Thirteen years ago we came to know Children’s Hospital. We had never heard of it until we needed it. To this day it gives me chills to think of the first time Children’s came to us. We were in the ICU of our local hospital with Dr. Scott waiting for "the Children’s team" to pick up our baby. They would be flying her away from us. When they entered that hospital in their blue flight suits a team of about five or six men and women carrying all kinds of equipment—it was a surreal moment. I was terrified. With confidence they answered my questions and prepared my baby for her first flight. She was now a child of Children’s who had "earned her wings" at six weeks old.
Maybe for most babies, RSV wouldn't get you a first class ticket aboard the Children’s jet, but back then if you were Rebecca Shy the jet was coming. Rebecca had already been checked into Children’s days after birth. In fact, Dr. Makris of Pulmonary would hold her more than once during her first days she was with him. I was hospitalized here in Dothan from the Cesarean. In fact it was Dr. Makris who would have to tell me that our baby was born without a right lung. Those words would forever change my life. It was the warm way in which he told me that I will never forget.
She had a cardiac shift that collapsed areas of her trachea. So mucus would occlude her airway and she couldn't breathe. We spent 21 days in Children’s ICU as Rebecca bravely battled to breathe. And I learned how to be a parent of a child of Children’s, because it is different. We know what it feels like when we see the first child wheeled by us with no hair and know that this place is going to be a part of OUR lives forever. Our child is what every parent prays they don't have. We know how cold those floors are because we have been on our knees on them. We know the sound of the "heard" outside of our child's door when the doctors are rounding in teaching groups. We know the relief that comes when the red wagon first appears. We know how difficult it is to leave our child during non-visiting hours. And we know the sound of a mom’s cry when the angels come.
You don't leave Children’s Hospital as a parent without being changed. To explain the feeling that it has is difficult. My heart always felt like it was home when we walked through the front doors. The spirit is so thick there. After all I cannot imagine how many parents, like my self, have prayed/begged for the life of their child there. When we got home after our long stay the first thing we did was buy a red wagon. Rebecca had gotten so used to her daily rides around the hospital. It was also a way for us to connect to Children's because we missed our new family of staff there.
A few years later Rebecca would be flying again, this time with pneumonia. By now, after multiple checkups we considered Children’s our second home. We could make the drive from Dothan to Birmingham with ease. I never dreamed I would know it so well. I never thought I would have a child of Children’s and I never thought I would be so blessed. So, what is Children’s? HOPE. And so many of its children are miracles, like our Rebecca now 14, strong, smart, independent, beautiful and most of all with the help and care of Children’s—BREATHING!