Former NICU Baby Wears A Helmet With The Most Perfect Message

by Megan Zander
Originally Published: 

A viral photo of a preemie wearing a custom helmet is spreading a powerful message

Earlier this week, a mom named Lori shared an adorable photo of her 8-month-old daughter with the Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation. In the picture, the baby wears a cranial helmet with the quote “Nevertheless she persisted” on it in craft stickers.

Image via Facebook

In the photo’s caption, Lori offers hope to fellow NICU parents. “For the NICU parents,” she writes, “This year was the most difficult year in my life with one major silver lining pictured below. My little girl was born with some health issues that resulted in some pretty intense interventions that ended up saving her. We were told by the doctors some pretty scary news….we were given an explanation of what to expect but nevertheless, despite the rollercoaster, she persisted.” The photo was an instant hit, gathering thousands of supportive comments and likes.

Unless you’ve been living on an island without wifi for the past month, then you know that “Nevertheless, she persisted” was the excuse turned feminist motto given by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when he stopped Senator Elizabeth Warren from objecting to the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

Lori’s daughter has definitely persisted. About halfway through her pregnancy, Lori found out there was a blood incompatibility that could not be resolved with a rhoGAM shot. This meant the baby was at risk for premature birth or that the pregnancy could end in miscarriage. “We had to travel 1.5 hours away to a specialty hospital because no one wanted to touch her,” she tells Scary Mommy.

“She ended up needed two intrauterine transfusions. Picture one doctor pushing the baby aside with the ultrasound machine in utero and another doctor going in utero with an 8 inch needle to where the placenta meets the umbilical cord to inject donor blood in a 4mm vein.” The second time Lori and the baby needed an intrauterine transfusion, the doctors had to find an vein in the baby while she was still in utero. If that doesn’t sound terrifying enough, all of this had to be done without anesthesia and with Lori trying not to move so the baby wouldn’t get hurt. “This pre-natal team of doctors and fellows was amazing,” she says.

Even with Lori and the doctors doing everything they could, her daughter was born 1.5 months prematurely. “Her bilirubin was sky high within an hour of being born. She needed what was called an exchange transfusion,” Lori recalls. On the baby’s 5th day of life, her liver started working. Lori’s daughter eventually graduated from the NICU and came home, but she still faces some health difficulties. Her high bilirubin levels gave her skin a greenish hue that lasted for a while. She has multiple therapies and specialists. And she was referred to a cranial helmet specialist to treat her plagiocephaly. At first Lori was less then thrilled with the thought of her daughter having to wear a helmet 23 hours a day. “Honestly I was exhausted,” she says. “I wanted it to be over. I didn’t want my baby who had been through so much to have to wear a helmet.” But after seeing how effective the helmet was, it started to grow on her. “It is well worth the investment when you see the before and afters…but I have to admit that it gets in the way of cuddling.” Lori said the idea to decorate her daughter’s helmet with such a powerful message came to her organically. “I was watching Senator Warren speak the day she was told to be silent,” she remembers. “I watched Mitch McConnell’s explanation and it didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t surprising that his quote ended up becoming a battlecry.” Later while at the craft store, she had an idea.”So there I was looking at that white helmet and I thought, ‘Nevertheless she persisted.’ Oh my goodness, better words have never applied or been spoken about this little being.” The photo of her smiling daughter wearing the helmet has gotten a ton of responses, but one reaction in particular stood out. Lori’s daughter’s case was so rare and complicated that in the end, she had over 200 people involved in her medical care. The doctor (who Lori nicknamed The Fairy Godmother) who had performed three of the five exchange transfusions that the baby received saw the photo online, and said it gave her goosebumps. Lori’s thankful for everyone on the medical team who helped and still helps care for her daughter, and it’s obvious her daughter left a lasting impression on them as well.Because her daughter was born in an out of state hospital and is still receiving therapies, the family has significant medical bills and expenses. A friend has established a Go Fund Me to help the family.Lori hopes both her daughter and the quote on her helmet can serve as inspiration to all the parents currently dealing with babies in the NICU and with health struggles. “So here she is, still in physical therapy, developmental intervention and getting the help that she needs. But hey, if she can persist then so can we right?” “So for all those babies, all the little girls, all the parents who are holding their breath, you have to persist.”

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