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How hand-made octopi are helping premature infants

 Octopus for Preemie program

The similarity between a singular umbilical cord and an octopus’ tentacles may not be readily apparent.
 
The Octopus for Preemie program, a national nonprofit initiative designed to comfort fragile newborns, may change that. 
 
“The babies in the womb will grab a hold of the umbilical cord,” says Valerie Megoningle, who recently donated 10 crocheted octopi — each made to the program’s specifications —  to the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph.
 
“This is supposed to give them the same type of feeling,” says Megoningle, who gave birth to two premature babies, including one cared for in the St. Joseph NICU.
 
The octopi, made of yarn and firmly stuffed polyester fiber, are placed in bed with the preemies, helping prevent them from pulling their feeding tubes out of their nose. 
 
They’ve been used with several babies and appear to be a comfort, says Michelle Armbrister, NewLife Center nursing director.
 
That’s good to hear, says Megoningle, whose own experience led her to make and donate the hand-made items.
 
“I thought it was a good way for me to give back for what they did for my kids.”