In Gratitude

At least once a day I feel so grateful to live in a big city. I’ve got six gourmet cupcake shops within a 15 minute walk from my apartment. My husband’s commute requires less time than it takes to boil a pot of water. There’s never a shortage of free things to do with the kids, like going to the beach or visiting the children’s muesum.

But, 18 months ago I realized that perhaps the best benefit to big-city living is access to some of the best health care in the world.

When my son was 13 days old, he developed a high temperature.  Other than the fever, he seemed like a normal newborn.  My then 2-year old daughter had never been sick (aside from a runny nose), so I was anxious and nervous about his sudden fever.  Even though our pediatrician said to wait a day or two, and despite my grandma (who raised 7 kids, 17 grandkids and now 5 great-grandchildren) telling me that he looked perfectly healthy, I decided to follow my intuition and take him to the hospital, just to be on the safe side.

After several hours in the ER and too many invasive tests to count, it was determined that my precious baby had an E Coli infection in his blood.  Without the immediate and excellent care he received at Children’s Memorial Hospital, he could have died.

After nearly a week at Children’s Memorial Hospital, we brought our tiny boy home.  Because he needed prolonged IV treatment, he had a PICC line inserted in his arm.  Twice a day for two weeks I was responsible for administering antibiotics through this line.  Considering that I had no medical background, this task was terrifying.  Would I know if the line was infected? What if I gave him the drugs in the wrong order or at the wrong time? Was he uncomfortable and as scared as I was??

Thankfully, little Mack enjoyed a full recovery.  He is now a 19-month old little terror, and its sometimes hard for me to believe that he was once so small and so sick.   Every now and then the magnitude of that whole time hits me, and I take a few quiet moments to feel humbled and grateful and blessed.

My friend Jeanne recently lost her sweet little cousin Johnny to complications from his treatment for leukemia.  He was also treated at Children’s Memorial Hospital, and I know the family is grateful for the care given to their brave little fighter.  Jeanne asked me to share information about a Halloween Costume Contest and Fundraiser to benefit children’s leukemia research at Children’s Memorial, and considering how grateful I am to the hospital for helping my son I am happy to do so!  Johnny participated in the event last year, and as the photographer said, “I’d have never guessed that he was battling such a serious illness.  Iron Man would have been a very apropos costume to match his giant energy and spirit and strength.

If you live in the Chicago area and want to trot your little ones around in their Halloween costumes this Saturday, please stop by Jookie Photo at 4656 N. Rockwell in Chicago.


Saturday, October 29th from 9 am to 1 pm at Jookie Photo. $30 cash donation per costumed child.  First Come, First Served. A prize basket for each winner in the following categories: Cutest Baby, Cutest Big Kid, Most Original and Scariest.

Children will be photographed individually in their costumes. (A costume is required to participate.) Each child’s best image will be submitted via an online gallery to a group of judges. Each child will receive a complimentary 5×7 portrait from jookie of that image (a$59 value).

Can’t attend in person?

Email your OWN photo of your child in costume (one child per photo) to in conjunction with a $15 donation through our Children’s Memorial site: Photograph needs to be taken in the month of October 2011.  You may also upload to Jookie’s facebook page at Donations will be accepted through the site from now until the event.  ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of all donations will benefit the children’s leukemia research program at Children’s Memorial.

Please consider making a donation regardless of participating in the costume contest. The goal this year is $3000. Any size contribution helps and is appreciated to help us reach that!

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4 Comments for this entry

  1. hi Maureen,
    I’m so glad to hear your Mack is doing well! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from parents, it’s to trust your instincts when it comes to your kids. Thank goodness you got him to the hospital in a timely manner.
    and thank you so much for sharing our Halloween fundraiser link. In situations like Johnny’s where you just feel so helpless as a neighbor and to what these kids go through while battling such a terrible illness, I hope the money we raise helps however possible with research to find a cure.
    warm wishes!

  2. Mana says:

    Your deep respect for your amazing access to your “mothers intuition” is precious and a powerful gift that Evie and Mack receive every day. Yes! you along with the wonderful staff at Children’s saved Macs’ life when he was a fragile newborn and you guide both of them with skilled and loving Homemade Mothering every day.
    I count myself the the Most Blessed of great grandmothers to know these things about you first hand.

  3. What a story – good for you for trusting your mother’s instinct. We know our babies best!
    And you’re so right that the gift of good health care – and the simple fact of life itself – is nothing to take for granted. If only more people had access to the kind of care we come to expect as normal for our kids…

  4. Lindsey says:

    Thank you for this post, Maureen. I am so happy that Mack made a full recovery–boy is he a handsome little guy! Until recently I wouldn’t have been able to imagine what you had gone through but a month ago my almost 4 year old daughter was hospitalized for a staph infection in her blood and kidney and is currently receiving IV antibiotics 3 times a day through her PICC line. Being “nurse mommy” is scary and overwhelming at times and we’re counting down the days until the PICC can be removed, but isn’t it amazing how resilient babies and kids can be?! My daughter has certainly taught me a lot about taking things one day at a time and cherishing every moment–big and small.

    We are also eternally grateful for the compassionate, skilled and trusted staff at our Denver Children’s Hospital so in lieu of gifts for my daughter’s birthday we’re going to make a donation to the Child Life department who made my daughter’s 12 day stay much more enjoyable and fun.

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