MADISON (WKOW) -- Losing a baby is something no parent is prepared for in life. Sadly, one local couple experienced that tragedy twice. But, they've turned their grief into action, by helping others going through the same thing. Elishah Oesch introduces us to this month's Jefferson Award winners Melissa and Mike Terrill, the founders of Mikayla's Grace.
Melissa says, "It's probably the most shocking thing, I think you can experience." Mike says, "you go from this normal existence where everything is normal and the next minute you're experiencing a very scary birth of your child."
Parents Mike and Melissa Terrill have experienced something no one expects. The premature birth and death of their baby daughter, Mikayla.
Mike says, "it was something you're not supposed to go through."
Mikayla was born at 24 weeks, 6 days. She weighed a mere one pound, five point five ounces. She was just small enough to fit in her father's hands. She lived only two days, in June of 2010.
Melissa says, "she was just a tiny little thing but perfect in every other way." Some time later Melissa and Mike experienced another tragedy. A miscarriage of their son, Chase.
Melissa says, "that opened our eyes to a whole different type of loss." A loss that was no less great than the first. In fact, Melissa says, "the first few weeks after losing him were just as difficult for me as when we lost Mikayla."
After some time and continued grieving Melissa and Mike realized they were not alone in their experiences. In fact, one in four mothers have a miscarriage. Every year, approximately two million women experience pregnancy loss.
Melissa says, "I realized that there was a lot more that can be done for families as well to help them through." Together they made a life changing decision. They started what is now a growing volunteer organization, Mikayla's Grace. They provide memory boxes to parents who lose a child, and NICU packages for parents who have a baby 30 weeks or under at the local hospitals.
Melissa says, "this is what our NICU packages look like. They come in this bag."
All the items, go to families in the NICU. One of the most important things they get is information on what to do next should their child pass away. Melissa says, "also just things to help them make memories with their babies."
As for the parents that do lose a baby, the Angel Memory Boxes are provided. They include everything from a candle, to blankets, to a poem, and a memory book. As well as, Melissa's favorite part, little 3-D casting kits. You can make 3-d images of the baby's hands and feet.
They're all small things, but very important for bereaved parents and families. Melissa says, "having those memories and having that blanket she used and the pictures we took. You start to realize how important those thing really are."
If you're interested in Mikayla's Grace, they do accept donations. You can contact them via their website at www.mikaylasgrace.com You can also go to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mikaylasgrace