Monday, 20 April 2015

Why I let a stranger yell at my child...

First off... let me start by saying that my husband Kevin and my best friend Martha are my everyday heroes. Regardless of whether what they did was their "natural instinct" to try to help or not. They did. So the prelude to this story is this:

Saturday afternoon, we went to our local Education in the Park festivities. Our daughter, Laurel, is in a school production and she was with her theatre troupe performing a few songs from their play that will be showing in May. It was blistering, sweltering hot that day, and sitting under the shaded canopy didn't make it any cooler in my opinion. Their performance was the last set on that stage (thank goodness) and as everyone started filing out and leaving, you find you have the occasional group of 3-4 gabbing parents talking. I was showing off Paisley to one off the parents who'd last seen me when I was pregnant. I wandered over to where Kev was putting Ella in the stroller and Martha was talking to the kids and almost as a unit, we looked over at an elderly gentleman, who, minutes before had been standing, but was now hunched over. Without a word of communication, aside from, "Is he okay?" - both Kevin and Martha jumped to their feet and rushed over to this man.

We didn't know him, and obviously, several other people didn't they scurried to the winds as quick as can be. There's no blame there. I guess for some that instinct to help just isn't ingrained in you. I'm grateful to be surrounded by people where the opposite is the standard though. I'm still holding Paisley on my hip, the girls have taken the man's granddaughter (or great?) to the Crayola tent a few tents over, to color, and I'm moving chairs to clear the area and getting water. Another lady calls for a medic. It's all a matter of minutes lapsing, and a blur of separate entities doing what they know how to do as best as they can.

And then I look over to the stroller and I notice something that stands out with appalling clarity. It's empty. Where has Ella gone? I scream out Laurel's name, and I guess by the tone of my voice, it signifies to Kev that I'm upset, but I wave him off, because... he's busy helping to save this man's life. But my heart is racing as I flag down an event worker and inform both her and Laurel and Emily all at the same time that my little girl is missing. I'm bumbling through an explanation of what she's wearing... blue jean shorts with green threads. I don't know what the green threads have to do with it, but I repeated it several times over. I did the frantic rushed gaze through the crowd, running from bounce house to bounce house. Stopping at the sno-cone tent to see if she managed to sneak a 2nd cone in, despite me saying no. The lady on the golf cart drives up to me a few minutes later, empty seat beside her, asking me something. But all I saw was the empty seat and so I didn't hear what she was saying. Finally she says, "Ma'am, is that your little girl?!" and I look, but no... I told her she was THREE, that is obviously like a 1 or MAYBE 2 year old. ... and then the adult moves out of the way and I see a man holding her hand helping her to find me. I come running up, and he says, "Are you her Mommy?" and before I can answer, he says to Ella, "Is this your Mommy?" and she says yes, and hugs my leg. And he pries her from my leg, and proceeds to yell and lecture her. And I let him.

That's right. I let this stranger yell at my child. Because EVERY THING HE SAID WAS TRUE. It was everything I was going to say. And it probably meant more coming from him.

He told her how dangerous it was and to NEVER run away from Mommy. And to NEVER slip out of your stroller (mind you she unbuckled herself not an hour later and tried to slip out...) and he went on and on, and she cried and then my 3 year old said, "I understand" and he stood up and hugged me. I didn't catch his name. In a lineup, I'd never be able to pick him out. But I'll be forever grateful. I vaguely recall him mumbling that he has a little girl too and he could only imagine my fear.

There's no real moral to this. I let a stranger yell at my child because it was important that someone impart how scary this could have really been. My husband and my best friend helped save that man's life. Not through any procedure, but because they cared and showed compassion and jumped in to help. He may have had a heat stroke, or a heart attack, who knows, we let the professionals take over when they got there. Our day had a happy ending, but it could have ended so much differently. I hope you understand.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Why We Walk

Many of you know about our commitment to the March of Dimes, and that we walk and fundraise every year for the March for Babies. Sure, we've had preemies. Sure, we think it's a great organization. And yes, we truly do believe that the March of Dimes is dedicated to healthy pregnancies & babies! But for us, and most family teams that participate, it is so much more and there is normally a defining moment for Why We Walk.

