21 October 2011

More Than a Blanket

I don't think I will ever forget leaving the hospital that last night, hands full of our overnight belongings that had been with us at the hospital for the previous ten days. I was anxious to spend a night in my own bed again, but given the choice, I'd have shared that navy vinyl-covered twin bed with James in that stale closet of a NICU parent bedroom for months or years more if it meant Ewan was still with us.

Our hands were full of things perhaps -- bags of clothes and food, and the grieving parent packet -- but they felt empty. This isn't the way we wanted to be leaving -- no Ewan, and nothing of his with us.

A day or two later, I got a call from the hospital social worker that had been assigned to us during Ewan's stay. She said there was a box of Ewan's things that we could come and pick up whenever it was convenient. There were mementos his nurses had made for us during our last night with him, and a couple of his blankets. That's what she called them: his blankets.

blankets triptych

Having not brought any blankets to the hospital for him, I didn't know which blankets she meant. Her description didn't ring any bells (and I had assumed that any blankets used during the course of his stay were the hospital's blankets). But when I later went through pictures, I remembered them. They were his blankets from that great day we had with him when he was four days old -- the same blankets he was wrapped in when we sent him off to the catheter lab and eventually emergency surgery. They were the last things that touched his skin before everything went wrong. We never got to the point where he could have worn any type of clothing, so they were the only things we brought home that smelled even faintly of him.

If there's ever a fire, you better believe I'm running and grabbing those blankets.

It may seem like something so small and so common -- a baby blanket. But to families like mine, they are priceless. And if the worst should happen, those blankets may be the only things we have that remind us of the sweet scent that belonged uniquely to our babies. Those baby blankets are utterly irreplaceable.

This is why I'm so pleased to announce a blanket drive in honor of two little heart warriors, Hailey McCrow (07/18/09 - 12/02/09) and my own Ewan. Baby blankets are being collected now through December 1. A portion of the blankets will be donated to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon in memory of Hailey, and part will also be donated to Seattle Children's in memory of Ewan. Blankets can be store-bought or handmade, but they must be in new condition to be donated. I can think of few ways so simple in which to honor the legacies of two children whose families have found these blankets indelibly attached to the memories they have of their children. I can't wait to pick out a few with which to honor Ewan! For me, this is a simple way to pay it forward.

Trust me, I'm the last person that wants to be pushy about anything with anyone (in general, asking people for something is about as fun for me as getting teeth pulled). Please simply consider this an invitation to participate if you wish to and are able.

To find out more about where to send blankets or other ways you can help (and a list of places where you can find good, new baby blankets on the less expensive side), go can go to the event page on Facebook by clicking on the link. I'll be providing a reminder or two about the drive until it's completed on December 1.

And thank you, Nadine, for inviting me to participate! I'm honored to be a part of it.

The gesture is so simple, and to many, it may seem incredibly small and insignificant. But every now and then I pick up those blankets, hold them close, and remember. Just a blanket, maybe. But they held him, kept him warm when we couldn't. They are so much more than blankets.