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Story of Lyanna VanSickle

"Our sweet little love, Lyanna, came to us on July 30, 2020. She changed our lives more than she would ever know. Like any parent knows, it’s hard to put into words the love and wonder you feel for this little person who you've been preparing for and they're finally here!

Unbeknownst to us Lyanna's heart didn't develop correctly. She was born with a heart defect, Truncus Artiosus. Hours after being born she was in a helicopter headed to Minneapolis leaving her Dad and I in Minot. Ed and I were beyond devastated. All the whats and whys and ifs came pouring out but no one could answer them for us with any certainty. We spent 2 months in Minneapolis. Throughout it all Lyanna was so very brave and strong. In her little 9 months she had 2 open heart surgeries, pulmonary cath lab, g-tube surgery, went through pain med withdrawals, and numerous IV/needle pokes. More than any little one should ever have to go through but through it all she was so happy and smiley. Back home in Minot we were settling into our new lives. She finally was able to meet grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and most importantly her puppy Gemma. She was loved by all that knew her even those that knew her only through pictures and videos.

May 4, 2021 started like any other day. Lyanna and I slept in due to being awake some of the night before. She had speech therapy at 11 and physical therapy at 1 that day. I had called Ed to see if he wanted me to pick us up lunch from Slim Chickens after her speech appointment since he was working in town that day (he normally works out of town). I had started her tube feeding after her appointment on our way to get lunch. We got to her Dads work and while her Dad and I were eating Lyanna ended up having reflux and throwing up. I checked on her and thought she was fine. Then her Dad realized she was choking. We called 911 and waited for what seemed like forever for them to arrive. Everything was in slow motion but sped up. Time didn't exist. I do remember thinking that she will be fine. I never had the thought that she was going to pass away. Even after we were met at the hospital by the chaplain I thought she'd be fine. Even after being led back to the room and seeing the room filled with people and our little baby looking so tiny and fragile on the hospital gurney did I ever think that we'd be leaving without our Lyanna. I don't remember what he said exactly but the ER doctor asked for our permission to stop life saving measures. What? No. No. No. No. No. No. No. But no matter how many times I said no, it was over. Her little heart gave out. Lyanna was gone. We'd never look into her gray eyes again. We'd never hear her giggle again. We'd never hear her babble again. We'd never get to cuddle or hold her again. We left the hospital without Lyanna.

We will never get over her loss. Through therapy I'm learning to deal with the guilt and anger towards myself. I'm learning to hold on to the good memories and move forward from that day. My therapist recently asked me, knowing the outcome of Lyanna's life, do I wish I never would have had her. The answer is a resounding no. Her death changed us but her life changed us so much more. We never would have known a love like hers. We would have never known her curious personality or mischievous eyes. We never would have heard her say Mama at 8 months. We never would have woken up every morning to the brightest smile. She’ll always be our sunshine." Mama and Dada love you sweetheart. Until we meet again.

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