Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 19, 2019
YANA a blessing for Michaela, Harley, and Baby Violet
Every YANA birth story is unique, with one common thread – the support never changes. The community is behind every birth, and any out-of-town follow up appointments or treatments required.
YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.
This YANA birth story starts, as many of them do, with a pregnant mom being transferred to a hospital outside of our community that is better equipped to handle complications.
November 18, 2018 – Michaela is in labour, six weeks before baby is due. Nurses here tell her she will need to be transferred to Nanaimo Regional Hospital, the closest hospital with a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Michaela is handed an envelope from YANA containing emergency funds and a letter inviting her to contact them for further assistance.
November 19, 2018 – Weighing 5 lb 4 oz , Violet Tammy Robillard is born by caesarean at 12:30 am.
November 21, 2018 – YANA is contacted by a hospital social worker and first contact is made by mom Michaela. YANA arranges initial travel funding from Nov. 18 to Dec. 3 and learns that Violet’s mom and her dad Harley are staying bedside at the hospital. Discussion is started about accommodations for them if Violet has to stay in hospital. Since Michaela and Harley are in Nanaimo without a vehicle, YANA’s executive director, Kelly Barnie, begins investigating Airbnb options that are walking distance to the hospital.
Michaela emails Kelly and says “I received the e-transfer and want to thank you all so much from the bottom of our hearts. With my spouse missing so much work we have been very concerned on how we are going to get by and this lifts a huge weight off our shoulders. I’m overwhelmed with joy. Thank you so much again.”
Kelly responds, “We are so happy to help. This is exactly what makes YANA so amazing – it’s all about people getting behind one another without fail when they need it most. I’m so grateful every day that I have the honour of being the steward of the unbelievable generosity in this community.”
November 22, 2018 – Michaela receives information from Kelly about the private “YANA Connects” Facebook group for YANA families. Noting how tough it is not to have family nearby at this time, Michaela immediately sends her request to join the online support network and is welcomed to the group the same day.
November 28, 2018 – Michaela and Harley move into the Airbnb while Violet stays in hospital until she is able to feed on her own without the use of the NG (Nasogastric) tube. They hope it will be only a week or two, but Kelly assures them YANA will extend the booking and funding until whenever Violet is able to come home. Michaela is very emotional about leaving Violet at the hospital but is extremely grateful to be nearby at the accommodations YANA provided. They are also very happy to have a place with a kitchen after nearly two weeks of mainly hospital food!
November 30, 2018 – Violet is making great strides, but still needs the NG tube. Doctors say she will need to stay a while longer. Michaela contacts Kelly with the update so Kelly provides additional travel funding, extends the accommodations and wishes them a snuggly weekend of awake, alert, tummy filling feedings.
December 7, 2018 – Michaela and Harley are ecstatic to report that they are now back home with Violet. They share their heartfelt appreciation. “We cannot thank you guys enough for everything, we are so incredibly grateful. I don’t know how we would have gotten through this without YANA!”
For more information on the YANA Connects peer support group for current and past families, visit https://www.yanacomoxvalley.com/get-support/yana-connects/
Another way to help YANA, and perhaps win big, is to purchase a Valley Vonka chocolate bar (or two) at participating dealers, while quantities last.
Contained within the packaging of five Valley Vonka chocolate bars are the coveted “golden tickets,” to be redeemed for some incredible prizes.
Valley Vonka chocolate bars are available at:
and of course the YANA office!