About Three Little Tots
Birth & Beginnings
It’s amazing how life’s biggest scares can also bring our greatest aha moments. The birth of my nephew, Carter, was a joyous occasion. He was the first grandchild; so naturally, we all crowded into the hospital waiting room in eager expectation of his arrival. My sister-in-law’s smooth sailing pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery raised no red flags. We had no reason to expect anything other than a happy, healthy baby boy. Imagine our surprise when our sweet little Carter was immediately whisked away for monitoring. The medical staff was concerned about his heavy breathing. Our internal alarms went off even though we attempted to remain calm and hopeful.
VSD: Ventricular Septal Defect. My nephew was born with a hole in the bottom chamber of his heart. Thankfully, the doctors offered a glimmer of hope. There was a chance the hole would close on its own. If not, surgery would be required. Little Carter underwent weekly echocardiograms for the first four months of his life; the hole wasn’t closing. Open heart surgery would be scheduled once he reached 11 pounds. Until then, his parents were charged with the task of not allowing him to get sick. WHAT?!?!
Sickness doesn’t ask for permission. It kind of just occurs, right? Yes, we take preventative measures, but being told to keep an infant well seems, well, impossible. The wheels of my mind went to work. How could I help beyond washing my hands and staying away when under the weather? Wait. That was it! I crafted a cute little sign to hang on Carter’s car seat:
Please ask mommy and wash your handsor use sanitizer before touching me
Carter reached his goal weight at 5 months old. The surgery successfully repaired his VSD and ASD - a second, upper chamber hole that was discovered one day before his scheduled surgery. Today, he is the happy and healthy little boy we always believed he would be.
Three Little Tots
The end of one journey is the beginning of another. Being introduced to Etsy and Pinterest opened my eyes to a whole new world. Car seat signs could really be a thing! And so, Three Little Tots was born.
The birth of Carter’s twin brother and sister, Brooks and Anna, brought another bright idea. The twins were born a couple of weeks premature and Brooks caught a cold. Not everyone is aware of the fragility of a preemie’s immune system. Auntie Johanna went to work:
I’m a preemie, your germs are too big for me
During this time I was introduced to the term “micro-preemie.” The ideas continued to flow and Three Little Tots continued to deliver much-needed messages in an adorable way.
Mom with a Message
Once upon a time Three Little Tots was for moms who wanted to safeguard the wellbeing of their little ones. Signs were designed to be a voice for those far too tiny to protect themselves. It’s still that but more. Now, it’s personal.
I was blessed to marry my boyfriend and best friend of 6 years, Josh. We were able to conceive with no problem and found ourselves well on the way to becoming parents. How exciting! My pregnancy was normal. Aside from morning sickness, the expansion of my belly was predictably peaceful. Then, it happened. After alarming back pains and multiple trips to the ER, we welcomed Harrison, our 10-weeks early tiny bundle of joy, into the world.
Harrison’s arrival was speedy and terrifying. Three whole days passed before we were even able to hold him. I was no longer the aunt looking out for her nephews and niece or the stranger making signs for other people’s babies. Three Little Tots was now a needed voice for my son.
Can I be transparent? Please don’t judge my honesty, but I was angry. I was angry with God for not protecting my little family, for not shielding us from premature labor. I was angry about not being able to take my baby home for 70 days. I spent years making signs, but maybe I now needed a sign. With Harrison’s birth came the awareness that my endeavors did not exempt me from trials. As hard of a pill as that was to swallow, it contained an element of beauty. I was no longer an outsider. This experience shifted me from a place of sympathy to empathy. Sign-making takes on new meaning when the message becomes personal.
Having a preemie of my own inspired Three Little Tots Milestones, cards used to celebrate baby’s achievements while in the NICU. Being able to say “The End” would be nice, but there’s more. Harrison grew strong and healthy. By the time he was 10 months old, we were ready to try for Baby #2.
We conceived with no problems; however, we lost the baby before any announcements were made. We waited for a few weeks and tried again. BINGO! Pregnant again! We had it all planned out, all the way down to purchasing an “I hope it’s a dinosaur” t-shirt for Harrison to wear as an announcement to our family. Then, it happened. My second miscarriage occurred on Harrison’s first birthday. What about our plans? This baby was supposed to have a future! We had names picked out and a future envisioned. I was devastated and heartbroken.
A few months passed before we tried to get pregnant again. I prayed, “Lord, please bless us with the child we long for.” It happened! When we went for an ultrasound, there was not one but TWO sacks. TWINS! We have no naturally occurring twins on my side of the family; this was nothing short of a miracle. In my heart, I felt as though God was returning back to us the two babies we lost.
Our baby girls were born at 34 weeks. I am still amazed by the 4-week developmental difference between them and Harrison. We still had a long stay in the NICU, but this time we had milestone cards to help carry us through.
The kids were growing and so was Three Little Tots. Have you ever been so happy and full of life only to have the wind knocked out of you? That’s how I felt. On June 16, 2018, we received the worst news that any parent could hear: Harrison has leukemia. Those three words shattered our world.
Harrison’s diagnosis is High-risk B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Every day is a fight - a fight to get our rambunctious 2-year-old back, to regain a sense of normalcy, and to remain in faith. Pray for our strength. We fight on because giving up has never and will never be an option.
More than a Brand
Three Little Tots is so much more than a business. It is a connecting thread that ties the hearts of doting mommas worldwide who want to keep their precious baby boys and girls safe from unwanted illnesses. From the U.S. to Australia, Canada to the UK, I am blessed to unite with mothers who empathize with me and me with them. Tags4Tots is more than a brand. We are a community of warrior mommies standing between our babies and any harm that dares to come their way.
I believe that God has a purpose for your pain. A reason for your struggles and a reward for your faithfulness. Don't Give Up!