Forever Grateful for RMHC
Prematurity and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) aren’t things you think about until it becomes your life and your child. We found out we were expecting shortly after getting married in May 2017. We were so excited for our New Year’s baby, due January 28, 2018. The pregnancy was normal and going well, until we faced some complications at just 29 weeks gestation and needed to be taken from Janesville to SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI. The doctors explained the risks of having a baby so early. She probably wouldn’t breathe well and had a risk of brain damage among other things because of her age and fragility. As new parents, we didn’t know what to do except pray for our little one. God had a plan we didn’t understand, but we placed our trust in him and the doctors.
Annabelle weighed just 2 pounds 10 ounces when she was born at 29 weeks gestation. Her skin was red and she was so small and fragile. We were told she didn’t need to be put on a ventilator and was acting much older than her age, right from the start! This stubborn little miracle went through her 63-day NICU stay crushing our expectations and rising above the obstacles. It was amazing to watch her develop, as if she was still in the womb.
When we saw our daughter there in the isolette, so tiny and helpless, all our plans and ideals we once had for our lives changed. We knew one of us would stay with her, however that was possible, for as long as she needed. It’s impossible to describe what it’s like to be a NICU parent; the feelings of loss, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty. We are grateful beyond words for the support we received from the Ronald McDonald Family Room staff and volunteers. One or both of us were able to stay at the hospital near Annabelle for 59 nights thanks to the presence of a Ronald McDonald Family Room. It was our home and the staff and volunteers became like family. It was so nice to have a place to rest, do laundry and eat, and never have to be far from our daughter. There are so many things to think about and take care of day and night, but thanks to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a place to stay and meeting basic needs was not one of them. We knew RMHC helped families, we just didn’t know how much until we were one of those families. Thank you RMHC and its supporters, we are forever grateful!
Annabelle loves being home and is growing well! She is very social and loves smiling at people. She teaches us more about ourselves and our faith every day. We believe a huge part of her success was having her parents there in the hospital to care for her. Thank you, RMHC, for making that possible!
– Jared and Emily, Annabelle’s parents