Patricia Bowick was a first-time mother and very unsure of the future.
“My water broke at 20 weeks and, this was my first pregnancy, so not knowing what was going to happen, it was very difficult,” she said.
Her son, Zion, was born a month later. During the difficult times in the hospital waiting to hear about her son’s health, a welcomed surprise helped ease her stress.
“High Risk Hope serves pregnant women on hospital bed rest and premature infants on the neonatal intensive care,” said the nonprofit’s founder, Heather Barrow. “We deliver care packages to these families with everything they need to survive their hospital stay.”
That care package included a calendar full of other premature babies from around Tampa Bay. It was just the boost of hope that Bowick needed.
“Our motto is ‘Fight Like A Premie,' " said Barrow with a chuckle.
That’s exactly what Baleigh Margol’s twins did 13 months ago. Wednesday, they spent the morning having their pictures taken for the 2017 High Risk Hope baby calendar.
“Slade spent six weeks in the NICU and Avelyn came home at 12 weeks,” said Margol, who delivered her kids at just 28 weeks. “They’re perfectly healthy. There is so much that could have gone wrong. We’re blessed.”
Tyler Gump feels the same way. It took his daughter, Laurel, a while to warm up to the camera but she finally struck the perfect pose with her photo from her time in the NICU.
“Never did I think my little girl would be on a calendar, said the former Marine. “The birth of my daughter was probably the toughest thing I’ve been through in my life.”
Zion posed for his picture while Bowick watched. All of those children will be featured in the 2017 calendar, which will include their survival story and a testimony to how High Risk Hope helped the family along the way.
The hope is that those stories will help other mothers facing a fearful future in the hospital.
“What we also deliver to these families is the hope that they will leave the hospital with a healthy baby,” said Barrow.
If you’d like to pre-order a calendar, which are expected to be finished in October 2016, you can use the code "10news" at the High Risk Hope website. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the calendars will help provide support for those mothers facing premature births. The nonprofit will also host a Tot Trot run in November.