by Jessie Ammons
photographs by Jillian Clark
As Leza Driscoll approached 23 weeks pregnant with twins, she was beginning to hit that exhausted phase most mothers can recall. One hot afternoon, she fainted, and before she knew it she was in a hospital on bed rest. She was given magnesium sulfate to stop her premature labor and took it easy until full term, when twins Caroline and David Hansen entered the world. “I just had no idea. I thought I’d had a completely healthy pregnancy,” Driscoll says. “If Caroline and David had been born at 23 weeks … (they) would not likely have survived. At least part of the reason they are okay is because of the research the March of Dimes has done.”
She’s referring to the national nonprofit working to end premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality through awareness and research. That includes ensuring healthcare providers have knowledge of and access to such preterm labor treatments as magnesium sulfate, as in Driscoll’s case.
Today, Caroline and David Hansen are thriving high school seniors who have teamed with their grandmother, Carol Driscoll, to create a business selling baby bonnets that donates a portion of its proceeds back to March of Dimes.
Carol Driscoll, a longtime crocheter, began knitting a cozier alternative to hospital-issue baby caps when the twins were born. She’s continued to make them for almost two decades. “I was still making them for the hospital and giving them away,” she says. An a-ha moment came when a nurse mentioned how much she’d love to have one of Carol Driscoll’s hats if she ever had another child.
Meanwhile, Carol Driscoll had been teaching Caroline Hansen how to crochet as a way to spend time together. She mentioned to her granddaughter that she might like to sell her baby bonnets, and Hansen suggested they “make a difference instead of just profit ourselves.” March of Dimes was a natural fit. “Caroline and David are here because of the March of Dimes,” Carol says. “Everything just came together.”
They brought David Hansen on board to help create Baby Bonnets, LLC, design a website, and conduct market research. “They’re the tastemakers,” Carol Driscoll says. “They see things that I don’t.”
So far, most of their business has come from online sales and small gatherings among friends, and they’re donating a “generous portion” to March of Dimes. They’re baby steps toward big goals. “In the United States, there are 4 million premature babies born each year,” Carol Driscoll says. “I don’t know if I can make 4 million hats, but just a little percentage of that would be wonderful. We’ve had a lot of fun with it.”
Visit babybonnets.net to learn more. And, on April 25, join Carol Driscoll and Caroline and David Hansen at the Triangle March for Babies in Morrisville, a run/walk to benefit the March of Dimes; register at marchofdimes.org.