Friday, January 29, 2010


As part of Ella’s Halo’s mission, we want to make it a priority to help educate others about the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), or sometimes referred to as a newborn intensive care unit. Until we had Ella, we really didn’t understand what a NICU was or how it impacts a baby’s and a family’s life. But as we spent more and more time there, we realized that the staff can become part of your family and the unit becomes a second home. And I am sure this is the same for other families who have spent many weeks and months within a NICU.

A NICU is a unit within a hospital that specializes in the care of an ill or premature newborn infant. NICUs were developed in the 1950s to help provide more skilled support to babies who need specific help. Babies in a NICU may need help in temperature support, isolation from infections, help with feedings and swallowing, respiratory support and just time to grow, develop and get stronger. There tends to be various equipment that your baby may need while in the NICU. Feeding tubes, isolettes, monitors, ventilators, IVs, and machines administering drugs to your baby are usually all found within the NICU and can be very overwhelming to a family. I remember how hard it was to get close to Ella sometimes because of different ventilators, towers of machines giving her drugs and all of the IV lines in her little arms and legs. But the nurses always made sure there was a spot for us to be next to her, to hold her little hand or rub her blonde hair, because we were a part of her care plan too.

Walking into the NICU can feel like stepping into a whole other world. The unit is often busy, with lots of activity, people moving around, beeping monitors and crying babies. And you may feel especially confused and overwhelmed if your baby was unexpectedly born prematurely, like Ella was. But you are comforted by nurses who are so willing to explain what is going on with your baby, and what the monitors, tubes and machines are all doing for your little bundle of joy. NICU staff tries to make the infants’ stay in the unit as comfortable as possible, for the baby and the family. We were very lucky to have 5 primary nurses that took care of our little girl. They were all amazing and made us feel comfortable asking questions, crying, laughing and especially by simply letting us be her parents. The doctors too listened to our concerns and answered our questions but also wanted our feedback. They made us feel as if we had some type of control in an out of control situation.

The time in the NICU for us was very stressful and at times unbearable. However, it is and always will be Ella’s only home. A baby's NICU stay can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding as you watch your child grow and progress day after day. That is why we want Ella’s Halo to provide some additional comfort for babies and families in the NICU. It is their home away from home for anywhere from several days to many, many months. As in Ella’s case, it was simply her home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Skips a Beat

My heart skips a beat. It skips a beat when I see a pregnant woman glowing as she is walking down the street. Skips a beat, when I see little babies all dressed in pink. Skips a beat, when I hear a little baby cry and a mother rushes to calm it. Skips a beat, when I see a daddy holding a little girl in his arms whispering he loves her. Skips a beat, when I see a little blond girl squeezing her mommy’s neck hugging tight. Skips a beat, when I see a little girl holding her little dolly playing house. Skips a beat, when I see a bunch of girls at T-ball practice running the bases. Skips a beat, when I see a daddy teaching his little girl to ride bike down the street. Skips a beat, when I see teenage girls giggling and gossiping in the mall. Skips a beat, when I see cheerleaders at a high school football game yelling go fight and win. Skips a beat, when I see a young girl behind the wheel learning to drive as her mother is holding on for dear life. Skips a beat, when I see parents packing up their cars to send their daughters off to college. Skips a beat, when I see a father walk his princess down the aisle. It skips a beat every time I think of the things we will miss doing with Ella. Every hope and dream that we had for her that now won’t come true. It skips a beat knowing that we won’t have these memories with our own sweet daughter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Universal Loss

Over the last week I have been reading stories and seeing pictures of the devastating earthquake that hit on January 12, 2010 in Haiti. Parents have lost their children, and children have lost their parents. Seeing the pictures of parents sobbing and reading about children that were injured or deceased shows that it really doesn’t matter how your child dies, how your child gets hurt, where your child lives or how old your child is…the grief and pain of losing a child is something that all bereaved parents have in common. A parent’s need to protect their child is engrained in each and every one of us. No matter where we are from or what the circumstance.

