i have spent most of the past 24 hours slumped on the futon in my den, nursing an intestinal bug and an incessantly hungry baby. and watching, with that secret, lurid fascination i usually reserve for entertainment gossip and the shopping channel, the annual fundraising telethon for the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax NS.

i’ve never watched a telethon before. i remember, vaguely, the cable tv marathons of my childhood, full of juvenile tap-dancers and the musical talents of local Women’s Institute members, but as i was never invited to perform in these spectacles, i failed to find them anything but embarrassing. i was a late bloomer in the community spirit department.

but this IWK telethon, full of poignant testimonials from now-healthy children and pleas to pick up the phone and call, compels me now. over the past fourteen months, i’ve spent a cumulative nine weeks living there, on their perinatal bedrest ward. one of my children was born at the IWK, and died there: the whole eleven hours of his life were spent inside the hospital walls. my second child, lying fat in my lap as i type, was threatened with the same too-early arrival as his older brother but came at a safe thity-six weeks, thanks to the IWK’s diagnostic and bedrest care.

it takes a lot of money to run a hospital, and a lot of equipment that Medicare can’t always supply to meet demand. when Finn was born and the emergency code was sounded, a neo-natal team of fifteen people came pouring into the delivery room so quickly my addled mind imagined them all hiding in a secret closet off the room, waiting for their cue. and they all had monitors and machines he needed – thousands and thousands of dollars worth of monitors and machines, utilized without hesitation even for a child born with almost no lung development, a child without much hope of survival. Finn was treated with skill and dignity and care for the duration of his short life. we could have asked for more from providence, or whatever powers determine who lives and who dies, but we couldn’t have asked for more from the hospital and its staff. they do good work, and even when they cannot save a child, their efforts matter.

the money raised by the telethon – which factors into the millions every year – goes towards funding the equipment and supplies and programs that keep the hospital functioning as humanely as it does. we’ve made a small donation in Finn’s memory, last year and this one…but watching the show this weekend, i’ve realized i’d like to do more. as Oscar gets older, maybe we’ll do some fundraising as a family. and while my experiences at the IWK aren’t the poster-child kind that usually inspire testimonials, i still wanted to share one…hence this post.

if you’re connected to the Maritimes, the IWK telethon website is www.iwkfoundation.org. consider giving. if you’re elsewhere, take a look at your local children’s hospital, and consider offering what you can, be it time, toys, or money. they’re a good cause.

end soapbox. :)