I talk and write a lot about my son, Briggs spending 61 days in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
Though, today it occurs to me that I’ve never written a single word, or shared a single story about Lyndsay and Anna.
These two young, loving, intelligent women were the early intervention specialists assigned to work with Briggs following his discharge from the hospital.
Lyndsay was the first.
She came to our house for exactly one week after Briggs’s surgery. I worried over her visit the entire day, and when she promptly arrived with her teammate (the initial visit is always done by two therapists), I was overcome with anxiety by her very pregnant belly.
That was a time in my life when I thought it best to avoid pregnant mothers. I didn’t want them to see my baby and ask questions – afraid that my answers might scare them or worsen might deepen my already worse pain.
Initially, I held back my tears.
Lyndsay was so warm and inviting. With every exercise and question she treated my son like a person (not a patient), and she made me feel safe. Like Briggs and I were in good hands.
Near the end of her visit, while Briggs was wrapping up his stellar tummy-time, I turned to Lyndsay and whispered:
“Is he going to be okay? Will he ever catch-up?”
And what she did next, I will never forget.
There, sitting on my living room, with one hand on her belly and another gently on my shoulder, she cried with me and answered:
“You are such a good, Mom. He is already doing so well. You are doing everything he needs and we are here to help.”
For the very first time of Briggs’s life I truly (if only momentarily) knew everything would in fact be more than okay. It would be good. So good.
Lyndsay worked with us once a week up until her own baby called for her sincere, complete, and loving attention. And just before that time, Lyndsay introduced us to Anna.
I was skeptical of Anna, even though Lyndsay assured me that philosophically she and Anna were twins. They approached their work and their kiddos the same way, and Lyndsay promised that Briggs and I were in good hands with her.
But Anna wasn’t the one who had cried with me that late afternoon on my living room floor and I didn’t know if I had it in me to be that vulnerable with another child care professional.
But, I did.
Anna was patient with me. She didn’t push for a connection like the one I had instantly struck with Lyndsay, but she was always so attentive and playful and loving toward Briggs.
He was happy when she visited.
About a month after Briggs’s first birthday Anna was over for our weekly play/therapy date. I was reading Are You a Cow? to him, when suddenly, unprompted, he made a “moo” sound on the cow page.
“Did he just moo?” Anna asked, shocked.
“He couldn’t have? I thought he did…but…” He was young for this and I was thankful for Anna’s second set of ears.
I flipped back to the cow page and pointed to the barnyard animal and said again, “Are you a cow?”
Clear as day, he moo-ed again.
Ana and I both lit up.
“Briggs,” she said, “there are two year-olds who have a hard time with that. You’re doing great work. And so are your Mom and Dad.”
And then, Ana and I had our first good cry together.
Ana and Lyndsay were not high paid healthcare workers. The kind of support and therapy they provide most often comes with an annual salary anywhere between $16-25K. Briggs was one of a dozen of children they would criss-cross the eastern coast of Massachusetts to help.
A few weeks into each of them coming to work with Briggs and me, I noticed that they would sometimes stay in their cars for long periods of time before coming in. When I asked them why, they’d explain that there was never enough travel time worked into their schedules, so things like eating, emailing, and phone meetings all had to take place in driveways and parking lots.
I let them know that they were ALWAYS welcome to come early or stay late. That hey would ALWAYS have full access to our refrigerator, microwave, oven, stovetop, coffeemaker, bathroom, and/or Internet connection.
“Whatever you need,” I said, “whatever we have, we are more than happy to share. It’s the least, the very least, we can do.”
Today, on this Giving Tuesday, I’m reminded of the constant and selfless service Lyndsay and Anna provided my family at such a critical time.
That’s why, in their honor, today I made a $100 donation to the Life is Good Kids Foundation.
I came to work at the Life is Good Kids Foundation precisely BECAUSE their mission is to serve childcare professionals like Lyndsay and Anna. They offer low-to-no cost resources, retreats, and workshops to those who dedicate their careers to working with our most vulnerable children.
Early in his life, Briggs was one of those most vulnerable kids and the love, joy, and assurance brought into our home by those trained caregivers has made a lasting positive difference.
This GivingTuesday I give thanks to Lyndsay and Anna and to all those who are committed to making our world a place where life is (truly) good for all kids.