Friday, December 30, 2011

We did it! You did it!

We did it! You did it! You helped us raise $3795, almost doubling our goal of $2000. Without your help it would not have been possible. We are grateful beyond words for your support.

"I cannot tell you how amazed and delighted we all were by the generosity of your donors -$3795!!!! You have managed to generate so much goodwill and provided the Family Advisory Council with a resource to help many families in need. You have touched the hearts of so many individuals." Alison Brooks, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Alta Bates NICU.

Photo above from left to right:
  • Nicole Tucker, Manager
  • Melissa Harris, mother of Sam and Family Advisory Council member
  • Katie Rose, Director of Women and Infant Services
  • Alison Brooks, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Misty Schultz, Social Worker
  • Anna, NICU friend, Mascha, LSNFHF Ambassador
  • Rob Stiles, father of Milo and Maddy and Family Advisory Council member.
Photo below: You

Photo below: Us

Many, many thanks! We wish you a beautiful and healthy New Year.

Loki Sky and his NICU Friends: Anna, Foxen, Judah and Asa, Bennett, Sam, Patrick and Molly, Gabriella and Alexandra

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gift Drive: Alexandra and Gabriella's story

Going strong and going on... This is our last call for your support in our effort to support Alta Bates NICU families who--in addition to having their child in the hospital--are facing financial difficulties.

To those who have donated or supported us otherwise: "Thank You!" If you have not yet donated, please consider doing so. Especially during this current economic downtown, many families need assistance in order to buy essentials such as a child car seat, crib, and diapers. Details on how you can donate are at the end of this message.

The delivery of the check by Loki Sky and his NICU Friends ambassador Mascha is set for Thursday December 29th. Both Family Advisory Council President Rob and FAC member Melissa will be there to receive the check.

Melissa and her son Sam were featured in this beautiful Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Ad:

Please read this story of two little miracles: Alexandra and Gabriella.

Our Miracles:
24 week old Gabriella 1lb 8oz
25 week old Alexandra 1lb14oz
"Our tiny daughters had the rockiest start of any child ever born. From the very beginning we were told, 'Two steps forward, one step back.' But we still had no idea how long and arduous that journey would actually be.
"The three months our daughters were in the NICU were full of challenges, hopes, and dreams. We watched them struggle to learn how to breathe, recover from heart surgery, learn how to suck, swallow, and breathe, fight infections (meningitis and ecoli), stare death in the face numerous times and survive. As each one of these issues began to resolve itself, we began to see light at the end of the NICU tunnel. Under the ever so watchful nurses, we began to learn how to care for our daughters and to relish in the joy of a gained pound or milestone met. When our daughters were discharged we felt confident in the knowledge that they were going to be okay, and that they were ready to begin life in the outside world.
"After seven years, our daughters continue to do well. They are happy and thriving. They love to draw and play dress-up. It is so exciting watching them read and do schoolwork. Seven years ago we never thought they would do so well.
"We owe all of this to the amazing care our daughters received in the NICU. Every nurse and doctor will always hold a special place in our hearts."

For those who followed the fund last year, you may recognize Gabriella and Alexandra. Their mother Amy delivered, together with Mascha, gift-cards and books to the NICU.

Happy Holidays to all!

Please consider supporting our efforts:

Internet: Please go to and use a credit card or Paypal account to send money to XXXXX. Be sure to note "Holiday Fund" in the comments.

US: Please mail checks in name of: Kathalijn Sprenger, 405 Eastview Drive, Bedford, IN 47421. Please write “Holiday Fund” in the memo.

NL: Maak geld over op rekening 615769152 t.n.v. K.C. Sprenger o.v.v. “Holiday Fund”

Deadline: Donations accepted until Tuesday the 27th of December.

Delivery: Our check will be handed over to the NICU during the NICU in the week after Christmas. Photos and stories will be shared as usual.

Thank you very much for your help!
Loki Sky and his NICU Friends

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great news! Let's go further!

We made it... with your support we did indeed meet our target for this year’s Loki Sky and his NICU Friends Holiday Fund! We are very, very excited and grateful .

