Superhero capes made for preemies in Britain ICU units raise everyone’s spirits

By Dave Andrusko

(Picture: Michelle Campbell Korres)

Editor’s note. My family and I will be on vacation through August 25. I will occasionally add new items but for the most part we will repost “the best of the best” — the stories our readers have told us they especially liked over the last ten months.

Two of my sisters are nurses and I’ve spent more time than I care to remember in hospitals commiserating with and (hopefully) raising the spirits of friends and relatives who are a tough spot. This is never more so than when their little ones are hospitalized, particularly when they are battling grave difficulties.

What can be more difficult for physically and emotionally exhausted parents than huddling around an incubator for days at a time nervously watching their born-too-soon infant struggle? Or going home to rest a bit and not knowing if your baby will be alive when you return? Very little, I suspect.

Which is to say by way of having nurse siblings and personal experience, I have first-hand knowledge of how much of a difference a caring nurse can make. Case in point –Stephanie Treherne, who works at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. The headline to Nicola Slawson’s uplifting story is so cute it bears quoting: ”A nurse in Canada is making tiny superhero capes for premature babies and it’s too much.”

Here’s the lead to Slawson’s story:

For new parents whose babies are born prematurely and have to spend their first weeks or even months in an incubator, it’s a stressful time.

Their babies are sometimes fighting for their lives and new parents can find it incredibly hard being separated from them as they grow strong enough to be allowed home.

But one nurse in Canada has decided to do something to raise everyone’s spirits.

Stephanie Treherne, who works at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, has been surprising exhausted parents by making mini capes, adorned with their baby’s initials.

Stephanie, who has been working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a year, hand stitches the felt capes in her spare time and then hangs them from each baby’s IV poles next to their incubators.

She estimates she has made 100 of the capes.

A hundred…hand stitched! Amazing. Why does she do it? For starters because that’s who she feels these children are.

‘It represents exactly how we see the babies,’ Treherne told CTVNews. ‘These babies are super strong. They fight through so much. They’re just little superheroes.’

And parents are deeply moved by these not-random acts of kindness. Benjamin, the son of Michelle Campbell and her husband, Chris Korres, and born two months early, required constant supervised medical attention in the beginning. One day when the parents came in, Slawson explains, they spotted on of the caps, along with message, “To our little Superhero, love Stephanie T.”

“We were very surprised that one of the nurses that we haven’t even worked with or seen or anything yet had left that,” they told CTV News. “Given the hormones and everything, I was very emotional and I just started bawling my eyes out when I saw that cape,” she said.

Slawson explained that Treherne “isn’t the only one to take to crafting to help preemies.”

Poole Hospital in Bournemouth [England] gives out crocheted octopuses to premature babies on the NICU as they have been proven to provide comfort.

Research has found the soft tentacles of the crocheted octopus remind babies of the umbilical cord and being in their mother’s womb, which makes them feel safe.

Treherne is so discrete that some of the parents have never met her. “She prefers to surprise the new mums and dads rather than giving the capes to them directly,” explains Slawson.

Treherne “was very sweet,” Michelle Campbell and her husband, Chris Korres, told Slawson. “When we asked her what brought it on she just said she wanted to do something nice for the babies. It brings a smile to the parents’ faces in a time that’s not so good so it was really special for us to have gotten that.”