ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A Central Florida mother, who suffered the loss of two children due to a rare condition that doctors told her never strikes the same family twice, is on a mission to make sure no mom ever suffers as she did.
Boxes saved Carrie Acosta's life. They are the footprints of her journey from unbelievable loss and despair to joy and purpose. "When it was time to leave, I left empty-handed. I had nothing to leave with. And I knew I never wanted any other woman to feel that way, the way I was feeling at that moment."
Carrie is talking about her first pregnancy back in 2008. Early on doctors told her her little girl would likely not survive because she had a rare condition called hydrops: where fluid builds up in the organs. In little Vivianna's case, it was in her lungs and head. At seven months her heart stopped beating and Carrie delivered her stillborn.
When she left the hospital, she left empty-handed. She says, "So I decided to start Vivianna's memory boxes....and at that time we were delivering to just a few hospitals."
In the boxes: a New Testament, journal, stuffed bear, tissue, a hand-crocheted blanket in pink or blue, bath salts, lotion-scented, the same scent of the box. Carrie explains, "The hospitals were requesting 6-10 boxes a month per location. Then as the word got out, more hospitals were calling us requesting more boxes."
Carrie's mom Peggy says, "Because of the tragedy she went through we reach out to so many women now who go through the same thing, losing a baby." Peggy is with her every step of the way, but there's more behind their nonprofit Kaleb Kares.
In 2010, Carrie and her husband were pregnant again. This time, it was a boy, and doctors assured them the chance of another child of theirs developing hydrops was next to zero. They said they had never seen it happen twice. But at eight months, that impossible diagnosis came. Little Kaleb was born and lived only four days.
But this time, Carrie got a surprise from a nurse at the hospital. Carrie explains, "When she walked in with the box for me I began to smile. She asked why I was smiling, and I said because I was the creator of this box. It was a Vivianna's Memory Box. It provided hope. God's plan was so much bigger for me than what I had planned for myself."
Now, Carrie, Peggy, and volunteers work in a space in Altoona. They have partnered with hospitals here and six other states. They sent out twelve hundred memory boxes last year -- memory boxes, boxes for moms who give their babies up for adoption, and soon, funds for parents who want to adopt.
Carrie and her husband had since adopted and are now parents to a beautiful little girl. She says, "Sometimes I like to say I'm thankful for what I've gone through. I know that might sound weird. I mean I would do anything to have my babies back, but I'm glad I can help other people through my losses."
For more information about Kaleb Kares, click here.