Premature babies comforted by crocheted octopi

Noah (one month old) snoozes next to his octopus from the “Octopus for a Preemie” program.

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Mulvane woman is helping to change the way the littlest of babies are cared for, by using lots of love and yarn.

Valerie Megonigle is the local ambassador for “Octopus for a Preemie,” an international organization that began in the United Kingdom. Crocheted octopi are created with very strict testing standards to make them safe for even the littlest babies in perhaps their most fragile stage of life. The crafted octopi emulate the same shape of the mother’s umbilical cord which babies often find with their tiny fingers to be a comfort item.

Made for “Octopus for a Preemie” (Carly Willis/KSN news)

“We try to simulate being in the womb as much as we can when they’re not in there, which is very difficult to do because of the two different environments, but it can give them comfort that way,” said Michelle Armbrister, director of women and infants at Via Christi.

Megonigle has enjoyed crocheting her whole life, but now, it has more meaning, especially after giving birth to two premature babies nearly 30 years ago. She remembers how emotionally taxing time in the NICU can be. One of her babies was even born at Via Christi St. Joseph, which is now a local recipient of the NICU octopi.

“When they were born, they didn’t have anything like this. So I just thought if there’s some way I can give back for what has been done…

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