MEMPHIS, Tenn. — According to the March of Dimes, one out of every eight babies in Memphis are born prematurely. The city has the 12th highest premature birth rate of any city in the United States.
Jaye Mosby lost her son Jordan just five weeks after his premature birth.
It was 2005 when the expecting Memphis mother delivered her first child after less than five months.
“He was less than two pounds,” Mosby said. “This little bitty person that you could not wait to meet and you're able to hold him in your hand.”
After her son passed away, what Mosby remembers most, is the guilt she felt.
“It was this overwhelming need to blame myself,” she said. “‘What did I do?’”
Between 2005 and 2013, Mosby lost three more children shortly after their births.
But now, she says she has found purpose in her pain.
“(My son’s) short life, his death, had to mean something,” Mosby said. “I needed it to mean something.”
In 2021, she started a boys boutique with a special selection of outfits for premature babies she called Jordan’s Closet. Mosby says just being able to dress their children can be incredibly meaningful for parents as their young ones fight for their lives.
“You have very little control over the health of your child, the medical progress your child makes,” Mosby said. “So having something as simple as putting your baby’s first clothes on is something that is monumental to a mother that has very little control over everything.”
Dr. Ajay Talati, medical director for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, says the problem has gotten especially worse during the past five to seven years.
“The premature rate has soared significantly in 2021,” Dr. Talati said. “We don’t know the 2022 data yet. The year’s not over but I’m assuming it’s going to be the same.”
Dr. Talati says reasons why range from racial disparities (African American population has premature birth rate of 14.6 percent vs. 9.6 percent Caucasian) to chronic health conditions.
“Maternal diabetes, hypertension and obesity all put a woman at higher risk for delivering premature,” Dr. Talati said. “And unfortunately, our population in the Memphis area, all those conditions (occur) at a much higher rate than the national average.”
Mosby also donates her clothes to area NICU units like Baptist Women’s in Germantown and Regional One.
“One of the hospitals that we were really intentional on serving was Regional One,” Mosby said. “They’re mostly where lower income women are finding themselves.”
In just it’s first year, the business has sent premature clothes across the entire country. Mosby says she still gets overwhelm when parents send her pictures of their children dressed by Jordan’s Closet.
“I knew he was going to live on in me but to see all the people that he’s touching…he was here for five weeks but he will be impacting people forever,” Mosby said, as tears streamed down her face.
The boutique is called EmHerSon Boytique, named after her son Emerson, who is nine years old.