Keeping Hope in Sight at Children’s National
By Negar, a Children's National Hospital patient
I was six months pregnant when I first visited the United States. I was on vacation in Washington, D.C. seeing a friend and shopping for cute baby things I couldn’t have found in Iran.
I went to a nearby hospital when the pain started. Ryan, much to my astonishment, was born there after a 30-hour labor. I also was shocked to find out that doctors believed he had an intestinal blockage. I felt scared, alone and very confused.
Ryan was transferred to Children’s National Hospital. He had two surgeries and was later diagnosed with “short gut.” I spoke little English and had trouble understanding that his small intestines could not absorb nutrition from food. How could my baby live if he couldn’t eat?
Ryan had his first surgery at two days old. I cried in the cafeteria, comforted by strangers. My mother arrived soon. I was deeply depressed. His caregivers tried to teach me how to take care of Ryan, but I refused. All I wanted to do was go home to Iran. My pain was so big. My mother took over learning about his care.
A social worker talked to me every day as if she understood. She didn’t judge me, but gave me hope and made me an appointment with a psychologist. I began to accept the situation. I learned to take care of my son. It has gone well. I’ve learned to lower his risk of infection which has meant no unexpected hospitalizations. Ryan’s doctors asked me to talk to parents of new patients with similar conditions.
I’m also going back to school so I can work at Children’s National in the future. It means so much to give back to the place and the people that have supported me so endlessly.