When you ask an expecting parent what gender they hope their baby is, some will have an answer, some won’t, but they will all conclude with “I just want the baby to be healthy.” Many parents get that wish … but sadly, many others face a long road of doctor visits and worry.
Dan Langlois of Neenah, Wisconsin has spent many years making trips back and forth to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. After a frustrating visit in September, he took a picture of the hospital’s doors to include with a note he planned to write the hospital.
Dan and his wife, Sara, have adopted four children, all who face challenges. They have a 14-year-old daughter who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and is autistic, a 7-year-old daughter who was born severely premature (but is doing well now), a 5-year-old son who is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy, and finally an 8-year-old, Gabriel, who has spina bifida.
Gabriel has had 21 surgeries at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and was the reason for the visit in September that inspired Dan’s letter.
In the note, Langlois spoke of his love/hate relationship with the doors he took a picture of. He said,
“I have loved these doors and hated these doors. I loved these doors when my wife and I walked through them for the first time to meet our son. I hated these doors when I walked through them for his 20 surgeries. I loved them when walking back out after the surgeries. I hated them for the 180-plus-mile trip for a single 10-minute checkup. I loved these doors when walking out after learning that surgery or admittance is not required.
The other day, walking through them again with my son (I have lost count how many times over the past eight years we’ve made this trip), I was struck with a different feeling: guilt. I’m not sure where it came from, but I realized I need to apologize.
To every child that has walked in through these doors but never walked back out again, I am sorry. To every parent that has walked in through these doors with their child, but left through these doors empty handed, I am sorry. For every child and parent that has walked out through these doors with a final diagnosis, knowing that walking back in through these doors would be futile, I am sorry.
To every doctor, nurse, PA, NP, surgical tech and other members of the medical staff that have had to walk through these doors after giving everything they had to saving the life of a child and have that child pass anyway, I am sorry. To every custodian, caregiver and advocate that has had to ready a room for the next patient after the previous occupant passed on, I am sorry. To every member of the security or social services teams that has had to escort grieving parents out through these doors, I am sorry.
I cannot begin to imagine what all these people go through, and I hope that I never will. Until I do, I will love these doors.”
His note was so moving that the hospital posted it to their Facebook page. It wasn’t long before other parents and nurses shared their own relationships with those doors as well. And the experiences they shared will give you joy and make you cry.
Despite the weight of the stories, one thing was consistent – the parents’ all showed immense appreciation for the hospital and its staff. His sentiment was echoed over and over again from parents of patients, whatever the outcome.
No one should ever have to feel the sadness of a sick child. But these parents have found peace and kindness at the hands of health care professionals who truly care and now they are able to spread hope and healing to others.