Please join me in sustaining and growing Emma's legacy with a donation to Healthy Birth Day.
Just quickly as she came into this world, she was gone. Born on March 9th, 2001, Emma Kate spent just eight days with us here on earth before the devastating heart defects she was born with took her from us. Left with gut-wrenching heartache and broken dreams, I was faced with a clear choice—live with resentment and anger or channel that sadness into something for good. At the time I had no idea what that might be, but I knew it was what would allow me to survive.
The birth of a friendship…
Fast-forward several years later when I met four other Des Moines area moms who, like me, had very recently lost daughters. Their losses, however, seemed even more devastating than mine as each little girl had been perfectly healthy in their mommies’ tummies, but were born still, lifeless. We began to meet in local coffee shops, at first just to talk about our losses. We had no idea that our baby girls-Emma, Grace Biondi, Jayden, Grace Elizabeth and Madeline-had given us a powerful gift—the gift of friendship.
As we supported one another through our daughters’ birthdays, endured successful and unsuccessful subsequent pregnancies, and celebrated the births and birthdays of our other children, we began to see that our baby girls could impact many more lives than just our own. What began as a friendship became the birth of a cause as our coffee shop conversations began to turn to what we could collectively do to prevent other families from enduring the same heartache of losing a baby to stillbirth or infant death.
The birth of a cause…
In 2009 we founded Healthy Birth Day – a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing stillbirths and infant deaths through education, advocacy and parent support. Since founding Health Birth Day we are proud to have gotten Iowa’s Stillbirth Registry law enacted, which has brought more than $2 million into Iowa for stillbirth prevention research, founded a parent-to-parent network to reach out to grieving families immediately following their loss of their babies, and to have launched the “Count the Kicks” public health campaign to help prevent stillbirths.
Our largest initiative, the Count the Kicks campaign teaches expecting parents the importance of monitoring fetal movement during the third trimester of pregnancy. Recent research has shown that this practice may reduce the stillbirth rate (1 in every 150 pregnancies in the US) by one-third.
Your donations will go directly to support the Count the Kicks campaign, helping Healthy Birth Day supply medical providers with these life-saving materials at no charge to share with expecting patients. Currently, our Count the Kicks materials are being used by over 70% of Iowa birthing hospitals and OB/GYN clinics as well as by nearly 2000 healthcare providers in the state of Michigan. Requests for the materials have come in from all over the country and the world, and our ongoing challenge is to meet that demand.
“There is in every woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” — Washington Irving, 1783‐1859
Eleven years ago I knew I needed to turn the sadness I felt after Emma’s loss into something good. It is not until recently, however, that I was finally able to see clearly just exactly what that “good” could be. I hope you will join me in supporting Emma's legacy with a donation today.
Healthy Birth Day is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the prevention of stillbirth and infant death. To donate, volunteer, or learn more please visit:
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