From Single Foster Mom to CEO: How a Little Boy Named Oliver Inspired a business


this is how it all began…

at the time, i was working for our local county setting up SART locations. these facilities work with drug and/or trauma exposed little ones 0-5 yrs old from a multidisciplinary approach.

there was an extreme upsurge of not only methamphetamine users and labs, but also meth exposure for babies in-utero. our county was the “the nation’s meth capital”. at the same time, there was also this incredible upsurge of understanding and exploring the neurological, neurodevelopmental, and mental health of infants.

there was this old school of thought that “babies are resilient”, which they are, but this theory also came with the belief that the external environment didn’t affect the baby and “they would be fine”. but science was showing how trauma and drug exposure literally impacts the brain development, how neurons connect, and how the neural pathways that create grooves in our brain are impacted.

so get this… there are 1 MILLION neural connections per SECOND developing in your little one’s brain from the moment they are born to 3 yrs old.

what does that mean?
this truly shows how impactful a little one’s environment, as well as the connection, nurturance, and safety within that environment, is. researchers have learned that early adverse experiences actually integrate into our bodies, which impacts development, emotional success, physical health, and mental health through our lifetime.

when i learned this it changed everything.

it changed my outlook on how i viewed myself and my childhood trauma. and, it changed the way i wanted to advocate for little ones. as you can imagine in my line of work, i saw and heard cases that shook me to my core. cases i will never forget and will haunt me forever. through it all, my only thought was... “how can i help?”

i was speaking with one of the social workers i frequently worked with about wanting to find ways to do more. and he told me that i could become a foster parent. i had no idea that there was such a thing as single foster parents. it was that day i started the
process to become a foster parent. there were people in my life who didn’t understand or even agree with my decision, but in my heart, i knew it was right.

i completed the process and several months later…


Oliver showed up at my door. 

i will never forget that moment and there are no words to even describe what my heart felt when i saw him for the first time. as he was dropped off, i was told Oliver was exposed in-utero to a cocktail of drugs, with meth being the majority. he had been abandoned by his mom and, even though he was just a tiny infant, he had already been through several foster homes who refused to keep him because he was too difficult. 

Oliver and i were destined.

when Oliver came to me, he was very low functioning. he struggled to eat and sleep, he couldn’t lift his head, and any kind of eye contact was too overwhelming and over-stimulating, which would lead to withdrawing. it felt like he was either crying or disassociating. because of the work i did and the multidisciplinary team i was learning from, i knew that swaddling played an important role in being able to comfort, console, and soothe little ones. 

so, i went to the store and bought every kind of swaddle on the shelves.

to give a little context, every drug has a specific effect on little ones. it’s even more complicated when there is a cocktail of drug exposure in-utero. for example, meth causes little ones to have an extremely rigid muscle tone and their muscles actually feel like rocks. because of Oliver’s exposure in-utero, he could not settle his limbs and he would kick his legs constantly to try to alleviate the discomfort. even touch and massage was too much stimulation for Oliver. so, i wanted the swaddle to do what i physically couldn’t do… comfort him. 

none of them worked.

the material would cause Oliver to overheat, he always got his arms out, and they didn’t provide the proper pressure on his body to allow him to be able to soothe and regulate. 

so, i set out to make my own.

i am not a seamstress by any means, but i went out and bought an actual sewing machine and attempted to bring what was in my head into physical form. now, let me tell you, it was rough looking.  but when i wrapped Oliver in what i had created, his response was something i never imagined possible. 

both of our lives changed that day

i will never ever ever forget the moment i put it on Oliver. 

i wrapped him in my creation and for the first time ever, i saw his body settle. it was like his entire body exhaled.

i started swaddling him during feeds to help calm his body, which allowed him to be able to focus on his feeding. as he learned how to feed, he began to gain weight and slowly moved out of the failure-to-thrive range. feeding is actually a really complex and difficult skill. it takes a great deal of mouth organization for little ones to do. 

