“…The NICU in the former Children’s Memorial was located in Lincoln Park and consisted of a big room with multiple beds around the perimeter of the unit, and the nurse’s station in the center. Unlike the extremely convenient new Lurie’s location, traveling three miles north to Children’s Memorial was stressful, especially for a mother recovering from a C-section. JD’s grandmother and I were determined to help our children and our newest grandson. One of the first times his grandmother and I visited him, I heard a nurse at the desk discussing a potluck menu to be brought in for the upcoming Easter weekend shift. As a skilled menu planner during years and years of family events, I told the nurse they could not have mashed potatoes with their menu, that they needed potato salad – which happens to be a specialty of mine! The next day I delivered a large batch of my “famous” potato salad to feed not only the day shift staff, but the night shift staff as well. They thanked me for the delicious meal, and I told them they were taking good care of my boy, and wanted to do anything I could to help. At the time, we had no idea how long JD would be in the NICU, but it did not take us long to realize how special these NICU nurses were. Their competence, diligence, and most importantly compassion made a stressful situation a bit more manageable. JD’s total regimen of care could not have been better. He was getting stronger everyday, thanks to his considerate medical team led by Dr. Christopher Donohoe, whose skill as a pediatrician is only exceeded by his quality as a human being.
During one of my many visits to the NICU, I happened to be there by myself and usually when I am there solo, I just kept my head down and focused on him. I did not particularly want to socialize, but on this day, I heard a woman on a work call as she held her son in the bed next to JD’s. I thought how difficult it must be for a mom who wants to spend time with her baby but still has to go to work. As it turns out, the woman on the phone was Carrie Meghie. Carrie and Jen became friends over the next few months as they shared their experience with their two boys, Jackson and JD. The bond between NICU moms is strong one.
After 111 days, JD was finally able to go home to be with his family. It was such a wonderful homecoming. After JD’s NICU stay, Jen and Carrie remained friends and kept in touch. When Carrie and Terry founded the Jackson Chance Foundation, they asked Jen to serve on the Board of Directors. Jen was a bit nervous about this position, but I explained she was a perfect addition to the board since she had experienced months in the NICU and knew firsthand what families go through. She knew how important it was for families to be with their children while they are in the NICU, which is what the foundation is all about.
In the end, all families have challenges, but how those challenges are handled defines families and people. JD has made our family a better unit and he brightens each and every day. He is part of all we do and has helped make his older brother and younger sister more caring people. JD not only impacted our lives for the better, but his story will help us make other families lives better and we are so thankful he came into our lives!”
-Tom Nolan, JD’s Gramps