We won’t, however, disclose the exact amount until the check is handed over to the NICU. Due to reasons beyond our control this won’t happen until the week after Christmas, unlike earlier plans. Our ambassador Mascha will visit the NICU and offer the check on behalf of everybody who donated money. We want to honor all our donors and write your name on a letter handed to the NICU at time of delivery. If you do not want to be mentioned please let us know before Saturday the 24th, in that case we will respectfully delete your name from the public list.

The benefit of this little delay is that, if you are still considering donating, we can accept donations until Tuesday the 27th of December. Although we met our goal, let’s see how far we can take this fund. The more money we are able to donate, the more families we will be able to help out.

The social workers at the NICU are some of the professionals who know better than anyone else the challenges and hardships that families face. We want to share a few words from NICU social worker Misty Schutltz. Misty is someone who has made a big difference for many NICU families, including Loki Sky and some of his friends.

Misty Schultz: "The families are always VERY appreciative of any assistance. The money is nice as we can get gift certificates, which provide the parents with choice—item, color style—which is very empowering—going shopping for your own child. The money you gather for us at Christmas lasts the entire year. We save it for the neediest families so they can purchase car seats, clothing, blankets, bassinets or other essential infant care items for their preemie. I have a story of someone who got much needed help--- a young 20 year old single mom of a 2 year old who delivered premature twins. She had very little family support. She had nothing for the twins, literally nothing in the entire, and we were able to help her get all infant supplies to help care for her babies."

Also, a quote from Loki Sky’s mama: "I very well remember those first scary months of Loki’s life. In particular, I remember a moment where I walked the NICU hallways after scrubbing my hands, which at that time were hurting and a bit bloody from the chemicals in the soap and the anti-bacterial gel. I was exhausted, sad, and scared. I just could not accept the concept of this being our birth story and only the end of it: a traumatic start, that's it. I really wanted this to be more than Loki’s difficult start. I wanted this to make sense.

"The way that I have been able to make sense of it all is ensuring that--somehow--other people can benefit from our situation. To that extent this Holiday Fund has been an opportunity for me to heal. It inspires me how this fund has brought many former preemie families together, making a difference to those following us in the NICU. Even more so, I am incredibly grateful to all our family members, friends, and returning donors who are making this possible for the third year in a row. In your effort to support families currently in need, you are also helping several former preemie families make sense of their own story. To turn a difficult life-changing event into a positive and rewarding situation is perhaps the greatest gift we could receive during the Holidays. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for this."

This is where Loki came from:

And this is where he is now:

Let's take this to new heights!!

How you can help:

Internet: Please go to and use a credit card or Paypal account to send money to XXXXX. Be sure to note "Holiday Fund" in the comments.

US: Please mail checks in name of: Kathalijn Sprenger, 405 Eastview Drive, Bedford, IN 47421. Please write “Holiday Fund” in the memo.

NL: Maak geld over op rekening 615769152 t.n.v. K.C. Sprenger o.v.v. “Holiday Fund”

Deadline: Donations accepted until Tuesday the 27th of December.

Delivery: Our check will be handed over to the NICU during the NICU in the week after Christmas. Photos and stories will be shared as usual.

Thank you very much for your help!

Loki Sky and his NICU Friends

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bennett's story

$1701 in donations thus far! We are marching toward the $2000 which we are hoping to collect in order to support families at the Alta Bates NICU in Berkeley. Once again, many, many thanks for all your support.

Not every family is blessed with a wonderfully supportive social network, or with the ability to leave their job for the duration of their baby's hospital stay or after homecoming. Loki and his NICU friends are a group of former preemie parents who, despite a traumatic start of their babies' lives, feel tremendously blessed and grateful for all the help which they received from family, friends, hospital staff, and strangers. We want all NICU families to spend critical time with their baby. We want all NICU families to be able to be with their baby in the hospital and not to worry about care for their children at home. We want families who are perfectly capable of offering their baby a socially and emotionally safe home to bring their baby home. Lack of a car seat, crib, diapers, stroller, and other necessities should not be an issue for any family. With your help, we have been able to support many families the past two years, and with your help we will be able to offer support to many more this upcoming year.

