As we prepare for the end of 2020, a year that no one anticipated, we can’t help but to be thankful for all the good we were able to still do in the Capital Area. Since the establishment of our coalition in 1992, our passion for improving the lives of local infants and families has only grown. We are proud to say that since the inception of Healthy Start in Florida, the infant mortality rate has dropped as much as 20%.
However, our work does not stop here.
Along with our services for those in Leon and Wakulla County, Capital Area Healthy Start is here to provide support for all families, even those grieving the loss of a child. With events such as our Annual Walk to Remember – held virtually this year – families are given the opportunity to share their stories of healing and hope as well as connect with others.
For those considering to support a local cause this holiday season, we encourage you to read the stories of women and families who have found hope and support through Healthy Start and our many programs, initiatives and events.
We hope these stories graciously shared by some of our local families will give you inspiration and encouragement to support our cause.
Our first story comes from Tyler Barber, a mother who lost her baby, Adalyn, this past February. Tyler always expected to have a high-risk pregnancy, yet had a perfectly healthy one up until delivery.
Going into the hospital for a lasting headache, Tyler was made aware by her doctor that she had begun to dilate. After monitoring Tyler and her baby, it was decided that she would have a c-section immediately. Waking up post-surgery, Tyler found herself in a room alone with her mother, but tragically no Adalyn.
When a family loses a baby, they not only have to live with this pain, but the hope that can come with it as well. After losing Adalyn, Tyler had to break the news to her four-year-old daughter who was overjoyed about becoming a big sister. For her fifth birthday this year, her wish when she blew out her candles was for her Adalyn to be there celebrating with them.
Infant and pregnancy loss is nothing short of heartbreaking. Here at Healthy Start, we are working year-round to lower infant mortality rates in our community, as well as provide for and educate local families. As giving season approaches, we ask you to help us in our mission to support families like the Barbers with a financial donation.
This next story was shared with us by Amanda Slama. Amanda tragically lost her baby, Amelia, on May 14, 2018 after she was born roughly 15 weeks premature. Before her passing, Amelia lived for 11 brave days surrounded by her family.
Unfortunately, many of Amelia’s family and friends never got to meet her, however, they continue to honor her life by sharing her story with others. Infant losses, such as the Slama’s, are exactly what Healthy Start aims to educate local families about. Even the smallest of donations can go towards a family in need and help prevent a tragedy.
A donation to Healthy Start supports healthy pregnancies, improved starts to life and ultimately decreasing the infant mortality rate. After the Slama family lost Amelia, Healthy Start was there for support as well as to provide a space for them to share Amelia’s story with others looking to heal. Below, Amanda shares her appreciation for Healthy Start’s services over the years:
“Healthy Start is a compassionate organization that supports all families, even those who have suffered a loss. Healthy Start has supported my family in our grief and helps to honor the babies who have left us too soon.”
My name is Debra Dowds and I am very proud to be a member of the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition Board of Directors. Prior to retirement, I worked in the developmental disabilities field where I learned that low birth weight babies are at a much higher risk of experiencing a disability or developmental delay. To reduce the birth of children with disabilities and developmental delays, I, along with many other child advocates, supported the legislative creation of Healthy Start Coalitions in 1991 to build a community focus on preventing low birth weight babies. I was therefore thrilled to become a member of the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition and work at the community level for an initiative that I advocated for 30 years ago to reduce, not only infant deaths but the incidence of children with disabilities and developmental delays.
You can only prepare yourself so much for the mental and physical grief you experience from the loss of a child; the pain is true heartbreak that we live with every day. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the day I gave birth to my son or the future that could have been. A million tears I have cried and a million times I have asked why? Nothing wrong and so perfectly made why did God choose to take you that day? There is no reason or explanation, but my darling angel baby is in my presence and I feel him, God let’s me know he needed him home. Greyson’s due date was a day that never came, along with future plans or dreams I wanted for him.
“To grieve, you have loved. No bond is equal to the love a mother has for her child and the love I have for Greyson is greater than any other.” – Heather Mayfield
If you are looking for a cause to donate to this holiday season, we encourage you to give locally and consider Healthy Start. Helping to fund our coalition supports healthier lives for infants and families in Leon and Wakulla County. For more information or to make a contribution, we invite you to visit our donation page.