Hi everyone! Me again :) Here today to chat a bit about one of my all time favorite causes (on Giving Tuesday!) - The Sailing Stork Fund! It's fitting to write about this today not only because Giving Tuesday is about, well, giving, but also because this upcoming Thursday evening, I'll be participating in a fundraising event for the fund and I'd like everyone to know why the Stork Fund is so close to my heart.
For those who have yet to pick up on this - I live on Nantucket. It's a small island off the coast of Massachusetts (blah blah blah you all already know about it I'm sure) and while most of Nantucket these days is just something out of an Instagram celebrity's dream, there is a whole lot more to living here than just admiring gray shingles and colorful doorways every day.
If you are on Nantucket, and you have medical needs, most of the time you can go to Nantucket Cottage Hospital. If/when their stellar staff in the ER or the OR decide that your medical needs can't quite be met in their excellent facility (it really is an amazing hospital, I'm not being sassy), they have the means necessary to get you where you need to go. Medflights head out of the airport every day, carrying people to Boston and elsewhere to get whatever attention they need for whatever ails them.
All of this is excellent and it's really such a relief to those of us who live here that this is an option. Because in an emergency, all you care about is getting where you need to go to get the help you need. But imagine you are a woman (and yes, I have to say woman because I'm sorry, men can't have babies and I'm about to talk about having babies) and you've just gone into labor and you get to NCH and they realize something's not quite right and they need to get you to Boston. Obviously, you go. You go as fast as they can get you going. You get to Boston, they sort you out, everything is fine and you're in Boston with a new baby and you're so happy and everything is great and oh - wait - you're in BOSTON and not in NANTUCKET and your husband/partner is supposed to be at work in a few days because if they can't work than you can't pay your rent or your bill. So your husband/partner has to choose between staying in BOSTON and his/her wife/partner (I am very inclusive everyone, deal with it) and new baby or in NANTUCKET where he/she has to be in order to work to pay the rent and the bills and OMG this is the thing of nightmares.
But WAIT, here's another one...imagine you are pregnant (if you are a woman, sorry men, you still don't get pregnant) and you're pregnant with TWINS! Oh such joy - TWINS! They'll be so cute in their little matching outfits and their little matching shoes and their little...wait, WHAT DID YOU SAY?! I CAN'T DELIVER TWINS ON NANTUCKET?!
Nope, sorry, NCH doesn't deliver multiples. And it's fine, they just can't...they have one OR and a small OR team and if something were to go wrong with one of the new babes or the Mother they just wouldn't be the right place to deal with a real emergency. All that being said, when you live on Nantucket and you find out you're having twins, you also find out that in 9 months you'll be spending quite a bit of time in America. You can choose to head to Cape Cod or Boston or a similar facility that has the staff in place for multiples, but you can't stay here. DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO DO THIS?! You head off the island around 36 weeks and you wait. You wait and you pay hotel bills and you wait and you eat at restaurants and you wait and your husband/partner goes back to Nantucket to work or maybe you both wait together because you're both taking time off of work but maybe when you take time off you don't get paid - and that makes the waiting so much worse. And eventually you have two adorable little matching babies aaaaaaaand a tremendous credit card bill.
Ok, so that's another terrible scenario in which the joys of new parenthood can be crushed by the overwhelming expense of having to leave Nantucket to give birth. What happens when the medical emergency isn't with YOU, the one giving birth, but with your baby...and you and your newborn are flown off via helicopter only to find out that your new little dude or dudette will be staying in the NICU for weeks...WEEKS! And you're a new Mom, you're certainly not going anywhere - but the NICU doesn't have adult sized accommodations...so you spend WEEKS in an expensive hotel so that you can wake up every day and go hang with your new little best friend. And your husband/partner travels back and forth from Nantucket to get to work and get back to see you and OMG I WANT TO CRY.
I will end this soon, I promise. But I really want this to sink in...living on Nantucket is all puppies and rainbows most of the time but on occasion, living on an island is incredibly stressful and expensive and challenging. When the very happiest moment of your life is overshadowed by the very very real expense of having to leave home to take care of yourself and your new family, it can be overwhelming and devastating and exhausting.
When I had my first little fella, I was lucky enough that everything went smooth enough that I didn't end up delivering anywhere but the NCH OR (I say smooth enough because there is nothing just "smooth" about 55 hours of labor that ends in an emergency c section but whatever, I'm super woman) but my first birth experience was exciting enough that I took a real interest in this journey into Motherhood and how it went for other people. I joined an advisory committee at the hospital that was specific to Pediatrics and Labor & Delivery and it was there that a number of mothers and I learned of all the craziness many people have had to go through in these emergency or multiples (twins etc.) delivery situations. With my first baby, I spent 7 days in NCH with my own house just 10 minutes away and that was adventure enough for me. As I learned of the weeks that parents of multiples had to spend in Boston, or the months that some parents had to spend travelling back and forth from the island to just spend time their babies in the NICU, I was determined - along with my Super Mom cohorts - to do something about it!
So we started The Sailing Stork Fund, in conjunction with the social services department at NCH. The Fund was put in place to help offset the financial burden families face when they are told that they can not deliver on Nantucket despite their wishes to stay. Stork funds help pay for travel on and off the island, for lodging expenses around the hospital where the delivery is to happen or a baby is being kept in the NICU. In addition to supporting families financially, the Fund has committed to be a resource 24/7 for families who need support or information at all hours of the day. We wanted families to know that if they were headed off the island at any hour of the day or night, that they could logon to our website or reach out to our volunteers to find information on lodging and travel options as well as translators in the area etc.
On Thursday the 29th I'll be selling my goods with a slight markup to support The Sailing Stork Fund. An extra $5 here or there doesn't seem like much, but if we all work together, a lot of $5 goes a long way. Come join me in supporting fellow Nantucket families enjoy these most magical times in their life without having to worry about how they'll pay for it. They can leave that worrying for when they have to start sending their children to daycare...