It’s the perfect baby girl’s room: A ballet theme with soft pink touches all over, a miniature tulle tutu hangs from the wall. A burlap banner hanging over her crib spells out her name: Finley. Dozens of boxes of unopened diapers spill over the top shelf of a closet filled with frilly dresses, tags swaying off sleeves as the door is opened.
Noelle Moore holds up a tiny pink-and-white-striped hat and races off to find the coordinating sweater with little bows on its pockets. Finley was going to wear those on the day she came home. That day would never come.
“You never got to used it, like her diapers, they were waiting for her ready to be used, a whole closet full of clothes, and boxes and boxes of diapers,” Moore said. “She never got to wear any of them.”
Finley Elizabeth Oblander was born with brain damage on July 25, 2013. She had brown hair and a sweet, upturned nose, and long fingers like her mom. It was sometimes scary to hold her because of the tubes and wires attached, but Moore reveled in the moments spent with her daughter’s soft skin touching hers.
“I loved holding her, oh my gosh it was quite a production, but I loved to hold her,” Moore said. “She was so warm.”
Twenty-three days later, she was gone.
Moore couldn’t eat or sleep. After her daughter died, the sight of a baby was so hard she’d leave a cart full of groceries in the middle of a store.
The Maitland resident knew that other moms out there were going through the same difficulties, and she knew from her own experience there wasn’t a resource available to help. To answer that need she created The Finley Project, which is awaiting its nonprofit designation. The organization helps moms with funeral planning, meals, house cleaning, healing massages, a support group and counseling.
“She’s not really capable of doing those things; it’s too much,” Moore said of mothers who return home to an empty crib. “She’s really worried about staying alive.”
Katie Brown, secretary for the organization and a neonatal intensive care unit respiratory therapist for Florida Hospital South who took care of Finley, said that there isn’t anything like this out there. Moore, she said, is the best person to start it.
“Noelle has been in their shoes, and she’s had and felt all those same emotions of reluctance and fear and anxiety to kind of delve into that grief,” Brown said. “She wants to help facilitate them through those different areas so that they can start to heal and be restored and be made whole again.”
For more information about The Finley Project and to apply to receive help, visit thefinleyproject.org. Contact Noelle at if you’re a business owner that’s interested in offering donations. The organization is most in need of restaurant and grocery gift cards for moms.
They kicked off the start of TFP with an event to celebrate what would have been Finley’s first birthday this year. Immediately moms started contacting Moore, including Lyndie Giles, who lost her son Greyson in July.
“Losing an infant is not only tragic, it’s just so traumatic, and to have those services … could be extremely beneficial to moms,” she said.
They’ve talked every day since. Moore is a shoulder to cry on, a person who can listen to Giles’ sobs, her anger and frustration.
“Any loss or any death is sad and heart wrenching, but when you have all these dreams and hopes put into a child, the nursery, the bottles … you come home and just it’s even more tragic … you’re expecting your baby to come home any day and that’s not how it’s supposed to work,” Giles said. “No parent is supposed to bury their child.”
Moore said she wants to be a first contact for moms. Working on the TFP is one way Moore has healed herself.
“It keeps me connected to her but in a really healthy way because I’m helping people through her,” Moore said.
And while the pain is still there and the tears still happen, Moore is healing. She smiles through the hurt, but there’s hope behind her eyes. They say that when a mother who’s lost a child sees a rainbow, that’s a sign, a “rainbow baby” that shows she’ll be a mother again. Moore has seen double rainbows twice, once the day Finley died, and once on her first birthday.
“I’m going to have twins,” she said with a smile. “Oh my gosh, how cool would that be?”