We want to share a few quotes from the mother of "baby boy" Bennett', whose story is quite a powerful one. He announced his arrival at merely 19 weeks gestation after his mother's water broke and in addition she was diagnosed with a complete placenta previa. Miraculously, his mother was able to keep him inside, allowing him to grow with practically no amniotic fluid, a situation which seriously diminished his chances of survival. Bennett came into this world with 31+5 weeks gestation. His mother spent 110 days in bed, of which 90 days in the hospital. What followed was another 60 days in the NICU and a year filled with many hospitalizations. Despite all these challenges, Bennett is developing amazingly well.

Please meet Bennett and his super mom Elisa:

"Those 90 days in that hospital bed -- waiting for Bennett to be born and wondering if he would live -- were some of the most challenging I've ever faced ... and they were immediately followed by his birth, his fairly miraculous survival and a 60-day NICU stint. That's 150 days we spent at Alta Bates. Bennett was incredibly sick and fragile at birth. On the heels of three very precarious months in a hospital bed, there were days in that NICU when I was certain I didn't have either the physical or emotional strength to get through the hypervigilance required to NICU-parent him to that background soundtrack of beeps, pings and alarms that still ring in my head today, more than a year later. But somehow, during that most unlucky time in my life ... meeting Kathalijn through Mascha, and having both of their veteran support, made me feel anything but. It was a gift. Two moms who'd been there and could shine some light on the path. I was rich with their support, empathy, and logistical know-how (ask for "so and so" nurse, make sure you eat, park on the side streets, take a break, etc.). There were dozens and dozens of NICU families in there during our NICU stay, and we all looked like zombies, floating in, washing our hands, finding our babies, peering in their incubators with all their wires and IVs and monitors... so very aware of how abnormal a start this is for a baby (and his mom).

"And yet, in all that abnormality... there was a comfort. And the only way I can explain it is that, because Mascha introduced me to Kat and Loki, the NICU knew Bennett and me before he even arrived and welcomed us with open arms. Because there was a Loki, the NICU's clinical director and a few of Loki's special nurses had visited me in my antepartum room multiple times before Bennett's arrival. This connection made ALL the difference. Loki helped me to 'belong" to a club that no one wants to be in, but hell... if you find yourself there... how grateful you will be if you can drop his name. ;)"
This Anna, she visited Elisa on Aug. 12, 2010 (Elisa was then 29 weeks pregnant). Anna was born on the same floor at 30 weeks, 3 lbs. 4 oz. Elisa continues:
"This is not the experience for 99% of Alta Bates NICU families. Most do not have 90-hospitalized days to prepare for the fact that their 'best case scenario' is a very sick and premature baby. Most do not know families who've been there before them. Many do not live in such close proximity to the hospital. Many do not have local family and friends who can offer meals and help with other children. And what is very evident to anyone who is familiar with the Alta Bates NICU... many of the NICU families lack basic financial resource. And so... the experience of having a sick and premature child is not only emotionally and logistically devastating, but it has an immediate and significant harmful financial impact. We hope that your gift and support to the most needy families in the Alta Bates NICU will provide them with a moment, at one of the most unlucky times in their lives, during which they feel an interruption of luck, good will, care and support."
Loki Sky was born at the same floor at 24 weeks gestation, weighing 1 lbs., 5 oz. This photo was taken on Aug. 5 2010, visiting Elisa who was 28 weeks pregnant that day.

If you like to help out please follow the instructions below:

Internet: Please go to and use a credit card or Paypal account to send money to XXXX. Be sure to note "Holiday Fund" in the comments.

US: Please mail checks in name of: Kathalijn Sprenger, 405 Eastview Drive, Bedford, IN 47421. Please write “Holiday Fund” in the memo.

NL: Maak geld over op rekening 615769152 t.n.v. K.C. Sprenger o.v.v. “Holiday Fund”

Deadline: Monday December 19th 2011

Thank you very much for your help!


