Premature births are often dramatic. A little life virtually always hangs in the balance, and it’s the rare baby who escapes without any lingering health issues.
Sadly, the World Health Organization says that preemies aren’t rare, with some roughly 15 million infants born early each and every year.
Stephanie Jarvis of Boise, Idaho, knows the pain that lies behind those numbers.
More than two years ago, Jarvis was pregnant with her second child, a girl named Bodhi. But tragedy struck when Jarvis went into labor early.
“[When] Bodhi was born, I went into labor at 24 weeks and five days,” Jarvis told KTVB.
“They told us she was barely viable, which is kinda a harsh term to hear when you are the momma.”
Yes, harsh — but not as harsh as the reality. Poor Bodhi lingered just over three weeks before succumbing to a brain bleed.
That tragedy left Jarvis with a choice. She could go home and try to wrestle with the sadness that threatened to steal her joy.
Or she could take her woe and try to turn it to help others. She selected the latter path.
“You can sit at home and you can mark the months and check the calendar, or you can try to do something good,” Jarvis said. “I hated leaving the NICU and leaving my daughter.
“I would go home and pump and bring breast milk back to the NICU for her and to transport that I would carry my little thermal tote. And I wanted to leave those for other mommas.”
She did more than merely leave milk. With the financial backing of friends and family, she started the #BodhiStrong campaign, an outreach designed to put the things mothers of premature babies would need into their hands.
Jarvis began to pack small insulated bags with breast milk, lip balm, tissues, and a blanket — small comforts to soothe big hurts.
To date, the campaign has distributed over 300 such totes.
“When you’re in the NICU, you are just trying to be hopeful and get your baby to grow big,” Jarvis said.
“We just want them to know that we have been where they are, and we have hope for their babies.”
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