To bring awareness, educate and promote water safety so that no family has to experience the loss of a child due to drowning.
We are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that advocates for all children who have been injured from or lost their lives too soon from drowning. Our goal is to provide awareness by educating the community on water safety, to collaborate with local partners to prevent infant and child drowning and ensure all children have access to swim lessons. Drowning is silent but we will not be.
Our beautiful, light brown curly haired little princess was born on April 30, 2019 and entered the world eagerly at only 5 lbs. Her strong but ever so mighty self was gifted a bold spirit from God. Mazie Leah was on a mission right away to be HEARD.
Just when we thought sleeping and breastfeeding was a breeze the first couple of weeks, she stopped latching. I was back at the hospital to see a lactation specialist days later after she was born. And then this sweet girl had colic for 3 L O N G months. We would soon learn the only things that soothed her was constant nursing, being outside, going for a walk or listening to music.
Other than the colic, Mazie was a very healthy baby. We never had to go to the doctor (until July 2020) other than for wellness visits. She stayed on the small side and we started physical therapy at the age of 10 months for her to learn how to sit then hit other major milestones. Our physical therapist, Kylie, will always be such a blessing to us. We got to have 2 in-person visits before COVID hit then they took place virtually once a week. A few months later we also started speech therapy (our therapist Brittany is wonderful too) since she wasn’t saying typical sounds or words and to help with feeding.
At the end of July we had a scare with all 3 children that began with our oldest, Latson, getting impetigo. That turned into a staph infection and Myles got it too. I brought him to the doctor on July 26 because he had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic that was prescribed. The next evening Mazie’s skin turned pink and cried to the touch but since there were no apparent infectious sores, we didn’t think it was related. The only thing I could guess was that maybe she was allergic to dairy since she had whole organic milk for the first time that day. Fast forward to Wednesday and she had sores all over her face. Our pediatrician instantly said she needs to go to the ER since it appears to be scalded skin syndrome. Indeed, that’s what she had and stayed 4 nights at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Fortunately, she healed quickly after the on call doctor increased her dosage of antibiotics and within days she looked/acted completely normal.
Speaking of “typical”, that’s how the morning of Tuesday, October 20, 2020 started off for the five of us. Adam (my husband) took Latson and Myles (our 9 and 5 year old boys) to school around 7:00 while I stayed home with Mazie (17 months at the time). She woke up around 8:00 am, nursed and we played until having breakfast around 9:00 am. After we finished, I brought her into the living room to play and I went back into the kitchen to put our dishes away. The kitchen opened up to the living room (to give a visual on how close she was) and I decided to wash a pot that was in the sink before we left to go run an errand.
In that short timeframe, I realized I couldn’t hear her. Although she still wasn’t talking yet, Mazie boo was very vocal when she played (and ate). She also wasn’t walking but was so close. Just the week before she had taken her first step and two nights prior we were encouraging her to take a few more (our last video). I ran to our downstairs bedrooms thinking she must have crawled in there to play or find me. When I didn’t see or hear her, I ran to the staircase. The boys left the gate open that morning so I ran up a few stairs but something made me pause. In that moment, I believe with all of my heart that the Holy Spirit guided me from there. Since again I didn’t hear her upstairs, I remember quickly thinking not to waste time searching in the 3 bedrooms up there. Even with both back patio doors closed, I truly feel that God led me to the backyard. That’s when I saw her.
Mazie was face down, floating at the top of the deep end of the pool. All of this is VERY traumatic for me and so from here it gets a tad blurry. I do know the sequence of events and that I immediately grabbed her and was continued to be directed by the Holy Spirit to run inside (still holding her), grab my cell phone, call 911 and think to open the garage so the responders would come to the back since the doors were all locked.
The dispatcher instructed me to lay Mazie down on our patio and walked me through CPR until the first responder arrived. The sheriff deputies and paramedics all took over and kept doing CPR for what seemed like forever. In the meantime, 2 neighbors who heard me screaming and Adam came inside with me. Trust me I didn’t want to leave Mazie’s side but they made me. Adam and I were both crying, praying out loud and hysterically screaming (me) when one of the paramedics came in to say they are bringing her to the hospital. They brought her in an ambulance to Women’s and Children’s and we rode with a neighbor to follow them.
At first they weren’t going to let us in the ER with her but this mama is too persistent for that. I remember pleading with the Nurse Manager that if this were her baby she would want to be in there with her and she couldn’t say no to that. We frantically watched several people on the medical team work to get our baby revived. The social worker on staff compassionately held us as we cried and prayed some more, even with the hospital chaplain.
After about an hour, the doctor informed us her blood pressure and oxygen levels elevated so they could transfer Mazie to the P-ICU. We were SO very hopeful and that optimism grew as her body temperature rose from around 87 to 98 degrees by the end of the day. Mazie remained “stable” while on a ventilator. The next morning I was so full of hope that I even pumped (since we were still nursing) in her room. Nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists were constantly coming in and out of the room to check on her girl. They ran tests overnight to see how her brain responded to EEG activity and by noon the ICU doctor wanted to do an MRI. I anxiously watched as the nurses spent a lot of time disconnecting monitors and machines. A sinking pit in my stomach intensified seeing them “bag” her and being rolled away.
