October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. Unfortunately, many of our heart families walk this impossible road. Help-A-Heart wanted to share the story of one of our heart angel families this month to help raise awareness. Thank you to Nate & Emily Forsythe for writing & sharing the story of their precious daughter, Kennedy Ren Forsythe. Nate & Emily are the proud parents of Kennedy & Oliver (age 1). This is Part 4 of 11.
Before continuing with Kennedy’s story, I need to take a moment to highlight her cheerleaders. CHD truly takes a village. I consider us one of the lucky families to have been diagnosed in-utero because it gave us time to prepare for the mountain of challenges ahead. There are a thousand things to consider when leaving home for an unknown period of time: we need someone to get the mail and feed the cat; we can’t board the dogs because we have no idea how long we’ll be gone; we need a place to stay in case Ronald McDonald House or Helen K Rossi is full; what about food – we can’t possibly eat out every meal, provided we’re hungry; etc, etc, etc. The amount of planning was overwhelming. But our army of friends and family lined up to provide any help they could.
We had people to watch the dogs and get the mail, feed the cat, food prepared to take with us, and very generous uncles who allowed us to take over a portion of their home in Iowa City so that we could hang on to some semblance of normalcy and comfort while living the “your child is critically ill” life. But that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Friends and family came from all over to meet Special K. They brought laughter and support, tears and hugs, homemade gifts and food, and –the glue that holds all hospital families together – COFFEE. We had home cooked meals delivered to us – one never realizes how much you miss a home cooked meal. We were invited to friends’ homes for dinner and conversation – really to get us OUT of the hospital. (One of the hardest things to do is leave your child at the hospital, but – you guys – self care self care self care. In order to care for her, we needed to care for ourselves.)
We met some wonderful families who were also living in the PICU who offered support and hugs and gift certificates to the on-site Java House. (Seriously. Coffee is really essential. REALLY. ESSENTIAL.) Strangers sent us care packages. Friends from our former lives (we all lose touch at some point), offered support with hand written letters and cards, donations to the hospital in her honor, fruit baskets, toys and books for Kennedy when she leaves the hospital. The Des Moines CHD Support Group provided lunch on surgery day – we didn’t know who they were until late into our hospital stay, but have formed some wonderful relationships with our Help-A-Heart family since then.
Since her death, we continue to receive support and messages of love from everyone in our lives. I’m a different person now. She changed me. I would not have chosen this life, but I’m so thankful for all the people in it, all the people who continue to love and remember Kennedy and shower our family with support.
There will never be enough words to thank them. Never.