Katie and Craig Van Tornhout –

katy photo with babyOn December 24, 2009 I gave birth to a feisty 4lb 5oz baby girl.  She was our “miracle” baby after 5 years of trying and 4 miscarriages.  She came 6 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia and spent 12 days in NICU.  She came home and she thrived.  She was happy, and gaining weight.  She was the PERFECT baby.  On January 24 we noticed she had a small cough.  On Monday I took her to the doctor and they told me it was “just a cough” and would be gone in a few days.  Tuesday, she was more tired than usual….. We thought it was because she went out to the dr Monday (we kept her home except to go to the Dr).  Wednesday she was lethargic and wasn’t eating. We went back to the doctor and while waiting to see the Dr, she stopped breathing in my arms.  She came back on her own, but we were rushed to the ER.  She was admitted to PICU for observation.  It wasn’t until Friday that they tested for Meningitis and Pertussis.  At 11pm after a respiratory therapy session, her
condition worsened.  At 117am she was GONE.  Our 38 day princess GONE.  It wasn’t until Monday, February 1 that we learned she passed from Pertussis (also note that February 1 was her original due date.. the same date as her viewing). We were STUNNED.

Several weeks after she passed, we were on the verge of hitting rock bottom.  We were contacted by Every Child By Two to “share our story” and help raise awareness for this disease and the importance of the Tdap.  We jumped at the chance.  We knew this was our way to keep her spirit alive.  Callie was only here for a short time, but in that short time, she touched more lives that most of us touch in a lifetime.  She was special, and I am SO proud to be her mother.

Still today, we do everything we can to raise awareness for the Tdap and the seriousness of whooping cough.  So many people think “oh it won’t happen to us” but trust me, if it can happen to us, it can happen to you.

We have also created “Callie Cares”.  What we do is collect travel size toiletries…shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.. And then we put these toiletry bags together and donate them to area hospitals.  We include a short recap of Callie’s Story and urge people to get their Tdaps.  Local hospitals use these bags for new moms, parents staying in the Ronald McDonald house due to their child being in PICU and parents staying in the parent rooms when their babies are still in NICU.  It’s our way to give back as we stayed in the Ronald McDonald house one night while Callie was in PICU. We have donated over 1000 bags and still going strong.  90% of the items we use are donated.  Many friends/family members, plus strangers, save the travel size toiletries from hotels when they stay at hotels and donate them to our collection. We also accept monetary donations to pay for the bags we use and for additional items.  Making these
bags brings a smile to my face, and I hope that the parents who use them read our story and be sure they get a Tdap.

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