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Arizona’s story: A mother’s tribute to a short, hard life

Arlene Ikkusek with baby Arizona, who was born at only 25 weeks and weighed one pound, nine ounces. - Contributed
NAIN, N.L. —

“Dear Baby, may you know our greatest blessing was having you ... You went from Mommy’s and Daddy’s arms into God’s,”

           - Arlene Ikkusek

British author and poet Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne once said, “sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."

For Arlene Ikkusek of Nain, Labrador, her heart is filled with the memories of her newborn daughter. A baby born too soon; an infant who left this world just weeks after her birth.

The slideshow tribute Ikkusek put together in memory of her daughter is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.

The story begins when Ikkusek learned she was pregnant. Both Ikkusek and partner Cody Tuglavina were delighted with the news. The photos in the slideshow include pictures of an ultrasound. A strong and steady heartbeat is detected.

“Finding out your dream has come true — a little girl,” Ikkusek writes.

(Ikkusek has two boys. Eleven-year-old John-Aaron and four-year-old Corey).

The slideshow continues with pictures of Ikkusek at various stages of her pregnancy.

The words, “you decided that you wanted to come early, January 24, 2019,” are followed by images of the tiny infant in an incubator.

Born at 25 weeks, the baby weighed one pound, nine ounces. Her arrival date had been set at May 9.

“You grabbed right onto Mommy,” Ikkusek writes showing a picture of the tiny baby, her tiny hand wrapped around her mother’s finger.

The couple christened their daughter Arizona Codi Tuglavina-Ikkusek.

Arizona holds her mother's finger while being closely monitored at the hospital. - Contributed
Arizona holds her mother's finger while being closely monitored at the hospital. - Contributed

The slideshow continues with numerous photos of Arizona in her mother’s arms, on her father’s chest, and in the incubator with her delicate hand covering her tiny face.

The love parents feel for their newborn would warm the coldest heart. Hearts ache for this mother when she writes: “but then you got sick.”

Arizona and her father, Cody Tuglavina. - Contributed
Arizona and her father, Cody Tuglavina. - Contributed

Arizona developed an infection in her bloodstream. The pictures that follow are of the newborn in the incubator, hooked up to even more machines.

Ikkusek writes about the confusion and devastation felt when you learn your baby won’t come home with you from the hospital.

There are pictures of Arizona in a beautiful white christening dress. Other photos depict a tiny foot and hand print, miniature knitted hats, and other now treasured mementos the nurses in the Janeway’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) gave the family.

Arizona died peacefully in her parents’ arms on Feb. 15.

“Dear Baby, may you know our greatest blessing was having you ... You went from Mommy’s and Daddy’s arms into God’s,” Ikkusek touchingly writes.

Ikkusek has been dealing with her grief by sharing her love for her baby through Facebook posts. Its helps to let others know about her daughter’s short but precious life, she said.

Social media is also where Ikkusek thanks family and friends for their support. She also has kind words for the staff at the Janeway’s NICU. They cared for not only her baby, she said, but for her and her partner.

While the loss has been devastating, Ikkusek said she seeks comfort from her boys and family.

“They are my support team ... and my town has been very supportive, especially families that have been through the same thing as me,” she said.

On grieving

Excerpt from an article written by CCPA columnist, Asa Don Brown

People who are grieving are likely to fluctuate between wanting some time to themselves and wanting closeness with others. They may want someone to talk to about their feelings. Below are some ways that you can help a friend experiencing loss:

  • Be a good (and active) listener
  • Ask about their feelings
  • Just sit with them
  • Share your feelings
  • Ask about their loss
  • Remember the loss
  • Make telephone calls
  • Acknowledge the pain
  • Let them feel sad
  • Be available when you can
  • Do not minimize grief
  • Talk about your own losses
  • Send friendly and supportive texts and e-mails
  • Do not avoid discussing the positive stories
  • Allow yourself to be an anchor and anchored by others
  • Most importantly, be available and approachable

Source: Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association

Coping with the loss of a baby

Newfoundland and Labrador's Eastern Health has developed a series of videos with N.L. parents who are grieving the death of a baby. The videos provide bereavement and support services to women, couples and their families - regardless of geographic location, availability of suitable counsellors, or time of day.

The videos can be viewed here.

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