When Taryn Krumwiede went to the hospital at 24 weeks she wasn’t expecting to give birth; she didn’t even have a toothbrush with her. But she wasn’t about to leave her daughter, Ella, born weighing only one pound and two ounces, during those first critical days. Ella’s 83-day life sparked a passion for her parents to give the comforts of home to families of other premature babies around the Twin Cities, through their non-profit organization, Ella’s Halo (ellashalo.com).
— Claire Walling
What was your favorite moment with baby Ella?
Most mothers say their favorite moment was the first time they held their baby, but for me it was actually the first time my husband, Ryan, was able to hold Ella. It was fun to see the father-daughter interaction. She opened her eyes and would not take them off of him. Ella knew that she was in her daddy’s arms and didn’t care about anything else, even as I was running around trying to get the perfect picture. When a baby is born at 24 weeks you aren’t able to pick her up right away, so that fact made the moment just a little more special.
Why did you create Ella’s Halo?
We stayed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis for about three months. Ryan and I were lucky to have a lot of extended family in the area to help us out, but we met a lot of new parents that did not have that. After Ella’s death we took some of the money that was donated for her funeral and bought blankets for the NICU. The nurses had tears in their eyes because they knew how much of a difference it would make to have the unit feel a little more like home. Life in the NICU can be confusing, frustrating, and at times unbearable. It’s a time when babies, parents, and families all need extra comfort and care. And that’s what Ella’s Halo is all about. Ella’s Halo was registered as a non-profit organization in January 2010 and we have been donating books, blankets, and welcome bags to the Level 3 NICUs in the Twin Cities since then.
What have been the most rewarding moments for you working with Ella’s Halo?
Every May we have an event called “Bowling for Babies” and a lot of graduates of the NICU who are three- or four- years-old now come out and join us. It’s amazing to see how big they are and the great things that they are going on to now that they’re healthier. We also work with local elementary schools to collect books and blankets. Kids that age are learning about everything, so it’s great that they we are able to help them learn something about volunteering, too.