“Two years ago I transferred to my current law school. I was three months pregnant and a newly single parent to my already one-year old boy. From the time my youngest was born, my law school was tremendously welcoming and never thought of me as “less than” because I was a mother and single parent. The year Teddy was born, I was a day student at the law school, but due to interning at a local Public Defender’s Office, I was required to attend two nighttime information sessions at the law school. Both times, my professor permitted me to bring Teddy to class and quietly nurse him throughout the session. As the year went on, my oldest son was diagnosed with a rare, genetic lung disease and immunodeficiency disorder, which required several surgeries, month long antibiotic treatments, and plasma transfusions. Upon hearing this news, the Dean of the law school sent my oldest a personal get well card and teddy bear wearing the law school’s logo. Soon after, my youngest, Teddy, became very ill and spent his first holiday being ambulanced and admitted to the hospital. Nevertheless, I put the one hospital stay behind, chalked it up to the usual “daycare illness” and successfully completed the semester despite juggling hospital stays and doctor’s appointments. I breathed a sigh of relief at the close of the semester and told myself that it could only get easier from here on out.
The new semester began that January and immediately my little Teddy required new specialist after new specialist. My older had been easier to diagnose than Teddy—he had all the telltale signs and symptoms, corresponding lab work, testing, and correlating cultures for the rare, genetic lung disease and immunodeficiency disorder. However, the same didn’t happen for Teddy. He spent the rest of his first year being admitted to the hospital time and time again. He averaged a hospital admission a month and underwent testing, procedures, surgeries, and plasma transfusions. During this time, I kept up with classes and stayed up at night completing assignments, drafting contracts, and studying for final exams in Teddy’s hospital bathroom so the light wouldn’t wake him as he slept. By the start of my final year of law school, Teddy required a gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, immunologist, hematologist/oncologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, and geneticist.
Teddy perplexed every local specialist and hospital and after every medical appointment I was told, ‘I’ve never seen a child this medically complex.’ I was left with a laundry list of confirmed diagnoses for each body system affected and an overarching diagnosis of “multisystem failure.” Teddy was referred to hospitals out-of-state due to increasing concerns of bone marrow failure and other rare complications, however, insurance quickly denied any ability for Teddy to receive out-of-state care. Saddened, I went to explain to one of my dearest professors why my class participation had not been up to my usual standard of participation the previous day. The following day, while awaiting my son to get out of a procedure, I received word that the law school would be meeting to discuss how to allow me to move for my son’s treatment while finishing my last semester of law school. I couldn’t believe it. In the end, my entire law school community came together and made it possible for me to move out-of-state for my son’s medical treatment while still allowing me to finish my last semester of law school and walk across that stage in May. From the moment I stepped into the law school, my professors never doubted my legal capabilities due to needing to split time between hospitals, classes, and work. They judged me by the work I submitted and the commentary I brought to class discussions. And not once was it suggested that I just “quit.” Having children led me to this wonderful community of individuals and it is here that I learned what a community is all about.”