To the staff of the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital/NICU,

This email is overdue, but I want to express my appreciation for something that seemingly was a small thing, but to me, it was huge.

Our daughter was born on June 24, 2013 and ended up in the NICU for four days after suspected sepsis and mild respiratory distress. I know that we were lucky; our daughter was generally healthy and 4 days is not long compared to many families whose babies are there for months. But, it was still hard to not be able to take her home right away, and it was difficult to scoop her up and love on her with all the wires and tubes connected to her.

Erika Stupka's daughter Evelyn

A couple weeks after we brought her home, I realized that I must have left one of her outfits in the NICU. This outfit was one of the first that was given to us when we found out we were expecting, and she had worn it one day while in the hospital. I was heartbroken and in tears, even though I knew that there were more important things in life. With so many outfits circulating in the NICU, I didn't think there was much of a chance at getting it back, but I called the front desk anyway, described the outfit, and the woman I spoke with (regretfully, I don't remember her name) said that she'd write a note for the environmental services aids to be on the lookout for it.

After a few weeks of not hearing anything back, I figured it was simply long lost among all the other clothing and the note with the description may have been taken down already. However, one day I received a package, and to my great happiness, the outfit was in there. Our daughter had already outgrown it, but it was still special to have it back. I also didn't expect for it to be mailed to us; I figured I would just go pick it up if it was found.

This wasn't just about finding an outfit. It was the fact that the woman I spoke with followed through even with more serious matters happening at the NICU, and still considered my baby's missing outfit as something important. It was the fact that the environmental services didn't just ignore the note because they had a lot to do. It was the fact that it was mailed to me instead of just notifying me to pick it up, possibly because they knew that driving to the hospital, finding parking, and going to the NICU was a big trip for someone with a new baby. Not everyone would place importance on this type of thing, or follow through. The outfit wasn't just an outfit; it was the first one we received after finding out our lives would be changed forever. It was the first outfit she wore that was her own and not a NICU-provided outfit, and it's a reminder of the first few days we had with her; difficult but incredibly special.

So, I am sending a big THANK YOU to all the staff in general that helped us while our daughter was there, and to those (as few or many as that may have been) that put in the effort to get her outfit back to us. We're so glad we chose to have our daughter at UIHC.

Erika Stupka

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