It was the start of the new year and my husband Doug and I were expecting our first child. Now that the holidays were over, we were so excited to start getting ourselves and our house ready for our little girl. We were a little over half-way through the pregnancy and were ready to fill our house with all things baby.
On January 13, 2020 I was admitted to the local hospital for monitoring. They were quick to transfer me to HSHS St. John’s Hospital due to the severity of my preeclampsia. After only a few days at the hospital I had to have an emergency C-section. Our daughter Cora was born at 23 weeks 5 days. She weighed only 1 pound. She was admitted to the NICU right after the delivery without either of us seeing her. There was so much unknown after her birth. We were not sure if she would make it or how badly she would be affected from such a preterm delivery. We were living minute by minute. On top of the fear for our daughter, we were an hour and a half away from our home and family. We did not know how we would be able to stay near our daughter during this time. Prior to discharge, our nurse informed us about the Springfield Ronald McDonald House.
I was so relieved to be able to stay close to my daughter and not have to worry about expenses. I will never forget the first day we came to stay at the house. I was so overwhelmed. It is hard to grasp how much the Ronald McDonald House does for the families who stay there. Having a place to sleep at night is one thing, but having a home away from home is another. That is what the Ronald McDonald house became for Doug and me. All meals were provided, rooms were stocked with essentials, washer dryer and detergent were supplied, and pretty much anything you would need was available, all at no cost. This house really makes sure the families do not have to worry about anything other than being there for their babies in such a scary time.
In addition to everything being provided, they have the best staff. We almost forgot that they were staff because they quickly became family. They were there through it all with us. They helped us through the bad and celebrated the good. There were so many times we would sit with them and talk for hours. We looked forward to our time spent with them and were always eager to share any news. They are the biggest reason this house felt like home. The staff really helped the families staying there come together. Each night we would all sit together and share stories about our babies or life experiences. It was so nice to have the connection we did with all the families. We were all in this together. Having support from the staff and families was the greatest feeling. We have so much love for everyone we met at the Ronald McDonald House. No amount of words will be able to describe how important they were on our journey.
We spent 141 days in the NICU, as well as the house. I cannot begin to imagine how differently our story would have been if we were not able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Cora is home and doing great. She is healthy and growing. We are so happy to be home together and have grown so much through this experience. We have become so humble and grateful. We cannot wait to give back to this charity that has changed our lives. We encourage people to donate as they can whether it be in form of supplies, meals, or monetary. If you can donate in any way, please know how important your donation is in helping families in such a challenging time.