Oliver and Levi have the bluest eyes you could ever imagine with the busiest personalities keeping their parents on their toes! Chasing after these two toddlers can be exhausting, but after spending a total of 100 nights at RMH when both boys were born prematurely, mom, Joanna, and dad, Kevin, wouldn’t trade all the “busy” for the world...
Kevin and I actually stayed at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in London twice, first in 2015 when Oliver was born and again in 2016 when Levi was born. With both pregnancies I had high blood pressure, but with Oliver we didn't know until my doctor noticed that he was a little small. He sent me to a specialist who was immediately concerned and sent us to London for an emergency C-section.
Within an hour of arriving at the hospital Oliver was delivered and we were in shock- he was just 27 weeks and weighed only 1 lb 8 oz. The NICU nurses immediately spoke to us about the Ronald McDonald House. It was close enough that I was able to go back and forth, even in the middle of the night when I couldn’t stand being away from him. Having delicious meals prepared for us meant we didn’t have to spend extra time in the kitchen, or even worry about what we could quickly make for dinner before rushing back to Oliver.
About a year later Levi was born prematurely at 34 weeks. While he wasn't as small as Oliver, weighing 4 lbs 5 oz., he still needed to stay in the NICU. We were lucky enough to stay at RMH London again, and this time with big brother Oliver! I never expected to have babies with complications, let alone need to stay close at with Ronald McDonald House, but in those life-altering moments I couldn’t imagine what that journey would have felt like without the support of a “home-away-from-home”.
RMH provided a space that felt like home. Where all we had to worry about was being there for Oliver and Levi while amazing staff and volunteers took care of us, comforted us and fed us a lot! We are forever grateful to RMH for the help and support provided to us and other family.
With Oliver and Levi both ending up in the NICU I am not sure what we would have done without having a place to have family and friends come visit – their support was significant during this scary time for Kevin and I. It was great to have a place where we could do anything, from sharing a coffee with visiting family while our nephews explored the play areas, to using the fitness centre to release built-up energy while waiting patiently for Oliver, and later Levi, to be able to go home. Everything helped to make those months of uncertainty feel more “normal” – distractions, bits of laughter and being with people who genuinely cared made a difference in how we were able to handle our journey, together.
Today, Oliver does have a few developmental delays but nothing that can’t be managed through physical and speech therapy. In the end, both boys have thrived since leaving the hospital and while we have not had to go back for any more extended stays, we feel comfort in knowing we will have our “home-away-from-home” if we ever do.
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