More than three decades ago, an obstetrics nurse posed with a newborn baby to promote a volunteer-based program that provided free hats to all babies born at the hospital in Ludington.

Thirty-four years later, the nurse and the baby would reunite to recreate the picture.

Keith Blamer was born on Feb. 14, 1984, and became one of the first babies to receive a hat knit by hospital volunteers from Memorial Medical Center, which is now known as Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital.

Kathy Saxton, RN, the director of obstetrics, held Keith in her arms as he donned his new hat just hours after his birth.

When Keith and his wife, Tracy, learned they were pregnant, they reached out to the hospital to see if they could have Saxton recreate the photo with their new baby. Saxton, who still works at the hospital as a senior improvement specialist in the clinical quality department, happily obliged.

“This is really the pinnacle of my career,” Saxton said. “Knowing this family still remembers me is very rewarding and heartwarming. I’m honored beyond words.”

At 10:19 p.m. June 13, 2018, the Blamer family, from Shelby, Michigan, welcomed their daughter, Amelia, to the world. She weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces and measured 19 inches long.

Amelia donned a knit baby hat and returned to the hospital to meet Saxton and recreate the vintage photo in which her father appeared more than 30 years prior.

“I never thought I’d be back at the hospital to recreate a picture of my own child with the same nurse that delivered me 34 years ago,” Keith said. “I only got to meet Kathy once. This is the first time we’ve met since the day I was born.”

“I’m going to cry,” Saxton said as she wiped away tears when the Blamer family introduced her to Amelia.

After many hugs and catching up on Keith’s life, the photo was recreated to near perfection as baby Amelia posed and modeled like a seasoned veteran.

“Your daughter is just like you,” Saxton told Keith. “You were a very calm baby.”

Baby Hat program

Hospital volunteers approached Saxton in 1984 about creating a program that would provide a knit hat to every baby born in Ludington. The volunteers agreed to knit the hats as one of the many services they provide to the hospital.

“It was so heartwarming that we were able to offer a program for volunteers who were homebound,” Saxton said. “It gave them an opportunity to be able to support the hospital and make a difference without having to physically come in.”

And volunteers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program.

“The baby hats are very well received by the families,” Saxton said. “Many people keep them in their treasure boxes as a unique keepsake.”

Debbie Nellis, volunteer services coordinator at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, said no two hats are the same.

“Just as each baby is unique, each hat is just as unique,” Nellis said. “The hats come in all different colors and styles. Some of them are solid colors while others feature animals, sports teams or colleges. We let the parents decide which hat best suits their baby.”

With an average of 350 babies born at the Ludington hospital each year, Saxton conservatively estimates that more than 10,000 knit baby hats have been given to newborns since 1984.

For families like the Blamers, the hats are a special part of the birthing experience.

“It’s such a simple little thing, but it means so much,” Tracy Blamer said with a smile. “I came from a big town on the East Coast and you don’t get this kind of special touch there.”