More Diapers!

We concluded the Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday Diaper Drive on April 19th and it was another smashing success! This is the third year that we have done a diaper drive to remember Kyleigh on her birthday and this year we focused on size 5’s since Kyleigh would have turned 5.

1 in 3 American families struggle to provide enough diapers to keep their babies happy, healthy and dry. The need for diapers in all sizes is real for many people and size 5 is a big need for HappyBottoms, the local diaper bank that receives all of the donations that are given to us. Once HappyBottoms receives a donation of diapers, the packages are opened up and repackaged into sets of 50 diapers and 30 training pants. This is the amount that each family can receive per month from one of the 35 local social service agencies that partner with HappyBottoms to get the diapers into the hands, and onto the bottoms, of those who need them. The idea behind HappyBottoms is to fill the diaper gap, not the entire need. For more information on HappyBottoms, click here. *Information obtained for this blog post courtesy of happybottoms.org

 

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Map of local agencies that work with HappyBottoms to fill the diaper gap.

 

We often get asked how we are able to get so many diapers and where we put all of them. Most of the diapers are donated by family and friends who want to remember Kyleigh on her birthday. Other donations come from people who hear about the diaper drive and want to support HappyBottoms. Some donations come from people we do not know and we never know where all of the donations come from because many show up without a gift receipt or card attached. We are very thankful for those who help to spread the word, and that includes HappyBottoms and the Liberty Hospital Foundation. As for where we keep the diapers…we clear a corner of our living room and start stacking! It’s fun to watch the pile grow and a challenge to keep the children from climbing and building forts! Every time we would get a delivery, our two year old would say, “More diapers!”

Of course, we could not do this without the support of delivery drivers. Once the diaper drive gets going, we often find our front porch full of diaper boxes. And some days we get more than one large delivery. We came home on the afternoon of Kyleigh’s birthday to find the front porch full of large boxes. It’s always a fun sight to come home to! We even had a few delivery drivers stop to talk to us about Kyleigh and the diaper drive this year.

And then there’s our ever faithful helpers! Our kids love to help carry the diapers inside, open the cardboard boxes, count the diapers and add them to the ever growing diaper tower!

We delivered all of the diapers just this past weekend in the pouring rain. With help from family, we managed to get all of the diapers into three vehicles and make our way over to HappyBottoms where we had help getting all of the diapers inside. They are always so gracious and give us the grand tour, including the warehouse which is our favorite spot to see! It’s amazing to see so many diapers in one place! I should have taken a picture.

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By this point, I’m sure you’re wondering how many diapers we collected this year!

The grand total …

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THANK YOU to everyone who played a role in this year’s diaper drive!!! In three years, Kyleigh’s Gift has collected over 30,000 diapers!! That is amazing and we could not do it without your support!

 

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Thank you!!!

 

Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday Diaper Drive

Help us remember Kyleigh on her 5th birthday by donating SIZE 5 DIAPERS to the Kyleigh’s 5th Birthday Diaper Drive! All diapers will benefit HappyBottoms, Kansas City’s Diaper Bank.

How can you donate?

1) Leave diapers on our front porch.

2) Diapers may be dropped off in the main lobby of Liberty Hospital by the information desk.

3) Order diapers from Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/n2trdgy

4) Order diapers from Target.com: http://tinyurl.com/mtzbx5q

*Choose ‘Ship to Kyleigh’s Gift’ on either site and the diapers will be sent directly to us!

Thank you for joining us in remembering Kyleigh on her 5th birthday and supporting HappyBottoms!

~The Weller Family

 

Learn more:

HappyBottoms: www.happybottoms.org

Kyleigh’s Gift: www.kyleighsgift.com or www.facebook.com/kyleighsgift

Liberty Hospital Foundation~Kyleigh’s Gift: www.libertyhospitalfoundation.org

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on March 27, 2017. 1 Comment

A Year in Review ~ 2016

Kyleigh’s Gift Highlights from 2016 …

January ~

We start every year off by watching the Rose Bowl Parade. The theme of “Treasure Life’s Journey” was more than appropriate for the Donate Life float, which holds our rose dedication to Kyleigh, who gave the gift of life through two heart valves.

donate-life-float_2016donate-life-dedication_2016

February ~

A quiet month ended on a high note when 5 babies were born at Liberty Hospital Birthing Center on Leap Day, all receiving Kyleigh’s Gift SleepSacks!

