Three Reasons I Needed a Children’s Hospital

When your 2-year-old needs a minor operation, it’s comforting to know that a free-standing children’s hospital has everything to comfort babies and moms.

Meg Hawley, Social Media Specialist, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

I did not know I needed a children’s hospital. Sure, I work for a children’s hospital, but my family did not need one – or did we? My daughter, Mary Cameron, just needed tubes in her ears to alleviate the chronic and painful ear infections she was experiencing. It’s a simple procedure that takes about 10 minutes.

Did I ever think I would need a children’s hospital? My baby was not born with a complex heart condition; my teenager was not diagnosed with a rare disorder; and I didn’t have a high-risk pregnancy that would require the most advanced care for me or my baby.

It turns out, we did indeed need a children’s hospital. Children, all children, need a children’s hospital. You could even argue that parents need one just as much as the kids do.

A child life specialist introduces Mary Cameron to a mask like the one that would be used to put her to sleep before her ear tube surgery. Child life specialists are available in the pre-op area to help children experience less anxiety leading up to their surgery.

I was telling a friend about Mary Cameron’s ear tube procedure and how everything went so smoothly. Her son would soon need the same operation and she wanted to know what to expect. I immediately realized there were three things that made the process less scary and gave me comfort as a mom: A pediatric anesthesiologist, a visit with a Child Life Specialist to practice with the sedation mask, and a little car she got to “drive” into the operating room so that she was completely distracted and unconcerned when I had to kiss her head and say, “See you later.”

As I talked with my friend, I realized she may not have access to these child-friendly features in the town where she lives. These are very specific attributes and they don’t exist everywhere. Adult hospitals and surgery centers may not have these services but you can find them all in a children’s hospital. I quickly realized, yes, my family actually needed a children’s hospital.


Yes, the cars some of our patients drive in to surgery are ADORABLE and fun but they serve a purpose. Play is a universal language and our #ChildLifeSpecialist and #ornurse use tools like these SWEET RIDES to help them feel a little more normal when headed off to a procedure! #childrenshospital #sanantonio #surgery #toddlersoftiktok

♬ original sound – dinda_smr – dinda_smr
A nurse pushed Mary Cameron down the hallway leading to the operating room. Driving the little pink car to the OR was the highlight of her day at the hospital. Follow us on TikTok for more fun videos featuring cute kids, amazing doctors, and talented Associates!

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is “the city’s first and only free-standing children’s hospital.” As part of the CHRISTUS communications team, I have written that phrase more than a few hundred times. While I sat in recovery with my loopy 2-year-old, coming out of anesthesia, enjoying her post-op Popsicle, I realized that I may never associate what that truly means as a mere marketing catch phrase. From now on, it will feel like a promise. A promise to me, Mary Cameron, and the rest of San Antonio that children always come first within this building and that’s why a children’s hospital is essential in every community.

Everything for our children.

A Family’s Reflection on World Down Syndrome Day

Candice Chapman, Parent of a Down syndrome child

Down syndrome. Two words I honestly never thought would be part of our family, but let me tell you something, I can’t imagine our life any other way now.  Having a child with Down syndrome or any disability can and does bring about a mix of emotions.  You get the diagnosis and you try to process it, you are upset, you mourn the future you had envisioned, but then you feel the unbelievable love that your child has for you, it’s a love that is so big that it’s hard to describe.

For some reason people feel the need to apologize when they hear we have a child with Down syndrome, but they don’t understand what a beautiful life it really is.  I always tell people that there is nothing to be sorry about.  I honestly wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

Our lives are filled with doctor and therapy appointments, but watching your child work so hard on meeting milestones, seeing the determination to achieve them and excitement on their beautiful little faces when they do is one of the most amazing feelings in the world and is worth every minute that is spent at an appointment. 

Every day is an adventure and is mostly filled with laughter and smiles.  On tough days, I know that my child is there with their unconditional love, contagious laugh and beautiful smile to brighten my day. 