At the March for Babies 2014, I was pregnant with Paisley then (upper left)
Lined up for the March (upper right) With our company team, Family Health Care (bottom)

When I spoke at a kickoff campaign last year for the first time, telling our story, I brought myself to tears. Not that I was that eloquent. pfft. No, I started crying because the memory I shared was SO VIVID, even 2 years later, with a happy, healthy baby...correction, toddler! sitting there wreaking havoc in the room. I am glad for the opportunity for donors and fundraisers alike to get the chance to see firsthand a family that has been neck-deep in the NICU, with firsthand experience to what kinds of education and support the March of Dimes provided. But more importantly, I wanted to share what was the driving force and motivation behind our commitment. I wanted them to know .... and so, with just under 2 weeks before we walk again, I want you to know as well, exactly Why We Walk. does not get any easier - no matter how many times you've done it before...

It was discharge day for me, March 4th, 2011. I'd had an emergency C-section, and had been deemed fit to go home. I was ready to a certain extent. Certainly sore, who isn't? But mentally... I had no idea. They discharged me, and Kevin helped me down the stairs to Ella's room. By then she had been moved to Pod 8, and we had the routine of checking in, scrubbing, dropping off breastmilk - down to a science. I went in and I held her hand through the incubator window. We stayed for several hours, until shift change, and then reluctantly made our way down to the car. We were going home, without our baby. But I was determined to be a grown-up about this. I knew she was in the best of care, that her doctors and nurses were highly competent medical professionals. In fact, I knew she was receiving better care than I could possibly give at that moment. But we were leaving our baby. That's what it boiled down to in my head. I remember getting in the car, Kevin making sure everything was packed up tightly, even coming over to check that I was seatbelted properly. And then we started the drive home. We made it about 4 minutes. Right after you get on I-4 off Kaley, about 20 feet further... before he pulled over to the shoulder. And he reached over the console, held my hand and we sat there in silence, crying. My silent tears eventually turned into sobs, because in my head, all I could hear was this voice saying, "THIS IS NOT RIGHT! This is NOT the way it should be! No parents should ever have to leave their babies!" and I think I was hoping my crying would drown out that voice. That is Why We Walk.

Fast forward 2 years later... the same scenario is playing in my head. I was discharged just 2 days after Paisley was born. I pep-talked myself into handling this better. "We've been through this before" - "Same old song and dance" - "She's in the BEST CARE POSSIBLE" - "You can handle this!" - "You have 2 babies at home that need you" and again "We've been through this before"  But no matter the litany of go-getter-you-can-do-it phrases I told myself... it didn't make it any easier. I didn't even make it out of the driveway in front of the hospital before I gave in to the tears. This time, Kevin just pulled into the parking garage and we sat there together, holding hands until he got out of the car and came and just held me. Some things make a marriage fall apart and some make them stronger. I like to think we've been through the sickness and worse part of our vows in the first few years of our marriage, so we should have smoother sailing for the rest. But that moment there, was this glaring truth that it does not get any easier - no matter how many times you've done it before. And we've been down this route 3 times too many. That is Why We Walk.

We hope that one day, enough research, education and treatments will have accumulated to the point where no parents will ever experience the devastating loss of a child be it a miscarriage or stillbirth (the statistics for how common pregnancy loss occurs is staggering!). We hope that one day NICU nurseries will not be filled to capacity. But for us, the Adkins Family aka Team Adkins Asylum, we hope that when your little bundle of joy is brought into this world... that you get to experience the JOY of bringing her home, surrounded by family and love and never the loss, devastation, and even guilt... of driving away that first time. That is Why We Walk.

How can you help? DonateWalk/Join/Create a Team, Start a fundraiser!

March for Babies 2015 - Just around the corner!

March for Babies 2014, Osceola County
I was pregnant with Paisley here!

Last call for Team Adkins Asylum t-shirts! Feel free to order one if you want to support a good cause (proceeds are donated to the March for Babies) or if you're just a plain ol' T-Shirt junkie and want to wear a shirt with a baby in [fictional] straight jacket! I will close out orders for shirts on Wednesday, April 15th (Paisley will be 8 months old!) Thank you again to everyone who has supported our campaign and the March of Dimes! There's still time to donate or sign up to walk. We walk in just under 2 weeks!!! We have raised $835 of our $1000 goal! 

How can you help? Here are your options:

2) Donate to our team fundraising page via the March of Dimes

3) Order a TEAM ADKINS ASYLUM t-shirt
And in case we haven't said it yet... THANK YOU
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One more thing... Find out why WE walk!