March ~

Easter 2016

 

April ~

Happy 4th Birthday in heaven, Kyleigh!

4th-birthday

To celebrate Kyleigh during her birthday month, we held a diaper drive to benefit HappyBottoms. This was the second year that we honored Kyleigh’s memory with diapers and our biggest collection yet…over 13,000 diapers!!

final-diaper-count-2016

May ~

Rainbows continue to be a source of comfort for us. Many family members and friends continue to take pictures of rainbows for us, or tell us that they saw a rainbow and thought of Kyleigh. This rainbow was seen behind our house in mid-May…always a reminder to us of God’s promise and that Kyleigh is safe in His arms.

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The cemetery always looks so beautiful on Memorial Day. memorial-day_2016

Thank you to those who continue to remember Kyleigh on this day, whether it’s with pretty flowers or in your thoughts and prayers.

June ~twilight2016

We spent a beautiful Friday night in June supporting the Liberty Hospital Foundation at Twilight at the Treehouse. Over $82,000 was raised, including $11,000 to fully fund the Student Assistance Program at Liberty Public Schools. The Foundation supports many programs and services and we are honored that Kyleigh’s Gift is one of them!

July ~

The month of July kicked off the beginning of planning for the 3rd Annual Kyleigh’s Gift Run/Walk! Save the Date postcards and sponsor letters were sent out. Monthly planning meetings were put on the calendar. The excitement started to build for what was our biggest year yet!

August ~

Work continued to prepare for the 3rd Annual Kyleigh’s Gift Run/Walk, as well as the beginning stages of putting new ideas in place for how we can further the reach that Kyleigh’s Gift has in our local community. Read on to find out more!

September ~

Unspeakable Loss : We were interviewed for a two-part series on pregnancy and infant loss. This is Part 1 that was featured in the Liberty Tribune newspaper, focusing on miscarriage. The impact that Kyleigh’s Gift has on Liberty Hospital Birthing Center families is featured in both parts.

By the end of September, Kyleigh’s Gift began providing meal vouchers for breastfeeding mothers in the NICU at Liberty Missouri Hospital Birthing Center. Moms in need can use these for up to three meals per day in the hospital cafeteria. Vouchers are also being offered to families in Pediatrics who need extra help during a difficult time.

October ~

October was a big month for Kyleigh’s Gift!

Four different rainbows were seen by family and friends on Kyleigh’s half birthday, October 5th, of all days …

Love & Loss : Part two of the pregnancy and infant loss series was published. We are always honored to share Kyleigh’s story and see it in print. To view more publications, click here: Publications

The 3rd Annual Kyleigh’s Gift Run/Walk took place on October 15, 2016. The day was overcast with a few sprinkles here and there. We weren’t concerned about a rainout, but wanted the weather to hold off for the Run/Walk. Just as the 5K runners took off, the clouds parted and the sun shone bright for the remainder of the Run/Walk. It was a beautiful evening full of laughter and tears, family and friends, love and support! Event photos can be found on the Kyleigh’s Gift Facebook page.

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November ~

By the end of November, the first of the Kyleigh’s Gift miscarriage care packages were distributed throughout Liberty Hospital. Social workers in the Emergency Department, OB and Surgery Center will have the care packages available for any woman facing pregnancy loss at the hospital. Thanks to many generous donations, we’ve completed 30 care packages. We hope to make this a continuing project through Kyleigh’s Gift.

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December ~

Repost: Kyleigh’s 5th Christmas

Kyleigh’s Gift closed out 2016 with a very special gift for a new family. At the end of December, twins were born at the Liberty Hospital Birthing Center and were to be discharged to foster care. The foster family only had one car seat available to them. Kyleigh’s Gift purchased a second car seat, ensuring that the twins were able to be discharged to their new family.