Loki Sky and his NICU Friends

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Help us reach our Target

Although we have shared our target for this year’s fund via Facebook, we have yet to announce the number via our email letter. For our 3rd Annual Loki Sky and His NICU Friends Holiday Fund, we hope to collect $2000. Please help us meet this target.

How far along are we? As of today, December 8th 2011, we already received $1125. Two more weeks to collect another $875, WE CAN DO THIS!

All the donations will benefit financially strained families whose new babies were admitted to the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center NICU in Berkeley, California. The NICU Social Workers, together with the Family Advisory Council, will ensure that families in need receive car seats, cribs, strollers, support with transportation from and to the hospital, or--in some cases--food for older siblings of the NICU baby.

How it all began, and continued:

Christmas 2008: Loki Sky at the calendar age of 2 months and at 33 weeks gestation (that is, 7 weeks before he was expected to be born). The knitted hat was made and given to us by strangers caring for our situation:

Christmas 2009: Our 1st Annual Holiday Fund was a great success. You helped us handout 56 gift bags, 5 massage certificates and approximately $1200 in gift cards for those facing economically difficult circumstances. Here is Loki Sky with some of the 56 gift bags, posing with Nurse Margaret.

Christmas 2010: Our 2nd Annual Holiday Fund was an even bigger success with a total of $3000 donated by you. We were able to buy 64 x $20 gift cards and 64 books, one for each family in the NICU. In addition, you donated enough in order to buy $1450 in gift cards for families who needed help buying car seats, strollers and cribs. The first sorting gift cards and our letter for the NICU families, while we were in Indiana:

Then Team California (Mascha, Anna, Amy, Gabriella, and Alexandra) delivering the gift cards and books to the NICU:

Chrismtas 2011: We hope to deliver a check of $2000 to the NICU over the Holidays. Melissa Harris, member of the Family Advisory Council will accept the check from Mascha, Holiday Fund Representative, together with Misty Schultz, NICU Social Worker Extraordinaire. Photos and stories will be shared as usual.

Help us make it happen!

Internet: Please go to and use a credit card or Paypal account to send money to XXXX. Be sure to note "Holiday Fund" in the comments.

US: Please mail checks in name of: Kathalijn Sprenger, 405 Eastview Drive, Bedford, IN 47421. Please write “Holiday Fund” in the memo.

NL: Maak geld over op rekening 615769152 t.n.v. K.C. Sprenger o.v.v. “Holiday Fund”

Deadline: Monday December 18th 2011

Thank you very much for your help!
Loki Sky and his NICU Friends

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What a wonderful kick off to our Holiday Fund. Not even two weeks into the fund and we have already received $788 in donations. THANK YOU so very much!! If you are still contemplating whether you would like to support our fund please remember that all the donations will benefit families in the Alta Bates NICU who are facing significant financial hardship. Their economic situation threatens their ability to be with their baby in the hospital, or even worse for some, it may threaten their baby’s homecoming because they cannot afford car seats, cribs and other necessities. Please read the following testimonies and consider supporting us in our effort to support these families.

