Fayette County

6-year-old's birthday wish: gifts for babies

Gracie O'Brien's sixth birthday was two months ago, but her birthday wish wasn't completely fulfilled until Sunday, Mother's Day.

That's when babies in the neo natal intensive care unit at Lexington's Central Baptist Hospital received gifts of blankets, clothing and stuffed animals, along with some advice on how to be good children — all thanks to Gracie and her friends.

Instead of gifts for herself, Gracie, whose birthday was March 9, had asked that each of her friends help her celebrate by providing a gift for a baby in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. The advice dispensed to the babies came on cards that Gracie and her friends made.

Gracie's friend Meghan wrote the following advice on her card: "Be polite, don't talk with food in your mouth, help kids, be nice to your mom, share your toys, eat healthy foods and take lots of naps."

It was decided that the gifts and the cards would be presented to mothers of babies in Central Baptist's neonatal intensive care unit on Mother's Day. The 21 babies who were in the unit on Sunday slightly outnumbered the gifts and cards that Gracie and her friends made, so the hospital chipped in to make sure that each mother got a gift bag, a hospital publicist said.

"I thought that was real sweet of the little girl, that instead of getting birthday gifts, to give to the little babies," said Melissa McHone, whose 2-month-old daughter, Ashley McHone, was in neonatal intensive care. Melissa's gift bag contained a package of "onesies;" a handmade card from one of the children that says, among other things, "always be kind;" and a special Mother's Day dessert plate, made by Hadley Pottery, that commemorates the hospital's 55th anniversary.

Gracie, whose dad, Tim O'Brien, is the lead sonographer in Central Baptist's cardiovascular laboratory, came up with the birthday idea after numerous visits to see the babies born at the hospital.

"Every time she comes to see me, we always go down to see the babies. So it wasn't that shocking," Tim O'Brien said.

"I'll never forget it," Gracie said of this year's birthday.