Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks & Giving

We have so much to be thankful for this year. 2009 has proved to be the hardest year and the best year all wrapped into one.

I am thankful for a husband who loves me and who loves his little peanut even more.

We are thankful for our parents who helped us get through a very sad part of our lives but also were by our sides through the happiest too.

We are thankful for our four brothers who all got to meet their little niece and finally become uncles.

We are thankful for our friends who support and love us even when we aren’t at our best.

We are thankful for 83 days and each day was a gift that we got to spend with our sweet little princess.

We are thankful to doctors who worked very hard at trying to make our baby girl better even if it was really out of their hands.

We are thankful to nurses who not only loved and cared for our precious baby but loved and cared for us.

We are thankful for prayers that surrounded our daughter and our family.

We are thankful for 3 women who sit on our nonprofit board who are compassionate and dedicated to our cause.

We are thankful for Ella’s Halo which is helping us to heal and to use our sadness to help others.

We are thankful for the support and donations that so many have already given us to help other babies.

We are thankful for finally becoming parents and fully understanding the love between a parent and a child.

We are thankful for being able to give back to the NICU; it has helped us to keep Ella’s memory alive and it is what she would have wanted us to do.

We are thankful for the friends we made while at the hospital, those doctors, nurses, and staff touched our lives in a way they will never know.

We are thankful to be able to meet others who are on the same journey as us; they provide us with hope, courage, strength and friendship.

And most of all, we are thankful to have met an angel before she got her wings and flew up to heaven.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Eyes Wide Open

Ella’s Halo is officially having its first donation drive. My company started this week collecting blankets. So far over 50 blankets have been collected! I can’t believe our ideas are starting to come together and we are starting to do what we have wanted to do for the last six months, we are finally starting to be able to give back to our friends in the NICU. I have to pinch myself to make sure what my eyes are seeing is really coming true.

We have also been receiving kind notes with little donations from our friends and family which brings tears to my eyes every time we get something in the mail or someone drops something off. With each donation you can feel the love from others and know that their support isn’t only for our cause but for me and Ryan too.

Our eyes have been opened to how lucky we are to have our friends and family support us and be behind us every step of the way.

Our eyes have been opened to how caring, compassionate and gracious people can be. We are deeply blessed and strengthened by others who are supporting our cause.

Our eyes  have been opened to how much you can love a person. The love we have for our sweet little girl Ella will always be in our hearts and hopefully it will spread to many others who have tiny little babies in the NICU too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Little Blue Lines

A year ago today we found out we were pregnant. We had so many hopes and dreams about the family we were starting. What would we have? What would we name the baby? Where would the baby go to daycare? How would we finish the baby’s room? Everything seemed so great. We never expected to have a baby nearly 3 months early and spend an additional 3 months in the NICU, let alone not ever be able to bring our baby home. It’s the things you least expect that have the greatest impact on your life.

Spending all of Ella’s life in the hospital is definitely not what we had in mind a year ago. But Ella’s time there was our family time, and it has given us a reason to give back and help others who have this life-changing experience thrown at them. Believe me, when this happens to you, you are in a daze. You don’t know what is going on, and don’t know what to expect. We want to help make this intense, and extremely overbearing experience a little easier for babies and their families while they are in the NICU. I think Ella would like that.

It is amazing how two little blue lines can lead you down a completely different path than what you thought. How two little blue lines can really change your life forever.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I found this poem and think it fits us perfectly at this time in our journey. Ryan and I have faith that Ella’s Halo is the light after the storm. Our hearts are hurting but are now healing because of the wonderful support from others. We have faith that Ella’s Halo will carry us through.

By Author Unknown

Faith isn't anything you can see;
it isn't anything you can touch.
But you can feel it in your heart.

Faith is what keeps you trying
when others would have given up.
It keeps you believing in
the goodness of others
and helps you find it.

Faith is trusting in a power
greater than yourself
and knowing that whatever happens,
this power will carry you through anything.
It is believing in yourself
and having courage
to stand up for what you believe in.

Faith is Peace in the midst of a storm,
Determination in the midst of adversity,
and safety in the midst of trouble.
For nothing can touch a soul
that is protected by faith.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Another cause that is dear to our heart since Ella was born at only 24 weeks old. There are over half of a million babies that are born too soon each year and just in Minnesota over 150 babies are born early each week and enter the NICU world (March of Dimes). Many of those babies stay for an extended time within the NICU.  We hope Ella's Halo will be able to bring comfort to these babies and families during their stay at the hospital while they struggle to grow.

A premature birth, which is before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, is the most common cause of neonatal death. The earlier a baby is born, the more likely he or she will die either due to prematurity or other complications. When Ella was born at 24 weeks I remember the Doctor telling us that there was a 30% chance she wouldn't make it those first few days. Lucky for us she did survive for three more months, but ultimately it was complications from prematurity that took her life after 83 days. The longer a baby can stay in the womb, the higher the percentage is for that baby to survive.