Because of the support that Kyleigh’s Gift received in 2016, we were able to provide car seats and pack & plays in urgent situations. SleepSacks continue to go home with every baby born at the Liberty Hospital Birthing Center. SleepSacks also continue to be sold in the Liberty Hospital Gift Shop. Thousands of diapers were donated to HappyBottoms in memory of Kyleigh for her birthday. Meal vouchers are made available to families in the NICU and Pediatrics. Care Packages are given to all women facing pregnancy loss at Liberty Hospital. We are in the beginning stages of offering bereavement materials, such as books, memory boxes and memorial items for families facing a loss in the birthing center. Thank you for helping to make all of this possible! Kyleigh is making a difference.

 

Christmas 2016

This year marks our 5th Christmas without Kyleigh. It’s hard to believe that we have celebrated five Christmas’ without her. Each year has brought both joy and sadness, but through it all, we continue to include Kyleigh in our celebrations and hold to the traditions that we started in 2012.

On Christmas Day, we took some fresh flowers to the cemetery. It was unseasonably warm that day and with that comes strong winds. There was also a chance of rain, with possible thunderstorms, which made for the occasional dark cloud on what was a bright, sunny day. Sometimes the clouds against the sun make for some pretty significant shapes, especially at the cemetery.

One thing about the cemetery that brings a smile to my face is the reaction that Kyleigh’s little sister has when we go. At two years old, she doesn’t understand what the cemetery is or why we are there. She goes with the wonder of a young child looking at pretty flowers and running around in wide open spaces. To her, it is a happy place, for she knows no different. As we were walking back to the car, she started dancing around in the wind. It was the perfect way to bring a smile to our faces.

One of our Christmas traditions for Kyleigh is decorating a separate Christmas tree with ornaments that are specific to her. You might think that’s hard to do for a baby that passed away at birth, but we continue to be amazed year after year by how much the ornaments fit Kyleigh’s story. This year, we placed her tree just below her stocking and in between the fireplace and the beautiful cabinet that now holds several of our mementos of Kyleigh. The two ornaments added this year include one with butterfly and angel buttons, handmade by Kyleigh’s grammy and an angel ornament with the word ‘Love.’ After 5 years, her tree is really starting to fill up! Looking at all of the ornaments and how they fit into Kyleigh’s story brings a smile to our faces.

We continue to fill Kyleigh’s stocking with socks for Blair’s Foster Socks. The socks are getting bigger and bigger each year, as we try to match the size of the socks to Kyleigh’s age. Blair’s Foster Socks continues to bless many children year after year. We hope that these socks will bring a smile to the face of many little girls in 2017!

The last part of Kyleigh’s 5th Christmas brought a lot of smiles and a few tears. Kyleigh’s aunt gave us the gift of a beautiful painting of Kyleigh’s heartbeat by Moxie Muse Design. We had heard of these heartbeat paintings, but thought they could only be done if the artist had a recording of the heartbeat from a sonogram. Since we did not have this, we never pursued having a painting done. A few months ago, we learned that the artist can use a sonogram image to get the heartbeat. My sister gathered the necessary information and took it from there. We were surprised to receive the finished painting as a Christmas gift to our family. It is absolutely beautiful and one of the most special gifts we have ever received!

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As a side note, Moxie Muse Design offers custom sound wave and heartbeat paintings and donated a sound wave painting to the raffle at the 3rd Annual Kyleigh’s Gift Run/Walk. These paintings make wonderful gifts!

The holidays are such a difficult time for so many people. While we continue to have our low moments, we can say after 5 years that the smiles outnumber the tears at Christmas. This is a good feeling to have. It’s not a big deal when we’re late for Christmas dinner because we stopped at the cemetery beforehand. We get notifications from family and friends that donations were made to the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund for Christmas. Loved ones add ornaments to her Christmas tree. Gifts are given that hold a piece of Kyleigh. A lot of these smiles come about from the traditions we have set in place and how those around us support those traditions.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

 

This entry was posted on December 30, 2016. 2 Comments

A Full-time Job

It’s been over six months since we’ve updated this blog and website. But that doesn’t mean it’s been quiet around here. Quite the opposite is true! The Kyleigh’s Gift Fund is exploding with new ideas, more programs and lots of support! I will touch on those later, but for now, here’s a quick bit about the blog…

This blog is instrumental in our healing process, but just like everything else, it’s work. In the early days after Kyleigh passed away, sitting down at the computer and furiously typing was therapeutic. Our minds were racing with so many thoughts and emotions, and while blogging seemed the opposite of what two very private people would do, we quickly realized it was what we needed to get our minds to slow down and process what was happening.

