'Baby Buns' Parents, Who Suffered 4 Miscarriages & a Stillbirth, Start Foundation to Help NICU Families
Arkell and Dana Graves suffered a lot after experiencing four miscarriages and a stillbirth through almost 20 years married. So, after their first child was born premature and sent to the NICU, the couple decided to turn their experience in something positive, and Baby Buns 4 Life was born.
In 2015, the Graves family became a viral sensation after Dana posted a video on YouTube where she shared the big news with her husband: she was 5-months pregnant with a baby boy.
“Have your tissues ready!” she captioned the video. “After 4 miscarriages and 1 stillborn birth, we had given up on the idea of having babies of our own, especially at our age…But God!”
In the clip, Dana asks her husband to check what’s cooking in the oven, and when Arkell finds four buns, he realizes what’s happening and can’t contain his excitement, bursting into tears of happiness instantly.
The video, which now has over 11 million views, led the Graves family to share their incredible journey on social media.
Welcome to the world
Kaleb Arkell Graves, also known as “Baby Buns,” was born 16 weeks premature through C-section in October 2016.
At the time, Dana was told by doctors that because of her high blood pressure, carrying the baby any longer would have put her life at risk.
Still, Dana waited until her baby was at a development point where he would have better chances of survival. ” Arkell Graves told People at the time:
“She refused to go on with the delivery until it was a time where they could actually take care of him in the neonatal intensive care unit. I’m going to tell you, just looking at my wife, it was the most selfless thing I have ever seen somebody do.”
A year away from home
Against all the odds, baby Kaleb spent almost a year at the neonatal intensive care unit of Richmond’s VCU Medical Center, where he underwent heart surgery and other treatments for his chronic lung condition before finally going home at 11-months.
Spending that much time at the NICU, opened the Grave’s family’s eyes to the reality of many other families, that, unlike them, were having a hard time with their different situations.
“Going up there every day, and seeing others that were in need, we were a little fortunate to take care of different things,” Arkell told People. “When we saw others that were less fortunate than ourselves, [and] when my wife brought up the idea to help others, I thought it was a good idea.”
That’s how Baby Buns 4 Life was born. A donation-based foundation created by the Graves while baby Kaleb was still in the hospital.
Turning negatives into positives
The organization’s mission is “to provide education and social services to a community of families with premature babies.”
“I wanted people to have a sounding board and feel that they could come to someone to talk about [it] and have someone relate to them.”
The foundation provides families in the NICU with Baby Buns Blessing Bags, which are filled with snacks, baby clothes, hats, blankets plus lotions, and hand sanitizers, and catered meals.
Arkell says his family received so much love from around the world, that it was only right for them to give back some of it.
As for Kaleb, the 4-year-old is now a pre-school student and uses a wheelchair. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and tracheomalacia.
Still, he continues making progress every day and is described as “the most joyful, happy little boy.”
“I don’t see the deficiency. I just see a perfect little boy,” said proud mom Dana of the miracle baby.