Our Mountain Climber

I had never heard the name McKinlee before my stepdaughter told me that was what they would name their daughter. Because I am me, I had to challenge her choice, ever so slightly. Mostly, because my stepdaughter is one of my favorite people to tease.

Me: like Mt. McKinley?

Stepdaughter: I guess. Except spelled different.

As it turns out, our granddaughter is aptly named.

McKinlee, our little mountain climber, has endured more in her 4 short months of life than most of us ever will. She has endured health issues that would bring a body builder to their knees. McKinlee has had 5 open heart surgeries, 4 heart caths, a diaphragm plication, a Nissen procedure, a trach and g-tube and numerous smaller surgeries, such as chest closures.

My stepdaughter and her family have been battered and bruised by this gut wrenching, terrifying situation.

Randy spent a month with his daughter and her family (two different trips) and I know he was helpful, but they are going to need more help than donated time.

You guys, this is financially devastating. I know that I can’t fix that for them, but if we can raise enough money just to get them through another month without worrying how to pay their utilities and mortgage, then so be it.

Anyway, if you feel comfortable with this, would you mind sharing this Gofundme campaign on your social media pages? Randy and I would appreciate that so very much.

Also, give this article a read. It’s heartbreaking and eye opening. I had no idea how many babies are affected by congenital heart defects or how grossly underfunded research for congenital heart defects is.

Here is the link, again, for my stepdaughter’s Gofundme.

Throughout this, my stepdaughter has found time to laugh, to spend time with her older daughter, and to be her ornery self. I have no idea how she makes it through her days. I have no idea the depth ofย  her well of strength. I only know that I see her through new eyes and I am in awe and humbled by her. Just don’t tell her I said so because I will never hear the end of it.ย 


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  • *hugs*
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Pretty heavy load for your family ๐Ÿ™
    I don’t know if my daughter had any heart issues, but her lungs never opened up, so I know what your stepdaughter is going through.
    I can only imagine what my Mom went through. She spent a month in Phoenix with us while we ‘lived’ in the NICU.
    You and Randy are making their small world better <3
    I'm amazed at the Gofundme thing. I hope it kicks in big and your stepdaughter can be less worried about the outside world and be able to spend all the time she needs with Baby McKinlee.

  • Shared. I looks like you’re well on your way toward your goal – hope you surpass it by far. Wish I could do more. Prayers and good wishes for that beautiful little girl.

  • As the mother of a chronically ill & terminally ill son – I get it. It’s fucking HORRIBLE for a child to have to be so sick and as a mom – watch it happen and feel helpless to do ANYTHING for your precious baby. My son has been ill for 10 years , and has been in and out of hospitals monthly on a regular basis – 315 surgeries yada yada yada.

    I will share this gofundme site for your family becuase I get it. Bless your step daughter, little McKinlee and all of those who know and love her. I am not a praying person – but I do believe in a higher power – trust it. Our animal spirit has been the Ladybug ever since my son got ill – we always say LOVE and LADYBUGS! So, LOVE and LADYBUGS!

    • LOVE and LADYBUGS! I LOVE that.

      Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your support. I am sending you and your son all my good thoughts and hope for nothing but peace and light for your family. XOXOXOXO

  • This makes me think of one of my favorite songs, Mountain At My Gates by Foals. It’s about overcoming and fighting through hard times. She’s obviously a little fighter and so is her family. Big, huge hugs to you mama.

  • I grew up about ten miles south of a place called McKinleyville. It’s a beautiful place, just south of Trinidad, and Patrick’s Point, two of the most gorgeous places on the entire coast of California.
    A bunch of lesbians who stole my girlfriend Pam used to live there, but I never held that against the place. Or the lesbians, really, Pam was awesome.
    Anyway, I certainly hope little McKinlee ends up doing much better than her namesake.
    I’m not on Facebook, but I will mention your Gofundme, which seems to be doing quite well, by the way, as I do my internet rounds today, and will continue to wish your entire tribe all of the best.

  • I had no idea. I’m whining about having a cold today, and little McKinlee has toughed it out through all of these operations as a newborn.

    I’ll do what I can.

  • Go Fund Me campaigns are awesome. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to help. All good wishes to your family and little McKinlee, the Amazing One.

    • Thank you so much, gorgeous. It’s been really hard and scary. Keep sending the good thoughts. I’m starting to think they help. At the very least, they don’t hurt.

  • I promise not to tell your stepdaughter you’re humbled and awed by her because I’m humbled and awed too, not just by her but by your strength and resolve, and McKinlee’s.
    Okay, I know very little beyond what you’ve shared, but I have this strange feeling that someday, maybe in just a few years, all of you will look back on this and there’s nothing funny about it now, and won’t be anything funny about it then, but you will laugh with relief.
    And hopefully McKinlee will say something sarcastic and funny and sweary–proving that her grandmother has taught her well.

By Michelle


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