Two moms were reunited in early May at Presbyterian Children’s Hospital’s 31st annual neonatal intensive care unit picnic to celebrate their children’s milestones and show appreciation to the caregivers who saved their baby’s lives.
Candace Richter, 38 and Domekia Council, 28, met two years ago when their sons, Shaw and Josiah, respectively, were NICU “pod mates” for almost five months. Both boys were due on Mother’s Day 2011 but were born premature.
Josiah, born Jan. 29, weighed 1 pound 5 ounces; Shaw, born Feb. 7, weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces.
The two, among the smallest babies in the NICU and nicknamed “the brothers” by nurses, quickly won the hearts of the medical staff, and a friendship developed between their mothers.
Two years later, Richter and Council are delighted to reconnect and thank the staff members there to take care of their fragile babies. Children of all ages are invited to attend the annual picnic; some are recent graduates, and some are now in their 20s.
“It really is one of the best events of our year,” said Lauren Moskowitz, a marketing and public relations specialist for Novant Health. “Our doctors, nurses and other members of the NICU staff love getting to see how much their patients grow and thrive over the years.”
Council traveled from Raleigh for the event this year, and stayed with the Richters. She said the reunion with Richter and her husband, Michael, brought back many emotions.
“Families come to celebrate their achievements as well as thank those that worked so many miracles with their child, it is such a beautiful event,” Richter said. Michael Richter said, “The picnic is a tribute to hope.”
Shaw and Josiah continue to participate in physical therapy and have made tremendous progress. They both started walking last summer and continue to work on verbal skills.
“ ‘Thank you’ isn’t enough to show the nurses and doctors in the NICU how grateful I am,” said Council. “I would give them the world, because they gave me the world when I was able to bring my son home.”
In addition to attending the picnic as a parent, Richter also participated as a volunteer to promote Bee Mighty, a foundation she created to provide financial assistance to help other families deal with premature births.
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