Just before Thanksgiving, three years ago, the daughter of friends was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. She needed platelets as part of her treatment. As so many in our community, I dutifully clicked on the link provided by my friend and took out my calendar to schedule my platelet donation. For whatever reason I first checked the FAQ’s to ensure that I was, in fact, eligible to donate platelets.
But I was a nursing mother.
And, therefore, ineligible to give platelets.
I considered encouraging Rami to wean. Because, if you’re doing the math, Rami was about two years old and we had enjoyed nursing for a good amount of time. But the little girl’s mom was an avid nurser, herself, and I knew wouldn’t advocate my weaning my son, even to help her own daughter.
Rami weaned on his own soon enough and I set out to donate platelets at the end of the month. A Sunday would be most convenient for me, after all, and the next available Sunday would be in three weeks.
Two weeks went by and I got on the scale. And found I had lost all of my “baby weight.” Enviable, right? You’re jealous, aren’t you?
But I’m only 5’1” and have a fairly petite frame and having “lost all my baby weight” actually meant I didn’t weigh enough.
Not enough to give blood to help save the life of a stranger and not enough to donate platelets to help the daughter of a friend.
I was crushed.
I considered trying to put the weight back on.
I continued to struggle with how to help this family and the other two families in our community dealing with cancer diagnoses. I signed up to make meals. “No lasagna,” said one vegetarian family. “No sugar,” requested one carnivorous family. “Organic is preferable,” said the third family. So, I ordered pizza and boiled pasta and all but gave up. I would receive an email request to make a meal for one friend in the morning and close it thinking, “I can’t cook!” Then I’d reopen it in the evening, resigned to making just one meal (How hard could it be?!) only to find that now not a single meal was needed for that month.
I felt helpless.
I prayed. I gave charity.
It just wasn’t enough. Not for me, anyway. I wanted to heal the sick. I wanted to wipe away all the pain their families were experiencing. But I couldn’t.
Then I received an email. It was distributed on a community listserv. There was a need for families to act as interim care providers for newborn babies awaiting adoption. It was short-term. Weeks, usually.
That! THAT I can do. I can’t donate platelets or give blood or even cook. But I can take care of newborns. I can feed them, I can bathe them, I can diaper them, I can hold them.
And I do.
As I type, five-week-old Melody is slowly falling asleep on my lap. She will soon join her family in her new home.
Two friends have had babies in the past month and I haven’t signed up to make a single meal.
We had take-out for dinner, tomorrow’s lunches haven’t been made, and there are dishes piled high in the sink.
But Gavri changes diapers, Sariti gives bottles, Rami has learned to dry newborns’ tears, and James has perfected his technique of eating his meals with an infant sleeping on his knees.
Over the past two years, we have cared for 12 newborns in our home. And now you know why.
Because, “that! THAT, I can do.”