From my in-laws, Wayne and Joyce Crouch.

Dear Friends,

We have some news to share with you that is a mixture of joy and sorrow.

Our daughter Melinda gave birth on Friday, October 8, at 10:00 am in Orford,
NH, to our fifth grandbaby, Angela Frances Ricker, but Angela has a very
serious chromosomal problem (Trisomy 13). The doctors expect her to live
only a few weeks or possibly a few months, but not years. Dr. Little says
that babies with this condition usually do not suffer which is a great
relief. He said most likely she will just weaken and "wither away."

We are all very sad, of course, but at the same time we take joy in her. She
has a sweet little face, her arms and legs are nicely rounded, her skin
newborn-soft, her tiny fingers almost weightless. At birth she weighed 6
lbs 2 oz. She was full-term, huge compared to some of the premature babies
near her in the Intensive Care Nursery! Once she was unhooked from all the
machines and monitors and could leave the hospital, we have had, in many
ways, a normal little baby to love.

Melinda loved her pregnancy and loved giving birth at home. Present were
Dave, Karina (4 1/2), Dylan (2 1/2), us, a friend, and two midwives. As
Angela was emerging into the world, Laurie (the head midwife), and soon all
of us, became aware that there was a problem with the top of her head. We,
including Karina and Dylan, got to meet and enjoy her, but in about 45
minutes mom, dad, Laurie, and Angela were off to the hospital.

What they soon learned was that Angela had many symptoms of Trisomy 13.
That was confirmed the next day when the bone marrow diagnostic test results
came back. Her heart is defective and weak. A portion of her skull is
missing which means she has a protective & miraculous “bandage” covering the
crown of her head and wears a soft protective bonnet all the time. She
sometimes breathes fast and with difficulty. But, she is now drinking
Melinda’s breast milk from a bottle, gets her diaper changed, sleeps, wakes,
and charms us all.

We came back to Amherst on Monday, 10/11, and by the next day Melinda & Dave
were able to bring Angela home from the hospital and resume a fairly normal
family life. We were very glad we had driven the 2 hours north to be there
for the birth, so we were on the spot to help, mostly taking over some of
the care of Karina and Dylan.

For now, some of the joys have included: All of us, including Karina and
Dylan, holding and caring for Angela. A baptism service at home on her
one-week birthday, with singing. Visits by and help from Dave’s parents
from Naperville, Illinois, two sisters, and a brother-in-law. Visit by
Andrew and his family including a re-singing of the hymns from the baptism
service. The help of many friends in New Hampshire and even one family from
the Boston area who went to Orford for a few days.

Melinda is regaining her strength. It took a little longer because of the
stress of the first few days, but she now seems to be getting back to a
normal non-pregnant state.

It is a strange mixture of joy and sadness. We are awed by Melinda & Dave,
who absorbed the blow and immediately made it their goal to give Angela as
good a life as possible, no matter how short, and to cherish her and
integrate her into their loving family.

Cards and letters may be sent to:

The Ricker Family
43 Huckins Hill Road
Orford, NH 03777

Wayne and Joyce