Having a child with Down syndrome has taught us so much more about life than I ever could have imagined.  It has taught us to appreciate the small things, not to take things for granted, to stop and smell the roses more.  You realize that your child teaches you so much more about life than you could ever teach them.  They teach you about kindness, love and acceptance.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine 24/7.  We still have hard days.  Days that we struggle and days that we just have a rough time.  Honestly, though, the good days do outweigh the bad.

So, my advice to any new parent that receives an unexpected diagnosis: give yourself a few minutes to be upset, but don’t stay in that moment.  Join a support groups, reach out to other parents, learn what you can and be your child’s biggest advocate.  Then know that soon you will experience a love beyond anything you ever imagined.  This love is unconditional and so pure.  It will make you forget that you were ever upset in the beginning. 

Since 2006, March 21 is recognized as World Down Syndrome Day. The 21st day of March signifies the genetic condition caused by an extra copy (three instead of two) of the 21st chromosome.

At The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, we have the largest team of physicians and genetic counselors in the region. We work with families to help identify genetic conditions in both adults and children of all ages and help them find the resources they need to reach their full potential. If you are interested in genetic services, please visit our website

Parenting resolutions for the new year

By Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH, FAAP
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine
Medical Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Medical Director, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Welcome 2019! The beginning of a new year reminds us to celebrate achievements of the past and reset goals for the future. Whether it be weight loss, quitting tobacco use, or saving money, while you narrow down your list of objectives, consider making a few New Year’s Parenting Resolutions that will help build stronger relationships with your children.

Limit screen time
If you want more time with your kids, everyone in the house will need to spend less time on their screens. It seems that children, from toddlers to teens, are on their phones or tablets all the time, so what is a parent to do? Set rules.

  • Place a bin near chargers and ask everyone (including yourself) to drop devices by a specific time that works for your home – such as after school, before dinner, 7 p.m., etc.
  • Do not allow screens at the dinner table.
  • For younger children, implement a rule of co-viewing and watch all content with your child. This allows you to limit time (because what parent has time to sit around and watch YouTube videos all day?), ensure that content is truly educational, and point out actions you do and do not agree with (“Was that nice of him to take her kitty?  No, it was not.  I’m so glad he returned it and apologized.”)
  • Remember the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children two years and older spend two hours or less per day on screens.

Be active
Almost half of Americans say they would like to lose weight in the new year. If you, too, made such a resolution in the past and have found it to be challenging, consider doing it as a family. Of course, we would all like to be healthy, but, more than anything, parents want a better life for their child. Creating a habit of exercise for them now will last into adulthood and prevent many health problems that you may be experiencing. Exercise is linked to improved mental health. The key to staying on track is choosing an activity that works for your family. Join the YMCA and take classes together. Start training in a martial art as a family. Run or bike on the weekends. Race up and down the stairs in your home (being careful not to fall!). Or turn up the music and have a dance party in your living room. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be active for at least 60 minutes per day.

Role model self control
Our world is quickly and constantly changing, and we are facing a host of #FirstWorldProblems: we can respond to a post on social media, order a pizza, download a video game, and shop for shoes all in a span of 10 minutes and a few clicks. But are we taking a moment to discuss the difference between “wants” and “needs” with our children? Whether your resolution is to save money, lose weight, stop yelling at your children, or spend less time on Instagram, you are making an effort to exercise self control. You are your child’s best teacher and when you take a few moments to breathe before reacting, they are watching and learning from you.

Learn something new
Have you always wanted to learn to play an instrument or speak a new language? Why not take it up together? Learning something new with your child holds you accountable (it is really hard to say you don’t feel like practicing to your 10-year-old when she pulls out her guitar), demonstrates to your child that it is never too late, and teaches your child that failure is part of success. Your first crochet project may look like a preschooler’s and your child needs to see that success is a series of steps that takes hard work and, often, many mistakes.