"The story of Sam is one that I have told to anyone and everyone that will listen. He was born in September of 2010 at just 24 weeks and weighed only 1 lb 12 ounces. We spent 95 days in the NICU at Alta Bates, enduring many roller coaster rides as Sam went from a fragile micro- preemie to a "feeder and a grower". Those are the basic facts, but there is so much more to Sam's story. While Sam in the NICU, Sam was cared for every day by superheros: his nurses, nurse practitioner, neonatoligists, physical therapist, occupational therapists, and many many more. Each one of these people had a hand in saving the life of my son. I was so inspired by what I witnessed daily in the NICU that I allowed my story to be filmed for a Sutter Health TV ad and am now an active member of the Family Advisory Council. The first thing the Council did was set up a fund so we could help out those families less fortunate that find themselves in the NICU. It was such an easy and obvious way that we could give back and improve someone else’s stay in the NICU. It is with gratitude and purpose that I fully support the Holiday Gift Fund." -Melissa Harris
"Molly and Patrick were born at 34 weeks and spent 20 days in the NICU. We were so lucky that they were born healthy, just a bit too too small to go home right away. It was a very stressful time, but the nurses and doctors, and especially the lactation consultant, at Alta Bates were top notch. I was so impressed by how the NICU was organized and managed. I always felt like I was getting the highest quality care for my kids. The nurses were incredibly supportive, nurturing, and knowledgeable. And even while going through my own hard times with my new babies, I realized how much I should count my blessings as I saw what other NICU families were going through. I lived 10 minutes away from the NICU and was so blessed to have strong family support. I can't imagine what it must be like for families who have to travel from far away to be with their children, or don't have the support I had. I have been waiting all year to be able to support the holiday fund and help other NICU families. It is the best way I can think of to give thanks for the care we received for our beautiful babies." -Jessica Russel, Mother of Molly and Patrick.
"Foxen Worthing is two and a half years old. He was born at Christmastime in 2008 at 30 weeks. We spent 52 days in the NICU, including Christmas and New Years. The tenderness and generosity that the nurses, doctors, staff, fellow NICU families, and the lovely chaplain showed to us every one of those days still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. Today, gazing upon my sweet and strong and stubborn and sly toddler, I am still overcome with gratitude. The term "miracle" makes me a little unco mfortable, but I'm not sure if there is another that conveys what happens at the NICU. Superhuman grace and love and insight and patience is expressed through all these people: paid professionals just as much as the people they serve, and these tiny creatures, grasping at life, are nurtured to health by hundreds of hands and then delivered, ready for the world, to the arms of their wide-eyed parents. I contribute to the Holiday Gift Fund in hopes of passing on some of the tender loving care that was given so freely to our family when our preemie came as a Christmas surprise."

If you are currently unable to support our fund by donating money, please consider passing this email on to friends or family members who may be interested in reading our story and offering their support.

With many thanks,Loki Sky and his Friends

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Photos: birthday, violin, Amsterdam, St. Nick arrives

The table is prepared for the special breakfast on Loki's third birthday:

Our birthday gift: a sort of table harp, called a cymbaal (or cimbalom):

Birthday at daycare:

Loki recently became fascinated with violins, starting with a busker at the grocery, and then when his Tante Naomi brought one for his birthday. This spatula and long shoe shown have become his violin and bow:

Marieke brought her violin:

It fits better as a cello:

Carving a  pumpkin into a Halloween Jack-o-lantern

On the train to Amsterdam:

In Amsterdam, visiting some American friends who are spending 6 months in Paris. The boy here was born on Loki's due date:

Sharing a bike with Mama at a neat playground in Amsterdam:

America's story and image of Santa Claus came from the Netherlands' St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas. After coming from his home in Spain (!) via steamboat (!!), he tours the Netherlands on his white horse:

Painting, with pink hair:

Sometimes, we all work:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We are back, once again!!

Dear family and friends,

We are back with the 3rd Annual “Loki Sky and his NICU Friends’ Holiday Fund” benefiting families at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We need your help now more than ever to help families, many of whom will spend their first Holiday Season with their new babies in the hospital.

This year we launch with a different target. We hope for the same amazing contributions as the past years, but this time we will donate the money to those who need it most. The economic downturn impacts many families. For them, the combination of having a sick baby in the hospital and their difficult financial situation often causes enormous stress. For example, spending much needed time with their babies increases the chance of losing a job. Some parents need to make a choice between spending money on transportation to the hospital to be with their baby, or between buying healthy food for their older children. Others are at risk of losing their baby at discharge because they lack the money to buy a crib or car seat, a requirement to bring one’s baby home. These are families who are otherwise very capable of providing a loving and home for their babies.

We ask you to help us help those families. We all were lucky with support from friends, family and even strangers. Together we can be those strangers. We can make a significant difference in the life of a NICU baby and their family.

How you can help:
Internet: Please go to and use a credit card or Paypal account to send money to XXXX. Be sure to note "Holiday Fund" in the comments.

US: Please mail checks in name of: Kathalijn Sprenger, 405 Eastview Drive, Bedford, IN 47421. Please write “Holiday Fund” in the memo.

