On Halloween every year, nurse Lilly Fox brings a special spooky surprise for the tiny patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at NewYork-Presbyterian Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns. Starting in early September, Fox handcrafts more than 50 costumes to distribute to families with babies in the NICU. On Halloween, the NICU nurses help dress the babies up, creating memories and taking adorable pictures that can live in the family photo album.
“The best part is seeing how appreciative the parents are to have that bonding time,” says Fox. “Some parents in the NICU completely forget about Halloween because it’s just not at the forefront of their mind. We get to normalize their hospital stay a little bit, and it really brings everyone in the unit together.”
Fox makes the costumes on her own time at a craft table at her apartment. Her love for sewing started when she was younger. “My aunt used to make my Halloween costumes, and I loved dressing up,” she says. “If I didn’t go into medicine, I probably would have wanted to do something artistic.”
The theme this year is “No Tricks, All Treats!” All the outfits are related to food — and extra sweet this year. “I have a sweet tooth, so I made a donut, an ice cream cone, a cupcake with sprinkles, cotton candy using cotton balls, and a strawberry with the hat as the stem,” she says. “For twins, I am making foods that go together, like salt and pepper or ketchup and mustard.”
Among the babies who dressed up is Lola, who has spent the first seven weeks of her life in the NICU. Lola’s mother Jessica chose sushi for Lola’s costume, which features a headband with tiny sushi rolls. “I can’t believe Lilly goes through all of this to make my day special,” says Jessica. “Everyone is so caring in the NICU. They take care of my precious baby, and me too.”