After losing her twin boys prematurely, Jenna Dail finds hope in her family’s story — and purpose for the boys’ lives — through her nonprofit The Color Blue and Hope.
There are times when Jenna Dail sees a random blue balloon — trapped in a tree, stuck in a gutter, floating along in the sky — and immediately feels a sense of hope.
It’s always a blue balloon, and she believes it’s never a coincidence. It’s a sign her boys are always there, even though they aren’t physically.
Dail, a Winter Springs resident, and her husband are parents of four children — “two here to hold and two we long to see again in heaven,” she said. They lost their twin boys — Grady Dean and Ryder Dylan — three years ago. She went into labor at Florida Hospital in September 2014 at 22 weeks pregnant. Grady lived for three hours after birth; Ryder was born sleeping.
Through her pain and grieving, she felt as though God wanted to use her story to help other women in similar situations, and that’s where the story of her Orlando-based nonprofit, The Color Blue and Hope, began.
THE COLOR BLUE
Three-and-one-half years ago, Dail was placed on bed rest for about a month at a hospital in Miami, four hours away from her family and friends in Orlando. She was diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a rare, serious condition that can occur in pregnancies when identical twins share a placenta and blood flows unevenly between the babies.
She underwent a laser surgery to correct the TTTS, but her water broke, and she was given an amniopatch.
“I couldn’t even sit up while eating; I wasn’t allowed to roll to my side,” she said. “Through that journey, I realized there was nothing there — I didn’t have family to go to the store to buy stuff I needed, because everyone was here in Orlando. I needed lotion — my skin was peeling, because I hadn’t showered for so long. Finally after a few days of begging (for lotion), a nurse brought her own lotion from home. That’s where the Boxes of Hope came to mind: I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there needs to be a service or box to give to these moms when they’re here long-term.”
After Dail went into premature labor in September 2014 and ultimately lost both sons, her way of dealing with the grief was through writing and journaling. She wanted to write to be able to remember and look back on their journey, so she started a blog called “The Color Blue,” named for the boys.
“The color blue is the boys,” she said. “The boys were born premature in September, which is (a) sapphire (birthstone). I had friends who came to visit, and they gave me bracelets with the boys’ birthstones on it. Ever since then, the color blue is the boys. If I see blue anywhere, it’s them. The ‘hope’ part (of the nonprofit’s name) is the hope that I found in our story.”
SPREADING LOVE AND HOPE
From Dail’s own experience, she realized there was a need in both hospitals and the community. That was the need for supplying women in similar situations with things necessary for long-term hospital stays.
Boxes of Hope are provided to women who are on bed rest, and Boxes of Love can be curated and sent to women who have lost a baby. The mission is always to spread hope in seasons that feel hopeless, she said.
Boxes of Hope contain items such as facial wipes, deodorant, books, stationery, combs, colored pencils, nail polish, lotion and hand sanitizer — anything moms might need or want while staying in the hospital.
The organization became a nonprofit in early 2017 and partners primarily with Florida Hospital, where Grady and Ryder were born. The hospital serves a few dozen mothers on bed rest or those with high-risk pregnancies each month.
“The moms are looking at the box as a gift from the nurse, and it’s helped create this strong bond and relationship between the mom and nurse,” Dail said. “We’ve heard from moms who say it’s been a reminder to them that there’s still hope in their story and not to give up and they’re not alone.”
To date, The Color Blue and Hope has packed and distributed about 400 Boxes of Hope.
Boxes of Love serve as a reminder that the mother has loved ones supporting her. Friends and family can choose items to fill a Box of Love, and it will be sent to the mother along with a personalized note and support resources.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster,” Dail said. “First and foremost, it keeps me going. I feel like if I didn’t have this mission at hand, I’d feel hopeless in our story. It gives our boys purpose and that gives me drive instead of being stuck in a dark place. … It’s been good to see and hear their names being spoken so often now, so it keeps their story going and gives them purpose, which in return helps me heal.”