Miracle Monday: Forget Me Not program
SPOKANE, Wash. — Every day, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, and the Children’s Miracle Network, makes incredible things happen for sick kids and their families.
As much as we don’t want to think about it, not every baby leaves Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. October is Infant Death Awareness Month, and a special program, called the Forget Me Not program, goes above and beyond to assure that though a baby may not be going home with their family, their life and their legacy matters.
9 years ago, Jodi Peterson and her husband Jeff made their daughter Hannah a big sister, welcoming twin boys Gage and Steele Peterson.
“I remember thinking this should be the happiest day of your life and it was the most terrifying day for me,” said Jodi.
Before his birth, Jodi and Jeff were told that Steele might not live long, if at all. But knowing that didn’t make the roller coaster they were about to go on any easier.
“There’s this pull of a mother’s guilt of you want both your kids to be perfect healthy and happy and you know that’s not going to be the ideal and it’s a real struggle to have that excitement for your healthy one at that moment when your heart is breaking,” said Jodi.
Every day Steele continued to fight, and his parents never lost hope. Then, the final diagnosis came. Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia, a form of Leukemia that Steele’s fragile little body could not survive.
“It’s a heart-wrenching decision to know there is going to be a day and a time that you’re going to hold your child as he dies,” said Jodi.
The boys were born on October 4. 62 days later, Steele died on December 5.
Before Steele died, Jodi thought to record the sound of him breathing, and put it in a build-a-bear.
“It gave me the sense and the feeling that he’s always with us,” said Jodi. “There is a tangible physical connection. I can hear his breathing and hold the bear and close my eyes, and it just brings you peace and comfort.”
Peace and comfort they wanted to give every parent who loses a child. Not long after Steele’s death, the couple started donating Build-a-Bears to Sacred Heart’s Forget Me Not program. When a baby is given a grim prognosis in Utero, their heart beat is recorded during an ultrasound and put into a Build-a-Bear for their families.
“If their baby does not survive it’s an amazing comfort for families to have as a memory of their baby forever,” said Carolyn Ringo, Forget Me Not. “It’s been overwhelming that they have continued to provide us with multitudes of bears over the years. We are very thankful for Jodi and Jeff.”
Keeping Steele’s legacy alive has been an important part of the healing process for the Peterson family.
“You always want your children to make their mark on the world. Sometimes they’re here for a day, sometimes 90 years. You can make a difference in one minute,” said Jodi.
You can donate to the Forget Me Not program here.
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