For parents Allison Dillon and Tyron Jimmy, the birth of their baby girl Aubree-Anna in Edmonton was not planned. The Saskatchewan family was visiting Edmonton several weeks before Christmas to do some shopping when Allison went into early labour and gave birth at the Misericordia Community Hospital.
“My water broke while I was in West Edmonton Mall,” Allison recalls. “It was a bit of a shock since Aubree-Anna wasn’t due till January. It’s tough being away from home during the holidays, but they’ve taken good care of us here.”
The staff at the Misericordia Neonatal Intensive Care unit (NICU) understand just how tough it can be to celebrate Christmas with a new baby in the hospital. In fact, it’s the reason NICU Nurse Shelley Cox has dressed up as Santa to visit the babies in the unit around Christmastime for the past nine years. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that she has the same initials as Santa himself.
“I know how much it means to parents whose babies are spending their first Christmas in the hospital,” Shelley explains. “We try to bring Christmas to them so they don’t feel like they’ve missed it.”
Shelley visits the babies as Santa and poses with them and their families for photos, which NICU staff then present to the families on Christmas morning. Families of the babies are so grateful for the Christmas cheer the NICU staff bring that many donate gifts to the department during the holiday season (and year round) to pay it forward to other families.
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