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Week 1: St. Mary’s Hospital NICU

To say that I was nervous from the moment I woke up this morning would be an understatement. So far, the majority of feedback I’ve received on this project has been overwhelmingly positive. There will always be haters, of course, but in general I am amazed at the amount of well wishes and offers for help that I’ve received. Thank you! But, up until now Batter Up has just been an idea. Today it became a reality and I started to question myself. Have I lost my mind?! Am I really going to just walk into a hospital with a cake and a bag of stickers and buttons and give them to a complete stranger saying it was for a blog? But, I knew I couldn’t chicken out now, so I just marched forward. Luckily my good friend Carol Ann agreed to go with me so I wouldn’t be alone.

My original intention was to go to the NICU in the hospital where I was born. As I was getting ready this morning I decided to pull up a map of the hospital to figure out where the NICU was—only to find out that they don’t have one. (When I say I’m figuring this whole thing out as I go along, I’m not kidding.) I’ve been planning on going to a NICU for the first cake since the very beginning so I called Carol Ann and had her meet me at St. Mary’s instead. Why a NICU? Today is a day that we, as a community of Americans, stop what we’re doing and celebrate a very special birthday. Most of us eat a ton of good ole American cookout food, some of us partake in some sort of personality defining drink, and just about everyone spends time with family and friends. While we come together to celebrate a birthday with our own families, the nurses and doctors in the NICU are working to help create families and hope that birthday celebrations ensue. That’s an important and stressful job—one that deserves cake. And what better way to celebrate the first Batter Up cake than with people who are in the business of “firsts?”

As I was headed out the door I posted to the Batter Up Facebook wall and saw a post that a friend who suffers from a chronic illness was back in the hospital. I dropped a quick note asking what hospital and was out the door. I met Carol Ann in the lobby and we made our way to the third floor. As we were walking around looking for the nurses’ station I started to think, “You idiot. It’s not like we can just walk into the NICU. Who do you give this to?” (Again, planning is not a strength of mine.) We finally told someone who we were and why we were there. She seemed excited about what we were doing and brought us into the hallway of the NICU where we waited for Kelly, the charge nurse, (pictured left) followed by Amy, (pictured right). (Kelly and Amy, If you’re reading this, I forgot to get the correct spelling of your names so I went mainstream. Sorry if I guessed incorrectly!)

Kelly and Amy are spending their Fourth of July at work. I can’t pretend that I know what an average day is like for them, but I can’t imagine that it’s easy. I would have loved to have been able to sit down and get to know these ladies, but what they do is extremely important and I wanted to be respectful of the environment and their time. What I can say is that they were genuinely surprised and excited to receive a cake and one of their colleagues has already posted a comment on my previous blog post saying that the cake was delicious. (Whew! I was just hoping for edible.) I tried to explain to Kelly and Amy what my blog was about but I was so nervous I think I just rambled incessantly and forgot most of what I had planned. Carol Ann snapped a few pictures and off we went.

As we made it back down to the lobby, Carol Ann suggested that we sit for a while and just talk. We talked for about 20 minutes and as we were wrapping up I looked at my phone to see that, two seconds earlier, my friend had messaged me back on Facebook. He was at St. Mary’s so we made our way up to the fifth floor and surprised him 10 minutes later. He’s really struggling and I hope our surprise visit lifted his spirits.

I knew that a lot of unexpected things would pop up over the next year as I go around town delivering cakes, and today was just the first of many. That one little homemade Strawberry Lemon Yogurt cake (recipe from Baking with Blondie—found here) ended up bringing a lot of people together today, if only for just a few minutes. Everything happens for a reason, and there was a reason we ended up at St. Mary’s at the last minute. I hope that Kelly and Amy and all of their colleagues enjoyed some time together and ate lots of cake.

If you know of someone that I should batter with cake, message me here or find me on Facebook or Twitter.