So today is a little about us, but also about a friend of ours and her husband.
I’ll start with the blurb about us. I haven’t really talked about what it was like when Thatcher was in the NICU, but it was probably the hardest sixteen days of our lives. We went in to the hospital to have Thatcher assuming that we would be gone a night or two, and came out two and a half weeks later absolutely shellshocked, to a disaster of a house (my dogs took over and made a blanket fort in our living room, since they were home alone 23 hours a day or so), an empty bank account, and feeling like we had focused on all the wrong things.
It was hard. We had been going through some financial hardships already, and having Thatcher in the NICU, meaning we had to buy parking passes, eat out, etc was outrageously expensive. We also went through an emotional roller coaster. Finding out that we had a baby with Down Syndrome, when we had absolutely zero knowledge about Down Syndrome, seemed impossible to cope with. Yes, I’m a nurse, but I had experience with a total of ONE patient with DS before, and that patient also had dementia, so my picture of a person with Down Syndrome was very skewed and very negative. I was terrified. Add to that the fact that Thatcher also had a PDA (a type of heart defect), possible sepsis, problems with his blood glucose, the inability to thermoregulate, and severe jaundice, and I was absolutely floored. Yes, I’ve had patients on oxygen, antibiotics, IVs, and NG tubes, but having my newborn on all those things plus constant vital sign monitoring was not easy. I can’t say if it was harder or easier that I knew what was going on. I constantly sat around watching T’s O2 sats, digging my fingernails into my palms as they would creep into the mid 80’s despite the oxygen he was on. I cried as I tried and tried to nurse him, only to weigh him before and after nursing him and finding out that he had eaten a measly 40ml of the 80ml/feed that they wanted him to have. It all seemed overwhelming and impossibly hard. There were moments when I wondered if Thatcher would need to go home on oxygen or a tube feed. There were moments I wondered if he would go home at all.
So how did we make it through? For one, I think that Devin and I got through it TOGETHER. We supported each other, we literally cried on each other’s shoulders. We talked a lot about what was going on and what it meant for our future as a family. And we continue to do so to this day, as we start thinking about expanding our family. I honestly think that Thatcher’s rough start gave us an even more solid foundation.
Another thing that helped us immensely was family. We come from totally different upbringings, but we both have strong, wonderful families in their own ways, and everyone was so helpful. My parents came down to visit frequently (they live two hours away), and my mum came to stay with me for a few days after Thatcher came home.
Friends were also so supportive of us. We had so much love coming in via Facebook, people visiting us in hospital, and helping us by popping by the house to let the dogs out. All in all, we definitely felt loved and supported.
So how does this relate to our friends? Well, Natalie and Shawn found out a little while ago that their baby girl, due in June, is going to have issues. She has five heart defects, and will require three surgeries to correct them; one within her first day of life, one when she is six months old, and then one when she is around ten. Obviously, Natalie and Shawn are scared. I don’t know how it feels to have a baby on the way and know that they will need medical interventions; I don’t know how it feels to know that your baby will absolutely need surgeries. But I do know how it feels to be scared, to feel like you are alone because no one you know has been in your shoes before. I know how it feels to have the rug ripped out from under you and be afraid for your baby’s life. How it is to try to juggle your bills while paying for this unexpected expense of being at your child’s side for weeks. It’s hard and it’s terrifying, and I didn’t want them to feel alone, to worry about the bills, to feel unsupported. Thus began Camo For Paisley.
See, Shawn and Nat (read: Shawn) are really into camo. For some reason, Shawn would probably wear it head to toe every day if he could. In fact, they came over for supper a while ago and brought Thatcher an entire camo outfit, just in case he was going deer hunting sometime soon. I got this idea that we could have somewhat of a pub night, everyone could wear camo to support Paisley (camo being a pattern, paisley being one too, it just seemed to fit!) and we could raise some money.
Fast forward a week and a half later, and we have a huge event planned! We are holding a fundraising night full of love, friends, family, and of course camo, to support Nat, Shawn, and Paisley. We have multiple sponsors donating prizes for the event. We have tons of people sharing on Facebook. And the GoFundMe account that I started to help raise money for Nat and Shawn’s expenses while in Toronto? It’s had over $1500 in sponsors within 24 hours!
I couldn’t be more thrilled to see friends, family, and the community supporting our wonderful friends and their daughter. Paisley is going to be born into so much love, it’s astonishing. I hope that we are able to give them the support they need as they go through this scary time, and give them the comfort that they don’t have to worry about anything except for their new family and their little girl.
So, how can you help, dear reader? First off, you can wear your camo on May 30th, and upload a photo of it to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with #CamoForPaisley. If you are in the St. Thomas area, come out to our event! And if you can’t make it, consider helping the family out financially at the Camo for Paisley GoFundMe Account. Feel free to leave a comment here showing your support; I will make sure that it gets to Nat & Shawn. And finally, and I’m not usually into this, send your prayers, your thoughts, your hopes, your good vibes. Whatever you can send to help with a speedy recovery and get Paisley strong, to get her home.
Thank you to all the people in our life who have given us support and love. Let’s pay that forward and send it along to Natalie, Shawn and Paisley ❤