We could be at the hospital, full of worry from the moment we walked in the sliding doors, but instantly have that worry replaced with comfort when entering the big red door at Ronald McDonald house.
Abbigail, Justin, Carter and Emerson
When you reach the 24th week of pregnancy the excitement and nesting may have begun, but the comfort of knowing you should still have some time to prepare remains reassuring.
Abbigail Runnalls was at this point while in the second trimester of her pregnancy with twin boys, and certainly not expecting to be 4 cm dilated when she went for a routine ultrasound check up in September, 2015. Abbigail was sent to London and immediately put on bed rest in attempt to slow things down and give the babies more time to grow. For the next 3 weeks, Abbi stayed in her hospital bed while her partner Justin slept close by on the hospital room chair.
Contractions began at 9 am the morning of October 9th and the boys were delivered 3 hours later – Carter and Emerson Crown, each weighing just over 2 lbs. It wasn’t until the following day that Abbi and Justin were able to hold each of the boys, as they were rushed to the NICU after birth. After learning the boys had grade 2 brain bleeds the new parents were overwhelmed with emotion, and the thought of remaining away from their home in Woodstock only added stress. Thankfully, by 6 pm that evening, many worries were lifted as they were checked into a bedroom at Ronald McDonald House London. Over the next 70 days, the couple balanced work and home life with the help of their “home-away-from-home”. Justin would make the 40 minute trip back to work in Woodstock knowing Abbi was in a comfortable and safe environment close to the boys. Justin recalls the peacefulness of the House in the morning, and the comfort brought with a simple “hello” from the overnight security as he would leave for work.
After what had felt like forever, finally on the 36th day, while Justin was at work, Abbigail was able to hold both the boys together at the same time. A day that could not get any better, or so she had thought— until Justin came back that evening and proposed! Life was moving fast, and RMH was helping the couple stay in control while staying close. The caring volunteers offering support and new friendships forming with other families, helped them through the most difficult of times. Abigail recalls, “We could be at the hospital, full of worry from the moment we walked in the sliding doors, but instantly have that worry replaced with comfort when entering the big red door at Ronald McDonald House. It is hard to not feel some sense of relief when you walk in the House and a homemade dinner smells delicious in the kitchen!” Being close and comfortable meant being able to provide kangaroo care to the boys and play an active role in daily tasks, like bathing’s and diaper changes, benefiting both parents and babies.
Having a 'home-away-from-home' provided the 'normal', the comfort, and the closeness the family needed most.
Looking back, with the boys now happy and healthy 2 year olds, the Crown Family realizes even more than ever the value of family. For those 69 nights it didn’t feel like they were away from home. They still have the same memories of early morning breakfast before commuting to work, holding their new babies for the first time, and enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Having a “home-away-from-home” provided the “normal”, the comfort, and the closeness the family needed most. The Crown Family continues to support RMHC-SWO and advocate for the importance of togetherness that RMH provides to families with seriously ill children.
Our three programs, RMH London, RMH Windsor and the RM Family Room London were able to provide supportive services to 4,517 families with sick kids.
RMHC-SWO provided 15,990 nights of comfort to families keeping them close to their child’s specialized medical care.
Each night a family stays close at RMH it is estimated they save $183 on accommodations, meals and other home comforts.
Sign up for our e-newsletter to read inspiring stories from our families, keep up to date with Ronald McDonald House Southwestern Ontario news and stay in touch with your fellow RMH friends and supporters.