Ahead of Mother’s Day, staff member and alumni mom, Melissa, shares how our Family Room at SickKids helped her stay close to her son.

Mother’s Day is traditionally a time for flowers, cards, and breakfast in bed. For staff member and alumni mom, Melissa, Mother’s Day three years ago was a very stressful time.

It was that weekend when her son, Toby, was admitted to hospital for pneumonia at just 18 months old. If you’ve never had to stay overnight in a hospital with your child, you’re one of the fortunate ones. It can be both exhausting and terrifying.

“He was very sick. The kind of sick where you show up to the ER and people move fast!” says Melissa.

Ask any parent, nothing can make you feel more helpless than when your child is sick.

Once Toby was admitted, nurses came around to check his vital signs every three hours. Although it was necessary, Melissa says this time always came just after he had finally fallen asleep, and he did not enjoy waking up to a cold stethoscope against his skin.

At the beginning of his stay, Melissa says Toby’s arm was in a splint to keep it straight, which made it easier to administer his medicine through an IV.

“I was so happy when we could detach from the IV pole,” she says. “It made cuddling with a squirmy toddler much easier.”

Melissa says mornings at the hospital were the most difficult time. She wasn’t sleeping much, and she really needed some coffee and a bite to eat.

“It was a long wait from Toby waking at 6 am, until my husband could arrive to relieve me at 9 am, but being able to use the Family Room at SickKids was a ray of sunshine during a difficult time,” says Melissa. “It was a place to enjoy that morning coffee and help myself to some oatmeal or fruit. My favourite feature was the recliner chairs. Comfy with my warm blanket and pillow, I could finally take some time for a nap I so desperately needed.”

Thankfully, Toby started getting better, much to his parents’ relief.

“I’ll always remember the morning when I was eating an egg and he said, ‘num num eggie,’” says Melissa. “Over the previous four days, he had been so lethargic and hadn’t spoken a single word, so this was music to my ears!”

Although it’s difficult to leave your child’s side when they’re in the hospital, parents need some quiet time to rest and recharge. After being with her son 24/7, Melissa says she needed to take some time for self-care.

The time I spent in the Family Room was so important for me. Getting some food, coffee and rest meant that I could be there for Toby when he needed me most.

Melissa, Toby’s mom

“As a mom, the small comforts and kindnesses I experienced in the Family Room are what got me through those difficult days in the hospital. That’s why I donate to RMHC Toronto – because I want the next family to benefit from the same loving support that I received. Thank you, RMHC Toronto, for keeping my family close!”

This Mother’s Day, celebrate a mom or mother figure in your life today by making a donation in their name to RMHC Toronto.