Mother in hospital a financial setback for family

As the sole provider for his family of five, Carlos Medina is no stranger to putting in a solid day’s work.

For the past 20 years, he has regularly clocked eight to nine hours at a time as an event server in San Mateo to ensure that his family is taken care of.

But when his wife, Laura Garcia, was unexpectedly hospitalized in October with complications of pregnancy, a harsh reality hit the family.

With two young children at home – Carlos, 6, and Aaron, 3 – Medina was left not only to provide for his children financially but also to watch them at home until Laura gave birth to their third child, putting him out of work for three weeks.

To complicate matters, young Carlos has Russell-Silver syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that requires him to use a feeding tube.

Though Medina managed to get co-workers to cover some of his shifts, he eventually had no choice but to take time off without pay, leaving him scrambling to make the November rent on the family’s Redwood City apartment.

Garcia had heard about The Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund from friends last year and decided to apply. The fund paid the couple’s November rent, giving them the opportunity to catch up on bills after things returned to normal.

Before being hospitalized, Garcia would take the kids to school and watch them while they were home. But during a routine prenatal visit on Oct. 14, Garcia’s doctors noticed signs that she was beginning labor. She was admitted to the hospital that day.

With one month left to go in Garcia’s pregnancy, the doctors wanted to keep her under observation and delay her labor as long as possible.

“The reality hit us pretty hard,” said Garcia, 29. “I thought I would be there for a few days and then go home. … I was not happy about it, but I knew it was for the health of my baby.”

Adding to the stress of Garcia’s sudden hospitalization, Medina was the only person who could care for Carlos.

Already strapped for cash, the family could not afford a day care provider, let alone one who knew how to care for children with Carlos’ condition.

“I put my family first and decided I’m going to take the risk and take the time off,” said Medina, 38.

Since the Nov. 3 birth of baby Rosemary, Medina has returned to work and Garcia is back home. And they’re all looking forward to the holidays.

“Today there are a lot of smiles. Things were gloomy when Laura was in the hospital,” said Angelica Baez-Aranda, a public health nurse who has worked with the family for the past six years. “Carlos was really worried. He’s not used to stress, he’s used to working hard. … I see him very positive now.”