After a year or so, the writing slowed down. The thoughts were still there, but let’s face it…life does continue to happen and we wanted to be a part of it. Our older children were growing up, starting school, becoming interested in activities and we had to be present in all of that. Kyleigh continued to always be a presence in our thoughts, but the healing that took place from our early writings led to more pauses. We also began to work through many of the thoughts and emotions in our minds while doing daily activities…cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry are great times to have internal conversations! Many of these thoughts never made it to paper because we often worked through them before we had a chance to sit down and write.

Two years later, Kyleigh’s baby sister came along and well…a new baby in the house doesn’t lend itself to sitting down at the computer for more than five minutes at a time. This was a time of transition for our family in many ways. A lot of emotions surrounded all of us with a new pregnancy. Many of those emotions carried with us through the pregnancy and birth. I have read several pregnancy loss blogs that take a huge turn away from grief and loss when a new baby is on the way. It then becomes all about that new child in the family, and while that may be the intent of some writers, that is not what we wanted to happen here. The blog essentially went dark during this time as we didn’t think it was fair to those who were grieving a loss to hear all about a new baby. And again, let’s face it, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we want to.

Somewhere between that first and second year, we turned to Facebook and started the Kyleigh’s Gift FB Page. It was, and continues to be, the easiest way for us to get information out there about the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund, share our feelings and emotions throughout the year, and continue to honor Kyleigh through holidays, life events, etc.  We would log in to the blog every six months or so and post important updates, mainly about Kyleigh’s Birthday Diaper Drive and the Kyleigh’s Gift 5K/3K. Both have produced tremendous results that I hope to share with you soon.

I personally started to struggle with the blog after a period of time. I became almost obsessed (and I’m not kidding) about watching the stats. How many people viewed the website this week? How many people read the latest blog? Did anyone comment? How many times was the post shared? It became upsetting to me if we took the time to write or update the website and only a handful of people viewed it. I knew the purpose of sharing Kyleigh’s story was not this, but with the technology made available to us today, it was so easy to get sucked in to the “numbers.” This certainly attributed to backing off of the blog and having the distractions of daily life made it easier to set it down for awhile.

So why the sudden return? Well, I can’t say for sure that this is a true return to blogging, but I do hope to keep the site updated. Like I mentioned above, so many wonderful things are happening with the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund and this is a great way to document all that is taking place. One of my favorite blog posts that I’ve done is the 2013 Year in Review. I wish that I had kept doing this. I tried the next year, but because we had posted so few things to the website, it was hard. Scrolling through a years worth of Facebook posts is not easy! Maybe I will make that my goal this year, as it’s a great way to catch everyone up on what is going on.

At the end of the day, I’m exhausted. My children are my full-time job and that includes Kyleigh. There are times throughout the year where the mental exhaustion is just as strong as the physical. We spend 5-6 months getting ready for the Kyleigh’s Gift 5K/3K and when it’s all done, we are just as mentally exhausted as we are physically. So many emotions go into an event like that and when it’s all done, we honestly just need a break.

My hope is to continue with the Kyleigh’s Gift Page while slowly starting to reintroduce this website/blog. You certainly won’t see me on here everyday like some bloggers, but I’ll do my best to add this back in to my full-time job.

Diaper Drive – Kyleigh’s 4th Birthday

We’re doing it again!

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Kyleigh’s Gift Diaper Drive, 2015

 

Last year, we celebrated Kyleigh’s 3rd birthday by hosting a Diaper Drive. It was such a great success, that we decided to do it again this year to celebrate her 4th birthday. Over 7,000 diapers were donated last year…from family, friends and many people we have never met. We came home to find boxes of diapers on our front porch from neighbors, local friends and the UPS man. The furthest package that we’re aware of came all the way from California! Many donated anonymously, but we also received several notes tucked away in the boxes wishing Kyleigh a happy birthday in heaven.

