Ronald McDonald House: A Home Away From Home

May 16, 2012

Kylie doing the ‘carseat test’, getting ready to go home!

I am so excited to be a parent blogger on Hand to Hold’s parent site, PreemieBabies101, and am looking forward to sharing my experiences, making new connections and being here to listen. I wish I had heard of this organization when my daughter was in the NICU.  Hand to Hold and PB101 are a wealth of information that not a lot of people understand or can relate. I am proud to be a part of this!

My daughter, Kylie, is now two-years-old and doing amazing.  I developed preeclampsia at 29 weeks gestation. We lived in Butte, Montana, at the time where the hospital did not have the resources to take on a baby less than 34 weeks. My doctor sent me to Missoula, two hours away.  Two days later, Kylie was born weighing 2 lbs. 10 oz., at 30 weeks.

Knowing I wouldn’t be bringing my baby with me after my own discharge was one of the most heart-breaking days of my life. My heart literally hurt. I not only had to leave without her but we lived two hours away.  The hospital gave me information about the Ronald McDonald House, which was within walking distance of the hospital. I walked in with my head low and very sad, then I looked up to see this beautiful house I would be staying in for the next few months. It was absolutely gorgeous – serene, calm and relaxing. The staff was wonderful and I really felt like I was ‘home’.  In a way, I think it helped that I didn’t actually go HOME without Kylie. I told myself I was just in another part of the hospital.

The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) staff and the families that were there when we were have become family to me. Some of the women whose husbands also worked out of town and I created a club called “The Lonely Wives Club.” We would sit around and vent, cry, encourage each other and laugh. We gained lifelong friends there and memories that I will cherish forever.

Were you transported to a different town due to emergency circumstances? Did you stay at a local RMH or with family? If you were able to stay in your hometown, did you have any support with other parents in the NICU, such as a NICU support group?  I’d love to hear from you!

To find a RMH near you or if you want to direct a friend to this life-saving home, ask your hospital or visit the RMH national website.  Presently, Hand to Hold is looking for volunteers to staff local Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in Austin, Texas.