Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Wishful Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
I had never-ending funds to donate to a charity, & it would be Ronald McDonald House Charities!
I first got involved with Ronald McDonald House through my sorority in college. I served as philanthropy chair for my chapter during my freshman&sophomore years. I was able to get even more involved, because I served as the liaison between the house we volunteered at, & my chapter.
However, I have continued to donate funds to the Ronald McDonald House Charities since graduating from college. I have also recently become active in my local alumnae association for my sorority, so I am also looking forward to again becoming active in service to a Ronald McDonald House.
Although I was often touched by the families I met when doing volunteer work at the actual house locations in college, I had never had family or friends directly impacted by the outstanding work that they do at the Ronald McDonald Houses.
Until earlier this year.
Susan, a very dear momfriend of mine, had a very difficult&long labor when she delivered her second son, in February of this year (about 24 hours in labor!). Her son was admitted to the NICU for seizures shortly after he was born, & testing was done over a period of days to determine the cause of these seizures.
(our girl's pretty little bare foot in the NICU)
Having also gone through the painful ordeal of having a baby in the NICU, in a hospital that is not close to home, my heart went out to Susan. Our own Pretty Little Bare Feet spent eight days in the NICU after she was born, & the hospital was about an hour away from our house.
(We had opted to continue using the wonderful OB/GYN I had there, where we had lived before. I was also commuting to that city for law school.)
It can be even more difficult to endure your baby's NICU stay when you are having to deal with finding somewhere to eat &/or stay.
(& in My Prince's case, when you are driving back&forth from your office, an hour away.)
We were fortunate that we only had to pay for a place to stay for three nights, & were also eligible to stay adjacent to the hospital. I stayed admitted for four nights, & then the NICU allowed us to stay in a special room in the NICU with our daughter, for her last night before we took her home.
Susan, though, was almost two hours away from home, when she was told she could expect her newborn son to be in the NICU for two weeks. Of course, she & her husband wanted to be there until their son was discharged. They were in great shock, as they had certainly not been expecting their more-than-full-term baby (Susan was 42 weeks pregnant when she went into labor!) to need NICU care. His heart rate had been monitored throughout labor & was good. He was born pink.
But the doctor at the NICU told Susan her baby had suffered a hypoxic event, where he was without enough oxygen. He also had a small subarachnoid bleed, which had probably been from the difficult delivery through Susan's small birth canal & pelvis. Supposedly the bleed would resolve on its own. But although the baby's seizures could have possibly been from this bleed (& thus could have only been temporary), more testing was necessary to rule out any other causes. Susan's postpartum days were filled with
the emotional&hormonal postpartum highs&lows,
her own physical recovery from labor&delivery,
pumping breast milk,
& the added stress of awaiting results of her son's MRIs & EEGs to look at brain function.
(Can you imagine how scary that alone must have been?)
They determined that her son had suffered a stroke that had affected the motor&visual centers of his brain. They had no idea how extensive the damage was or what the outcome would be. The neurologist feared blindness & motor problems.
On top of all of that, Susan was almost two hours away from home. This also meant being two hours away from her older son, who was two at the time. Susan is a big advocate of attachment parenting, so she felt like the difficulties of being separated from her newborn & her older son were even more tremendous - especially for her older son, who was so used to having her all the time. All of this was experienced without any definite answers - & we all know that sometimes "not knowing" can be the hardest part of any difficult situation.
The Ronald McDonald House was one of the only bright spots during this difficult period in Susan's life. Susan & her husband were provided with a place to live, for this indefinite period of time, at little to no cost. This prevented them from having to make long drives back&forth from their home, under what would have been dangerous driving conditions - including exhaust&worry. The Ronald McDonald House offered them a comfortable place to stay, & be cared for themselves, in proximity to their son's treatment hospital. Because of the Ronald McDonald House, Susan & her husband were able to communicate with their son's medical team almost constantly, & keep up with every complication to his treatment plan. They were able to focus their energy on their son's calm, safe recovery - rather than fears of coping with the uncertainty of the distance.
Thanks to the Ronald McDonald House, Susan & her family were also able to have access to many things that they may not have had in an affordable (long-term) hotel room, & certainly not in a hospital waiting room.
They were able to thaw&nuke meals that we (friends) brought them, thanks to a microwave.
They were able to shower regularly, & know they had a bed to return to for much-needed sleep.
They were able to do laundry, preventing them from having to make frequent trips home or have to keep up with luggage.
They were able to access the internet to keep in touch with family&friends.
They had access to reference books at the Ronald McDonald House's library, which answered some of their many questions.
They had a seating area with a television, where they could keep up with the news or weather, if they were too exhausted to think about their situation.
& they also had a "quiet room," where they could lift up prayers for their son, or just sit in solace & let go of some of the overwhelming burdens for a moment.
Susan's story had a happy outcome. After about eight dark days, her son began nursing & having longer periods of alertness. After another day in a bassinet, off of the warmer & without the feeding tube or IV line, he was discharged & able to go home. Although there have been many visits to specialists, & there are many more scheduled for the future, their baby boy has been thriving. You would never know the ordeal he had been through from the picture of perfect health that he appears to be now.
After hearing details from my friend about her experience with the Ronald McDonald House, I became even more committed to remembering to budget some of our charitable dollars to their organization. I am also really looking forward to being able to give in service to them again, with my own hands!
You can visit their webpage to find out
how to help,
where to send donations,
or where your closest Ronald McDonald House is.
If you have a Ronald McDonald House in your area, you can contact them directly to find out how you can help in person. Many of the Ronald McDonald Houses now have Facebook &/or Twitter pages that will also keep you informed of upcoming events you can be a part of.
I would love to be able to increase my financial support to this great charity!