The pain of losing a child is universal. Grief, however, is just yours.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Ryan and I just got back from a vacation.  We planned it looking for an escape.  An escape from the hard holiday season we just had, an escape from the feeling of always missing something, an escape from the hole that is always in our hearts and an escape to paradise.  However, our vacation was anything but an escape. 

I now realize that no matter where we travel to or how far we go, Ella is with us no matter where we are.  She is with us up in the clouds as we are souring high, she is with us as we are strolling the beach and watching a sunset, and she is with us as the waves crash on to the shore. 

Ella was with us as the bird flying through our pictures telling us that she was there with us on the beach.

She was with us in the sunsets that kissed the ocean.

She was with us in the sand as the waves crashed on the beach trying to erase her name.

There is no escaping this little girl.  She is with us and will always be a part of us.  She is always showing us that we don't have to look very far to know that she is there watching over us.  We can't escape the feelings that something is always missing, but we can embrace the idea that our angel is always close by.  We just have to watch for her.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ella's Poem

I received the best Christmas present this year!  My cousin wrote us a poem about Ella.  It is amazing how this sweet little baby girl touched so many others and how she is still such a strong part of our life and always will be.  I can just see my little girl up in heaven smiling down on us all.

This little girl

Holds the world in the curl
Of her tiny pink hand
From her clouds and her
Castles, built upon sand.

She is healthy and glowing,
As she watches above
So proud of her mom, and her dad,
And their love

Their little girl
Twinkles like little stars,
Holds the world in her hands,
Holds their love in her

She is there in the
Sunsets, and snowflakes and
The days when it hurts,
And there’s no one to blame.

She is wiping their tears, then
And filling their hearts
With the moments
An angel lay soft in their arms.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


For us 2009 will always be bittersweet.  I am not sure how I feel about it being over but I do know that I am looking to the future and to the wonderful things that 2010 will bring in regards to Ella's Halo. I am thankful for the time we had with Ella and for all of the things she taught us this past year.

  • Ella taught me that there is a heaven and I am now no longer afraid to go.
  • That I am strong and the hardships in life only make us stronger.
  • That I can be a good mother and give myself unconditionally to my child.
  • That in every darkness there is light even if you can’t see it right away.
  • That grief doesn’t just stay with us for a little while, we carry it with us in our hearts forever and that is okay.
  • That there are angels here on earth working their magic and you are lucky if you notice.
  • That love is really the only medicine.
  • That I don’t have to have all of the answers to know that I am blessed.
  • That I am a fighter and that I stand up for the ones I love and make sure they are taken care of.
  • That there are good people in this world who want to just give you a hug.
  • That doctors don’t know everything but they try their best and work really hard at knowing everything they can.
  • That  people who are here for a brief time have the most impact on the ones left behind.
  • That hours fly by when you are with the ones you love.
  • That hospitals aren’t that scary and  they can become a second home.
  • That no sleep really only makes you more tired.
  • That a parent and child bond is never ending.
  • That you can let your sick baby hold your finger to let you know it is okay when you are scared even though you are suppose to be the tough one.
  • That nurses have the biggest hearts.
  • That your love for someone keeps growing even if they are not here any longer.
  • That missing someone hurts and it hurts bad.
  • That you can fall in love over and over with the same person.
  • That bad things can bring two people even closer together.
  • That two people can just look at each other and not have to say anything to feel that love is there.
  • That I can no longer walk by a baby in need and not help.
  • That I am really never by myself…my little girl is with me and will be a part of me.
  • That I can be a better person.
  • That life is way too short so we have to make the most of it.
  • That we are not the only ones who have pain, others do too.
  • That it is okay to cry… it is a release of emotional pressure.
  • That I married the best man who is the world’s best daddy.
  • And that a sunset is how my little girl in heaven says good night to me!