It was almost two years ago when Anthony May says he nearly fainted in the delivery room.
“You’re terrified, but at the same time you’re also hopeful,” he said.
His daughter Alexandra was born three months premature, weighing in a little more than one pound.
“Probably the worst experience I've ever had. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade it for anything. She's wonderful. But I mean it's really stressful,” May said.
After several scares, surgery and seven months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) suffering from lung and necrotizing enterocolitis, a devastating intestinal disease, Alexandra was finally well enough to go home.
She’s a thriving toddler now, but her father says that during the tough times in the NICU sleeping and eating were secondary.
“You’re kind of like the walking dead, right? When you’re worried about your kid’s health and wondering whether she’s going to live, it’s definitely pretty damaging,” May, a freelance photographer whose client list includes the Seattle Seahawks, said.
He is now trying to make it easier for other NICU families by raising money for gift cards so parents can use them to get something healthy to eat or drink inside Swedish and Seattle Children’s -- hospitals his daughter spent time in.
In less than a week, people have donated more than $5,000. May says he is working with social workers at both hospitals to hand out $20 gift cards to families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Any money leftover will go to the Ronald McDonald House.
“You can't be there for your kid if you're not taking care of yourself. So I think, even if it's just for a little bit, this is where you can kind of take care of yourself to get that little boost you need to go back,” he said.
May says it’s a small token intended to give families a much-needed break to recharge and re-center, so they can get back to who needs them the most.
For more information, visit: gofundme.com/holidaynicu