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Local mom honors daughter by helping parents of preemies

Stephanie Jarvis is on a mission to help moms whose babies must spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

BOISE - The legacy of a tiny preemie is changing lives at local neonatal intensive care units. Bodhi Jarvis was born three months premature, and she died three weeks later at the Saint Alphonsus NICU.

Bodhi's mom, Stephanie Jarvis, is honoring her daughter by helping out other parents whose babies must spend time in the NICU.

It's been over two years, but for Jarvis, it still feels like yesterday - a terrible loss.

"Bodhi was born, I went into labor at 24 weeks and five days," Jarvis explained. "They told us she was barely viable, which is kinda a harsh term to hear when you are the momma."

Bodhi clung to life for several weeks, but eventually succumbed after suffering a traumatic brain bleed. Devastated and grieving, Jarvis knew she had to do something to honor her baby girl.

"You can sit at home and you can mark the months and check the calendar, or you can try to do something good," she said.

In an effort to help other moms, and provide comfort to them, Jarvis came up with the #BodhiStrong tote campaign.

"I hated leaving the NICU and leaving my daughter," she explained. "I would go home and pump and bring breast milk back to the NICU for her and to transport that I would carry my little thermal tote. And I wanted to leave those for other mommas.

"My sisters and I started telling our friends and family that we were doing a fundraiser and collecting totes," Jarvis added. "We have about 300-ish totes that we have donated."

Then she filled the bags with things NICU moms may need.

"When you come in the NICU it's not something you usually anticipate doing and so it's nice to have a little comfort," Jarvis said. "So we fill them with a fleece blanket, chapstick, hand sanitzier, good Kleenex."

RELATED: Boise hospital's 'journey beads' celebrate babies' NICU milestones

Carly Flolo is a new mom to tiny twin boys. She says her #BodhiStrong tote came at just the right time.

"I bring my bag every time with my breast milk," Flolo said. "I've used my blanket many times staying here until one in the morning, just to stay warm and comforted.

"They are just an amazing gift that she has given to the families here," Flolo added. "It's hard to be in the NICU and I've seen a lot since I've been here. So it's hard to hear when a baby has passed. It has inspired me to find a way to give back someday."

Jillian Vaughan just recently gave birth to her son eight weeks early.

"I think it was the most terrifying experience of my life," she said. "Everett is doing so good. They took out his ventilator yesterday so he is breathing on his own."

Jarvis was able to personally give her a #BodhiStrong bag, and share her story.

"I think it's very healing, it's hard sometimes but it's healing," Jarvis said. "I feel like you have to do something."

"Her baby in 21 days made such a huge impact not only on her life but on NICU moms' lives and it's amazing the impact these little babies make on us," Vaughan said.

Jarvis is making sure her daughter's memory lives on, by making a difference in her name.

"When you're in the NICU, you are just trying to be hopeful and get your baby to grow big," Jarvis said. "We just want them to know that we have been where they are, and we have hope for their babies."

If you'd like to donate to #BodhiStrong, and the amazing effort to support and comfort local NICU moms, check out the Facebook page here.

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