Serve together
In our desire to give our children the childhood we feel we never had, we are often passing up life lessons our parents instilled. We forget that empathy, compassion, generosity, and kindness must be taught. This year choose a charitable organization and serve. Volunteer at the Food Bank. Make baskets for the Salvation Army. Collect children’s books for Goodwill. Or just hand out free lemonade in your neighborhood. There are so many opportunities to give that your children can only see when you show them.

Cherish every moment
Yes, it is cliché, but they grow up so fast! So live in every present moment. Their every antic does not need to be recorded or posted. Put your phone down, watch the craziness, and create a memory in your mind. Better yet, join the craziness, and you will never forget what it felt like to swing them, floss with them, or build (and destroy!) trains with them.

But give yourself a break
We all want to be the perfect parent. If you could see yourself through your child’s eyes, you would realize they already think we are. So give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can to create a memorable childhood for them. Some days you will feel like you rocked it and others you will wish you could forget. But it is all part of your family’s story. So, give yourself a pat on your back and have a prosperous, safe, and healthy new year!

To locate a doctor for your child, visit

Part III: How to survive and thrive as a parent: Reinforcing the good

This is the third in a three-part blog series.

By Elissa Gonzalez, M.D., M.P.H.
Pediatric Resident, PGY3
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

In this final blog in my series, let’s explore ways that you can maintain your child’s good behavior through positive comments and by making the most of the time you spend with each other.

1. Praising versus rewarding
2. Special time
3. Modeling

Continue reading “Part III: How to survive and thrive as a parent: Reinforcing the good”

Part II: How to survive and thrive as a parent: De-emphasizing the bad

This is the second in a three-part blog series.

By Elissa Gonzalez, M.D., M.P.H.
Pediatric Resident, PGY3
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

In this blog, we will explore how you can focus on positive reinforcement and avoid placing attention on negative behaviors by:

1. Eliminating the “Nos,” the “don’ts,” and the “can’ts”
2. Focusing on what they should do
3. Picking your battles
4. Addressing the emotions not the behavior

Continue reading “Part II: How to survive and thrive as a parent: De-emphasizing the bad”

How to survive and thrive as a parent: Reinforcing the good, de-emphasizing the bad, and preventing the ugly

This is the first in a three-part blog series.

By Elissa Gonzalez, M.D., M.P.H.
Pediatric Resident, PGY3
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Part 1: Preventing the Ugly

By ugly, I mean the uncontrollable tantrums, the fighting, the hitting, and the angry outbursts. When we can prevent our child’s ugly behavior, we as parents are preserving our own sanity every day. Here are some guidelines to help prevent these episodes; however, this will not eliminate these behaviors completely since your children are human after all.

  1. Bonding
  2. Emotions
  3. Routine
  4. Anticipation
  5. Meeting needs

Bonding.  First you must bond. Establishing a strong connection with your child is an important factor in changing negative behaviors and maintaining positive behaviors. With younger children, maintaining a positive warm tone through play and getting down at eye level can help with building connections. In older children, showing interest in their daily activities and being flexible (listening and negotiating) can serve the same purpose. Sharing in decision-making is helpful for understanding each other and empowering your child at any age.

Continue reading “How to survive and thrive as a parent: Reinforcing the good, de-emphasizing the bad, and preventing the ugly”

The myth of the perfect parent

By Sky Izaddoost, M.D.
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care
Alon Town Centre

Every mommy has secrets. The first secret: We don’t always have it together. With the advent of social media, idealized parenting has become warped into a competition of who can do it better. We post pictures of our perfectly breastfed angels in our perfectly clean home with the homemade Pinterest cookies. Unfortunately, this perfection is an intermittent occurrence, not an accurate representation of what parenting should be. By far, first time mothers feel the guilt of not being flawless. I witness the tears daily from wonderful parents who think they are not keeping up with their friends and neighbors. They don’t know the struggle to be intermittently perfect.

Continue reading “The myth of the perfect parent”