It wasn’t long after and the nurses came back into the ICU room saying we need to come back with them right then. I was ANGRY. I blamed them and said, “I knew this would happen!” Witnessing the length of time it took them to prepare Mazie go for the scan, my instinct then was that it was too soon. When we got to the room, the doctor and nurses explained that she coded so they needed to rush her back and that we should tell our family to join us. My heart sank again.
Our parents, Adam’s brothers, his sister, sister-in-law, one of our nephews and a couple friends were in the waiting area at that time. They were ALL hopeful that day, as we were, so it was incredibly hard to give this update. Once we got back to the ICU room with Mazie, all kinds of people came in to do anything possible to save her. She fought hard but deep in our hearts, we believe she had already met Jesus and many other angels we love, including her Godmother and my best friend – Jessi. After several attempts of resuscitation, the doctor said there was nothing else they could do.
Obviously the emotions were (and continue to be) very overwhelming. In the midst of our heartbreak, we knew we wanted to hold her and love on her as long as possible. Before they removed the ventilator, that’s exactly what we got to do. We got to bathe her, brush her hair, kiss on her, talk to her and give everyone else there that loves her that opportunity to hold her one last time too.
There are many details that are a part of our story we will keep sharing over time including Mazie’s legacy as a donor hero and countless beautiful blessings from God that have carried us through (mostly in the faces of family, friends and strangers). It all matters to us because Mazie does. This baby girl was wanted and prayed for YEARS before she was ever born. I knew in my heart that when my grandmother, Mazie, passed away in December of 2010 that if I ever had a daughter she would be named after her.
We are loving and very dedicated parents who would do absolutely ANYTHING for our children. We’d give our life for them! Both me, Adam and my mom all begged God to take us instead. And now we are living with eternal hope of reuniting with Mazie and Him in Heaven.
But this is when our story, MAZIE’S story, doesn’t have to end. We are CHOOSING to not stay quiet because we feel like probably along with many other families, this would have never happened to us. Believe me, we did everything we KNEW to do. We enrolled our boys in swim lessons for consecutive years to teach them to swim and I looked into ISR for her (just as I did for her brothers at this age and sooner). But we don’t have anyone remotely close that is certified to offer that. We received quotes for a pool cover and looked into fencing, although we put that off since we were preparing to sell our home. Mazie had never tried to go through the doggy door before, we rarely went into the backyard and since she wasn’t walking yet we thought we had a little more time. We knew nothing about alarms, that puddle jumpers aren’t best for ultimate safety for swimming or that drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1-4.
As Mazie’s parents, we are committed to continuing to shine her bright light (she’s always been our sunshine) – drawing others close to God, furthering her purpose, educating about water safety, saving lives and inspiring more people to become registered donors. Some of the goals of Mazie’s Mission are to increase awareness about drowning prevention, encourage everyone we know to become advocates and designated “water watchers”, bring ISR to our region (and beyond) and ensure that all families have access to swim lessons.
How can you help???
This is very difficult for our family to be open about and it has taken (and continues to) intensive PTSD therapy and the strength/grace of God to work through the trauma. We ask that you consider the overwhelming amount of pain and heartache we endure if you share our story (respectfully and intentionally) with others. Please keep supporting us, praying for us and remembering our beautiful angel - Mazie Leah.
WATER SAFETY TIPS
Drowning prevention requires multiple layers of protection.
Enroll your child in quality swim lessons that lead to water competence. All swim lessons are not created equal. Progress should happen in weeks and months, not in years. Lessons should provide your child with the skills to survive if they were to fall into the pool. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends swim lessons can begin at age 1. These lessons should focus on self-rescue and teach your child how roll-to-float or how to get to the side of the pool. I firmly believe that swim lessons would have saved Levi, and I will carry this regret for the rest of my life. Do NOT put off swim lessons.
Teach children to stay away from drains.
Ensure all pools and spas - both in your backyard and any public pool you may visit - have compliant drain covers.
Install a 4-sided fence that goes fully around the entire pool. Make sure the fence has self-closing and latching gates.
Utilize pool and door alarms.
Know how to perform CPR on children and adults (keep in mind that drowning CPR requires rescue breaths).
Don’t let your child rely on puddle jumpers or flotation devices when in the pool. These create a false sense of security. However, ALWAYS wear life jackets when on natural water (lakes, rivers, oceans). Natural water is dark, deep, and has currents. It is not the same as a pool.
Children can drown in 2 inches of water and in 30 seconds. Be aware of buckets, toilets, irrigation ditches, ponds, baby pools, and bathtubs.
Last but not least, NEVER leave a child unattended in or near water. Designate a Water Guardian anytime there is access to water, even if the children are not swimming. Take the pledge to become a Water Watcher below!
Drowning is the #1 cause of death in children ages 1-4.
Drowning is the #2 cause of death for ages 5-14.
69% of drowning happens when children aren’t even expected to be swimming, yet they slip away.
A toddler can drown in 30 seconds.
For each drowning death, FIVE TIMES as many children are hospitalized, many with permanent brain injuries.
Drowning peaks again for teenagers, usually in natural water and happens to ‘strong swimmers.’
Pool Safely -https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/
COLA Swimming https://www.colaswim.org/watersafety.html
Crawfish Aquatics http://www.crawfishaquatics.com/contact/crawfish-aquatics-in-lafayette/
Destiny Camp International Swim Lessons & CPR https://destinycampinternational.com/programs/