I remember the day that Mr. T. was released from the hospital like it was yesterday. Up until that time, it was the second happiest day of my life. THe first being the day Mr. T. was born.
By that time Mr. T. had been transferred down a level in care to another hospital a bit closer to home. He no longer needed critical care but wasn’t yet at the point where he could go home, surprisingly even that was emotionally difficult for us. We had been at Sick Kids for so long that we were in a routine. We knew the doctors, we anticipated rounds and were comfortable with the nurses. While being taken out of critical care was a good thing and was a move in the right direction, in meant change for us. We would have to put our trust in yet another set of doctors at a different hospital. We would have to get used to new nurses and different facilities. Change was scary. But we were one step closer to home so we were cautiously optimistic and convinced ourselves it would work out.
I am the one who has a harder time with change so I turned to Mr. C. to assure me that everything was going as planned. We were returning to the hospital where Mr. T was born and he reminded me how fantastic they were in his diagnosis, I let out a sigh of relief.
We had our own room at this hospital so we were able to stay overnight with Mr. T. A hospital bed was set up beside his little crib and Mr. C and I squished ourselves into the single bed just happy that we didn’t have to leave him. On our first morning we were woken up by the wonderful doctor that would eventually discharge us. He tore into our room bright and early, rising us out of our restless sleep, his voice booming “Morning folks” he said, “let’s get you out of here”
We called him Dr. Dan. This nickname was because he reminded us of Dan from the show “Roseanne”. He was a big yet gentle man with a loud rowdy voice who kept a smile on his face at all times. From the moment he walked in to our room his goal was to get Mr. T. well enough to go home and it was just the attitude we needed at that moment.
In total we spent just under a week at this hospital. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria with my parents. Warmed in the microwave, we ate a delicious turkey dinner in that sterile setting with Mr. T. sitting in his little infant carrier beside us. We started to feel a little like a family here. Little did we know that shortly after this unconventional yet truly beautiful Thanksgiving meal we would be heading home.
Mr. T. was weighed every day and the conditions of his release were that he was steadily gaining weight and keeping down the majority of his feeds. FInally, finally after 6 long weeks, Dr. Dan swept into our room bright and early on a sunny fall day and announced that today would be the day we would be going home. I was elated. I wanted to jump up and hug him. We called our parents and packed our bags. Ready to go home for the first time as a family of three.
A feeling of slight panick came over me as I realized for the first time I would be alone. I didn’t have doctors or nurses to turn to for reassurance. It was all on me and I felt terrified.
I can still feel the warm sun on my face as I stepped out of the hospital into the crisp fall air with my perfect little boy beside me. I watched the other new mum’s make their first slow walk out into the real world with their babies in tow and although I had been a mummy for 6 entire weeks I felt just as new to this as they did. I was in heaven as I settled into the back of our car keeping my hand on Mr. T’s car seat the entire drive. Mr. C. and I chatted and planned the entire drive home. It was then that together we decided that this was not the end of this.
We talked about how lucky we were. How many wonderful people had crossed our paths over the past month. Not only doctors and nurses but volunteers and even the baristas at the Starbucks were so kind to us! There were volunteers that read to Mr. T. when we weren’t there. That rocked him for us if he was alone. That knit him hats and booties and made him quilts. We realized that the world was full of good people and we could never forget them. We vowed to ourselves and Mr. T. that we weren’t just going to walk away and turn our backs. We needed to figure out a way to give back.
A few months later at one of Mr. T’s many follow-up appointments I came across a poster for Meagan’s Walk. I came home and looked it up online and was so unbelievably moved by the story. Meagan was a little girl who passed away from a brain tumour at just 5 years old. She spent months at Sick Kids fighting this terrible disease that took her life. Meagan’s mother started the walk in memory of Meagan. The money raised goes to pediatric brain tumour research and the Sick Kids foundation. As I read her story I sat back and thought to myself that Meagan and her parents walked the halls of Sick Kids just as we did. They experienced terrible pain, worry, fear and the horrible loss of their beautiful little girl. They experienced a pain that I can’t even begin to imagine. I realized, again, just how fortunate we were to have walked out of that hospital with our little man in tow. We had to participate in this walk. It occurs every year on Mother’s Day, although this year it is occurring the day before Mother’s Day. I couldn’t imagine a better way to give back to the wonderful hospital that saved my little boys’ life than to walk in this precious little girls name on Mother’s Day. It also allows us an opportunity to remind Mr. T of just how much love and support he received in the first weeks of his life. It allows him the opportunity to give back and support others just as others supported us. I am hoping it teaches him to have a generous spirit. To always be thankful for the fortunes life has bestowed on us. To never forget where his little life began.
We are participating in Meagan’s Walk again this year. If anyone reading is interested in joining the walk, supporting our walk team or spreading the word of this amazing cause please see the link below.