Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy First Birthday/Heavenday Karalyn

We celebrated Karalyn's first birthday/heavenday on July 21, 2014. In celebration of our sweet girl, we donated 20 memory bags to our local children's hospital for bereaved heart families as well as 30 care bags for current inpatient heart kids and their families. We also were able to donate a couple items to help fill 100 grief packages through Hayden's Heart. All of this was done through the organization we started in Karalyn's memory called Little Light and was made possible through the generosity and support of so many people. A huge thank you to all who donated to our cause financially and materially over the past 6 months. What we have done through Little Light has been so healing and rewarding for our family as we have had the opportunity to reach out and help other heart families. Beauty from the ashes.

A special thank you to Kristen Andersen with Kristen's Cake Creations and Icing Smiles for Karalyn's First Birthday/Heavenday cake. It was beautiful and tasted every bit as good as it looked!

Here is a video of Karalyn's first birthday/heavenday celebration.

A peak inside one of the 20 memory bags we donated to bereaved heart families at our local children's hospital.

A peak inside one of the 30 care bags we donated to current inpatient heart kids/families at our local children's hospital.

All 50 bags ready to go! 20 memory bags and 30 care bags!

Our family loaded up and headed to the children's hospital with our 50 bags.
Karalyn's first birthday/heavenday cake donated to us through Icing Smiles and Kristen's Cake Creations. Thank you!

A lot of bags = a lot of comfort and smiles <3

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Donation Drive for Little Light

To celebrate Karalyn's first birthday/heavenday on July 21, Little Light will be having a donation drive from now until Tuesday, July 15, for items to be added to our care packages for the inpatient heart families at our local children's hospital. We are preparing to take around 25-30 care packages to the hospital on Karalyn's birthday along with 20 comfort packages for bereaved families. If you would like to donate, please see the list below of items we are currently collecting:

-Kleenex-brand facial tissue (or coupons)
-Travel-sized facial tissue
-Hand lotion
-Travel-sized toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, body soap, deodorant, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, loofa, body lotion)
-Chapstick/lip balm
-Spiral-bound notebooks
-Sticky notes
-Gift cards to Dollar Tree, Walmart, Amazon or Marshalls
-Cash/check donations to go towards $10 hospital cafeteria voucher
-Coloring books
-Small toys
-Construction paper
-Glow sticks
-Anything a child would enjoy playing with or creating with
-reusable water bottles
-boxed snacks
-bagged hard candies or suckers
-packs of gum
-Calming/Stress Relief bags of tea

All donations can be sent to Little Light at PO Box 4313, Olathe, KS 66063. IMPORTANT-please make any checks payable to Leslie Smith. Thank you in advance for all who help us celebrate Karalyn's birthday by donating towards these care packages

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Little Light - T-Shirt Fundraiser!!!

In February 2014, I started a little page on Facebook called Little Light in memory of Karalyn and as a way to raise CHD awareness and support families battling CHD as well as those families who lose their CHD babies. Please "like" it at

I have also started a t-shirt fundraising campaign at to raise money to provide care packages to our local children's hospital for CHD families as they are inpatient. If you have it in your budget to buy a t-shirt and help support this cause in Karalyn's memory, please click into the link and buy a t-shirt. Your support is so appreciated! My heart overflows at the thought of being able to give back and bring awareness to CHD in memory of Karalyn.

"There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Karalyn's 6-Month Anniversary

January 21, 2014

I can hardly believe that today marks 6 months since our sweet Karalyn was born and then passed away. It seems forever ago, yet, at the same time, it seems just like yesterday. This sweet girl changed me in the deepest of ways, ways I am still learning and trying to understand. She left an unforgettable mark on our family. I would give just about anything to go back to that day, regardless of how hard it was, and hold her one more time. The picture is the sunset from my backyard tonight. A sweet reminder of my precious little girl on her 6-month anniversary.

Our Rainbow Baby Announcement

January 12, 2014

One year ago today, we found out we were pregnant with our third child. We never envisioned that precious child would become our angel baby, leaving us with what we now call our two sunshine babies (earth babies conceived before a family is struck by loss- babies conceived before devastation, holding a place in a family’s heart and their symbol of love, before they knew anything about shattered dreams) and now our rainbow baby (an earth baby born following the loss of an angel baby-the theory being that the beauty of the rainbow does not mean the storm and the devastation never happened but that something beautiful and full of light has emerged from the darkness).

We are humbled to announce that we are nearly 7 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby, due September 2, 2014. We decided to let everyone know pretty early on as we learned through Karalyn’s pregnancy that there is never a “safe” time to tell people you are expecting. We would appreciate any and all prayers as we walk this path of a rainbow pregnancy as the death of Karalyn and all we went through still is so fresh and weighs heavy on our hearts and as we try to rest in the peace that only comes through trusting in our Savior with this new life He has created.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saying Goodbye to 2013

I will admit, I have been a crying mess today, and I wasn’t expecting it. Who knew bringing in a new year could bring up so many emotions? Some days the grief is like a quiet, calm ocean-you are always in it, but it’s not wreaking havoc and could actually be seen as something beautiful. Today, the ocean is a bit rough-trying to keep my head above the rough waters.

