BETHANY — Inside a hospital room with the hum of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” paired with the sounds of beeping medical equipment playing in the background, a college student rocked a baby whose parents she had never met.
Kallie Mikles cradled 7-month-old Brooklyn Schulze in a wooden rocking chair. Mikles, a marketing student at the University of Central Oklahoma, was careful to avoid pulling out tubing and wires that feed Brooklyn, monitor her every breath and keep her alive. Mikles, 21, has no connection to Brooklyn outside the walls of The Children’s Center, a private non-profit pediatric hospital serving children with complex medical needs and physical disabilities.
But she’s no stranger to the child one nurse called the “miracle baby.” Mikles spent an hour holding Brooklyn last week, watching her fall asleep while she grasped on to her fingers. It has built a deep emotional connection between the two she said is hard to explain.
“It’s one-on-one time with this little innocent baby who could do nothing wrong,” Mikles said. “I just look at her and she smiles, and has these big eyes looking back up at you. It’s very peaceful.”
Mikles is one of about 100 volunteers, ages 17 to 88, at the center. Among many of their duties is spending an hour each week rocking an infant in need of physical interaction. There are a number of volunteer programs similar to this in hospitals across the state. What makes Mikles’ service unique is the setting and newborns served.
Brooklyn is at the center because she was born with a rare genetic disorder called Digeorge Syndrome. She has calcium and immune deficiencies, and a vascular ring — her aorta heart valve is wrapped around her trachea and esophagus, leaving her unable to swallow or eat by mouth and making breathing on her own difficult.
Her parents, Lindsay and Michael Schulze, live in Durant. Michael works 12-hour shifts Monday through Friday at a distributing company, so the couple is only able to visit their daughter on weekends.
The pain of not knowing whether their newborn will live a normal and healthy life, paired with the physical separation of a three-hour road trip, is lifted slightly by knowing someone can provide Brooklyn a caring touch when they cannot.
“Oh my goodness, I remember crying tears of joy,” Lindsay Schulze said. “I could not believe that they had volunteers come in like that. I can’t even put it into words. You can imagine how comforting that is for a mother who sometimes wants to get mad at herself because she can’t be two places at once.”
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How to help
Interested in volunteering at The Children’s Center? Go to www.tccokc.org/careers/volunteer/
I just look at (Brooklyn) and she smiles, and has these big eyes looking back up at you. It’s very peaceful.”