#WeAreLucky: Supporting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
I can remember at about 3am, a nurse, (I can’t remember his name. Was it Herbert? Let’s call him Herbert) came in and checked Oliver’s vitals. Half asleep and in a daze, I watched as then he picked up my baby boy, and gently sat him on his lap to feed him the bottle of breastmilk that he offered to give (so that I could sleep). But I couldn’t sleep. Should I get up? I can’t get up. It was night 2 of our 3 day stay at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and sleeping wasn’t in my cards. It wouldn’t be for a few days. But I could make it… After all, we were going home.
With my eyes half closed, I watched Herbert rock Ollie– shh-ing him gently back to sleep–How did he know how to hold him so delicately with all the tubes– the drain to his mass, the IV, the cuff for vitals… I was fascinated and still. I remember feeling still, almost transfixed by Herbert, the dark room, and blue glow from monitors Oliver was hooked up to. I wondered if Oliver felt comforted by this strange man and wondered how children who are there for days, weeks, months, feel when somebody other than their mommy or daddy holds them at 3am. I wondered how many other moms were at the hospital, half asleep- half comforted by the care they were getting for their sick child, and half sick over the separation they had with a child (or two, or three) they had at home, waiting for their sibling to come home…. What if they never do? What do families do with terminally ill kids, I wondered? Earlier in the day, a nurse told us how wonderful it was that we asked so many questions and “advocated” for our son– do other parents not do that?
Herbert rocked Oliver for about 30 minutes. I watched him the entire time, my eyes half open and my body so still, so aware of how safe Oliver was in that moment, AND how safe the other half of my heart was at home. Jonah. My sweet Jonah.
Since the day Oliver was born, Jonah has listened to countless conversations and discussions about “the mass.” Like us, he was well aware that there would be a day when Oliver would need to go to the hospital for surgery. Of course he worried about his brother, but he also worried about me and Peter being gone and him not being able to see Oliver. While we only live 7 miles from the hospital, CHLA understandably has a strict policy on children visiting; no child under the age of 12 may visit a patient’s room during flu season. Therefore, Jonah could not come see his precious baby Oliver… And with Oliver in back to back surgeries, leaving the hospital wasn’t an option for us.
But we have a village. We have a team. We have grandparents, siblings, an unbelievable nanny aka “The Jonah/Oliver Whisperer”, and a slew of friends ready to jump at a moment’s notice to make sure Jonah’s needs are met too. With this in mind, as I laid in the dark watching my angel boy hooked up to the beeping monitors as his big brother slept cozily in his robot sheets across town, it occurred to me that so many families, so many mothers do not have that village. They do not have that support. We are so lucky.
Soon after our stay at CHLA, I approached the Communications team at CHLA and asked if I could jumpstart an initiative based on the very thing that resonated with me the most: The need for help that so many families have OUTSIDE the hospital walls.
Though we have a long road ahead of us to heal my baby boy, as Mother’s Day fast approaches, it’s important for me to do what I can to make a difference for another CHLA family.
Each year, one in 25 Los Angeles families need the comprehensive care of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for their child. For some children, a quick trip to CHLA is all it takes for healing. But for other more critical or complex cases, the stays can be longer or necessitate repeat trips to the hospital.
For those instances, some moms may be forced to make difficult choices—if they don’t have ready access to child care, they may have to choose between the child that is sick and the children who are well.
But for $25, you can provide transportation—a taxi ride, a bus or train fare or a gas card that can mean the difference between having access to a friend or relative, someone they trust to watch their children while they rush to CHLA to watch over their little one. With just a $25 donation, you can get a mom exactly what she needs for mother’s day – a moment when she doesn’t have to worry when one of her children is very ill.
Take the $25 challenge and save the day for a CHLA mom today!
Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!