Newborn's death inspires family to pay it forward
Pregnant with their third child, a routine doctor visit for Laura and Jason Bobay would soon change their lives.
“The doctor was trying to listen for the heartbeat and noticed some irregularities,” said Laura.
An ultrasound showed the baby’s heartbeat had dropped from 120 beats per minute to 60 beats per minute
The Bobays would have to keep going to a cardiologist each week to make sure that Bella had a heartbeat.
“Gut-wrenching to go in each week,” Laura said.
Those weekly visits eventually filled them with positivity.
“The only positive thing was that Laura began to feel Isabella kicking in her stomach,” said Jason. “Week after week she was there and she wasn’t going away. That’s the part where we’re like you know what? She’s a fighter and she’s going to be there till the end and we’re going to meet her.”
Isabella Lauren Bobay was born after 35 weeks. A moment filled with smiles and joy quickly turned to sadness and fear.
“They prepared us pretty well to say we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Jason said. “We know she’s probably going to need a pacemaker. She may need a bowel surgery as well if there’s a bowel obstruction.”
She was diagnosed with heterotaxy syndrome, which means that certain organs form on the opposite side of the body including her heart. Bella also had fluid around her heart, a complete heart block, a hole in her heart, and multiple spleens.
Sitting in the NICU, the Bobays knew what needed to be done.
“Became crystal clear we needed to go to PICU and then get her surgery to get a pacemaker,” said Jason.
For a short while the pacemaker improved her heartbeat.
“Surgeon told us during her surgery when he held her heart it just didn’t feel normal,” Jason said.
All of these defects would not bode well for Bella.
[Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of Bella's story in the video player above the story]
Doctors told them that there was a strong possibility that she may not make it through the week. That possibility became a reality.
“We knew from the beginning that this girl is going to be special," said Jason.
“And she did. She fought for as long as she could but it just wasn’t meant to be so we’re just going to continue to create a legacy for her and just do good in her name,” said Laura tearfully.
Eight days. That’s how long Bella lived.
“They’re always going to have a sister,” said Jason. “They always will. We’re a family of five right now and that’s not going away.”
Jason and Laura have two other children, Tommy and Tori.
Jason and Laura Bobay started the Heavenly Hearts Foundation after losing their daughter Isabella to a congenital heart defect last year.
“We lost our smile for a little bit but we’re back and we’re going to be giving smiles to families who need it the most,” said Jason. “This foundation we’re doing will succeed.”
The Bobays are going to start at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. They’re going to offer families who have children with heart defects in the hospital a Bella Bag.
The bag contains a stuffed animal, adult coloring books, puzzles, pencils, a handmade blanket, and toiletry items.
There is one family in particular the Bobay’s became close with at the hospital. Their daughter and that family’s child shared a room. This family will be the first to get a Bella Bag.
“Their child is still fighting,” said Laura. “They touched our heart and I know that we’re praying for their little fighter just as much as they prayed for our little girl and so they have a very special place in our hearts.”
Jason’s brother, Kevin, ran in the Carmel Marathon earlier this year to help raise over $3,000 for the foundation. This was the first time Kevin has ever done a marathon.
“To my brother, thank you for giving us a head start,” said Jason. “It really means a lot.”
But that’s not all who they’d like to thank.
“We would like to give a special thank you to our family members and our friends. For throughout this whole journey they have been our love and support system and we really couldn’t have done this without them,” said Laura. “We’re very appreciative of everything you guys have done for us over this time period. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”
Jason started a blog to help deal with what was going on in their lives with Bella.
“That grieving process is hard. I continued to write,” Jason said tearfully. “One of the things I had an issue with is what do you tell a two year old and a six year old when you come home from the hospital that you’re supposed to come home with a baby? What do you tell them? How do you do that?”
Jason’s blogging led to writing a children’s book titled My Guardian Angel.
“It’s a story about our older son telling our two year old daughter about the daughter who had passed away,” said Laura.
This book is one of the ways you can donate to help the cause. 100% of the profits go straight to the foundation.
Jason dedicated the book to families who have experienced the unreal heartbreak of losing a child.
“It’s not about making money from this book. It’s not about that at all,” Jason said. “For us it’s about getting the message out about losing a child and the heartbreak people go through when they lose a child. And it’s part of the grieving process to find your way to get past it.”
Bella may be gone but she will always be in their hearts.
“We’re going to make sure her heart lives on and it will. And it will beat very loud,” said Jason.
Heavenly Hearts will have its very first fundraiser event on August 6th at Glendarin Hills Golf Club.
To find out more about the Heavenly Hearts Foundation and Isabella click here to visit their official website.