It all started nearly three years ago. As soon as we brought our first son home from China, I began scheduling appointments at our local children’s hospital to have specialists review the needs listed in his file. Initially there were four doctors we were working with…then three…and finally we were left only with two as we received an “all clear” on two of his needs.
Those early days meant many hours at the hospital during and between appointments. And as surgery after surgery began to take place I truly felt like our children’s hospital was becoming my second home. Walking through the halls, sitting out by the fountain, relaxing at the play area, or even grabbing a cup of coffee often had me bumping into someone who had recently worked with us…either in an office, a lab, a sound booth, or radiology. I joked that it was my “Cheers”. Like the old sitcom, our children’s hospital became the place where everybody knows my name.
Recently my son and I were back at the hospital for another round of pre-op appointments. His sixth surgery in his four years of life, and the fourth surgery for his cleft lip and palate. In between appointments we had the same lunch we have countless times through the years…baked potatoes from a little café eaten in the sunny Atrium. This meal of styrofoam plates, disposable silverware, and a plastic tray has become quite the tradition. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve done it. Not just on pre-op days, but on post-op and check-up days as well. And as I sat there most recently, I realized that those lunches are working their way into my heart as one of the favorite memories from my son’s childhood. Our special “dates” on the days it’s just the two of us.
When my husband and I first started the adoption process, we looked at all the needs on the medical checklist given to us by our agency and tried to determine which were the most manageable for us to handle. The needs that would be easiest to balance with the children we already had in our home. It never occurred to me that when we checked off our list, I was going to be spending the time at our hospital that I do. It never occurred to me that I would bump into nurses and technicians and chat with them like they’re old friends. It never occurred to me that one day my son and I would be playing at the courtyard fountain and joyfully waving at our ENT through his office window. It never occurred to me that our plastic surgeon would follow our progress for two more adoption journeys. It never occurred to me that our cardiologist would welcome us back as a “new” patient with our daughter after my son left his care. And it never occurred to me that these days at the hospital, working with our medical teams, would become such an integral part of who I am.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that baked potatoes from a hospital café, a great team of doctors, and the playground on the first floor of “Building A” have become a few of my favorite things.