Twin brothers reunited at home after 434 days in the hospital
January 26th, 2023
Written by: Jarrod Weaver, Anthony & Harley’s dad
Oh boy, where to begin with this crazy emotional rollercoaster???
After living in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and General Peds Care life for over a year, we finally brought Anthony home earlier this month where he was reunited with his twin brother Harley. We had multiple discharge dates, and something would always set us back. We began to feel as though the end was nowhere in sight. Then one day it all seemed to just click for him, and he was like a new baby. Around Christmas, he had a mini-stroke and went to the ICU for about a week. When he went back to General Care, he was a completely new kid. He weaned off most of his medications. He gained traction and never looked back. When the time came for us to do our independent cares in preparation for going home, we had to go for a car ride with him. Our only thought was to come to the place that helped us probably as much as the hospital, the Ronald McDonald House.
The staff and volunteers at the House have been there for us time and time again when we needed them. Leaving the House was as emotional as leaving the hospital. After being at American Family Children’s Hospital as long as we were, the nurses, doctors, and therapists all became like family, and so did the staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House. We have never felt so welcomed in a place before. We watched so many families cycle through and it’s beautiful to watch all the care and genuine generosity from everyone in the House.
So, I would say as many happy tears as we shed at the House, there were a lot of sad tears as well. Tears for the people that touched our (especially Harley’s) life. Harley hit many milestones at the Ronald McDonald House. He was always a hit and would often be taken from us by the wonderful volunteers so we could eat breakfast and have a hot cup of coffee. We were always treated so well, and we would have never been able to be there for Anthony without the House. For that, we are forever grateful. There are not enough thank yous in the world to express our eternal gratitude.
ORIGINAL posted May 2022
The Ronald McDonald House was founded on the belief that families are stronger and can better cope with a child’s illness when they are together. In April, the Ronald McDonald House in Madison welcomed back siblings after temporarily allowing only patients and parents/guardians to stay as part of our COVID-19 restrictions. Not only do families have one another to lean on, but they also find support in other families staying at the House as communal areas are reopened for use.
Jessie and Jarrod are the parents of 4-month-old twin boys, Harley and Anthony, who were born in Rockford, Illinois. At just a month old, Anthony was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease and breathing disorder that affects how a newborn’s lung tissue develops. Babies with BPD often need help with breathing in the early days of their life.
“I cannot imagine what it would be like without the Ronald McDonald House. We are from just outside of Rockford and would not be able to see Anthony as much if it were not for the House,” said Jarrod, Anthony’s dad.
The family first stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for two weeks in December 2021, when Anthony underwent a heart procedure at the American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH). Jessie and Jarrod felt relieved thinking that the procedure was the answer they were looking for as they watched Anthony start to get better. However, Anthony got an infection and continued to battle breathing issues. He was brought back to AFCH for more surgeries and mom, dad, and twin brother, Harley, were all able to be by Anthony’s side by staying at the Ronald McDonald House again.
“Because of COVID-19 restrictions during the first few months of our stay, we were not able to have our other children with us at the Ronald McDonald House. This separation was hard on the family. We missed out on a lot of time with them because we needed to be here with Anthony, so we are glad to be together again as a family.” said Jarrod.
The Ronald McDonald House supported Jessie and Jarrod, allowing them to support their son throughout his treatment. The proximity to the hospital made visiting Anthony much easier. They also enjoyed the access to a kitchen, which made home-cooked meals a possibility; the family gathering room, where they had movie nights; the laundry room; and the playroom, where all of their children had tons of fun!
“Our other children always ask when they can come back to the Ronald McDonald House. They love the art room and playing at Hope Park. We cannot say thank you enough. Everyone has been extremely nice and polite. They care about how we are doing, and we always feel welcomed,” said Jessie and Jarrod.
To the Weaver family, RMHC has stayed true to the mission of being a home-away-from-home. These days, baby Anthony still requires too much breathing assistance to be put on a home ventilator. RMHC still believes that families are stronger when they are together and will continue supporting Anthony’s family so they can continue to be close to Anthony and give him the love and support that is crucial to healing.