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A Peaceful Place During Troubled Times

November 5th, 2020

While expecting their first baby, Isaac and Raquel Smith could not know he was going to arrive quite early. Or how much having access to the Ronald McDonald Family Room at SSM Health – St. Mary’s Hospital would mean to them.

During week 20 of her pregnancy, Raquel was diagnosed with placenta previa, a condition that either naturally resolves or pose risks to mother and child. For Raquel, week 24 was when the bleeding started, and Isaac rushed her to the emergency room in Janesville, Wisconsin. The doctors stabilized mother and baby, but the hospital they had planned on delivering at did not have a neonatal intensive care unit, which they knew would be needed. So, Raquel was transferred to SSM Health – St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison on September 20, 2018, where Solomon was born on November 4 (week 31) but would not be released until December 31.

The hospital could seem less than ideal during the holidays… without access to the Ronald McDonald Family Room. Instead, Isaac, a small business owner and filmmaker, stayed in Raquel’s room by night, and by day worked in the library area. The lockers provided convenient personal storage, and the Family Room was a wonderful place to visit with family and friends in a cozier atmosphere. Once Solomon arrived, Raquel and Isaac stayed in the Family Room until Solomon, who was anemic and unable to stay awake during feedings, could go home for good. After Solomon successfully remained off the feeding tube for 48 hours, the Smith family went home on New Year’s Eve 2018.

Raquel said, “It meant so much to be so close to Solomon, to hold him and help with feedings, anytime day or night. It was exhausting and very stressful in every way to be in the hospital waiting and knowing Solomon was bound to be early.” The volunteers’ support gave her great comfort. “I can’t imagine how our experience would have looked without the Ronald McDonald Family Room. The volunteers were a breath of fresh air amid circumstances no one expects to go through when you are expecting a child.”

These days, Solomon, just over 3 pounds (or, the weight of a thick novel) at birth, thrives. He loves his best friend Ella, bugs, climbing or just being outdoors, and airplanes. The Smiths take him to the local airport to watch the planes. They are looking forward to volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Charities when Solomon is a little bit older.

Raquel says, “It would have been so different and much harder without them. It made all the difference in our experience during a very difficult time.”


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