Friday, 22 November 2013

A love request

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I sat in the hospital, rubbing my very pregnant belly three years ago, waiting to register and fill out all of the paper work for my upcoming delivery.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I nervously tapped my foot on the ground as I sat in those uncomfortable hospital chairs and looked over at Terry, who carefully took my hand in his and smiled nervously at me as the reality of what was about to happen was all of a sudden becoming very real. We would be parents soon. Our world would be changed forever, and we were about to fill out the paper work to prove it.

We sat in silence, listening to the sounds of the hospital, watching nurses rush by and trying to imagine what it was going to be like for us in this very hospital--only a few short weeks from then, delivering a baby of our own.

As we waited patiently I watched as a young couple stepped up before us and went over to answer a few questions and fill out their forms.

The young girl couldn't have been more than 17years old and was incredibly skinny except for the basket ball that she looked like she was hiding under her shirt. Her dark hair was pulled back in a pony tail and a tattoo was peeking out from under her sleeve.

Her boyfriend looked even younger than her. His baseball cap was tilted to the side, his baggy pants hung below his waist and his running shoes made him look even younger than I'm sure he even was.

I all of a sudden wasn't nervous anymore.

I couldn't stop staring at them.

Not because I was just curious about this young couple who were expecting, but because I was trying to imagine how nervous, terrified even, they both were feeling as they filled out the exact same forms as us.

Here I was, beyond ready for becoming a mother, wanting it so incredibly badly...everything was in place. My life (on paper at least) was in perfect alignment for making me feel like I was ready to start a family--married to a wonderful man, educated with an honours degree and Masters, in a secure career that I loved, supportive family to back me, owned a house and two cars, had ridiculous amounts of experience with children...everything on paper told me that we were beyond ready for this. BUT I WAS STILL TERRIFIED.

So as I sat there trying not to stare, my heart broke even more for them as I overheard the nurse ask the young girl what her address was.

"Umm...well, I'm not exactly sure of the address", she said. "I'm going to be living at Marillac Place, so I don't have the address memorized yet".

My heart sank.

I know this place well.

It's a house for young, homeless mothers who have nowhere else to go with their babies. It's a house that takes these girls in, loves them, cares for them, teaches them how to be a mom, teaches them how to take care of themselves and ultimately supports them, all done of course with very little funding.

Just before Mya was born, before I had a baby of my own to then care for, I volunteered every Tuesday night at Marillac Place, looking after these babies and getting to know these young mothers,

I would sit and chat with pregnant teens who were terrified, alone, kicked out of their family homes or abused by their boyfriends...all while being pregnant. They had nowhere to go. No one who cared about them. No one to love them at their most vulnerable time.

I heard stories that would break your heart and not let you sleep at night.

One night while I was there, I held a tiny newborn in my arms as she shook uncontrollably, going through withdrawal from the anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs that her mom had taken during her pregnancy, I was told. I sat holding this tiny baby, not being able to take my eyes off of her as her body shook against mine, while her mother told me her story. A story that would bring you to tears and make you grateful for every single thing that you have in your life. A story of abuse, abandonment, fear and sorrow. She was only 17. But after I finished wiping my tears as I held this young mom's hand and after telling her how amazing I thought she was...I saw a sense of relief come over her. All that she was looking for was someone to show her that they cared, that they would love her without judging her...that she and her baby would be okay.

I heard another story from a 16yr old girl who was left to bring herself to the hospital in a taxi cab when she was in labor and was all alone as she had a C-section that night. She told me, as her eyes didn't look up from the floor, that it was okay that noone was there with her though since there was a nice nurse who held her hand as they delivered her baby.

Can you even imagine??

That feeling of being completely all alone.

So, as I sat there pregnant myself, three years ago, eavesdropping on this young couple registering at the hospital, I was staring at them since my heart broke for their story that I hadn't even heard yet.

My heart broke because I knew that if they were going to be living at Marillac Place, it meant that they literally had nowhere else to go. Homeless and pregnant, and just young teens.