Here is information on this years Diaper Drive:

In honor of Kyleigh’s 4th Birthday, we are hosting a Diaper Drive to benefit HappyBottoms.org. The diaper drive will begin on Tuesday, April 5, Kyleigh’s birthday, and will end on Saturday, April 23.

One in five Kansas City area children lives in poverty. Diapers remain an area of need for those struggling to provide for their children. Help us collect diapers of all sizes, from newborn to Pull-Ups! All diapers will be donated to HappyBottoms, a local diaper bank.

How can you donate? Here are three ways:

1) Drop off diapers at our house. If we are not home, please leave them on the front porch. If you do not know where we live, please refer to option #2 or #3.

2) Order diapers from the Kyleigh’s Gift Amazon Wish List. Diapers will be shipped directly to our house when you choose the Kyleigh’s Gift shipping address. You can access the wish list here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/?ie=UTF8&cid=A3FCVKXC08OWGR

3) Drop off diapers at Liberty Hospital. A drop off area will be available inside the front hospital entrance by the information desk.

Thank you for helping us remember our baby girl on her 4th Birthday!

Learn more:
Happy Bottoms: http://www.happybottoms.org/
Kyleigh’s Gift on Facebook                                                                                                                    Liberty Hospital Foundation~Kyleigh’s Gift Fund: http://www.libertyhospitalfoundation.org

**Please note that this is not an actual event that you attend. The dates of the event denote the days that we are collecting diapers and you may donate at any time during those dates.

 

 

Transitions 2

I rarely go back and read what I have written on this blog. When I do, it’s often because I’m looking for something specific that I wrote and because I can’t remember when I wrote it, I do a simple keyword search. Today’s search turned up this post, Transitions.

I do not remember writing this at all, but it could not have turned up on a more perfect day.

There have been a lot of changes around our house over the past few weeks. I feel like we are entering Transitions Part 2. The original post talks about our oldest son starting kindergarten. He is now in Second Grade and our youngest son started Kindergarten this year. The school year started off just as I described it would two years ago … “Before we know it, our youngest boy will be walking through the doors of elementary school with his older brother showing him to his classroom.” And that’s exactly what happened.

Back to School ~ 2015

Back to School ~ 2015

The other reason this post could not have turned up on a more perfect day is because today is the day Kyleigh would have started preschool. I knew this day was coming, I’ve just chosen to block it out of my mind. Until today. Until I see the back to school pictures of children the same age as Kyleigh, some of which she probably would have been in the same class with. It’s a bittersweet experience. I have a lot of friends with children who are three years old and while I don’t think much about it from day to day, it’s days like today when it hits me hard. I tend to not say anything about it, until I publish it to a blog post…oops!, because I don’t want to make people feel sad or even feel sorry for me. That’s not what it’s about. I’m happy for all of the three year old’s starting preschool today and couldn’t be happier that some of them are experiencing this new adventure at the same place that my boys went to preschool. But I’m also sad that I wasn’t taking pictures this morning and fighting for a parking spot among all of the other moms out there.

That’s the thing about pregnancy and infant loss, and losing a child of any age … there are always going to be “firsts” that we miss out on. When a baby dies, there are more missing “firsts” than with an older child, but I believe they all sting just the same. They come and go like waves. When Kyleigh died, we got a card from someone who had walked this journey before us. They mentioned that their daughter would have turned 18 that year and would have graduated from high school. At the time of Kyleigh’s death, we couldn’t think past the moment, let alone think ahead 18 years. The milestones are always there. The “firsts” are always missed. But it showed us that they are never forgotten.

The beginning of the school year has always been difficult for me since Kyleigh passed away. The emptiness of the house was always deafening. Nothing is worse than a quiet house when there is supposed to be a baby crying or the sound of little feet learning to walk across the floor. This year was not as hard. The boys were very excited to start school and I have someone to keep me company at home now.

Kyleigh's little sister

Kyleigh’s little sister

For everyone missing someone this school year, I wish you comfort and peace, even as you think about the “firsts” that you will never have with your loved one. For everyone sending little (or big) feet off to school this year, I wish you a year full of success and happiness as you experience the “firsts” with your loved one.