To the friends, families and supporters of The Sick Children’s Trust,
Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year, so I was really dreading having to deal with not having my baby, Charlie, at home for his first Christmas.
We had been staying at Eckersley House The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ in Leeds while Charlie was undergoing treatment at Leeds Children’s Hospital just before Christmas two years ago. It was such a lovely environment. I was able to stop worrying about the practicalities of my situation and concentrate on simply being Charlie’s mum. Eckersley House gave Glen, my husband, and I so much support that when Charlie became more stable, I decided to give up my room because I felt that we didn’t need it as much as another family might, especially at that time of year.
Christmas was very different to how we’d imagined it to be. I’d envisaged putting glitter footprints in the house as Santa footprints, and leaving the mince pie and milk out for Santa Claus. Instead I felt terrible that I wasn’t with Charlie. On Christmas Day, we drove to the hospital to be with him and the hospital tried to make the day as special as possible with presents, stockings, popping him in a little Christmas pudding outfit, but I knew I would have to leave him there eventually – on his first Christmas.
I resented everybody that day, because they had their family with them, and the only place I wanted to be was by Charlie’s side. I still have super mum guilt about that Christmas, but I know that my family just wanted me to try and relax as much as I could, as Charlie was in the safest place he could be, and won’t even actually remember that day.
Last Christmas was extra special as we managed to spend it at home with Charlie. We took him to see Santa and I did all the things I wanted to do together as a family. This Christmas I know he will understand the whole day a bit more, so instead of travelling to family as we have always done, I am hoping to make our own little family traditions at home that he will hopefully pass down to his children.
Families should be together at any given time which is why I think people should donate all year round to The Sick Children’s Trust, not just at Christmas. But if it wasn’t for someone’s kindness, many families with seriously ill children in hospital wouldn’t have the chance to be together at Christmas. £90 will give the Gift of Togetherness to a family over the Christmas period. And at a time in your child’s life which is already difficult, not having to think about the practicalities of how and when you can see your child, it really does help.
Every year we help over 3,500 families by giving them somewhere to stay near their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Sign up to receive our email newsletters to stay up to date with how your support is helping to keep families together.