NL: Maak geld over op rekening 615769152 t.n.v. K.C. Sprenger o.v.v. “Holiday Fund”

Deadline: Monday December 18th 2011

Delivery: Our check will be handed over to the Family Advisory Council during the Holidays. Photos and stories will be shared as usual.

Thank you very much for your help!
Loki Sky and his NICU Friends

Monday, November 7, 2011

Videos from California

Here in the Low Country, the bad news is that Loki has been struggling with a fever for 5 days. The good news is that not only is he getting better, but he didn't have to go to the hospital.

Regardless, here are some clips from California:

  • Loki likes to have one or two extra pacifiers, so that he can rub his face with one while slurping the other. Here, he shows how he can sneak in a fourth one. 
  • He plays with his NICU buddy Foxen unlike with anyone else. Here, they go a bit crazy in the chapel at Children's Fairyland.
  • Esti is one of the funniest people I know. Loki agrees.
  • Drumming performance at Shaggy's.
  • California's coast!
  • Cooking pumpkin pie with Margaret
  • For Loki, the highlight of our trip may have been the swimming pools. His "swimming" quickly improved.
  • He laughs at cartoons with Mom. (form here forward, the audio volume is a bit lower...)
  • When he plays, he often uses a high falsetto voice. Here I captured in via the monitor.
  • Trying a hula hoop with Magnolia, Luna's daughter. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

California photos

We went to California for three weeks. At the Alta Bates NICU reunion picnic:

Loki has learned to pose, here in Golden Gate Park:

At the Tilden park kids' farm:

With Mom, Laureen, and her twins at the farm:

Playing with the twins:

With NICU buddy Foxen at our picnic:

With Anna:

Again with Anna:

Playing with Foxen in Children's Fairyland, Oakland:

With Nana and Papaw, who came out from Indiana to visit us, at the cable car:

In the tram with Mom and Nana:

On the carousel on Fisherman's Wharf:

Looking at the sea lions of Fisherman's Wharf:

Meeting with Mascha and Anna at Sausalito's tiny beach:

Doing what he loves:

At Sausalito Beach:


With Mom at Natural Bridges Beach near Santa Cruz, on the way to Monterrey:

Mascha loaned us a backpack, and Loki held the umbrella during a light rain:

Loki now likes to play hide-and-seek, here at the Carmel Mission:

With Dad in the soft white sand of Carmel Beach:

With Mom in the Monterrey Aquarium:

In the aquarium:

Mom reading, along with Stephanie's kids:

Keeping out of the warm sun:

It was all about swimming pools. Jane has one in her apartment building:

With Finn:

With Magnolia, Luna's older daughter:

With Luna and her daughters. It can be tough to get them all in position:


Cooking pumpkin pie with Margaret:

On Ocean Beach, San Francisco, with the Dutch windmill in the background:

After rolling in the sand:

With Dad:

On Margaret's stoop:

He takes pictures now. This is typical:

Cleaning with Margaret on our last day:

About Loki Sky

Loki Sky is a special little man. He was a very early micropreemie, weighing only 610 grams (1 lb, 5 oz) after 24 weeks, 3 days gestation, born to an American Father and a Dutch Mother in Berkeley, California on October 18, 2008.

On January 11, 2009, while still in the hospital NICU, his one kidney stopped working. It was repaired after three surgeries. After spending time in three hospitals in three cities, Loki came home on February 17. He struggled with eating, and then stopped in July, leading to 8 days in the hospital, a failure-to-thrive diagnosis, and a NG feeding tube. On October 10, a minor surgery installed a G feeding tube. Another procedure replaced it with a new one, and then again with a Mic-Key button in Jan. 2010.

In August 2010, he and his parents moved to the Netherlands.

Read about his first name.
Read & hear about his middle name.
See photos.
See videos.

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Loki's Holiday Gift Drive

Please consider donating to Loki's Holiday Gift Drive for the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center NICU. You can donate by Paypal or credit card here:

Click here for more information, including how to pay by check. For all posts on the Gift Drive, click here.