How is it already the holiday season? Wasn’t I JUST at the beach on vacation? And now there’s snow on the ground and “Elf” on tv. Bring on the eggnog!
Obviously this time of year, many of us are thinking about gifts and what we’re getting everyone on our lists, who wants what, etc etc. It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”. And for many it is. But for others it’s not. It’s time spent away from members of your family because one of you is in the hospital. It’s parents being pulled in different directions because one has to spend the day next to their sick child’s bed in the ICU. It’s thinking about your child who is no longer with you.
Is it weird that this year I’m actually more in the holiday spirit then I thought I would be? Stats show that if you decorate your house for the holidays, you will feel more positive all around (or at least that’s what I think I heard). So, this year I decorated early and maybe it has helped. I see Quinlan’s stocking hung every day. I see his baby’s first Christmas ornament hung on the tree. It reminds me that he is here, just in a different way then last year (and hopefully in a more peaceful place with lots of candy canes, presents, and laughter – especially while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation).
I always think about the families in the hospital, especially around this time of the year. With all of Quinlan’s trips to and from the hospital, we never had to spend a single Thanksgiving or Christmas away from home. And for that we have always been so thankful. Last year we were in the hospital a week or so before Christmas and Quinlan received a special visit from Santa, who brought him a new toy. He was also lucky enough to receive a homemade blanket from a group who began making blankets for the little ones at Children’s Hospital years ago. It’s so heartwarming to know that there are so many out there thinking about our little ones laying in hospital beds while others get to build gingerbread houses, decorate the tree, and just be kids.
There is a special group that I still think about often. The parents living in the ICU/NICU with their children. Whether for one day or one year, it is hard. There is little to no sleep involved. The “beds” in the ICU are not the most comfortable thing. And if both parents stay, one gets the reclining chair. While you’re “sleeping”, there are monitors beeping, nurses and doctors coming in and out throughout the night. And god forbid there is an emergency, all the lights come on, you’re heart is racing because you don’t know what has happened to your child, and you can only sit in the back of the room to stay out of the way. If you’re lucky, your child is ok and you’re able to “go back to sleep”. But really your heart is still racing, there’s no sleep in your near future, so you decide you need a walk. A walk through the hospital at 2am. Luckily Au Bon Pain is open 24 hours so maybe you’ll get some tea to try to calm down. You get some tea, sit next to the fish tank, and cry. But then it’s back to your home away from home, your “comfy” bed near your sick child. When you finally get up for the day, it’s either to go to work after having little to no sleep or to spend the day sitting with your child hoping to hear positive news during morning rounds. But first, back to Au Bon Pain for some breakfast to TRY to get some energy for all that the day will bring. Maybe it’s a x-ray, a MRI, an EEG. Possibly surgery. Either way you’re there with your child. And that night, you’ll do it all again, hopefully with no emergencies this time.
With all of this going on, parents still have to think about two things that are necessary, yet seem so far down on the list of priorities during a time like this. They are both essential for living in a hospital and, unfortunately, both cost money: eating and parking. And not just for you, but for any visitors wanting to support you and your family during a time when support is huge. For us, and others at Children’s, parking alone is $10/day. That is per car. If both parents are there and each have their car because one stays over, one has to work or one can only visit during the day, one only at night, that is $20/day. Bear and I spent approximately 200 days coming and going to Children’s Hospital (some nights staying over, some days driving in for a long visits, and some for outpatient appointments Quinlan had in Boston while he was home). That is a lot of money just on parking. We are so fortunate to have so many generous people in our lives that donated throughout this time to help with this cost. But it can still a burden for everyone.
This year my family and friends are putting together some money to purchase parking passes for the families in the ICU where Quinlan spent so much of his time. Paying for parking should be the last thing a parent needs to worry about, especially this time of year.
Please consider taking the time to think about these families this holiday season. And if you can, I encourage you to do something as small as purchasing a parking pass at your local hospital for a family who is currently spending the holidays with their child. Or a $5 gift card to the nearest coffee shop to the hospital. It will make a huge difference.
If you are local, and want to make a donation, I will be going into Boston next Friday 12/22 to purchase parking passes to hand directly to the social worker to distribute as needed to the families on 7South. I would be happy to take your donation and purchase one for you. Please feel free to message me or send me an email.
Something as simple as a parking pass or a coffee can put a smile on a parents face, even if just for a moment.