Ella’s 1st Birthday and the Anniversary of My Survival

A year has gone by right before my eyes. Thursday, July 28, 2011, marks the one year anniversary since the birth of my little Ella where I died for 10 minutes and came back to life a changed person.  I’m not sure how to feel this week. It’s bitter-sweet. On one hand, I am almost relieved to have the past year come to an end, but at the same time it means Ella is one; she is growing up too fast.

Some may think that I might consider the day I died as worst day of my life, but it wasn’t; for me it was not the worst because it is the day I survived to spend one more day with my family and friends. And even though the time of recovery was rough and tough— it still beats death. I may even have to say that this was the best year of my life for a few reasons. The first is Ella. She made our family more complete and watching her grow and Brady, Doug and I grow with her as a family has brought me a joy that is indescribable. Ella is so wonderful that I would endure all that I did again to ensure her existence in this world. I am convinced she will make her mark someday. There is truly something special about her.

My next reason for saying this was the best year of my life is because of all that I have learned and how I have grown—for the better— as a person. I praise the Lord for all that He has allowed me to endure and see this year.

This past year was focused on the day I died—one really impactful day. It seemed like each holiday was the first and needed to be treated with extreme care and needed to be special because it was the first Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, or birthday since death. And, each time harbored emotions revealing my gratitude for seeing those special days again with the people I love. Now that all the first are here and gone, life can go back to normal, and of course my new normal will include a sense of gratitude to living to see another day and living them to the fullest!

Thursday will bring a much needed closure to this year. I feel as though writing the book and blogging allowed me to put a stop to the confusion I had from the lost memory of the most traumatic event of my life and has given me an opportunity to piece it together and process what happened so as to be able to move forward.  I really feel as though I have fully dealt with it all and am ready to make this next year a new year. I want to embrace life fully and be ever more rooted in the Lord so that when I die again one day (hopefully when I am 99 this time), I will go to heaven and I will bring my husband, children, mother, father, friends, you, etc. with me!

I am truly happy with how we are celebrating Ella’s birthday and the one year mark. First, Doug took off and I think that will be the norm for all our birthdays from now on as a way to truly celebrate each others’ lives on the day we were born. On Thursday, we will return to the hospital where I delivered Ella and where I died, to offer our gratitude to all the nurses, doctors and staff who endured that horrific day. We are bringing cake and celebrating this glorious anniversary day of Ella’s birth and my survival with those wonderful people who cared so much! The hospital has put the word out to all the staff involved in our care. I can’t wait for them to see Ella walking!! Yes, she is walking all over the place now!! I hope this will give them closure and make their last memory of us one of celebration!

Then we will spend the day as a family until 5:15 p.m. when we will have a special Mass of celebration at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church where we have invited any and everyone who wants to join us. Then, my family and Doug’s family will come back to our house for a private celebration of Ella and my dad’s birthday. (My dad and Ella pictured left).

Then, the next day, I will travel to Minnesota to speak at another Steubenville conference as well as see my 99 year-old grandmother and extended family.

What a week! It makes me overwhelmed with joy just thinking about it! I’ll let you know in next week’s blog how it all turned out!



  1. Esther · · Reply

    Blessings and Birthday wishes to Ella and blessings to you Melanie as you celebrate the precious gift of life that you received ( twofold ) a year ago tomorrow. You are such an inspiration to me. Have a wonderful celebration! Say Hello to Remi an Orazio for me
    Take care,

  2. Meagan Kenney · · Reply

    Happy Birthday to sweet Ella! And Happy Anniversary to you too, Melanie! Hope you guys enjoy your special day. Wish I was able to attend Mass tomorrow evening, but I will be sure to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. I just read your story in the Catholic Sun. Wow…tears and joy and so many emotions all culminating into profound heartfelt gratitude for God’s gift to you of both life renewed and a beautiful baby girl and loving family. Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts.

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