I wanted to tap them on their shoulder and ask them if they wanted to come live with us. We'll take care of you, I wanted to say. We'll take care of your baby. Whatever led you to this place right here doesn't even matter--we'll take you home and love you and love your baby and love your boyfriend with the baggy pants. Because everyone deserves that.

But in order to not seem like a creepy stranger inviting them into my house, I sat there uncomfortably, hoping and wishing that they'd both be okay in the end.

My plea though, to you today, is that you help me. I may not be able to invite each of these girls to live in my house, but we can still do a lot for them. I was talking with the director of Marillac Place and asked her what the girls needed right now since Terry and I knew that we wanted to make a significant donation to them this year. She was thrilled and excited that I was asking.

She sent me a list of items that they're trying to collect in order to give these girls a Christmas. Because, well, Christmas is a really lonely time for a lot of people who don't have family or anywhere to go. And although some of these girls have a mom or dad or other family members who they are sometimes in contact with (but don't always have a great relationship with), some of them don't have anyone at all.

So, my plea here to you is that you take a minute and help me. I didn't realize how many items they really needed, and although I'd love to have the means to be able to buy them all--I thought we'd make a donation ourselves and then ask for help for some of the other items from all of you. They're not asking for much. Just the essentials. Bed sheets, shampoo, hair brushes, baby items, diapers. Just the things that I take for granted that I can just go out and buy for myself and my family.

The director gave me a Christmas wish list for the teens--new items that they'll wrap up and put under the tree for the girls and their babies. But they are also always looking for gently used items--maternity clothes, baby clothes and toys or anything that a new mom would need.

Some of you will be able to help a lot--you'll be able to go out and buy a ton of the items on this list--and I thank you for that. Some of you will be able to donate one small item and that's wonderful too...it's one more gift that some young girl gets to open on Christmas day--and for that I thank you a million times over. And some of you are just able to cheer us on, watch as the donations come in and send your love our way--and I thank you so much for that as well. I want to be able to tell these amazingly brave young girls that someone cares. Because really, it's not about the items. No, not at all. It's about the feeling that they will get when they open their gifts and realize that someone out there cares for them, loves them and is willing to help them. They're just all so young.

I've copied the wish list below of the items that these girls need. If you are able to donate anything from this list, please let me know by leaving a comment directly on my blog or via Facebook or email so that I can keep track of what we have and what we still need to get. You'll notice that they're asking for 10 of some items..and that is because there are 10 girls living there right now--the house is at capacity.

P.S. Please if you could share this post, tweet it, email it...whatever you can do to get it out to see if others can help too I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you again,

Erica xo

Check out http://www.marillacplace.ca/ if you would like more information or if you would like to know where to drop off your items.

Marillac Place – needs list

Household Items:
·         Bed in a bag sets (single beds)
·         Single bed blankets
·         10 bed bug covers - single bed
·         10 bed bug covers - crib
·         Crib sheets & blankets
·         Pillows
·         Bottle warmers
·         Diaper genie refills (blue)
·         Dish towels/ cloths
·         Baby wash cloths/towels

Items for moms:
·         10 brush/ comb sets
·         10 house coats sets
·         10 pairs of slippers
·         10 pajama sets
·         10 winter hat/glove sets

Items for babies:
·         Baby boy and girls clothes/sleepers preemie-24 months
·         Diapers preemie-size 6
·         Baby toys up to 24 months
·         Wipes
·         Diaper cream/Vaseline
·         Bath products (baby wash, shampoo, lotion)
·         Baby oil
·         Baby powder
·         Soothers
·         Socks
·         Bibs
·         Bottles/sippy cups
·         10 bottle brushes

Misc.:
·         Adult bus tickets
·         Gift cards (Tim Hortons, Shopppers, Grocery stores, Walmart)
·         10 scrapbooks
·         10 photo albums
·         10 weather covers for strollers
·         10 laundry baskets
·         10 disposable cameras 





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