What started out as a small flame quickly grew to a wild fire. My family and I stated giving back by volunteering to bake or cook and serve meals at the Ronald McDonald house but I felt a strong push to do more. I have a deep passion for helping others, especially children; I also have such great empathy for families who have a child admitted in the hospital. Every time I was serving at RMDH, there would always be at least one parent who I would make eye contact with and for that brief second, all those crazy feelings of being a bedside parent would come rushing back. I would choke back my tears before smiling and serving the next plate. I know those feelings and fears and I knew helping families who have a child in the hospital was my path.
I know firsthand what it is like sitting bedside, feeling helpless. From the beginning of trying to figure out what's wrong, the whole journey in between until finally having answers and a plan, I remember the fears and other emotions that riddle the whole journey. And then the waiting and tears, so much waiting and tears; waiting for surgeries, results, medications, insurance approvals, waiting to go home, waiting for normal and waiting for tears to stop. Those endless tears that come with every up and down, finally do stop. Not necessarily because you don't need to cry anymore but because you just can not cry one more tear drop. To say the emotions of being a bed-side parent are a roller-coaster is a major understatement. It's not all fear and sadness, there is a deep sense of pride, faith, unconditional love and learning to find joy in the smallest moments. That balance is so important! While trying to manage the crazy ride and trying to remember you're not alone in this, you realize you're so hungry!! It's so easy to forget to eat or just not wanting to eat in front of your kiddo or leave their side to go get food. I remember so many nights of eating dinner from a vending machine! I've been there, I remember it all.
Even though all of our stories are so very different and our kids fight battles as unique as they are themselves, our journey as a bedside parent is not all that different. We all feel those crazy emotions from one extreme to the other. We all have to miss work to be there with our babies. We all need to eat and take care of ourselves. We all need to feel supported and know that someone else has been there and understands the "crazy" we are feeling. We all need to keep paying our bills, house, and everything else not matter how long our hospital stay is. We all have other family and obligations to take care of in addition to our brave little one who is fighting and we all have to find a way to be there while keeping everything else going. This is the heart of Cali Kids Medical Foundation. We want to be able to help bridge that gap. We want to be there, to let you know, you are not alone. While our ultimate wish is to be able to ease the financial burdens for the families of all these little warriors in California hospitals, our promise is to be a ray of sunshine and let families know they are not alone in this journey