Not every pregnancy goes as planned, and unfortunately, many families find their babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) through no fault of their own. During this time, it can be stressful and overwhelming for families – some families can’t even hold their pre-term babies until a few weeks or months after delivering.
Like so many others, Edward and Haley Steinhauser found themselves in the NICU. They were inspired by their journey in the NICU and wanted to support other families that found themselves in a similar situation.
While Haley was in Denver, Colo., for work she suddenly felt sick and rushed herself to the hospital. Not wanting Haley to be alone, Edward caught the first flight from Long Beach to Denver to be by her side. In February 2022, Haley gave birth to Cooper Steinhauser. He was delivered 25 weeks early weighing just one pound, 15 ounces. In the NICU, a thousand miles from home, the Long Beach couple looked over their son with gratitude that high acuity neonatal care was available to Cooper.
After 82 days in the NICU, Cooper passed away in Denver with his parents by his side. After Cooper died, Edward and Haley turned their grief into a legacy in Cooper’s memory. They started the Cooper Steinhauser Foundation, with a mission of supporting NICU families and staff, including those back at home in Long Beach at the NICU at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
Within the first year of creating the Foundation, Edward and Haley visited the NICU at Miller Children’s & Women’s to pass out canvas tote bags filled with items to help families during their time in the NICU. The “Cooper Cares” bag is filled with a children’s book, NICU sized baby clothing, crocheted octopus, stationary paper, markers, tape, a notebook and pen, travel sized toiletries, lip balm, ear plugs and an eye mask, tissue, and a letter from Edward and Haley.
“What’s unique about the NICU is it’s not just the baby who’s there, it’s the whole family. And they all need help,” said Edward. “So, we wanted to think about how to support everyone – how to support a family who wants to stay overnight. When your baby is in the NICU, you don’t want to be more than a few yards away.”
Being a regional Level IV NICU, the highest designation available by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Miller Children’s & Women’s treats nearly 1,200 critically ill and premature babies each year.
“When the Steinhausers came to the NICU it was an amazing moment,” said Stephanie Figueroa, MSN RNC-NIC, director, clinical operations, NICU, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “In the NICU we are committed to providing patient and family centered care. But when other families who have personally experienced being in the NICU come to visit and provide care packages, like the Steinhausers, it means so much more to our families. We are so grateful for the Steinhausers and their generous gift to our NICU families.”