It gives me hope to know that while premature death is still very common, medicine and techniques for these babies are improving and the survival rate gets much higher each year. March of Dimes fights to put an end to premature birth, the number one cause of infant mortality. And so during this month I hope that awareness is brought to everyone to see the impact that a premature birth has on babies, their families and NICUs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saints and Halo

November 1st was All Saints Day. Ryan’s hometown church did their service in memory of people who had passed away this year. Our little girl was one of the people who the service was in memory of. Ryan was out of town and we were unable to attend and make it up north but I thought about her all day on Sunday. Even though I was home by myself I really didn’t feel alone, I felt like someone was watching over me. My own little saint. What a wonderful way to remember loved ones and to honor those whom have left us too soon.

We also have a few exciting things that have been happening here for Ella’s Halo. We received our Employer Identification Number, that allowed us the ability to open a checking account. Ryan and I officially got a checking account set up. We are getting things together and are finally starting to feel like our nonprofit is established.

Another exciting thing that is coming up is that my company has decided to donate items to Ella’s Halo during this holiday season. We normally pick a charity to donate toys, food or money, but this year they have decided to help our nonprofit with our first event. We will be having a blanket drive, book drive and a pizza party with all contributions going to Ella’s Halo. How exciting is that!!

I have also been in contact with a few people from the hospital. We are going to meet with them to hopefully get some things started there too. They have already been sharing so many wonderful ideas with us and we can’t wait to get started working with them on a regular basis.

Finally, Ryan and I have been working on our 1023 form and business plan. It is slowly coming together and we are looking forward to getting it approved by our board and sent off to be filed. Our next board meeting is scheduled for December 15 and I can’t wait!

The support from others that we know and even some we don’t know has been so overwhelming and touching. Unless you have walked this road of losing your child, you may never know how painful it is, but at the same time you never get to see all of the goodness in the world. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many supporters who believe in us. It has made our journey a little more hopeful!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Daddy's Little Girl

Ryan’s story about how our little girl came into this world probably differs than mine, actually I know it does. The poor guy had to take care of his bed ridden wife who needed him to do everything for her for 5 long weeks. And trust me, I wasn't easy to take care of. Then one scary night he was chasing behind an ambulance on the way to a hospital he was unfamiliar with, running down the halls to find out where his pregnant wife was rushed to. Once he got into the hospital room there were so many questions flying his way, and so many uncertainties about what was to happen. After our daughter was born, he was rushed into a waiting room while I was in surgery and Ella was moved down to the NICU for more care. After he named our daughter and made sure I was recovering from surgery, he finally got to realize what had just happened. He was now a daddy to a beautiful little girl.

What a daddy he was! He got so involved in the care of Ella, from what drugs they were giving her, what the machines did and googling what the best options were, to rubbing her head and changing her diapers. He even liked all the pink and the little bows for her hair. He was so strong, so loving, and so wonderful.

A few of my favorite moments with Ella have to do with Ryan too. The first time Ella really opened her eyes to look at us was the first time Ryan got to hold her. She opened her eyes and just gazed into his eyes. I did everything I could to get her to look at me but she would just glance in my direction and then look back at her daddy. It was as if she knew us so well already. That her daddy is the calm, laid back guy who would spoil her rotten and that I was the crazy high energy mom who would be always telling her what to do. Of course she wanted to bond with her daddy. She knew that he was already wrapped around her tiny finger.

Another memory that I have was during a long stretch of time we spent at the hospital. I don’t even remember how many hours or days we were there at this one given time. However, I was taking a little snooze in a chair next to her bedside and Ryan was sitting next to her. I remember waking up to Ryan’s voice. He was chatting away about the Twins, what we would do when she got to go home, and how much he wanted her to get better. I opened my eyes to see them holding hands. Ella was just laying there listening to him talk, no alarms were going off, and she wasn’t sleeping but just listening to what her daddy had to say. I am sure he was sitting by her talking for a good hour or so while I was sleeping and Ella was just so happy to be hanging out with her daddy. Ryan looked up at me and just gave me the biggest smile. It just melted my heart. I love these little moments, and these memories. I will cherish them forever. The two loves of my life bonding as father and daughter.

Now Ryan and I only have each other. Sometimes when I am crying, he doesn’t have to say anything, just hugs me and everything seems a little better. He holds my hand to let me know I am not alone. His blue eyes show the pain that I am feeling. But one thing I have learned from him through all of this is that my husband is determined. He was the driving force behind trying to figure out why Ella was so sick, and he is now the driving force behind Ella’s Halo. When others said we were only passionate about a nonprofit because we were still grieving…it was him who knew we could do it and wanted to keep pushing on because he truly believed in our cause. I am so happy our nonprofit has him as our Executive Director. He handles the daily tasks for Ella’s Halo, makes the contacts and connections, and works out the logistics of the ideas the Board comes up with. I couldn’t think of anyone else to be our Executive Director.

He is now even stronger, just as loving, and wonderfully determined.  I am so lucky to have Ryan as my love, my husband, our Executive Director and my little girl’s father. And Ella will always be her daddy's little girl.