“When you Show Your Stripes, you are giving parents like us the ability to sleep in a bed, but remain close to our son, have homemade meals that warm our stomachs and hearts, and the reminder that there is always a reason to be grateful and find happiness in difficult times. We will forever be so grateful for RMH for keeping us close to our baby boy (and our possible future stays). Our “home-away-from-home” three times now!”
- Vandenberk Family
When Mikaela and Luke knew they were going to have a baby the excitement started. As a photographer, Mikaela was getting the nursery ready and foreseeing the photos she would capture of her baby enjoying his new space in his new home. It came as a surprise, but almost meant to be, when River was born prematurely at 35 weeks on World Premature Day - November 17th. With their home being 40 minutes outside of London, and Mikaela recovering from a C-section, staying close to River while he was in the NICU seemed almost impossible – until they found their “home-away-from-home” for the next 26 nights at RMH London. Mikaela recalls, “The biggest challenge was being discharged from the hospital without my son. Leaving without him was extremely difficult, but RMH kept me extremely close which helped a lot.”
When River was discharged, the Vandenberks were excited to finally take him home just in time for Christmas. Life was beginning to feel “normal” until the following May when River’s underdeveloped lungs brought him back to the hospital, and his parents back to RMH for 12 nights. Not much time passed before River’s third hospital trip led to emergency surgery and the confirmation he had Interstitial Lung Disease. “By our third stay, the RM Family Room London inside the hospital became another RMHC sanctuary for us," Mikaela explains, "As a paramedic, my husband couldn’t keep taking time off so he would come to the hospital after a night shift, sleep down the hall from us in the Family Room, and still spend time with River before going in for the next shift.” The kind gestures of volunteers, conversations, and smiles shared with other RMHC families, and the feeling of home helped keep Mikaela and Luke positive and strong for their son.
While River is back home today, the family is uncertain of what the future will hold when it comes to his medical care. Knowing they have an affordable place to call home steps from the hospital brings a world of comfort. Mikaela knows exactly how she would describe RMH: “The House is built on love and generosity. A place to allow parents to stay close to their children fighting big battles. A place for a warm meal, a shower and rest. A warm smile at the door and a shoulder to cry on.”
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.
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