On August 15, 2007, after days spent in the hospital trying to stop my preterm labor, our beautiful son Samuel was born. He was 6 weeks early, weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz., and we felt so blessed that he had arrived safe and sound. What we didn’t know at the time was that he was born with an extremely rare birth defect. After being home for just 3 days we found ourselves back in the hospital due to his weight loss and inconsistent test results. On the 8th day of our stay Samuel’s body went into shock and began shutting down. He was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where doctors determined he had a severe blood infection and would need exploratory surgery to find the cause. What they found was a stricture in his small intestine that was 2cm long, two thirds closed, and full of micro perforations that had allowed the bacteria Citrobacter to leak into his blood stream. His blood infection later turned into a devastating form of bacterial meningitis that destroyed his brain. He passed away when he was 6 weeks old.
During Samuel’s joyful life God allowed us to be supported through the people we met at the hospital and the pediatric hospice home where Samuel eventually passed away. We learned first hand how important it is to bring a sense of comfort and normality to people in crisis. Now that we understand the importance of this kind of support, we feel called to bring pieces of comfort to other families in similar situations.
We feel strongly that reading a favorite story to a child is an act of love that’s comforting to the child and the caregiver alike, and is especially important when your life has been turned upside down because of a little one’s critical illness. As a parent of a hospitalized child, you often feel helpless because there is so little comfort and care you can offer. Being able to sit and read a book, just like you would do at home, helps to make the entire family feel a little bit better.
Because of this we have set out to put books in as many PICU’s as we possible can. Our first bookcase full of books was delivered to the PICU that cared for our son, Cardon Children’s Medical Center on October 24, 2009.
It makes my heart sing when I think of parents being able to give a little comfort to their child through reading books to them. Books that are there because of Samuel’s joyful life. We are excited to see where this journey leads us. You can follow our progress with the library project here, learn more about helping us get books into the hospitals through the Books for Buttons program here, and read more about my journey with grief and life after losing Samuel here.