Diaper Donations Help Babies in Hospice Care

By Lane Foster, former volunteer and current Volunteer Coordinator – Community Partnerships & Special Events at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

I’ll never forget the day I changed my first diaper.

It wasn’t for my own child, or a niece or nephew. It was for a baby I only saw once.

I had recently trained to become a volunteer at the Kansas City Hospice House™ and had checked a box agreeing to sit with dying infants if there were ever a need. All too soon, there was a need.

The patients I had met thus far were adults, many with grown children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren. I was suddenly nervous about a baby. The prospect had seemed easy enough. Hold her. Sing to her. Rock her. Just like any other baby. Except this baby was dying.

I arrived just as Eva’s nurse was heading into another patient’s room. She thanked me for coming and asked me to check Eva’s diaper and change it if necessary.

Her diaper. I hadn’t thought of that possibility. I didn’t have kids. No one I knew had kids. Diapers were not impossible to figure out, but my nerves leapt at the prospect of changing my first diaper on a baby who was critically ill.

Eva was heartachingly tiny. And while I could tell something was different about her, she was still a baby—a tiny, squirming, beautiful-in-her-own-way baby. A baby whose family couldn’t be there for some reason. A baby who would never know anything except love and kindness. Who would rarely be without arms to rock her because I was just one of many volunteers who signed up to sit with her.

Her diaper was wet. On the shelf were the tiniest diapers I had ever seen, for preemies. Nerves again, and doubt. Could I do this? She looked so fragile. I lifted her gingerly and put her on the changing table. She cried at the brief interruption of her warmth and comfort, as I now know many babies do, but we both got through that diaper change.

It wasn’t perfect. I was afraid of making the diaper too tight across her little stomach. But she seemed content after being swaddled. We rocked, I sang (also not perfect), she cried and I held her bottle when it was time to eat. Mostly, I looked into her eyes and told her how beautiful and amazing she was.

My shift ended all too soon and I never saw Eva again. She died in the arms of another volunteer a few days later. But she lives in the memories of me and the other volunteers who cared for her. I learned a lot from her about presence and the miracle of life. And changing diapers.

Note: Baby Eva’s name has been changed to protect her privacy. Her diapers were paid for by donations to Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care. Unlike baby Eva, most babies and children in our care are at home with their families. These families hoped and planned for a healthy child but now have the added expense of medical bills and things not covered by most insurance or aid programs, including diapers.

Carousel Diaper Need AwarenessYou can give tangible assistance to families here in Kansas City!

During national Diaper Need Awareness Week (September 24-30) and throughout the year, please consider helping babies in pediatric hospice care by donating diapers of any size at any Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care office, or at the Kansas City Hospice House™ or NorthCare Hospice House. Visit our pediatric hospice wish list on Amazon.com to have diapers shipped to us.

The Kansas City Hospice® Carousel program is unique in this area and essential to our mission of providing compassionate care. Starting during pregnancy Carousel Perinatal Services works with families whose unborn children have received a life-limiting diagnosis. Carousel Pediatric Hospice & Palliative Care provides hospice and palliative care to babies through young adults.

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