(for ex. we’ve all heard “my baby doesn’t like the pacifier” because they keep spitting it out or it’s constantly needing to be put back in. while some babies legitimately do not prefer a pacifier, other times it can be more about mouth organization. to be able to coordinate the tongue, mouth, lips, and breathing all at the same time takes a tremendous amount of skill, as well as muscle strength.).

once he was able to feed and his body began to feel satiated, it allowed us to then be able to focus on his sleep. we all know the importance of sleep and, for infants, it’s one of their primary occupations. sleep provides restoration, it allows the body to replenish itself, and it helps with consolidating memory so that everything they learn throughout the day gets consolidated.

previously, Oliver slept only when his body was utterly exhausted from his constant movements or from withdrawing/disassociation. with food in his body plus the swaddle being able to provide the proper containment to settle his body, he was finally able to sleep. this sleep was so important because it allowed him to achieve deep restorative sleep. there were times when it was definitely one step forward, three steps backwards, but slowly, he started to gain weight, regulate sleep patterns, and reduce the distress that occurred in his body. 

through repetition, routine, and consistency, Oliver slowly learned to trust his world and feel safe. 

it was this moment that he let me into his world, allowing us to bond. when he held my gaze for the first time and didn’t withdraw, i never wanted that moment to end. even today, i have no words to describe how i felt.

there were so many moments when Oliver altered my universe … the first time i called his name and he turned toward me, when i held him in my arms and he cooed and i got to hear his powerful little voice, and the first time he looked at me and smiled. also, we got to start working on developmental milestones, as he had missed most of them. from not being able to lift his head to doing tummy-time on the floor was miraculous. 

he just continued to keep fighting and surpassing everyone’s expectationsit felt like the true Oliver was immersing. more than anything, i loved to watch him be active and present in his own world. he went from an infant who couldn’t make eye contact and any touch was too stimulating to becoming the most loving, affectionate, and resilient being i have ever met. he is a miracle and i was just lucky enough to be there for a small part of his life. 

seeing the impact “the ollie” had on Oliver literally transformed the trajectory of my entire life. i had no doubt that i wanted to share this swaddle with all little ones around the world and have an opportunity to impact their lives in a way i witnessed with Oliver.  i spent six years going to school and working as a therapist with a specialty in infant mental health. while doing that, i was also working on figuring out how to turn my greatest hopes into something real.

i had no idea how to make a product, protect that product, or even start a business. the years were filled with lots of wrong paths, wrong people, and closed doors. what kept me going on the hardest of days was Oliver and my belief in “the ollie”.

here we ALL are, nine years later. 

there have been many days where i wanted to give up. i used to have one single driving force that kept me pushing… Oliver.  today, not only is Oliver my inspiration, but i also get to add two really important aspects of my life. you and your tremendous support and… my many times over rainbow baby, our girl,

Olive Steele. 

it’s my dream to one day be reunited with Oliver. until then, i honor him through the work that i do, advocating for the safety of little ones, and making sure Olive knows who Oliver is and 

our story.  

i have NEVER shared this part of my story. never. ⁠

this is such a vulnerable part of my story to share and i never knew if i could express in words how sacred this is for me. ⁠

two months after Oliver was placed with me, my dad passed away. ⁠

my dad had bile duct cancer and we were getting ready to start treatment. this was actually his 3rd battle with cancer (hodgkin's and colon prior). ⁠we already knew his incredible strength and you could see the fight and heart in his eyes. and, we were ready to fight with my dad every single step of the way. ⁠

when i started the process to become a foster parent, my dad wasn't sick. when Oliver was placed with me, i was fully prepared to take care of him, while simultaneously being there for my dad and family. ⁠

we were preparing for the cancer war; we didn't prepare for what happened next.

my dad was not feeling well and my mom took him the er. his fever spiked so high that he lost consciousness. he never woke up again. ⁠in a split second my heart shattered.⁠

everyone thinks i saved Oliver. the truth is HE saved me. ⁠

when my life lost meaning, he was there to bring purpose back to my life. ⁠it wasn't just me. it was my mom too. ⁠Oliver's impact was immeasurable, vast, and infinite. ⁠i will never be able to convey the insurmountable grief and pain my mom experienced (and still experiences) losing her soulmate. ⁠my mom is feeding Oliver in the pic and i hope you can see that at a time when there was nothing to smile about, he made her smile. ⁠

Oliver saved us.