Angels in the Sky
My story begins 30 years ago — the evening of August 16, 1984. It was a very hot summer night and I was lying on the sofa watching M*A*S*H. My husband, Brian, was at a meeting. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but “back then” we didn't have a convenient remote control for our TVs, or even a cell phone.
I decided to get up and change the channel to the news. When I got up, my water broke. I knew that this wasn’t right. I was pregnant with our first child but only 34 weeks at the time. I called my doctor immediately and then called my husband at his meeting. The doctor told me to go to St. Luke’s Hospital here in Racine. Brian came home right away but had to cut the screen in the window to get in because I couldn’t unlock the door. I told him we had to go now, and the doctor would be waiting. We were both a little nervous.
We got to the hospital, and the doctor came in to examine me. She told us that I needed to get to Milwaukee County Medical Complex where there was a Neonatal Baby Unit. She told Brian and me that I would be going by helicopter. I said, “Helicopter! What are you talking about?” She told us that Flight For Life is a life saving air ambulance, and it had medical staff on board to help me. I was panicked. My first baby was coming early, double-footling breach, I’m going on a helicopter, and my husband couldn’t come with me. If you know me, my husband is my rock, and I don’t go anywhere without him, especially in a crisis. So, then came the helicopter. My FFL crew was Pilot Lee and Nurse Claire. Lee told me I would be okay, and the flight wouldn’t take long. Flight Nurse Claire kept me calm and held my hand. We thought this baby might be born aboard the helicopter. This ride seemed to take forever, and all I remember was looking at the lights below and squeezing Claire’s hand so tightly.
Stephanie Nicole was born the morning of August 17, at 3 pounds 2 ounces.
They gave our daughter Stephanie the chance for her to fight, and boy did she.
These two angels, Lee and Claire, will have a place forever in my heart. Our FFL angels just didn’t drop us off at Milwaukee County Medical Complex, they became a part of our family.
Lee, Claire, and our dearest director Barb, were at Stephanie’s first birthday in which she dedicated Flight For Life Day in the city of Racine. Then, when Stephanie was eight years old, she helped dedicate the Children’s Hospital heliport along with Nathan (another FFL patient). We have kept in touch with our FFL family through the years. In fact, my daughter was married two years ago, and our honored guests were “Our” Pilot Lee and “Our” Flight Nurse Claire along with their spouses. They sat at our family table (right where they belonged), and my children both honored them with a toast. Without FFL and its crew, I know in my heart we wouldn't have the beautiful and healthy daughter that we have today.
I have taught my children that every time we see our helicopter in the air, we should stop, make the sign of the cross, say a prayer, and send them the thumbs up. Sending our prayers and positive vibes to the patients on board will be something we do forever.