How my friends’ experience with child loss continues to inspire others

This weekend my friend’s daughter celebrated her 4th birthday. Her brother and sister celebrated from above in heaven. Peyton, Parker and Abigail were born on June 23, 2013. It’s a phone call I’ll always remember—that my dear friend went into labor with her triplets at only 22.5 weeks gestation. pandpIn that moment, prior to meeting my husband and prior to becoming a mom myself, I thought I understood their pain, suffering and disbelief. Even four years later, those moments in the NICU, seeing Abby’s memory box in the hospital the first time I visited, saying goodbye to Parker, attending two baby funerals in two months…all seems so fresh.

Peyton has been a pillar of sunshine, sass and all that’s beautiful in the world since she decided to make her grand entrance. While living in Springfield, Illinois her mom and I bonded over our TV careers and love for watching the Bachelor with a glass of wine and some homemade brownies.

Week after week I watched Peyton surpass expectations and reach unthinkable milestones. One of my last nights in Springfield, prior to moving to St. Louis I went over to Stacey, Ryan and Peyton’s house to bid them farewell. Peyton crawled to the door. photo by J Elizabeth Photography www.jelizabethphotos.com I thought THAT was amazing. Little did I know what this darling little girl would be capable of four years down the road. I watched in amazement last summer as she walked down the aisle as my flower girl. To say she’s special to me, is an understatement.

I found it eerily ironic that Stacey and Peyton paid us a visit to meet Reid on May 27. Reid was 60 days old at that point. IMG_8254Stacey and Ryan’s son Parker only lived til he was 55 days old. Around that time, I would look at my son and think how unimaginable it would be to have to say goodbye at that point. How heart wrenching it would be to know that your little boy never got to experience fresh air on his cheeks or leave the hospital as most babies get to after a couple of days. The list goes on and on. While the visit with my dear friend and Peyton was sweet, Stacey and I shed some tears thinking about sweet Parker.

As my friends celebrate and honor Peyton, Parker and Abby’s 4th birthday, they are also celebrating a year of their non-profit charity, Triple Heart Foundation. The foundation provides peace of mind to families who are in the trenches with little ones in the NICU. They just launched “55 Days of Summer.” 55 days of summerIt’s more than just a fundraiser, it’s a chance to see how random acts of kindness can help make our world a better place.

“While being a parent to children on earth and in heaven is difficult, all three of our children gave us new purpose in life. We were helped tremendously during the summer and fall of 2013. Strangers sent us gifts, cards and lifted us up in prayers. So, we want to pay it forward through Triple Heart Foundation,” said Stacey.

They have a huge goal—but, I know they will reach it…because that’s what this family does. They continue to beat the odds and inspire others. They are looking to raise $5,500 this summer. Donations can be sent through their website, you can send books, or simply spread the word. Every heartfelt effort counts. For a list of book suggestions or to donate, click here

IMG_0132At Peyton’s birthday party yesterday, as I held my son Reid…I looked at Stacey and Ryan with an even greater sense of respect and love. This family is the perfect example of overcoming obstacles, taking hardship and finding ways to turn that sadness and perspective around to help others. The flashbacks of Peyton fighting for her life in the NICU were overshadowed by watching her struct around with her friends in the backyard and laugh as she went down the bounce house water slide without a care in the world.

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