HUXLEY, Iowa -- This is a big holiday for a central Iowa family, and not just because it's their baby girl's first Christmas. They also launched a way to give back, right before the busiest time of the year.
It's been a busy six months for the Petersen family. "She's a happy little girl,” said Mom Sydney Petersen.
"She's sleeping through the night, so we're excited about that," added Dad Jordan Petersen.
Izzy was born May 9 in Ames. “Shortly after she was born, we realized she was having trouble breathing. So, she was rushed to Blank Hospital NICU," said Sydney. "They discovered she had Pierre Robin Sequence. It's a rare genetic condition that can cause her airway to be blocked with her tongue, so her jaw was set back too far."
Jordan added, "It was a complete surprise. The ultrasounds didn't show anything weird. We thought it was going to be a normal delivery."
Izzy had two surgeries and spent more than a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Blank. "Not being able to dress your baby for four weeks was really hard. Something I didn't expect to be difficult, but it was."
That's when the couple decided to give back. "With the Love, Izzy Project, when someone buys one of our swaddle blankets, we donate one to the Blank NICU, too," said Sydney.
The project is through their online Bizzy Izzy's Boutique, which they just launched a couple weeks ago with Jordan’s cousin Elizabeth Larson. “Seeing Jordan and Sydney walk through those four and a half weeks, it just pulls on your heart strings a lot, and you just want to do whatever you can to help them,” she said.
They have a goal of donating 1,000 swaddle blankets. Nearly 900 babies spend time in the Blank NICU every year. "They've got to have room for all their cords and tubes and watch their breathing, but a blanket works great. It's better than a generic hospital blanket that everyone else gets. And it's something to make their experience a little more personalized," said Sydney.
Izzy still has physical and speech therapy and will need another surgery next year, but her parents are thankful to enjoy the holiday at home with her. "She has a great outcome with, you know, someday she'll be completely normal, and she won't ever remember any of this happened to her, but it will be something we'll never forget," said Sydney.
People have donated more than 100 blankets so far. They'll make the first delivery through the Love, Izzy Project Dec. 20.