WATERLOO — When Elizabeth Foust’s son, Kaine, was born, he couldn’t keep food down, and had to spend five days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Covenant Medical Center’s Family Birth Center.
Foust got to take Kaine home after those five days, and Kaine is now a healthy 8-year-old. But she knows she’s one of the lucky ones: Not all babies come home.
So when Foust, who now lives in Kansas City, Kan., was put in touch with a St. Louis woman who makes gowns for infants who are stillborn or die shortly after birth, she donated her wedding dress and was sent back 18 so-called “angel gowns.”
“We’ve never experienced the loss of a child, but the fact that we had one in the NICU was scary enough,” Foust said. “I wanted to put my wedding dress to good use, and give back to the hospital that took care of him, to pay it forward.”
She donated nine of them to a Kansas City-area hospital, and brought nine to Covenant on Friday, when her family returned to the Cedar Valley for Thanksgiving.
“This was our first chance to get back up here,” said Foust, who brought Kaine with her. “I thought it was nicer to hand-deliver them.”
The angel gowns, complete with blue or pink ribbons, will be included among the other items in the Family Birth Center’s “Butterfly Room,” a comfortable room for families who have lost a baby, said Suzanne Bellinger, a clinical nurse specialist who thought up the room about a year ago.
“I’ve always felt strongly about having somewhere quiet to go to when we have fetal loss or fetal death,” Bellinger said.
The purple-clad room — the nationally recognized color for infant loss — and the butterfly theme, which signifies losing one baby out of multiples, allows families a place to grieve away from the sounds of other crying babies in the ward. It also allows parents to dress the infant, or take clothing, diapers and buntings home with them.
“I’m very passionate about doing whatever we can for these families, because they don’t get to take (a child) home,” Bellinger said.
Most of the hospital’s donated clothing has come from Diana’s Angel Project, a group of volunteers in Waverly who sew and donate the gowns in a variety of sizes and styles. Foust’s are the hospital’s first gowns made out of a wedding dress, Bellinger said, and Foust hopes that inspires more locals.
“I’m hoping people that are seamstresses will see this and come forward,” Foust said.
Bellinger said she was thankful for any donation.
“Anytime we can give something tangible to the parents that experience a loss is something special,” she said, hugging Foust. “I get a little choked up about it. This is a good thing. Thank you very much.”
WATERLOO — A photographer is hoping to photograph 50 women older than 50 years old.
April Melton is an Army veteran and Cedar Falls photographer with a lofty goal.
Melton wants to photograph the 50 women over 50 in less than a year for a gallery display of all of their images for her studio, WCF Photography.
“We get photographed when we’re in high school. We get photographed on our wedding day. We have kids and we start taking their pictures and we start picking at ourselves,” Melson said. “I really want to boost self esteem.”
She wants people to see their portraits and know what they can accomplish, Melton said.
“Fifty over 50 is about celebrating the beauty, strength and lessons that we’ve learned in life after 50,” Melton said. “I want women to be seen in pictures after they’re in their 20s.”
She’s approaching 50 herself and has two daughters.
“I think what is it that I can start to create now that will help them as they continue down their journey in life,” she said.
She hasn’t started the project yet.
“The thing about being a small business owner is I don’t have to report to a committee,” Melton said. “If there’s something I want to do I can just build a web page and do it.”
Melton said she’s been building web pages since she was in her 20s.
She moved in to the Vorland Photography studio.
She’s added and kept a lot of what was in the studio on Rainbow Drive in Cedar Falls.
Her photos and photos of her children can be found all around the building, along with her props that are used for photos of children.
“I started out photographing objects for sale on Ebay,” Melton said. “The first digital camera I had was actually a toy camera.”
She learned how to photograph a diamond ring and cars.
“That was the basics of my photography education,” Melton said.
She signed up to join the Army reserves before she even graduated high school in 1987.
After she graduated she left for boot training in Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
She worked in a variety of military occupations, including time as a communication center operator and personnel administrator.
Melton retired from the Army about nine years ago and has been a professional photographer ever since.
This isn’t her first time in Cedar Falls. She was raised and lived in the area until she was 37, when she left to go Fort Bliss in El Paso on orders.
She was in Texas for three years on active duty before retiring. Melton stayed in Texas and took photos of soldiers and their families for about nine years.
“I realized I could photograph soldiers and they were coming from around the world,” Melton said. She took free photos for soldiers and other service members deploying.
Her mother’s passing in 2017 brought her back to the area.
To make a living, she’s started renting the vacated studio.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy concept,” Melton said.
Her studio gives the feeling of professionalism.
“I believe that there’s a standard and that standard includes equipment that allows you to be in any situation,” Melton said.
A 50 over 50 portrait is $220 with hair, make-up and a print. Appointments can be made at wcfphotography.com or (915) 820-8716.
TIJUANA, Mexico — Hundreds of migrants approaching the U.S. border from Mexico were enveloped with tear gas Sunday after several tried to make it past fencing and wire separating the two countries.
Earlier in the morning, a group of Central Americans staged a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed up the asylum claims process, but their demonstration devolved as they neared the crossing with the U.S. and some saw an opportunity to breach the border.
According to an Associated Press reporter on the scene, U.S. agents shot several rounds of gas after migrants attempted to penetrate several points along the border. Migrants sought to squeeze through gaps in wire, climb over fences and peel back metal sheeting to enter.
Children screamed and coughed in the mayhem of the tear gas. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away, not attempting to enter the U.S.
Yards away on the U.S. side, shoppers streamed in and out of an outlet mall.
Honduran Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw other migrants open a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.
“We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters flew overhead, while U.S. agents held a vigil on foot beyond the wire fence in California. The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings have been suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at both the East and West facilities. All northbound and southbound traffic was halted.
Earlier Sunday, the group of several hundred migrants pushed past a blockade of Mexican police who were standing guard near the international border crossing. They appeared to easily pass through without using violence, and some of the migrants called on each other to remain peaceful.
They carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags while chanting: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”
Migrants were asked by police to turn back toward Mexico.
Around 5,000 migrants have camped in and around a sports complex in Tijuana after making their way through Mexico in recent weeks via caravan. Many hope to apply for asylum in the U.S., but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.
Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied the migrants for weeks as part of the aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the aim of Sunday’s march toward the U.S. border was to make the migrants’ plight more visible to the governments of Mexico and the U.S.
“We can’t have all these people here,” Mujica told The Associated Press.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday it would immediately deport Central American migrants who tried to “violently” breach the border with the U.S. just south of California and that it would reinforce the border.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday that U.S. authorities will continue to have a “robust” presence along the Southwest border and that they will prosecute anyone who damages federal property or violates U.S. sovereignty.
U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday to express his displeasure with the caravans in Mexico.
“Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer),” he wrote.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday the country has sent 11,000 Central Americans back to their countries of origin since Oct. 19. It said that 1,906 of them were members of the recent caravans.
Mexico is on track to send a total of around 100,000 Central Americans back home by the end of this year.