The Bell Family
Our journey to having a family has been a roller-coaster of emotions over the past 12 years. Our oldest daughter Brianna was born in 2005, at just 33 weeks gestation after Amber developed severe pre-eclampsia. Brianna spent 26 days in the NICU until she was discharged home with us.
Just a year later, we found out we were expecting again, and while they were watching Amber closely for signs of pre-eclampsia, we weren’t anticipating any issues. This changed for our family at only 23 weeks gestation on September 21, 2006. After staying overnight for observation, Amber awoke to a terrible headache and slightly elevated blood pressure. By 10:30 am she went into seizures, and was rushed into an emergency C-section. Our son Chance was born weighing only 1 lb., 6 oz., and was sent directly to the NICU. Amber had once again developed pre-eclampsia, only this time it had turned into eclampsia (with seizures) and HELLP Syndrome. Chance fought hard for 27 days in two different NICUs, but passed away peacefully in our arms, surrounded by love.
After adopting our daughter Natasha from foster care, we knew that we wanted to continue expanding our family. After much testing, medical consultation, and hope, we were blessed to have a full-term healthy girl, Elizabeth in 2012. While Amber’s pregnancy went well, it was equally worrisome and emotional. It also gave us great hope that full-term births and happy endings can happen for every family, including ours.
In 2016 we were expecting another baby girl. While we were hopeful that everything would go beautifully once again, Amber started showing the signs of pre-eclampsia with this pregnancy. At 34 weeks she was admitted to the hospital with pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, and our daughter Eve was born 6 weeks early on October 16, weighing only 3 lbs., 15 oz. Eve spent 31 days in the NICU at UI Children’s Hospital in Iowa City until her discharge on November 16, 2016.
We are incredibly grateful to the March of Dimes for all of their research on prenatal care, surfactant therapy, steroid treatments and NICU best practices. We have benefitted directly from each and every one of these, as well as from their direct mission– fighting against prematurity, birth defects, and infant loss. All three of these have also touched our family and our children.
We started our family team “Chance for Life” after the loss of our son, to remember and celebrate his short life, as well as to give other families hope. We are excited to be serving as the 2017 Cedar Rapids March for Babies Ambassador Family, and to be giving back to a foundation that has given us so much. Sharing our story will help bring awareness to the importance of the March of Dimes and their mission, while also raising essential funds to support their life-saving research.
EJ, Amber, Brianna, *Chance*, Natasha, Elizabeth and Eve Bell