Children's Hospital, I see a lot of these parents, but there was one who struck me as particularly poignant this past Tuesday. We were at the hospital for a biopsy for Bean (result was a 1A...good news) and my husband and I were waiting to be paged, sitting in the cafeteria. I observed a woman with her little boy and my heart was both saddened and totally filled by her behavior. Her little boy was hooked up to an IV and he had access lines sticking out the sleeve of his outfit - multiple access lines. His hair was thin and although he was small, he was probably between 2 and 3 years old. I believe he may have had cancer and receiving treatment. His mom was talking him into trying different foods - eggs, toast, banana, she was trying it all. He ate a little, but not a lot. His mom was very supportive and understanding and as she loaded him back in his special stroller with the IV hanging out behind it, I saw that she was pregnant.
The strength it takes to deal with health issues for ANY family member is large. But, dealing with a sick child is especially draining. But, parents who find themselves with a sick child reach deep down inside, to a place we never knew even existed, to find the strength we need to be strong for our children. I just read a post on one of the listservs I am on from a dad explaining how he often cried alone because he knew he had to be strong for his wife and child. These parents are really no different then any other parents out there, but they are placed in extraordinary circumstances, with no preparation or training or practice-run. And time after time, they find themselves being parents, advocates, nurses, companions, mentors, and they somehow do it all well. It isn't easy or "normal" or what anyone planned for their lives, but it becomes "what we do". I know that I found solace and guidance and somehow, even love, from perfect strangers who were just unlucky enough to find themselves in a similar situation to mine.
So, I am thankful for these parents. I am thankful for the ones who helped me with information, with support and with guidance online and at the hospital. I am thankful for the ones who are able to smile and laugh with their children despite grim circumstances. I am thankful for the ones who are able to treat nurses and doctors with kindness and gratitude for all they do for their children. I am thankful for the ones who are able to give their children the best lives possible, despite their children's health problems and corresponding issues. And I am thankful for the ones who, like the woman in the hospital, can show their children patience and love and support, despite what is surely their own exhaustion, despair and desire to run away to brighter pastures. I realize that I am one of these parents, and I am thankful I was able to find the strength to do this and to hopefully do it well. But, I realize that there were so many people out there helping us - family, friends, health care providers - and others are dealing with this or worse without that same support system. I am thankful they can find the strength for the sake of their children and their families. '
So, if you know someone who has a sick child or you know somewhere in your area that helps people with sick children - a children's hospital, a Ronald McDonald House, a Pediatric ICU, a non-profit organization...please try to find a way to give something. Money, time, food, support, supplies...there is always a need. And even if they can't thank you personally, your gift will definitely be appreciated. The Ronald McDonald House we lived in has a wish list - so, if you're in the Bay Area and would like to give something, you can drop off new infant pacifiers, teething rings and toys for 0-18 month olds, as well as hand-held electronic games, i-tune gift cards, or other teen items. If time is more what you want to give, they are looking for people to help with their 2010 Summer Camp. The themes are art, cooking, outdoor fun, and science. If you are not in the Bay Area, a google search in your area will help you locate similar opportunities!
Thanks to all those out there who made this situation just a little easier for us. Even though we may not have had a chance to say thank you in person, we really did and do appreciate the support and love!