March is a fun month.
In early March, we celebrate my husband’s birthday. We remind him that he is appreciated and loved. We shower him with homemade cards and birthday cake, and we toast to another great trip around the sun.
Then there is Robert’s birthday. He was born just days before World Down Syndrome Day.
We celebrate Robert and the joy he brings us on March 19th. We have a small birthday party, where he gets to run and play. And, more importantly (to him), everyone sings BONNE FÊTE to him and he gets to eat his birthday cake.
Because we are fortunate to have been gifted pre-loved toys, clothes and books, we ask that the birthday guests donate to one of our favourite charities instead of bringing him birthday gifts.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Canada is a charitable organization that has helped our family. Our local hospital has a family room, where parents can have a meal or take a shower, or even do laundry and have a nap! It’s located in the hospital, and it’s invaluable to anyone who has had a child stay in the hospital but who doesn’t want to leave their side.
I first learned about it shortly after Robert was born. He was placed in the NICU, and remained there even after I was discharged from the mother-care unit. I refused to leave the hospital without my baby. I slept on the small couch/bed that was in his room, as uncomfortable as that was, just to be as close to him as possible.
The nurses in the NICU made certain that I knew of the RMHC Family Room. They insisted I check it out, and gave me the nudge I needed to have a nap on a real bed, take a real shower, and eat some hot food. This was all generously supplied to me, and parents like me, by donations to the RMHC. The room was run by volunteers, and there was a certain sense of comfort in seeing other families use the lounge room with me. Even though we were all there for different reasons, we all quietly understood that the other was struggling with a sick child.
Having access to the RMHC Family Room meant that I was able to stay close to my baby without neglecting my own self-care. My family visited as much as possible, and helped in so many ways, but having the opportunity to shower, especially mere days post-partum, was a special kind of comfort.
As a result, whenever we celebrate Robert’s birthday, we set up a birthday fundraiser. We ask our friends and family to donate to the RMHC in Robert’s name. Please consider donating to Robert’s 6th birthday fundraiser, and help keep families together during difficult times.