Our Story – Finn & Co. Gifts

Our Story

Finn and Co was founded by Michelle Armstrong and was created after her second son, Finn, was born 8 weeks premature. Here is her story:

"Will and I have been married for almost ten years.  We have a son, James, who is almost four years old, and our second son, Finn, was born June 28th, 2017—8 weeks premature.   Everything was a challenge during my pregnancy with Finn, from the nausea, to a miscarriage scare, kidney stones and leg cramps, placenta previa AND being told at TWO ultrasounds that the baby was a girl only to have my husband come in as I was waking up from general anesthesia to tell me it was a boy. I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome which lead to an emergency c-section that I was not prepared for.

We spent 57 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.  Some days were harder than others, but every day it was hard to leave my home and one child to go to the hospital to be with the other, then to turn around and have to leave that child again.

I did the best I could for Finn, but I couldn’t be with him every minute. 

I always tried to make sure no blood was drawn or any more involved procedures done without me there, but often I would rush in for a 7am procedure only to find the nurse got it done at 6:30am.

Other times I would spend hours holding him and comforting him to sleep, then gently lay him down and rush to the bathroom to come back to him crying again. 

I would leave my breast pad in the incubator, trying to leave my comforting smell behind, but would often come in later to find it gone. Maybe it had dropped on the floor during a care or was just gathered up with a dirty diaper. 

We had 57 days of NICU life, and once he was breastfeeding the days got longer.  One overnight stay I was so tired and my voice so hoarse I just recorded myself singing a lullaby on my phone and would hit play when he started to fuss.

We finally went home on August 28th, but 4 months later we were admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sacred Heart in Spokane, WA when Finn got RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and was hospitalized for 10 days. This was a new kind of hard and between my husband and me, we hardly ever left Finn’s side.  We were hospital zombies.

Through these hospital stays I learned that even though I wasn’t a doctor, I had incredible healing and comforting powers for my son. My voice, my smell, my touch… they all did something for him. This made it even harder to leave him and even the smallest reprieve could help me get through another day."

Michelle created Finn the Panda after her NICU journey. Finn is a bear to give parents of babies in the hospital a way to stay connected, even when they have to be apart, whether that is for a procedure, a night stay, or a quick lunch.  Finn is designed to bring your baby comfort and encourage your bond, even when you can’t always physically be there.

In the ending summer months of 2022, Michelle decided it was time for her to hand over the reigns of her passion project to a fellow NICU mom. Here is what Michelle said about this decision:

"I started this business four years ago in an effort to serve others, heal myself, and make a difference in the NICU community.

What this business and the community that I found through it gave to me can not be measured.

It has seen me through to the place that I am now in which I want to see Finn & Co. grow and serve so much more, but no longer with me at the helm.

One of the amazing community members I met is Jayme White, who will be taking over Finn & Co., improving upon the foundation I built, and expanding to reach even more communities of children. She is going to do big things and she is going to power this dream of mine to the next stage and make it her own. I can not thank her enough for giving me this gift of seeing Finn & Co. continue on and I will forever be her number one cheerleader.

To everyone who supported me at any stage, you have my endless gratitude. I truly am in awe of peoples love and support over these years. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. It has meant more than you know."

Finn and Co will live on through Jayme White and her family. Here is a little insight to Jayme and her journey and what ultimately brought her to Finn and Co.:

"When Michelle approached me about taking over Finn & Co, I just knew I had to. My third daughter, Kelsey, was born at 33 weeks with a diagnosis of hydrops fetalis and was given a slim chance of survival. Ultimately, she would defy the odds and spend 56 days in the NICU during the pandemic and come home as a NICU grad and hydrops survivor. What I wasn’t prepared for, but at the same time most grateful for, was the NICU community I found after her graduation. Shortly after discharge, I became an ambassador with Project NICU and was introduced to Finn & Co and the wonderful Finn the Panda through them. I immediately saw the value in Finn because of all the lonely nights I spent at home away from my baby. I knew this was a product and a company I would stand behind. Last fall, I purchased 40 bears and donated them to my local NICU’s.

Fast forward to this past summer, Kelsey found her way back into the hospital and this time was truly scary. She developed ARDs from a common cold virus and was on life support and intubated for 4 weeks. Project NICU sent Kelsey her own Finn the Panda and Michelle sent her a custom heart to support her during her PICU journey just 2 years after her NICU stay. Her older sister’s recorded their sweet voice and we would play it for Kelsey while she was intubated so she knew her sister’s loved and supported her.

After Kelsey came home from the PICU this summer, Michelle reached out and I just couldn’t say no. Finn the Panda has touched and supported so many lives both in the NICU and out and I am so honored to have this opportunity to continue her passion project. We know Finn & Co has a bright future and we are so excited to share what we have in store! Stay tuned for some amazing things as we continue Finn’s legacy!"

Finn was founded on the love and need to feel supported from one NICU mom and will continue to grow with the love and dedication to continue to support that dream that families with kids in the hospital will continue to feel connected, even when they are apart.