A few people have said to me that I am probably so ready to start a new year after all we have been through this year. I know my grief will be the same tomorrow as it is today, and changing over from 2013 to 2014 isn’t going to take my grief away, but I am not ready for 2013 to end. It was the year of my sweet Karalyn. We found out we were pregnant with her in 2013. We found out things weren’t “healthy” with her. It was the year of doctor appointments, stepping out in faith and doing the fetal intervention. It was the year of not knowing what each day would bring not to mention what the future held for our sweet girl. It was the year of my third daughter’s birth, holding her as she slipped from this world to the arms of Jesus. It was the year I had to choose whether or not to bury my daughter or have her cremated. It was the year I planned my child’s funeral. It was the year of intense grief, which I know is far from over. It was the year of having our hearts ripped out, shattered into a million pieces, and then having Jesus slowly put the pieces back together. It was the year I found out my faith and the trust I placed in Jesus that began 15 years ago were indeed real, and I had to lean on them more than I had ever been asked to in the past. It’s the year we were called to walk a journey we never thought we would have to walk. It was the year I found my testimony. The year of being refined through the fire. It was the year that has changed me into a deeper and better person. It’s the year of a new outlook on life, a new perspective that only comes with the loss of a child. It’s the year I truly realized that these children I have been blessed with are God’s, not mine, and I have no guaranteed amount of time with them. It’s the year my eyes were opened to the world of pregnancy and child loss as well as congenital heart defects and the battles these little ones (and their families!) are fighting every single day.

I know for certain that blessings and healing are waiting for us in 2014, but I am just not ready to let go of 2013. I have a grip on it that I am having a hard time loosening. To put more distance between me and my sweet girl is just so hard to come to terms with, though I know each day that passes means I am one day closer to seeing her again. It’s just another reminder of how the world keeps going regardless of how I would just like time to stand still a bit longer. Time is clicking away to the new year, and I am desperately wishing I had more time in the year of Karalyn.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Letter from Mommy

To my sweetest Karalyn:

How I miss you already. My heart is so heavy, and my arms are so very empty. I think of how just a week ago you were rolling around in my belly. You were so safe.

Even though your life was so short, you will be with me forever. My heart has been forever changed. I treasure the weeks I was able to carry you, advocate for you, prepare for you, dream for you. I treasure the hour we had with you and the nearly 24 hours we were able to have to cuddle you and stare at your sweet little face, which looks so much like your sisters. You have the same nose as Kenzie, and you look so much like your Daddy.

It’s amazing to me to think that your first breath was meeting Jesus face to face. I know he bent down and scooped you up in His arms. You are safe now little one, in the arms of Jesus. I know you are healthy now. You have a perfect heart and your lungs are breathing in the fresh air of heaven. Though I never heard you cry, I’m sure you are up there now, singing praises to our King. I can’t wait to see your beautiful eyes and find out what color they are. I can’t wait to hear your voice. I can’t wait to lock eyes with you and scoop you up in my arms. Heaven has never felt so real to me as it does now, knowing I have you there waiting for me.

You would love your sisters. They were so excited for you. Kenzie misses you already. She blows bubbles outside and tells me the bubbles are going up to you in Heaven. She even said she’s going to throw up some candy to heaven for you.

I was so ready to fight against your heart defects with you. To beat the odds, to cheer you on and watch you triumph over them. You have battled from the beginning of this pregnancy, and I am so proud of you. Your daddy and I did everything medically available to help you have the best chance at life. I am so sorry it was not enough.

Though this journey did not end how we had prayed, I would do it all over again because you were totally worth fighting for. You are our little girl, our third daughter. You are worth the heartache that we are feeling now. You are worth the tears. You are worth the blood test, the doctor visits, the echocardiograms, the ultrasounds, the worry, the poking and prodding, the amniocentesis, the research, the fetal intervention, the medications and the labor and delivery, even though we only had you for a short time. I know if you had made it, our journey was not going to be easy. It was going to be hard, really hard, and it was going to turn our world as we knew it upside down. I was so ready though. I was ready to have our world turned upside down for you, to take these heart defects by the horns and do everything I could for you. You are worth it.

I know God will bring good from your short life and this journey we’ve been traveling. It’s hard to see through the pain and tears right now, but I know He will redeem this heartache we are overwhelmed by. Your journey, though you are not here with us any longer, is far from over.  I can’t wait to see how God uses your journey to impact other people, to impact me.

It took us awhile to pick out your name. We wanted it to be beautiful and to have a great meaning. Karalyn means “strong; joy; song of happiness”. Elise means “pledged to God”.

This whole journey, we have prayed that God would prepare our hearts for whatever his will ended up being for your treasured little life. He has, in so many different ways. He never left our side, and He is carrying us now. We have the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ-we will see you again sweet girl. I am forever grateful that we never traveled this road alone. Jesus was there with us the whole time, and He gave us the most amazing support group of friends, family and church family near and far who we are forever indebted to. We had an army of prayer warriors praying on your behalf, many who we have never even met. He blessed us with an amazingly supportive medical team at Children’s Mercy. I have made friends with other heart moms who have supported us through this journey as well. God is near.

Though you are no longer with us, your journey hasn’t ended because you are in our hearts. A piece of my heart will forever be missing. As I sit here I don’t know how the pain and heart ache will ever subside, but I know God will help us heal though there will always be a void in our hearts, there will always be a very real yearning that you were here with us. That we could be watching you grow up.

In the end, you changed my life more than I was ever able to change your life. I pray God would use this journey for His glory.

I will carry you in my heart forever. You will be forever treasured.

We will see you again sweet Karalyn.