As we count down the days to Heartstrings 10th Annual Walk for Remembrance & Hope, we are excited to share the stories of some of those putting together memorial teams for the Walk. Today we celebrate Amy McKinney and her team, "Team McKinney Angels". Read Amy's story and consider contributing towards her team or creating your own.
Emma Grace & Joshua Ryan
and Hallie-Lula & Baby One Half
Children's Birth Dates/Ages:
Emma & Josh were born November 9, 2008
Josh passed November 19, 2008 and Emma passed November 23, 2008
Hallie-Lula was what we called our "promise" baby in March 2012
Baby One Half was our Christmas miracle this past year and complications arose in January 2014.
Number of Years You’ve Participated in the Walk:
Our first Walk was in 2009 and we have participated every year since. So, this year will mark number 6!
How has Heartstrings impacted you?
Heartstrings, for me, has been an amazing outlet to learn to grieve and deal with the losses that have come our way.
It has also opened up doors for me to meet and interact with other mothers and fathers who have gone through similar struggles.
Getting to become a Support Mom through Connections has been a very special part of my healing and there is nothing more rewarding than getting to see one of your referred parents become a Support Mom herself!
Explain how the Walk is important to you?
This Walk is the single most precious day of my whole year. I celebrate Emma & Josh's birth in a much more quiet way on their actual birthday; it is a time just for my husband and me. So, the Walk has kind of become the day that we openly mourn and celebrate our precious babies with all of our family and friends.
After the first couple of Walks, I knew I wanted to get more involved and, thanks to a wonderful friend, Courtney Howard, the cupcake idea was born.
In 2012, after the loss of our promise baby, Hallie-Lula, I wanted to do even more! So, I brought the idea of a Balloon Release forward to the Walk committee and it was greeted with open arms. This will be the 3rd Walk with the Balloon Release and I am honored that my family and friends can sponsor that portion of the Walk.
I look forward to the Walk every year. It has become so much more than a day to mourn and grieve. It has become a CELEBRATION! It is a coming together of families who have experienced loss and risen up from the ashes and found support, hope, and love. There are parents who are still struggling, parents who are experiencing new losses, and parents who are holding their miracles in their arms. For me, it is the purest definition of HOPE a person could hope to experience.
Tell Us Your Story:
Our story begins in 2006 when my husband and I first started trying to conceive. We assumed it would happen naturally and quickly, but mother nature had other plans. In 2008, we began fertility treatments and on Fathers Day 2008, we found out we were pregnant. One week later, we found out we were having TWINS!
From moment one, there was nothing but elation in the air. However, after relentless morning sickness and severe dehydration, we landed ourselves in the hospital around week 12. This is when we discovered that there were some other complications involved. A cerclage was performed and I went back to work for about 3 weeks before being placed on bed rest. At week 19, I was admitted to the hospital and placed on hospitalized bed rest. We knew Emma and Josh were going to come early, but when they decided to arrive one day before the 24 week mark, the fear truly set in. They were both 12 inches long and weighed 1.5 pounds.
They spent several days in the NICU at Women's before being transferred to Brenner's. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, our son lost his fight. Shortly after he passed, his sister took a turn for the worse and 4 days later, we lost her as well. The days, weeks, and months that followed are nothing more than a blur to me at this point. The pain, suffering and anger is more than any person should ever experience. I truly struggled for the next year to even feel like myself. Then, I randomly heard about Heartstrings and the Walk for Remembrance & Hope. The first year was rough, but it was also one of the events that truly allowed me to start healing.
Since, that time, we have had two other pregnancies that have resulted in early term miscarriage. We have no real reasons, but what we do have is HOPE. Hope that there is life after death. Hope that there is always someone there who is willing to hold your hand through the hurt and celebrate with you in the victories!