johnna's Story

Our son, Everett, started attending Hand-in-Hand daycare when he was around

4 months old. Like many new mothers, I was so nervous to leave my baby that first day. However, I was also grateful we were able to find a daycare facility like Hand-in-Hand.


Everett was diagnosed with spina bifida 18 weeks into my pregnancy and by week 24 we were in Houston receiving in-utero fetoscopic surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect where a portion of the baby’s neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing an opening in the back and defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the spine. Children born with spina bifida may experience mobility issues, excess cerebral spinal fluid on the brain, bowel and bladder problems, and learning difficulties.


There is no cure for spina bifida. However, fetal surgery can help better a child’s outcome by repairing the opening in their back while they are still womb. This helps prevent the exposed spinal cord from further nerve damage as the pregnancy progresses. Spina bifida is often called a “snowflake” condition because it affects each child differently.

While I was unsure what challenges Everett may face in the weeks following his diagnosis, I did know that he might need to be catheterized. I also knew he may have difficulty learning how to walk or may eventually need a wheelchair. I was very worried I would not find a daycare willing to accept him. When I called Hand-in-Hand, the staff was so friendly and they reassured me that they would not turn Everett away just because he may have few “extras.” I was so relieved. Many fellow spina bifida families I have met are not so lucky. Many times, a daycare facility can’t be found, forcing a parent to stay home. While I would personally love to be with him all day, financially, that would have been very difficult for our family. That is just one of many reasons Hand-in-Hand has been such a blessing.


After Everett was born, we learned that he did need to be catheterized and the staff jumped right in learning how to do it. They have also been wonderful when it comes to helping Everett reach his milestones. I am happy to report that he is developing right on track for his age and is even working on taking his first steps!


It’s true what they say about it taking a village to raise a child, and I feel so thankful Hand-in-Hand is part of our village. My son not only receives top-notch care, but the staff also truly love and care about him. When he overcomes an obstacle, they get nearly as excited as I do and they work with me to help him reach his goals. As a parent, I could not ask for more. There are many things I will worry about as Everett continues to grow, but I am happy safe, loving, and educational childcare isn’t one of them.

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