and Michael Memmolo.

On May 29, 2013, their daughter, Maggie Rose, was born at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome – a condition that occurs when meconium, an infant’s first stool, gets into the lungs during or before delivery. The newborn spent the next 45 days in the Patty Ribakoff Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Mary, Michael, and their older daughter Skyla, never left the baby’s side. “It was a stressful and lonely time for us,” says Mary.  “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.”

That Father’s Day, 18 days into Maggie’s hospitalization, Michael received a special package with 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 the burst of hope and happiness the family needed. When she was discharged from MGHfC – followed by 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 parents in similar situations likely felt the same.

Mary reached out to Project Sweet Peas asking to take over donation efforts for the MGHfC NICU. “We wanted to help other families see those positive moments with a personal touch,” says Mary. “Even though we do not know them personally, we know what they are going through, and we are there with them in spirit.”

Earlier this year, the Memmolo family visited their former home away from home to drop off 20 care packages full of supplies donated by friends and family. The bags were filled with knitted baby blankets and sweaters, puzzle books, scent dolls and toiletries. In addition, handmade cards crafted by Skyla and her second-grade classmates were included for siblings of NICU patients.

“Our family is dedicated to the MGHfC NICU and its patients,” says Mary. “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 nice to know we are helping spread happiness to others.” 

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