This blog was submitted by a friend of Giving Families, Sarah: Growing up I knew that my father donated blood on a regular basis. I remember him coming home wearing stickers that said, “Be nice to me, I gave blood today.” I was always a little creeped out by the idea of his blood going into someone else’s body. I remember asking him why he did it. His response was a simple one, “Other people need it and I have more than enough to share.” My older siblings followed in his footsteps and became blood donors once they came of age, but I did not. The fear of the unknown was enough to keep me away.

That mindset changed in 2011. I was married. The mother of an adorable baby boy named Landon. And loving my life as a wife, mother and teacher. In July my husband and I were surprised to find out that we were expecting another child. We had hoped to expand our family at some point but hadn’t planned on it happening quite so soon. We blissfully prepared to welcome our second child the same week our first would be turning one!

I began bleeding at 28 weeks. I was terrified that we were losing our baby. A trip to the hospital confirmed that thankfully our baby was fine, but I was not. Doctors informed me that I had a serious pregnancy complication known as Placenta Accreta. This complication occurs when blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply into the uterine wall, making it difficult for the placenta to detach after childbirth, and often causing severe blood loss at the time of delivery.

At 32 weeks gestation, at the age of 32, I delivered my second child. My son, Jackson, was born via emergency c-section/hysterectomy. During his delivery I lost massive amounts of blood and received a life-saving blood transfusion. Waking up in the intensive care unit, and hearing doctors tell me I wouldn’t be alive if it hadn’t been for the blood products I received, was a wake up call. I suddenly realized why my father, and so many other selfless individuals, choose to donate blood…..it literally saves lives!

My son, Jackson - now five-years-old.

So many people want to help others but are hindered in doing so by the lack of time or money. Donating blood takes very little time and requires no money. It is quite honestly one of the easiest ways to make a significant difference in the lives of others.

I had to wait a year after my transfusion before I was eligible, but I have been a regular donor since that day. I’m not going to lie, the first time I went to donate I was terrified. I had all of the typical concerns….Is it gong to hurt? What if I pass out? How will I feel afterwards? But I quickly remembered that if someone else hadn’t faced those same fears then I wouldn’t even be here.

Me, giving blood to save someone's life the way someone saved mine.

In facing my fears I learned that blood donation is quite simple. It astounds me that something so easy for me can make such a difference to someone else. My goal is to donate back the full amount that I received, and then to continue donating for as long as I’m physically able to do so.

When I go to donate blood I often bring my boys (now ages 5 & 6) with me. They know that blood donors are the reason that their mommy is around to watch them grow up and they know that I’m doing my part to help make sure other people’s loved ones are around for as long as possible. The first time they accompanied me they were a little worried about me. They probably had feelings similar to the ones I remember having as a child. I wondered if bringing them was the wrong thing to do, but I wanted to teach them to not be scared of the unknown, to embrace the opportunity to make a difference, and to share when they are able to do so.

My sons, Jackson (5) and Landon (6).

Through continued exposure they are now completely comfortable with the process. They talk about how Mommy saves lives and how they are going to do the same thing when they are old enough. They think coming with me to Hoxworth is fun. I’d like to think that they enjoy watching me be a super hero, but I’m pretty sure the free cookies help too!    

If you're in the Cincinnati area - please mark your calendars for the 3rd annual Hope for Accreta blood drive on April 6, 2017 at all neighborhood Hoxworth donor centers open on Thursdays. Stay tuned for more info!

To view Giving Families' Good Mail Challenge for February 2017, which was created to support blood donors, please click here.

Beth Nowak is a former Kindergarten teacher and mother of two who wanted to make memories with her children while making a difference in her community. Helping other parents do the same, she left the classroom to create Giving Families' Good Mail Challenges... fun and easy, family-friendly giveback activities that can be completed anytime, anywhere using materials readily available in most homes. To learn more and join the family, visit GivingFamilies.com.