Since having children, my whole outlook on life has changed. I try to savor every day and remind myself often that this is my one and only life. I need to make the best of it, and make each day count! In the past month or so, I have really realized how lucky I am to have my boys in my life, and that they are healthy.
I have been reminded constantly that there are parents who have worried about whether or not their babies would be able to stay in their lives. I can't imagine what kind of pain and fear they must have felt, or just how strong and courageous they had to be to make it through the scary times. I have a couple of friends and family members who dealt with these situations firsthand, which has put this issue front and center for me.
A very close family friend had her son months early and he had not had the chance to fully develop. He spent months in the hospital and his brave mommy had to live in a trailer in the hospital parking lot just to be near him. Another friend whose daughter was born with many unforeseen health conditions, and was told at one point that her daughter may not make it. And another whose two year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, and had to have brain surgery and radiation. My niece who was born with only one kidney, and nephew who had to have surgery for digestive issues. These are just some of the struggles that the people near and dear to me have had to deal with.
I know that these situations are in no way comparable to the horrific ones I described above, but I have felt powerless to help both of my boys in recent weeks, and on a much smaller scale. First with Nolan's acid reflux. Once we figured out what it was, and got him on a medication that helped, the stress and worry was over. But before that, to have your newborn baby cry in pain all day, not know why, or how to help them, is a horrible thing to go through. I felt so powerless and vulnerable. We are so lucky that we were able to help him, some parents are not so lucky.
When Liam was less than three months old, we had to spend 3 days in the hospital for a respiratory infection. There were several times when he had a difficult time breathing and the doctors discussed putting in a breathing tube. Then yesterday morning, while eating breakfast, Liam started to choke. This has only happened once before, but this time I couldn't get the piece of food out of his throat. I tried to stay calm as the seconds where my son couldn't breath flew by. Inside I was panicking! It was taking too long, and I knew it. My efforts to scoop out what was blocking his airway were seeming pointless, and I was about to start the Heimlich maneuver.
Finally, the blockage broke up and went down his throat. By this time, he was foaming at the mouth a bit, and he was coughing uncontrollably. I didn't even notice until this point, that we were both sobbing. We were both scared and shaking. I picked him up, and we cuddled on the couch for almost an hour. Neither of us wanted to be apart. Unfortunately, chocking tends to be something all parents deal with once or twice, but the fear and panic I felt in those minutes, showed me just how much mommies and daddies of sick babies go through, but I still don't completely understand how they do it. I hope that I never have to find out.
But as the commercial says, "Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not." I have learned how important that quote is. I don't know how I would ever get through a devastating diagnosis for my boys, but I know that having the support of those around me would be helpful. That is why I want to take this opportunity to share some ways that you can help. All of the families that I discussed above are still in need of caring and support. Having a sick child, even if they fight their way through it, is a lifelong struggle for the children and the parents. Here are a couple of ways that you can support the children from these stories:
1. Donate to or walk in the March for Babies for the March of Dimes: Here is the personal page of one of the stories I told above.
2. Shop at or donate to a garage sale to benefit the Langton family (also one of the stories from above) on May 3rd and 4th. Donations will be taken until May 1st. Contact Stacie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have item(s) you would like to donate. The garage sale will take place at 11475 SW Springwood Drive in Tigard.
3. Spread the word! Even if you can't donate to either of these causes, tell others. The more people who see this information, the more help these families, and many others will receive. Once again, be thankful for your healthy babies by giving to those who are not so lucky.