Every baby needs a grandma!
Every family needs a coach!

Our Stories

Gail Leventhal’s Story

December 17, 1969 was a momentous day! My twins were born and my life would be changed forever! But three months later, my life was to change again! I dislocated my knee cap and had to be on crutches…with twins! That took some real ingenuity.

My husband, who was working on a production deadline, was away most of the time, and all he was really able to do was thumbtack baggies onto my crutches in order to transport baby essentials around the house! Then, to top that off, my doctor read me the riot act for not staying off my leg, which he reassured me would not heal until I did. Right…and I’m suppose to do that with infant twins! What would I do? Where was my mother when I needed her? She was 3,000 miles away in New York.

In order to get off my leg and get some help, I had to fly cross-country on crutches with 3-month old twins. It was an experience I will never forget! Finally, after a very long flight with NO help from the flight attendants, I finally reached New York and I cried with joy and relief when I saw my mother. Everybody needs a grandma!

Grandmas2Go would have been a god-send to me if it had existed back then…but now I’m grateful to belong to this group and can give back to other young families that need a grandma!


 

Steve and His Two Sons

Not all families are at risk because of drugs. Life circumstances can impact a family. Steve was working in construction when he suddenly found himself with full custody of his two boys, an 18 month old and a newborn. He quit work to take care of his sons, a job he was not prepared for. He was stressed out, sleep deprived, worried about finances and taking care of two babies 24/7 – by himself. The Healthy Families counselor asked if he’d be interested in having a Grandma2Go. He was! The boys are thriving under the loving care of a super dad and two loving Grandmas2Go.

When social services informed Steve that there were no more funds for him to stay home with his babies, his Grandma2Go helped him write a resume and fill out job applications. She even went along to interview a potential daycare provider. Working, raising two babies, finding and affording good childcare are challenges he faces daily. It’s not easy and it is definitely exhausting! But it’s also the most rewarding job in the world! (Especially when you have a little extra help!) Steve is proud to be a role model for other dads. And he appreciates having Grandmas2Go in his life!


 

Rob and Rachel

Rob and Rachel struggled in and out of treatment trying to kick their meth addiction. Their babies were under three, and the trauma and upheaval in their lives was affecting the girls. Child Welfare removed the children from the storage unit where the family was living, and over the next nine months the girls were placed in three different foster homes. The judge was ready to terminate parental rights to let these precious little girls be adopted. That’s when it hit Rob and Rachel. They loved their daughters and wanted to get them—and their own lives—back. Addiction is a nasty disease but with other service workers, we wrapped our arms around this family and supported them in their journey. It worked. A year later, Rob and Rachel got married and their daughters were the flower girls! Today Bette and Mariana are in elementary school; and mom is a Peer Counselor helping other parents on that difficult journey to sobriety. I still see them and am so proud of the hard work they have done and continue to do. They changed their lives for the sake of their children, and got their own lives back in the bargain.


 

Gramma and Me

It was 57 years ago, when Gramma passed away, but it seems like yesterday. I was 12 years old. I can still remember everything about her, from her grey-white, beautifully styled, hair to her gnarled fingers. I can still see her knees, really big, and round…of course, I didn’t know anything about arthritis back then.

She was in my life from the day my adopted parents brought me home from the hospital. Gramma lived with us and from my first memories, she was simply the BEST!

My daddy died from leukemia when I was 5 years old and my mom instantly became the bread-winner for our little family of three. So, it was gramma and me from the time I first opened my eyes in the morning until she put me to bed, always with a story, either her own made-up one about princesses, or from my favorite Mickey Mouse Goes on A Picnic book. (Which I still have waiting to pass it on to my son for my own grandchildren!)

Gramma taught me everything…from making mud pies (but always dressed in a frilly dress…no tom-boy for me!) to making real pies, crust from scratch, of course! She taught me to read and count…and when it was time to go to pre-school (to play with other children), I only wanted to play with gramma.

We had the best time together; I didn’t know she was teaching me to be a survivor, but as the years went by that was certainly what was to happen.

Every baby needs a grandma! More about Gramma and Me next time!


 

Linda Otto’s Journal Entry

Today I held a baby girl who was described as “low stim” – don’t rock and don’t move unnecessarily. As I hold her, I notice how strongly she reacts to any noise … the door clicks closed and she jumps. She stretches her legs straight out; her arms flail; she quivers. I sing to her; whisper to her, console her, encourage her – tell her she’s doing a good job. Being a newborn is tough. There’s so much to learn. How to suck, swallow and breathe. How to digest food, how to pee and poop and pass gas; how to smile. But this baby doesn’t smile. Sometimes a newborn gives a little grin that I think is saying that their brain just learned something new; that the baby had a nice response to a positive recent stimulation. But this baby doesn’t have that contented look. Her wide eyes look into mine, imploring me to help, to soothe her, to make her feel better. This baby is very agitated – not crying; not wimpering, just … what?

The nurse comes over and injects something into her IV. Shortly afterwards the agitation subsides, the furrowed brow relaxes, the arms and legs stop flailing. She rests.

As a trained “Infant Cuddler,” I’ve been taught not to ask questions of the nurses. But I want to learn; I want to know. Was it pain relief? Had this baby had some kind of surgery and the pain was returning, and the medicine in the IV tube alleviated that pain?
So I say to the nurse: can I ask you a question? Was that something for pain that you gave her? She replies matter of factly: “She’s a withdrawal baby.” Oh … now I know. She was born addicted to the narcotics her mother was using – and now this innocent baby has to go through the throes of withdrawal. My heart aches for her. And for the little baby in the incubator across the room. She’s a “drug baby” too. Her mother already left the hospital. Told DHS to give the baby away – no, she didn’t want to name her – let someone else do that – she’d only screw that up too.

DHS has been here. The recently assigned foster mom was here twice today to hold and comfort this little girl. What is her future?

Does this sound like we’re in the urban hospital of some declining city? Does this sound like these are the infants of some poor black single moms living in a tenement?

It’s not. These are the white babies from nine counties in Southern Oregon and Northern California. These are the ‘throw away” babies that their mothers don’t want to raise. Their addiction is a stronger pull than their mothering instincts.

No wonder our NICU nurses are reaching burnout. They are like battlefield medics in a war zone, fixing up the wounded and sending them out to an unknown future.

What are we doing to stop this epidemic of damaged human beings? This is the drug war we should and must be fighting. For the babies’ sake and for ours.