Guest Post by: Wayne Keller
My name is Wayne Keller. I’m the Executive Director of Caiden’s Hope Foundation and this is my story of how I and a small group of dedicated volunteers are trying to do our part to better the lives of families with a baby hospitalized in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
I had never known or at least don’t remember anyone I knew with a child in the NICU. I’m sure there were friends or friends of friends who had experienced the trauma of not knowing if their child would be ok, but it didn’t affect me. To be honest, although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone’s family, I didn’t care. I was removed from the problem. Then in January of 2009 it hit home. One year later it happened to our closest friends in California. One year later we were back in the NICU.
This is the story of my firsthand experiences and the story of Caiden’s Hope.
It was a beautiful day; my first grandson had just been born and he and I talked about our Scottish heritage, about Houston Astro baseball games and about my plans for helping him along the way. Actually I was soon to discover that I did most of the talking while he fell asleep, but holding a new life that was part of me was exhilarating and will never be forgotten.
After he was napping in his mother’s arms, we went home to take a nap ourselves and clean up after two days in the hospital waiting room. As we checked email and took care of the chores that had been left behind, the inevitable exhaustion filled our bodies and we were ready to rest. Then the phone rang.
My daughter-in-laws mother was on the phone asking why our grandson had been transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital. Fear, anxiety, dread and all sorts of questions filled my mind. As I didn’t have an answer, I immediately tried to reach my son, my daughter-in-law, a nurse, anyone that could answer the questions rapidly filling my mind with fear. Tears streamed down my face as I thought the worse. I took a deep breath, got myself together and quickly ran to find my wife and told her we were going back to the hospital, that something was wrong.
Reaching speeds in excess of 90 mph on a very busy Interstate Highway, we darted in and out of traffic, emergency flashers blinking and blasting the horn to let other drivers know to move out of the way. Luckily, our son called and told us it was only a precaution. Yes, he was in the NICU and would be held there for the next 7 days, we could slow down; he was ok.
Our second grandson was born a few years later. The phone rang at 4:30am and I could hear the tears in my son’s voice. Our daughter-in-law was in labor two months early. My son was breaking down when I told him to take a deep breath, take care of his family and we would be at the hospital before 9. Again we hurried to the hospital and drove the 3 ½ hours arriving just as the clock struck 9am. Following the doctor’s visit, she was sent home for bed rest, but it wasn’t but two days later before she was back in the hospital and our second grandson was born. Small and frail with wires connected to beeping machines he was in an incubator while my son and hospital staff hovered over him. We were afraid to touch anything, afraid that we might be in the way, afraid for our son and grandson, afraid of everything.
About Caiden’s Hope Foundation: Caiden’s Hope Foundation provides travel support for families with a child hospitalized in the NICU for an extended period of time. Hospital caseworkers should contact Caiden’s Hope directly to determine if support is possible. Please visit us at our website, Caiden’s Hope Foundation, our Facebook Page, or join us on Twitter. Additionally, please listen to the following audio clips: Caidens’s Hope Foundation Audio – 1 and Caiden’s Hope Foundation Audio – 2 Video’s can also be seen on YouTube: Caiden’s Mother, Father, Grandmother, and Grandfather.