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Helping babies in need is great therapy for mother and daughter


By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor   

  When doctors told 83 year-old Anne Phillips of Stockbridge that she would likely never regain the use of her right hand after a debilitating stroke, she knew in her heart that those doctors, no matter how smart they might be, were wrong. She moved temporarily to Laurel Park Nursing facility where she participated in physical therapy to work through some of the effects of the stroke and it was there she was determined to continue her lifelong passion of crocheting.

Joan Couch and her mother Anne Phillips show the beautiful baby blankets and hats they crochet for the NICU at Piedmont Henry Hospital.                               Photo by Melissa Robinson

  For years, she has made beautiful blankets for friends and family members, dotting every occasion with a special blanket, personalized for the recipient. But while rehabbing her body, she made a decision to join her daughter, Joan Couch, in a project that she had just begun, making tiny blankets and hats for premature babies in Piedmont Henry’s NICU.

  Couch said she was visiting a friend in a hospital in another county and found out they didn’t have enough blankets for the premature babies. She said that prompted her to check closer to home at Piedmont Henry and she was told that they would welcome these items for the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

  “I asked Mama and she said she wanted to make blankets and hats with me, so we just did it,” said Couch. “Kim, the manager in the NICU, said they never have enough so we’ve been making them ever since October.”

  Phillips’ stroke was in September and the project proved to be great therapy for her.

  “Right after I had my stroke, I couldn’t even say my name, let alone crochet or use my hand. But this and therapy have helped. I was able to make 100 hats for the Christmas child boxes at my church,” said Phillips.

  Couch said making the blankets has been rewarding for her as well.

  It was a year ago near Christmas, that after going in for her regular mammogram, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After two surgeries, radiation and a new procedure to deliver the radiation, Couch suffered a setback when the surgical site became infected. She said it has been a long road to recovery and she finds that crocheting the tiny hats and blankets has been cathartic.

  “When I’m sewing, I don’t think about anything else, it just puts my mind at ease,” she said. “It takes a lot of stress off you.”

  The pair completed their first bundle of blankets and hats in mid November, and Joan makes the trip to Piedmont Henry at least once a month to drop off completed items.

  Most days the two Henry County women sew at their respective homes and Couch even found a little light on an elastic strap that she wears in bed next to her husband to see while she is crocheting, so as not to disturb him with a big light. 

  She said ever since her mother’s stroke, she and her two brothers each stay a weekend out of the month. She stays every third weekend at her mother’s home and the two women have enjoyed their ritual of crocheting, talking and laughing together.

  “Through all this, I’ve really gotten to know my children better,” said Phillips.

  Both mother and daughter seem to share a similar outlook on life.

  “I look forward to every day,” said the matriarch.

  “We don’t worry about the past, we just keep looking forward,” said Couch.

  Although Phillips has difficulty getting around, from the stroke, a broken leg a year ago and failing eyesight in one eye, she said she enjoys making the one-of-a kind blankets, using special crochet needles her daughter bought for her. At first, while in the nursing home, the nurses adapted a regular needle with a thick band of medical tape in order for her to be able to grip it. Couch was able to find needles that had a non-slip grip, perfect for her mother’s needs.

  Couch uses a regular crochet needle and said she’s grateful her mother taught her how to crochet when she was just a little girl.

  “She picked it up in about a day,” laughed Phillips, who said that crocheting and spending time with her daughter has been a boost to her recovery.

  “Ever since the stroke, I can get to feeling confused and then when I start to make the blankets, my head clears and I’m not nervous of confused anymore,” said Phillips.

  Couch said it’s therapeutic. She finds it relaxing and said there’s a feeling of satisfaction  in knowing she’s helping the little, premature babies.

  Although the thread can get expensive, she said she buys it on sale. Recently, someone at her mother’s church, Lighthouse Community Baptist Church, donated some thread that they are using to continue their mission of providing warmth and comfort to the babies in the NICU.

  If you have any crochet thread that you don’t know what to do with, contact Couch and she would be happy to have it. She may be reached through email at



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