Paying it forward as a previous NICU parent.
My husband Josh and I had a premature baby at 26 weeks on April 14, 2017. Life changed in an instant as it does for all new parents, but even more so for parents of a NICU baby. During the first few weeks the support from family and friends is unbelievable. As the days continue and the hope of your baby surviving gets stronger, you get weary and develop an exhausted feeling as though you’re in this alone. However, when the doors open to the NICU you can clearly see you’re not alone. Wondering how we would have the strength and support to keep moving forward each day early on, we were given the gift to meet Kevin and Kristen Hartmann. We have had a few great days to celebrate together as well as many rough days.
We were able to bring Boone home a few days short of 6 months. As Josh and I left the journey of the NICU, we had to leave our dear friends as they continue the incredibly hard journey with their daughter. Josh and I would like to pay it forward and help the Hartmann family.
Kevin is originally from St. Louis and Kristen is originally from Linn Missouri. They met 6 years ago at a mutual friend’s wedding. They tied the knot themselves in June of 2014. Kevin is a high school teacher and Kristen is an Admissions Event Coordinator. On March 22 2017, they welcomed a new addition to their family, Kennedy Ann Hartmann.
Kennedy Ann was delivered at 24 weeks 3 day gestation, weighing 1lb 3oz, 9 inches long via C Section after Kristen suddenly developed HELLP syndrome. HELLP is hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets.
Kennedy started life small but she’s shown she is strong and mighty! It’s been an extremely rocky road for Kennedy in her NICU journey the last 8 months and will continue to be even when she is able to go home (not sure when that will be yet). Kennedy has made every pit stop along the way in her fight and has endured and fought numerous infections and surgeries ranging from heart to small intestine. Due to some major complications from one of her surgeries, Kennedy has been left with a very short bowel that will affect the rest of her life from this day forward. As of today, Kennedy cannot eat or drink by mouth and has to receive her nutrients by IV fluids. She has an ostomy to drain the acidic fluids that aren't getting absorbed due to not having enough small intestine to absorb them. Kennedy also has a trach to help her breathe due to airway issues from having a breathing tube early on in her life, as well as a gtube. Much like all princesses - Kennedy has a few more accessories than normal babies!
These few accessories will continue to bring the Hartmann family some challenges. When the day finally comes to bring Miss Kennedy home, they will have to have a home health nurse around the clock. Also, they will have numerous doctor & therapy appointments and will have to face several future surgeries for her small intestine. She will potentially be faced with a transplant surgery if her liver starts to fail while being on fluids for a prolonged period of time. If this were to occur, she would have to be relocated to an out of state hospital for the surgery.
Despite all that has happened, Kennedy is the MOST amazing, strong, happy and lovable baby the Hartmann’s could ask for! She welcomes everyone with a smile and touches everyone’s heart that she meets. She is truly their GREATEST blessing!
The Soper and Hartmann Family
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