Lauren Raeann McConnell was born March 9 -- nearly four months early. She will remain at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital.  Her parents, Becky McConnell and Jethro Stier, are pictured with Fr. Brian Lynch from Our Lady of the Prairie the day Lauren was baptized.
Lauren Raeann McConnell was born March 9 -- nearly four months early. She will remain at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. Her parents, Becky McConnell and Jethro Stier, are pictured with Fr. Brian Lynch from Our Lady of the Prairie the day Lauren was baptized.
She couldn’t hold back the tears when a co-worker handed her donated gas and cash cards during a time of need. Becky McConnell knew the gifts were a sign people cared about her, her boyfriend and their daughter.
McConnell and Jethro Stier spend nearly all their time at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Their daughter, Lauren Raeann, is in the hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit. She was born March 9, about four months early.
Lauren entered the world weighing barely over 1½ pounds. She was only 12¾ inches long. Today, thanks to the care of the hospital staff, Lauren Raeann is slowly growing stronger. She has gained some weight and length and actively kicks her legs and moves her arms around – activity that encourages the hospital staff and her parents.
“She’s our little miracle baby,” McConnell said.
Knowing that people care allows McConnell and Stier, Lauren’s father, to focus on their daughter’s condition. She’ll stay at Children’s Hospital for several more weeks. When she has gained enough weight and passes a series of tests, Lauren will be moved back to Ridgeview Medical Center where she was born early that Monday morning.
Doctors told the couple Lauren will stay at Ridgeview until the day they originally expected she would be born, June 24. The child might be discharged earlier if her condition continues to improve.
Since Lauren was born, McConnell, Stier and their families have received a tidal wave of support from across the community. Donations have come in from McConnell’s co-workers and residents’ families at The Lutheran Home where she is a licensed public nurse (LPN) and staffing coordinator. Stier’s co-workers at B and C Transportation have also made generous donations.
 They appreciate the generosity of support from their hometown. They have also received cards and donations from people they don’t know well.
“It means so much,” McConnell said. “Words can’t express how much the support we’ve received means. It’s incredible.”
More support is on the way.
Elisa Theis, a stylist and manager at It’s Just Me! Salon in downtown Belle Plaine, is donating 10 percent her sales during April. She can be reached at 873-4366.
Tina Turek, a Belle Plaine native who now lives in Montgomery, is hosting an online Scentsy party and donating a portion of her commission for April sales of the company’s wickless candles, scented fragrance wax for electric warmers and layered body perfume products. Her online sale is available at http://tmturek.scentsy.us or www.mythirtyone/com/628271
Theis, whose parents dealt with huge medical bills when she was ill as a child, understands the financial and emotional issues McConnell and Stier face.
“If I can help a little, why not,” she said. “If it was my child, I would appreciate the help.”