Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Living with Scars" Project

Hello Ava friends! Many of you know I started a face book page for parents with congenital diaphragmatic hernia survivors. Well today marks our 3rd Birthday! I am so excited as the page has over 1500 followers. I decided to start the “Living with Scars” project to educate people of congenital diaphragmatic hernias. I asked parents to take a picture of their child’s cdh scar and post it on face book. I also asked them to tell us what they thought about when they see their child’s scar. CDH is such a battle and still to this day the success rate is only 50/50. Not good odds. I’m thrilled though the page is doing so well. I attribute it to so many wonderful moms and dad that give what works for them to help others!

scars project

Here is Ava’s. I’m so proud of her!

3802 project

What do I think about when I see my daughter's CDH scars?

I have a feeling of complete gratefulness that she is here with us today. I feel very BLESSED! It shows how hard she fought to survive this birth defect time and time again. I think of her courage and strength and how hard it must have been for her. It reminds me never to take life for granted, that we are never assured tomorrow. I know that her scars are just part of who she... a fighter in all sense of the word. I am SO proud to be her Mom!

A Diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the diaphragm allowing part or sometimes all of the organs from the belly (stomach, spleen, liver and intestines) to go up into the chest cavity, compromising the heart and lungs.

If you have a CDHer and want to get involved in this project please visit our page today!


Ava’s been doing much better after her bout with the stomach flu. She did end up losing 3 pounds which is pretty drastic for her but we will gain it back slowly but surely.

Schools been going great and yesterday she came home with an AWARD. I was so happy for her. It is a gift certificate to Wendy’s signed by her principle and her teacher.


I also happen to grab the other two girls and get their picture taken as well. We’ve been so busy these days I don’t take near the amount of pictures we did before. We are still helping out with my sister’s twins so life has been a little nuts lately!

We are so proud of our girls!

Girls February 2014

Thanks again for dropping by… we appreciate all the support and prayers!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Where does time go?

Hello Ava friends and followers! Ava’s been trucking along… we had a great Christmas and a great new year. She’s been healthy for over 6 weeks. We’ve been so lucky as this Winter has been challengingly cold here in Iowa. However with low temperatures means that bacteria can be killed off… so that’s always a good thing!

Monday after school Ava just didn’t look right. I can always tell by her eyes. Her complains were a tummy ache, runny nose and coughing. Now we all know we didn’t need this. Last night the stomach flu hit her with a vengeance. Ava’s never had the stomach flu before. Whenever she’s thrown up it was due to bowel obstructions and her reflux. It always makes me terribly nervous and I immediately pray for the best. I called her school and the flu is really going around so that helps my anxiousness a little bit. She woke up still feeling icky but as the day wore on she pepped up a bit. She has been drinking Gatorade and had a small bowl of noodles for lunch.

I asked if I could take a few pictures of her tonight. She smiled! She’s such a trouper!


A little update on me. I had my yearly colonoscopy and all looks well. I still find it hard to believe I had colon cancer. I’ve been blessed with great doctors that listen and care deeply about me. God is always in control through the good and the bad.

Our family went through a bad event in November. Our middle daughter Emeline got physically assaulted at one of our local parks. It was a nightmare. Many things went wrong that day. Again God was guiding her and she did all the right things to prevent her from getting hurt worse. We took her to the ER. She ended up very sore but nothing broken. We have dealt with the after effects of all of this and it’s been extremely hard on Emme and myself. She had never in her life been hit so it came as a huge shock that anyone could do this. (The girl that assaulted her was 12 years old.) Sadly there was a video taken of the incident that I had to watch and it left me horrified and with fear and nightmares. Emme didn’t feel safe at school so we pulled her out to do her schooling at home for over two months. The school helped in everyway they could. Yesterday was the hearing. Emeline was so courageous… she read her victims impact statement. She said that she wanted her assailant to be thoroughly watched so she couldn't hurt anyone else. She also said that this is one of the hardest things she's ever had to go through in her life but that it has made her a stronger person. I was so proud of her. It took such courage to get up in front of a room full of people, a judge, lawyers and not to mention the girl that assaulted her. What a strong young lady she has become. Pray for her as she still struggles with trust issues among kids her own age. She is back in school and has gotten a ton of support from her friends.

I often wonder why bad things happen… is it to make us stronger? Is it to learn more about life? Is it to help us in another situation to come in life? Is it to place our full trust in God? All of these and more. I stopped asking God why a long time ago… I just know it is part of the plan for my life. As a Mother it’s hard to watch your children struggle. We can only be there to support them and remind them that we will always be there for them. We can also ask God to heal them and us.

For those of you that used to be friends with me on facebook I have since left. (I did have to open another account to be able to continue my work with my cdh page ~Raising Healthy Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Children~ as this will always be my calling and my passion.) This incident with Emeline opened my eyes and I found myself always trying to “help” people. I need to help myself and my family right now. I feel like I had nothing left to give and it upset me to see so much complaining on facebook. I’m not sure I will ever return. If you ever want to send me a message my email address is still the same. mycdhlife@gmail.com

Thanks for dropping by! Prayers for Ava and Emeline would be much appreciated! God Bless.

