Carried to Connect: Emma’s Story

For Childhood Cancer Awareness month, we want to honor the families facing the difficult journey of childhood cancer and #GoGold to raise awareness. We’re connecting with real families, who have found babywearing helpful during their fight against cancer, and we are sharing their stories on our blog. Today, Emily shares her daughter, Emma’s, story. Continue reading to also learn how we are supporting childhood cancer awareness with our fully printed Tula Baby Carrier, ‘Beacon’.

It was October 8, 2015, a routine 11 month follow up for my daughter Emma James. I mentioned her easily bruising. She had bruises all over her legs, arms, torso, and even on her head. She had been extraordinarily clingy and whiney the previous month. Her pediatrician put in for a complete blood count. I got a call 4 days later stating I needed to rush Emma down to Rady Children’s Hospital for further testing. Her platelets were at 26,000. I had always used a carrier with Emma. She was always very clingy, and wanted to be close to me. Little had I known she probably didn’t feel well, or was having bone pain that I knew nothing about. I wore Emma those first 11 months of her life at home while cooking, cleaning, walking, or running errands. I couldn’t get anything done without having her attached to me.

On October 13, 2015 we were admitted to Rady Children’s Hospital to begin treatment for AML M7, a very rare type of cancer especially in children. Emma’s diagnosis doesn’t have a favorable prognosis. The type of leukemia she has/had is very aggressive and acts quickly.  The goal was to put her into remission as fast as possible then move forward for a bone marrow transplant. She needed at least 3 rounds of chemotherapy each lasting at least one month. The chemotherapy was intense and harsh. We knew we would be inpatient on the oncology unit for least 4 months and that is if it went smooth.  They started treatment almost immediately.

Emma had co slept with us (Justin and I)  so when we were admitted I had to attempt to put her in a crib to policy. The only way I could get her to sleep in that hospital was with a carrier. I would have to pace our little room, or do squats with her in the carrier. I can tell you I probably did 70 squats a day/night trying to get her to sleep in the carrier. Then I would gracefully sneak her into the crib after she had passed out. I was still breastfeeding Emma at the time. Her appetite would come and go throughout the months but she breastfed for mostly comfort while inpatient. She could breastfeed in the carrier. It was so handy when the staff would come in and I had some privacy while she would continue to breastfeed in the carrier. She had a lot of nausea and vomiting after her 7-10 day chemo infusions. I could breastfeed her in the carrier. I could take her on walks in the carrier. Whatever we did in that hospital I was chest to chest with my baby. With so many strangers coming and going out of our room, and people poking her, causing her pain… she always wanted to be close to me. I was her comfort zone…inside that carrier was her comfort zone.  If it wasn’t for babywearing during those long months I don’t know what I would have done.

We were inpatient at the hospital for 8 long months. Emma almost didn’t make it. She was basically unresponsive for a month in the ICU. The chemo they had given her to wipe out her bone marrow before transplant was so harsh, it caused her liver to fail. Her kidneys were on the verge of failing. She had tubes coming out everywhere.  She didn’t speak any sounds, open her eyes, or touch me for an entire month. I would try to arouse her, sing to her, talk to her. I remember going back to the basics to try to get any kind of response from her. I got in her bed and would try skin to skin contact. I would lay her next to me and put our chests together like she liked it for months. Thanks to the grace of god and the amazing hospital staff they saved my baby. She slowly recovered, had to relearn how to walk and talk. We spent another month or two at the hospital getting therapy and waiting for her counts to come up.

Emma is about to turn 2 yrs old and is 6 month post bone marrow transplant. Her counts look great. We are working on putting some weight on her. She’s running around outside of the hospital happy as a clam, exploring and into everything. She still loves to be in a carrier, even though she has outgrown our current one. We cherish every moment we have with her and pray for her health and happiness daily.

Thank you to Emily and her family for sharing Emma’s story! We hope you will join us this month and #GoGold to help conquer Childhood Cancers. For every ‘Beacon’ Tula carrier sold, we will donate 10% of proceeds to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation so they can continue funding the fight against childhood cancers. Help by purchasing a Tula ‘Beacon’ Baby Carrier, or donating directly to St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

‘Beacon’ expresses the connected love, care and hope that surrounds each child and family facing cancer: each element coming together to offer strength and support. ‘Beacon’s’ geometric pattern, in a bright yellow gold color, covers the body panel, waistband, and shoulders straps. ‘Beacon’ is lined with light gray canvas and comes with a light gray hood.

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