It’s been nearly three years since the Jordans were given the briefest of blessings in their Brooklyn, but the little girl whose life lasted just a few precious moments will never be forgotten by those who loved her most.
Stephanie Jordan has set out to ensure the memory of her daughter Brooklyn Marie Jordan lives on, while committing herself to a cause that might help other families thrust into the same circumstances.
Brooklyn was born at Sampson Regional Medical Center at 1:03 p.m. May 25, 2010, weighing 1 pound, 9 ounces and measuring 12 inches in length. Born at 6 months, Brooklyn would live just six and a half hours, being transported to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill before passing away at 7:26 p.m. that same day. Jordan later discovered that she had a premature labor disorder.
Surrounded by a strong support system of family and friends, Jordan and her husband Andrew have been able to get through tough times. Over the last two and half years, Jordan has poured herself into a variety of efforts — fundraising events, walks and support groups — that she said allow her to support others and raise money for a worthy cause, but most importantly honor Brooklyn.
“I do it every year to keep her memory alive. It just helps. It was real. She was our child,” Jordan said. “I just know the money is going to fund needs and research to help a family that might benefit from it.”
On Monday, those efforts will continue.
From 6 to 9 p.m. this Monday, March 18, 20 percent of the proceeds from sales at Sweet Frog in Clinton will benefit March of Dimes through “Brooklyn’s Rainbow of Hope.” Jordan inquired as to the possibility of having the fundraising at Sweet Frog in Clinton after finding that the one in Fayetteville has done similar events with the public.
Sweet Frog in Clinton jumped at the chance.
Jordan said she is happy to be able to honor Brooklyn in another way.
After Brooklyn’s loss, Jordan did research, created a personalized March of Dimes web page and formed a walking team, “Brooklyn’s Rainbow of Hope.” One of Jordan’s good friends had written a story telling her that whenever she saw a rainbow, it would be Brooklyn coloring a picture for her parents from heaven to let them know she is OK. Jordan loved that.
Clad in rainbow-colored tie-dye shirts, Jordan and a large support group went to Salisbury for the March of Dimes walk in Sept. 11, 2010, Brooklyn’s original due date. The next year, Brooklyn was the featured child at the March of Dimes walk in Whiteville. Last year’s walk was in Methodist University in Fayetteville, which will again serve as the site of this year’s event, set for next month.
Jordan has been at each, with her family and friends. She walks with a team of mothers who have been through similar experiences, and lost children.
“It’s liberating,” said Jordan. “It’s hard to explain what I feel when I go there. I feel like it’s not just her story that is told, but that in a way it brings her back alive.”
Despite a tremendous loss, she feels blessed.
“It’s keeping their memory alive and having our families there with us, walking in memory of Brooklyn, it just feels good,” said Jordan. “It makes me feel good, especially when you see other preemies who made it. I don’t feel bad that I don’t have her, but I’m able to feel glad that there are others who are there.”
She said sharing her story has served as a therapeutic testimonial that has afforded her the opportunity to talk about her daughter. It has also helped Jordan learn more about her own experience.
When the Sampson Independent published an article about Brooklyn and her mother’s efforts last year, Jordan told the story of her firstborn and the heart-wrenching loss that shortly followed. She recalled the UNC medical team saying that little Brooklyn was one of the strongest preemies they had ever seen, able to cry and kick on her own.
It was only after that story was printed that she found out something she had never known.
A nurse working at Sampson Regional at the time approached Jordan, saying she was touched by her story. She said she remembered the little girl born at 24 weeks and 5 days (6 months), a revelation that made Jordan begin to well up.
The nurse told her that, on the way to Chapel Hill, as the ambulance neared Newton Grove to head up I-40, Brooklyn’s heart stopped, causing the ambulance to rush back to Sampson Regional. She was revived there before being transported again to Chapel Hill, where her heart would stop for a second time, leaving doctors unable to start it again.
Jordan choked up as she recalled the nurse’s story.
“I never knew that my daughter went back to the emergency room and they brought her back. I never knew that,” said Jordan. The nurse recalled the same kicking and crying from Brooklyn. “It kind of puts you at ease. She said she was just a fighter.”
It’s the same kind of fight Brooklyn’s mom harnesses to honor her daughter’s memory, supporting the causes of other mothers like her and lending her support to those that need it.
“The strength I have, I don’t know how I have it. When I was going through this, I was not strong, but now when I’m talking about (Brooklyn) and my story, I have that strength,” said Jordan, who is quick to offer the same kind of support she says was there when she needed it most. “It’s OK to scream and cry, but it will get better. Everyone goes through trials, but God has a plan for us all.”
In addition to the walks, Jordan has organized a variety of fundraising events, ranging from raffles and cornhole tournaments to yard sales and last year’s Shop-a-Looza, a one-stop shopping event that hosted a massive amount of vendors — Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Lila Sophia, Tastefully Simple were among a long list that included others offering gifts, cosmetics, jewelry and other accessories — with and all proceeds go to the March of Dimes.
This year will be no different.
Along with Monday’s Sweet Frog fundraising, she is holding a small “Lush Art” event, in the vein of “Wine and Design,” in which participants pay a flat amount, have a couple cocktails and create their own paintings with some one-on-one guidance from an art instructor.
The event, which Jordan is holding at her home this weekend with close friends, is a smaller one — but the goal is the same. Jordan said she plans to donate her painting to the nursery at Sampson Regional Medical Center where Brooklyn passed away.
As Jordan looks over some of the T-shirts at Sweet Frog leading up to Monday’s event, she holds daughter Lily Brooke Jordan close to her. Named after her sister, Lily Brooke was born at 37 weeks. She celebrated her first birthday last month.
“We have her because of the medical research from the March of Dimes,” Jordan said. “We went through a whole lot to have her and went through a lot of procedures, but she is truly a miracle.”
Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
Jordan has raised thousands of dollars toward the cause, but it’s not just about money, she says. While raising funds are a goal — Jordan often tries to reach $3,000 a year — it is not the sole aim.
“It’s really not about that to me,” Jordan said. “I don’t set a goal of $10,000, because I live in a small town and $3,000 is realistic for me. If I make $10, I’ll be happy with it. I set a goal because I want to meet it and I think reaching it would make her proud.”
Sweet Frog manager Jerry Powell said Monday’s fundraising will kick off a massive push by the business, which opened in December, to benefit the community on subsequent Mondays.
“We just have started getting into some of these things,” said Powell. “Ms. Stephanie’s will be the first.”
Through the rest of March and throughout April, Sweet Frog will hold offer similar proceeds to benefit local schools, churches and other organizations.
“It’s something we hope to do as much as we can,” said Powell. “This community has been good to us and this is a great way for us to be a strong part of the county and the community.”
Jordan said she is grateful to Sweet Frog and said she expects close to 100 friends, family and supporters to come out Monday just to support Brooklyn’s cause and the March of Dimes. Adding in the regular patronage likely to visit the popular frozen yogurt business, a large crowd is anticipated.
“When I’m in there Monday, I know people are going to relate to me and they’ll be there to support us,” said Jordan. “When Andrew and I are standing there in honor of her, I’ll be proud. She was a part of our family’s life and I don’t want her memory to ever die.”
For more information on March of Dimes, visit www.marchforbabies.org. Stephanie Jordan’s personal page can be visited at www.marchforbabies.org/brooklynmarie.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.