Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Reflections of a Kindergarten Mom

Last week, my tiny 6lb, 6oz perfect baby boy turned 5 and started Kindergarten, except he’s no longer a baby, toddler or Preschooler. I cannot classify him as anything smaller than a little boy. I have no more excuses for his wacky attitudes or spilled milk, his filthy hair or crying tantrums, because he’s not a baby anymore. In many ways, I’m thankful that his baby years are over. Those were some of the hardest years of my life, and hopefully with those years behind us, we can look forward to a long, bright future for Cam.
There were so many unknowns when Cameron was a baby, toddler and Preschooler. So many times we were left with more questions than answers.  Cameron was a colicky infant, diagnosed at 3 months old, when most babies are getting over their colicky behavior. I still remember his doctor saying that he was “the picture of perfect health”, just a crying baby…but why? At 6 months old he began having “episodes” of what his doctor suspected were constipation issues in a baby who was fairly “regular”. It wasn’t until the episodes worsened and became more frequent that our journey truly began at CHaD. Now, as a Kindergartener, Cam’s journey with CHaD continues.

I recently received an email from CHaD that was sent to all CHaD HERO registrants giving examples of what the fundraising dollars are used for. As I read the email, I was shocked at how many of these examples were moments that we experienced at the many inpatient stays Cameron has had at CHaD. As a CHaD parent, so much is focused on your child’s care that it’s not until later, when you are able to look back, that you realize how much you’ve been given. But it’s exactly because of these services that parents at CHaD ARE able to focus on their child’s needs and not have to think about packing movies for the overnight testing, or bringing snacks because s/he might get hungry after missing a meal, carting toys to the hospital so there are things to do, etc. The dollars raised through CHaD HERO fundraising fill the family kitchen with snacks and drinks, movies for the kids to use in their rooms and a full playroom of toys that can be brought into their rooms or shared with other kids who are also receiving care.
So, what sort of things can a donation to CHaD provide?

$5 - $25 means toys for waiting rooms, playrooms and teen rooms, a book for CHaD kids at their well-child visit and so much more. Being a patient at CHaD is "a children's hospital experience, and not just a medical experience" for more than 60,000 CHaD kids and their families every day. Most often, kids who arrive at CHaD for their first time find their way back, and while it’s not a place anyone wants to be, The Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth is the first place I turn to when Cameron is in trouble.

$50 means 2 CHaD kids who happen to be at CHaD on their birthday, get a birthday party. When Cameron had his brain surgery, he spent Halloween in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at CHaD. The wonderful staff at CHaD brought Cam a load of costumes to choose from and he was given the opportunity to go trick-or-treating around the hospital. When he declined the offer (he was still pretty groggy and sore), one of the nurses went for him and brought him a big goodie bag of Halloween treats from each of the departments. He wasn’t there on his birthday, but it is just another example of the way the CHaD staff go above and beyond to make the children feel welcomed and loved.

$75 helps CHaD's Child Life Specialists prepare 5 CHaD kids for surgery. This was something that was very special when Cameron had his surgery. As so many people are popping in and out of the waiting room (which is full of awesome toys and games) introducing themselves and explaining procedures, we were given a single person to help us remember who the people were, organize our thoughts, answer any questions, get a cup of coffee, anything we needed. The Child Life Specialists are talented people and held our hands through the entire surgery prep, including going into the OR and walking me back to the waiting room, where I met back up with Shawn.

$250 provides 50 CHaD kids, who are managing a chronic illness, a 'care notebook' to keep track of their medical information. Every time we have stepped into the inpatient unit at CHaD, we were given a bag with lots of helpful information, contacts, a notebook and pen. While these things seem little and somewhat unimportant, many questions were written down with that pen and notebook that would have otherwise been forgotten.

$500 or $1,000 helps protect kids through the Child Advocacy and Protection Program by providing clinics with the tools needed to screen patients for exposure to domestic violence, a potential indicator of child abuse.

There are so many ways that your donation can make an impact for CHaD kids and their families. The list goes on, and I’m sure if I sat back I could come up with 20 more ways that our lives were made easier because of the services provided to us through the dollars raised for this incredible organization. My goal this year is to raise $1,000 for CHaD. Last year I exceeded my goal of $500 by $140, so I’m doubling it this time around. Every day families arrive at CHaD, relying on the world-class care and expertise of the physicians, therapists, nurses and the entire staff to guide them and care for their children. No parent wants to be put in the position of relying on doctors to help them make life-changing decisions about their children’s health, but when they do, the support provided through CHaD, funded by donors, makes all the difference.
Please consider a donation to support the children and families of CHaD and help us raise one million dollars! Every dollar counts! 
With love,

Cassie, Shawn and Cameron 

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