~Terri Helmick

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Late but here’s Halloween

Hello friends and followers. It’s been super busy here at our house. I’m sorry for not updating sooner. Ava was sick with a cold around Halloween time so she missed school and her party which was sad for her but we still dressed up and had a fun time on our own. Here she is with her Dad.


She loves Minions so naturally she had to become one!


If you’ve been following us for awhile you would know I love dressing up for Halloween! I’m not sure what it is but I love being some one else for just a short time! Brian and I were chaperones at Emeline’s school dance. I dressed but Brian didn’t. The kids were angels around me… can you tell why? And you ask… who did my make-up? Sweet little me!


I also do Ava’s school yearbook so you KNOW I had to dress up there as well even though my Aya baya was at home resting with her Dad.

3571 pow

Ava went back to school this last week. It’s always hard on her when she’s been out a few days and this time it was an entire week. She’s such a trouper though.

Our family could use some prayers not only for Ava but for another daughter. I won’t go in details as I can’t right now but I do ask for prayers. Some times life can take some sharp turns. No matter what way you look you see discouragement from all different directions. I have such good girls and when one of them is hurt it cuts me deeply. This world has become evil and it breaks my heart. Please send some positive thoughts and many prayers our way. We love and thank you for it.

I’ll leave you with one last picture. The girls found these costumes and had to have them. I love the quote I added to the picture… I’m so proud of my girls for always showing “THEIR TRUE COLORS!” We’ve been seeing God’s love all around us! We are so happy he guides and protects our family.

3678 frame

~The Helmick’s

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peanuts anyone?

Hello Ava friends! So last week end we decided to take up an offer that “Give Kids the World” had given us when we left last November. (Free tickets!) We went to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. We all had a great time. As always Ava gets my heart pumping. She had started coughing that Wednesday before and we started her regular “coughing regimen” and visited the doctor to see how her lungs sounded. She said they were clear. She wrote us a script for an antibiotic “just in case” which made me feel a LOT better. So Friday morning we packed our family and went! We also checked out Kaleidoscope on Saturday. What a great place for kids to explore and gain so much for their minds. Ava as well as her sisters were creating awesome works of art and loving it! If you have never been there and are around the area I highly recommend the Kaleidoscope!




We loved this section as Ava’s school has “Book Nook”. A book nook is a book she brings home to read each day. It helps her read better!


We loved this sink. It was just so neat!



So since it rained on Saturday we decided to do the park on Sunday. What a great choice we made. It was a gorgeous day! And perfect for rides! Ava was over her cough by Sunday which helped me to enjoy it that much more! She is not afraid to ride almost everything! I on the other hand am afraid of everything! So photography fits me just fine on a trip like this!

Peanuts anyone?



Ava 1

Ava 3

Ava 4

Ava 5

Ava 6

Ava 7

As you can see we had FUN! It was nice to get away. We had such a great family bonding time!

Now sad news is Ava woke last night with a very upset stomach. It didn’t take her long to get sick. I kept her home from school today and was glad I did as diarrhea was next. I called her teacher and she said it is “going around”. Not what I wanted to hear but we will do the best we can with what we are given. Please pray for little Ava. She’s a little trouper and rarely complains. She hates to miss school but knows she must when she isn’t well.

Thanks everyone for your love, support and many prayers! We are happy to share our good times and bad ones with you.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Surgery Visit

Hello Ava friends! Things have been going pretty good for us. Ava’s been loving school and is anxious each day to go. Her little mind is a sponge that soaks everything up. It’s fun to watch her grow, learn and explore. She got her school pictures taken last week. It was my chance to take a few at home before she went to school. She’s growing so much! It won’t be long and she will be as tall as me!

Ava 1st

She’s been complaining that her abdomen hurts her around her belly button area for about a week. I’ve been giving her extra reflux medicines as it seem to go away after she takes the medicine. I never want to just let things be and not know especially with Ava so I called and talked to our AMAZING surgery, nurse practitioner. He was happy to see Ava and help us get to the bottom of this. So this morning we headed up to Iowa City for the appointment. She was weighed, measured, temperature taken and blood pressure checked… all good.

surgery check-up

We then went to get a few x rays of her chest. She’s always so sweet about it and never minds at all.


So her NP is thinking the same thing I was, that it may be reflux so he increased her Prevacid. We are going to give that about a month and are hoping this will help. If not we will be looking into a upper gastrointestinal (UGI) endoscopy.

It is a procedure that allows your doctor to look at the interior lining of your esophagus, your stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum) through a thin, flexible viewing instrument called an endoscope. The tip of the endoscope is inserted through your mouth and then gently moved down your throat into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (upper gastrointestinal tract).

I hope we don’t have to go this far so please pray for Ava. She will have to be put under for the test. I’m really praying that the medicines will help her and we can avoid this procedure.

As always thanks for checking on Ava. We love that you still care and continue to pray for her!