To be born on a leap year was too great an opportunity to pass up, so twins Lily and Adlee Winemiller decided to make their grand appearance early, arriving on Feb. 29, 2016.
Weighing in at 4 pounds 9 ounces and 4 pounds 15 ounces, respectively, the girls weren't quite ready for life on the outside, so the doctors at Jefferson City's Capitol Region Medical Center sent them to MU Health Care's Children's Hospital, where they spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, as their lungs developed.
Proud father Joshua Winemiller, of Jefferson City, said the family received not only excellent care during the twins' time in the NICU, but also constant reassurance and encouragement.
"It was fantastic. Any time we had questions or concerns, there was someone to answer them," Winemiller said.
And the results speak for themselves. Today, Lily and Adlee are healthy toddlers — energetic and mischievous in the way only 2 year olds can be.
Grandmother Karen Winemiller was so moved that she approached the Missouri River Quilt Guild, of which she is a member, about creating quilts and receiving blankets for the Isolettes in the NICU.
On May 5, 2018, Karen Winemiller, Joshua Winemiller, along with Lily and Adlee and Bobbie Uballez, who chairs the quilt guild's community service committee with Karen Winemiller, drove to Children's Hospital to deliver a kaleidoscopic collection of 56 quilts and 127 flannel receiving blankets — each handmade by the members of the quilt guild.
Uballez said it wasn't hard to convince the group to take on the project.
"We like to give back, and we're all grandmas," Uballez said, watching as Lily and Adlee toddled about the hospital lobby.
Cindy Franke, clinical manager of nursing services at Children's Hospital, said the quilts were a welcome addition to the NICU.
"A person cannot truly understand the concept of a stay in the NICU until they have experienced it. Our staff always attempt to make the baby's bedside as homey as possible with quilts and blankets. Many of these are provided by families like the Winemillers who have had babies in our unit, and by other kind and generous members of our community," Franke said. "It is rewarding for our staff when NICU graduates return for a visit. We love to see how they have grown and developed from tiny babies into laughing, fun-loving or shy-but-happy toddlers and children."