The story begins as it does for most young, expecting parents. But at 32 weeks it took quite a different turn, and my pregnancy required bed rest. At 34 weeks the situation became serious and the medical team recommended action. The live birth required 13 hospital staff and immediately our baby was taken to the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) due to compromised lung function. We prayed for a positive outcome.
Our daughter Charlotte was 4.5 pounds at birth and considered one of the larger babies in the unit. We were able to feed and hold her, but only for short periods of time. We were grateful that medical technology was available, and staff provided expert care. After two weeks she was removed from breathing devices, and after three weeks we could finally bring her home. The doctors told us she might have cognitive delays and may always struggle with breathing, but we cloaked her in our faith.
After two years she showed all the signs of normal development, and we could finally catch our breath. Although there are always surprises in childhood development, we began to see her blossom. And even with mild asthma, we encouraged her to enjoy exercise and music, like her parents.
Today Charlotte stands as a beacon of joy and faith in our family. As an accomplished ballet dance and flautist, both requiring extraordinary breath, she has accomplished far beyond what we initially dreamed for her. And still even more inspiring, she shifted gears at 17 to repeat 11th grade in order to complete a two-year program at Western Reserve Academy studying Cancer Immunology with The Cleveland Clinic.
As she comes full circle, it only seems fitting that we honor the organization that gave her these abilities. When we discussed a donation, she said, “I have a better idea: let’s organize an event to raise even more money for the babies, like me, and the doctors and staff of The Cleveland Clinic NICU.”
On Sunday, April 24, Charlotte will host a benefit concert BY children FOR children with youth instrumentalists and vocalists. The event will take place at the First Congregational Church of Hudson from 1:30-3 p.m., and more information on donations and tickets can be found here. In appreciation, three generations of Cleveland Clinic patients in the family are underwriting this event. Our hope is to raise over $10,000 for the organization to help Northeast Ohio families breathe easier.
Nearly 18 years ago, the idea of hosting a philanthropic benefit was the last item on our minds. After 72 hours of sleeplessness, the present moment was all-encompassing. And yet that baby, my daughter Charlotte, has always inspired us to believe in our future.
Kathleen Leigh Lewarchick ’93