Scared and Hopeful

Maybe you missed this post from last week but don’t feel bad. I am going to talk more about baby AJ here.

He is the child of my penpal/friend’s best friend. They are chosen family so he is her nephew. My friend is also a mama blogger that can be found here. As of today, he has been alive for 15 days. Just 15 days and already he’s had a world of struggle. Yesterday he was flown from Iowa to Pennsylvania and is currently at one of the best hospitals in the nation, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They will be able to perform much needed surgeries on him to get him started on growing into an awesome young man. I have not met AJ and I met his father and my penpal friend for the first time on Sunday night when they got into town. These parents are really having a tough go of it. They did not know prior to birth that their child had any health concerns. It was discovered after birth that he has several heart defects as well as Downs Syndrome. His family and extended friends love him no matter what and will do anything to help the family during this medical crisis.

Both parents will be out of work indefinitely and thousands of miles from home. Their daughter is staying with Grandma while they are here fighting the heart surgery fight with AJ. It’s hard. Mama is trying to keep pumping milk and love her little guy and they don’t get to be as cuddly with him as they’d like. Dad was telling us that he’s been trying to impart “dad/son” life lessons to AJ and had us all crying. I do not know the Hanford-Gale family personally until all of this happened. I do know Lasairiona and her will to be there for those that need her most. I’ve stepped up to offer the best that Philly can during this tough time. I’ve collected money at my church, from family, from Facebook. I’ve had offers of housing and to pay for airbnb because they aren’t approved for Ronald McDonald yet. People that I know have really stepped up to help this baby’s family feel welcome and find a home away from home here. I am amazed at how much love there is from people that do not know one another. I love that people in my life see me trying to help them out and are saying “YES ME TOO” and ask what they can do. This is what community is about folks!

I haven’t been sleeping well since I took on AJ’s fundraising and Philly welcome duties. I don’t know how or why I decided to make it my cause but I felt so pulled to help them out, especially once I knew they were coming here and didn’t know anyone. I’m worried about the baby like he is a relative of mine and I’ve never met him. I’m heartbroken at the possibility of the parents losing their little guy so early in his life. I really hope that the surgeries are all successful and that once the next month’s of surgeries are over, they will be back home and settling in as a happy family of four.

These feelings of “lost child” can be overwhelming and I’m trying not to think about myself but it happens when I’m laying in bed at night. I’m wondering what if our baby had been born and this was our struggle. What if we were faced every day with the possibility that our child might not live through the next night? In a way, I am glad we do not have to worry about the impending doom of the future of a beloved child. This is so hard for me to imagine and I get weepy thinking about it. I hope that once the first surgery is over (Thursday) that he will be on the mend and there won’t be any life threatening emergencies in his near future. I need for this kid to be healed and grow up. So many people are offering their prayers and good thoughts, donations of food, and places to stay. It’s amazing what people will do for one another. The welcoming spirit is everywhere with Pope Francis arriving in just a few days. Excitement is everywhere and we need it to wrap around AJ and help him make it through this week.. and the next.


I am offering one dozen home baked cookies to anyone that I know donates to the gofundme site. If you click the link in the first line of this entry, you can donate. This offer is to anyone that I know online or in real life. The catch is that you cannot donate anonymously because how will I know that you donated?! If you do donate, please email me at and let me know so I can keep an eye out for your name on the donation roster. I love to bake and to mail things so it’s really a win-win for everyone! (All dietary restrictions will be respected when preparing baked goods)