Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week Five

This summer, Rivers students are embarking on a variety of interesting and challenging adventures, from doing community service abroad to attending prestigious music camps. Throughout the coming months, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Emily Hoberman, who is working at the Children’s Hospital this summer.

Today began my fifth week of volunteering at Children's Hospital. When I arrived on the floor this morning, I was greeted by a loud chorus of crying babies. The problem with being on a floor with many babies is that when one baby cries, all of the others join in. However, I have become used to the "audio excitement" and it no longer bothers me.

For the first hour, I held a tiny two week old baby. When I first started holding babies, I was so nervous about hurting them or even moving because they are so small, and many of them come to the floor right from the NICU. Almost all of them are attached to IVs and other monitors which makes holding them a challenge at times. It frequently doesn't feel like I am holding anything when I rock these babies because they are so small, and generally weigh only five to seven pounds. I have learned many techniques for calming the babies such as holding them very close to my body so that they can feel the rhythm of my breathing and can also feel my body's warmth. I have learned that slowly rocking the babies with my arms while rocking in the chair usually puts them to sleep.

After holding several more babies, I played with a five year old boy for over two hours. He and I started off the morning by playing eight games of Guess Who, seven of which he won. Afterwards, he taught me just about every game that one can play with cards, such as SlapJack and Trash, many of which I had never heard of. For such a young person, he was extremely good. I was only slightly embarrassed that he was beating me at many of the games he was teaching me until we started to play Checkers. At that point, after two hours of games and cards, he proceeded to beat me in three games of Checkers! Again, I was very impressed with his skills at these games.

The floor was fairly quiet in the afternoon, so I was assigned the task of completely reorganizing one of the bulletin boards in the main hallway. The board displays the many pictures sent from families of the kids who once spent time being cared for on my floor. This task took about one hour and then I was asked to rock one of the babies that I have been holding since my first week at work. When I first met her, she was only ten days old, and it is truly amazing and wonderful to see how much she has grown. It gives me a great feeling knowing that I gave her hours of comfort during these weeks by gently holding and rocking her as well as singing her lullabies. While this job may not be as intellectually challenging as some, it is very emotionally fulfilling, knowing that I am making a positive difference in the lives of these babies, children and their families.

Next week, I will share more about the importance of singing, talking, playing and reading to the babies and young children during their time at the hospital.

--Emily Hoberman

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