Stampin' up for miracle babies
POSTED: Sunday, May 24, 2009
Lara Bellini went into labor three months earlier than expected. She was transported via air ambulance from her Maui home to Kapiolani Medical Center. And, although doctors managed to stop her contractions for one week, her son Chance Keali'i Salvatore Schoeppner was born when she was in her 25th week of pregnancy, and weighed a mere pound and 9 ounces.
» What: Scrap Camp for a Cause
» When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
» Where: Kakaako Conference Rooms, Ward Warehouse
» Cost: $65; proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Honolulu. Admission includes an 8 1/2-square scrapbook ( below, pages shown top right), SNAIL adhesive, demonstration of new products and techniques, silent auction, sale of retired stamp sets, a card contest, lunch and more.
» Call: 590-8051
Chance needed to be resuscitated after the birth and was later put on breathing tubes. "For the most part, he has been breathing on his own. It's pretty remarkable for someone so tiny," Bellini said. "It was like we were watching a movie of someone else's life. It's so surreal."
Her husband, Darrett Schoeppner, worried about Lara's recovery and Chance's lengthy hospital stay in the intensive-care unit. "Being off island, I was wondering where we were going to stay once she was discharged."
Fortunately, they found a "home away from home" at the Ronald McDonald House, where they will remain until mid-July, all going well.
"They offer support and provide anything we need," Bellini said. "This is not something we could have prepared for or planned.
"We are surrounded by families that are going through the same thing. They may not have a premature baby, but they have a sick child. They are all concerned parents," Schoeppner said. "We can sit around and converse about what we are going through."
To help the Ronald McDonald House Charities continue its mission of serving families with ailing children, the Pacific Stampers group will host the inaugural "Scrap Camp for a Cause" at Ward Warehouse on Sunday, with the help of Stampin' Up!
In 2003 the Stampin' Up! company launched its Making a Difference campaign to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. Each year, the company donates $100,000 to the charity, in addition to a portion of the proceeds from the sale of an exclusive stamp set designed to promote the partnership. The company's demonstrators are also encouraged to volunteer their time teaching RMHC guests the art of rubber stamping.
BELLINI AND Schoeppner said the amenities at the house allow them to function more normally than other accommodations might.
"The activities really help to keep our mind off things. And, the little kids staying in the house brighten our day," said Bellini.
"The Ronald McDonald House offers that one room where you can get away from the intensity of the ICU. It offers sanity to some degree," Schoeppner said.
Chance, now a month old and weighing in at 2 pounds, 5 ounces, has already survived a few major obstacles. He didn't experience bleeding in the brain, his lungs were OK and the vessel leading to his heart closed after three doses of ibuprofen, which meant surgery was not necessary.
"We don't get too excited about anything, though," Bellini explained. "He still needs to overcome lots of things—we live day to day."
"Our problems seem small compared to what he is going through," Schoeppner said. When Lara starts feeling down about her situation, she also looks at what her son is dealing with. "He's pretty much helpless."
One of the most daunting aspects of Chance's premature status is the family was allowed no physical contact with their son for three weeks. The couple can now hold him for short intervals of time.
There have been other rewards.
"It's been a cultural learning experience for me," Schoeppner said. "People staying here are from Guam, Samoa, Tonga and Saipan. We get to try their food and learn new things. They always have lots of goodies, and the pantry is full of food.
Bellini added, "If we were isolated somewhere else, things would have been so intense."