Evie – Honoring A Beautiful Life

Evie and her loving parents

Bittersweet moments with Evie . . .

The first time Caelah-Beth and Landon got to hold their beautiful daughter Evie, she was five weeks and one day old. They were saying goodbye. Evie looked right at them, alert as always. She wasn’t in pain. She wasn’t afraid. They held her, bathed her, and her father baptized her. They rocked her and sang to her. And then Evie closed her eyes for the last time.

Only a few days earlier the doctors had explained to Caelah-Beth and Landon that they would never bring Evie home. As loving parents they still held out hope. And yet, when doctors told them that Evie would only survive that day if they performed intense interventions, interventions that would cause Evie pain and suffering, interventions that might give her a little more time but not a lot, Caelah-Beth and Landon didn’t even have to ponder the question. They wanted what was best for Evie and that was for her not to suffer more, even though what they desperately wanted for themselves was more time to get to know their newborn daughter.  

“I’m so thankful for the time I had with her, so thankful,” explained Caelah-Beth. “I got to live every mom’s worst nightmare and dream too because there was never a moment that she didn’t have me. Evie deserved to have a great mom. Even though I was struggling, that’s what I tried to be for her. That’s what I still try to be.” 

I haven’t even held her yet . . .

There was no reason to suspect Evie, short for Evangeline, would be anything other than perfectly healthy at birth. “She was such a gymnast in the womb,” Caelah-Beth exclaimed. “If she had grown up, she would have been an Olympian. She was so strong, so tough.” 

Evie was born full-term via C-section. She immediately had trouble breathing and was sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where they determined that she had a congenital health disease. The doctors focused on preparing her for surgery, which they thought would resolve the issue. However, Evie’s complications mounted. When she was nine days old, she had heart surgery, which was immediately followed by a cardiac arrest where her terrified parents watched as doctors worked to resuscitate her.  

“At the time I kept thinking, how can this be goodbye? I don’t even know what color her eyes are. I haven’t even held her yet,” said Caelah-Beth through quiet tears.  

With strength and compassion . . .

Evie survived that medical emergency but continued to struggle with serious complications. Eventually the hospital recommended she be transferred to a hospital specifically equipped to care for babies needing a pediatric cardiac NICU. It was there that doctors delivered the gut-wrenching news. Evie would not be recovering.

Every day in the hospital, Caelah-Beth faithfully pumped to feed her daughter. Evie was only able to receive the tiniest amount of milk, but a lactation specialist told Caelah-Beth that she was producing more than most moms. She explained that there were many other moms in the NICU who would love to have her milk supply. “I wanted to run right into the other room and give it to them immediately,” said Caelah-Beth.  

After Evie passed, during the days that Caelah-Beth describes as utterly empty, days when she felt completely alone in the world, she found the strength to reach out to our milk bank and become a milk donor. “I felt blessed to have so much milk and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I was so glad to give a mom hope. Honestly, I would give a mom anything I could if it would help them bring their baby home.” 

A gift like no other . . .

Caelah-Beth showed me the delicate pink bow she has tattooed on her inner arm. This little pink bow represents the day a kind nurse put one just like it around Evie’s head. “I remember seeing it and being so moved. It was the first time she had something on her that wasn’t just medical.”

Caelah-Beth chose the location for her tattoo after getting her blood test for milk donation. In this way she honored both the beauty of her daughter and the importance of the gift of milk that they made together. Parting from her milk, the milk that she made for baby was unbearably hard. And yet, she told me, “It was a gift that Evie would have wanted me to make. Donating was a way to show my daughter how much I love her. I understand what it’s like for families who are scared and need help. I don’t have a lot to give but I have this,” she explained. 

“That’s more than enough, that can be a gift of health and life for a family. And that’s a gift like no other,” I tell her.  

We are humbled by Caelah-Beth’s generosity and incredibly thankful for this opportunity to help support medically fragile infants. While many feel comfort and meaning in knowing their milk can save the life of another precious child, we understand that donating milk after losing a beloved infant or pregnancy is not right for everyone. You can learn more about becoming a bereaved milk donor here. We also invite you to take a look through our list of trusted family resources.

Evie and her mama saved and supported newborn lives by donating their milk to Mothers Milk Bank Northeast
Caelah-Beth honors daughter Evie with a pink bow tattoo

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