Supporting families of sick babies born during the pandemic

Sisters on the Frontlines grants bring surprise support in uncertain times

As the pandemic crept across the United States this spring, a 3-pound, 5-ounce baby named Adalie Elise was born struggling to breathe to Ashley, a Montana mother with severe preeclampsia. She was rushed to the NICU to temporarily receive assistance breathing, then nutrition through a feeding tube. When she tried drinking from a bottle at 36 weeks, little Adalie developed bad reflux that prevented her from eating.

The surgery needed to help the tiny child would keep her in the hospital for five to seven days. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, her family wasn’t able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House nearby. So they took multiple one-hour trips to Missoula each day to visit her. One parent would stay with Adalie’s 4-year-old sister while the other went to the hospital. Even when her sister did join them, she could only see her little sister through an outside hospital window due to the pandemic.

Sister Margaret Hogan, who serves at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Hamilton, heard of her story and wanted to help. With a grant from Sisters on the Frontlines, she was able to offer a financial gift to the family. Adalie’s mother, Ashley, was overjoyed:

Our family can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity! Your support means more than we can express in words!”

Sharing the Love

Sister Margaret learned of Ashley’s story from Kirsten, the daughter of the custodian at the parish. Kirsten herself had a newborn struggling with health issues, but when the gift was offered to her, she wouldn’t accept without sharing it with Ashley, her friend in need. 

My experience was one that certainly touched my heart and gave me a great deal of hope for our younger generation.”

Sister Margaret

Kirsten gave birth to her second child, Emery, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, around the same time as Ashley. Not long after the Emery was born, a defect was found in her heart. At three weeks old, Kirsten and her husband took her to Seattle for a scary and complex surgery—one where doctors would go through her tiny ribs and collapse her lung to reach her heart. It required the doctors to cut off the blood flow to the lower half of her body.  

The surgery went well, followed by days-long recovery in the specialized pediatric cardiology care unit. There she was given the nickname “angel baby” by the nurses. During this stressful time, it was a juggling act for Kirsten and her husband to care for the recovering baby, the baby’s big brother, and themselves. 

Emery is now doing fairly well,  but will probably need another trip to Seattle as time goes on. Kirsten is thankful for the support from Sister Margaret and all those who helped to provide the grant through Sisters on the Frontlines.

Yet, the money is secondary to those who are offering spiritual support. In a thank you note, Kirsten concluded with the following on behalf of her tiny miracle:   

Thank you for your prayers for sweet Emery.” 

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