Mireille and her baby, Brave, have been in and out of The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center for almost four months now, since Brave was born. Mireille, originally from Cameroon, came to the US after being awarded a lottery ticket through a Diversity Immigrant Visa program where only 5-10 applicants are chosen yearly. About 10 years after, her husband, and her two children moved to Pittsburgh, she discovered that she was pregnant again.
It was 20 weeks into her pregnancy when a blood test revealed worrisome results — Mireille’s baby would be born with Down syndrome. “I always felt that I could handle everything. I always felt tough. After hearing that my baby would be born with Down syndrome, I had to pull over the car I was driving at the time, and allow myself to break down,” she said.
Hardships began the minute she started to feel contractions. Her time in labor happened so quickly paramedics would deliver the baby right there in her husband’s car. After overcoming this initial traumatic experience, Mireille and her husband decided to name their baby Brave. Only 48 short hours after that, Brave was rushed into her first colostomy surgery, and quickly thereafter, a cardiac surgery to heal the holes in her heart that were discovered through the initial echo exam. “We never made it home,” Mireille said.
After being referred to The Children’s Home, she now feels that “it was meant to be” for her to give birth to Brave here in Pittsburgh. “This is home,” Mireille said. Not only does she feel tremendous social support from counselors and nurses on staff at The Children’s Home but also with the financial and daily living help she receives. “Everybody here is willing to listen, which means the world to me. When I don’t talk, I feel like I might explode,” she says. Her eyes light up when she talks about the weekly gas money and gift cards she receives that help her provide for her baby and other three children. “The other day, I was able to take them shopping! It’s such as relief to not have to worry about little things like that when I’m busy caring for my baby.”
Brave is now stable and awaiting her final surgery to fix her spinal cord. Mireille is hopeful this will be their last major procedure and she feels “more than ready to take the next steps.” To others that might find themselves in her shoes, she says “I would never want anyone else to go through what I’ve been through but if they do, come here to The Children’s Home. I can’t say it enough.”
If you would like to help, The Children’s Home is always accepting donations in many forms, which are listed under “Ways to Give” on the website. Monetary donations and gift cards are always appreciated to help those, like Mireille, get back on their feet after their children experience life altering surgeries and conditions. Finally, gifts help offset program costs and allows families to leave The Children’s Home without expensive medical bills – which the organization covers with community support.