Ardmore mom uses experience in the NICU to support other families

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - WHNT NEWS 19 Pays it Forward to a woman who's giving back to families dealing with a tough situation. It's one she knows all too well - having a baby in the hospital. Carrie Tyler is from Ardmore, AL and a mother of two. She has a giving spirit which is why she was chosen as a recipient of $319.

"We put our heart and soul into this and it means a lot," says a teary Tyler after accepting the money. "Thank you!"

These are tears of joy, after a real journey for Carrie Tyler. She experienced a tough pregnancy, premature birth and months in a medical building with her baby boy, not a nursery at home.

"Our son Braelyn was born at 24 weeks at one pound three ounces," explains Tyler. "He spent a total of 117 days in the NICU. Being there, it doesn't matter if it's one day or 117 days, it's very traumatic as a parent to sit and watch your baby fight for their life."

It's a fight Braelyn won! Actually, now at age three, he quite enjoys it.

"He's doing fantastic," describes Tyler. "He's big into wrestling. I feel like our whole life is around wresting. Him and his brother, that's all they do."

He's also the inspiration for Braelyn's Tiny Toes - a division of the national non-profit Project Sweet Peas. Every few months, they take care packages and small gifts to the neonatal intensive care units at local hospitals.

"We've just been fortunate enough to be able to give back to the families like others have given to us," says Tyler.

A lot of thought goes into these bags filled with goodies like a baby book more specific to the NICU, unique milestone stickers and toys that siblings can play with quietly, since NICU babies need their rest.

"It's something that they're going to be able to sit and do like a notebook, coloring book, stuffed animals and just a couple of different things," describes Tyler.

Books to read, playing cards and Play-doh are popular too. There's also little something for the NICU nurses and staff.

"They're like the unspoken heroes back there," says Tyler. "Not just the nurses, there's a lot of the staff that goes into helping it run smoothly."

All of this is done to show appreciation, gratitude and support. Project Sweet Peas is partnering with a national company, 4moms, to provide infant seats to local NICUS.