When you first see Joelle Karam and her mother Jeanne Nahal sitting comfortably on the couch, heads close together, in Ronald McDonald House Windsor’s family room, it’s a fair assumption that the two are quietly making plans for the day Joelle’s new twins will be discharged from the hospital.
Most often that’s the case, but more recently they’re making plans on how they will someday volunteer at the House that’s become their home the last few weeks.
We want to volunteer here so badly, my whole family does. Because this place has given us only the best.
Just weeks ago, Joelle and the rest of her family weren’t even aware “this place” existed. Due to newly diagnosed health issues of Joelle’s, she and her partner Fouad Nehme were told by doctors Joelle needed to deliver her twins immediately by C-Section. At the time, Joelle was in Week 33 of her pregnancy. The guilt was overwhelming.
“I’m their mom, and I’m supposed to be taking care of them while they’re growing inside of me,” she quietly says as she looks towards her own mother. “It was because of me, they had to be delivered early.” Joelle’s face instantly brightens. “But my babies had plans of their own!”
The night before Joelle’s scheduled C-section, while in hospital waiting for the surgery, her water broke and Joelle was rushed into the OR. The twins were delivered on January 26, 2017 at 4am. Anthony weighed in at just over 4lbs, his twin sister Selena at just under 4lbs. The babies, who are still in the NICU at Windsor Regional Hospital Metropolitan Campus, are doing well and now feeding on their own, but will need to remain in the hospital for a few more weeks.
Naturally, Joelle misses her own home, but she is grateful for everything Ronald McDonald House Windsor has provided. She said each time she walks through the Red Door into the House she feels herself decompress. “I’m so comfortable here, and I’m comfort-ed”, she explains.
I know we’re where we are supposed to be. My family is under a lot of stress right now because of the babies ... and my own health. Having this place to stay at helps us tremendously.
Every three hours, Joelle makes the short elevator ride down one floor from the House to the NICU to feed Anthony and Selena, something she doesn’t take for granted. “If I had to go home, it would have been a nightmare. I wouldn’t have had the chance to see my babies like I do now, or even breastfeed because I couldn’t continually be going back and forth to the hospital every few hours,” explains Joelle. “Also, you just don’t want to go home without your babies. We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. It’s amazing we have a place like the Ronald McDonald House in Windsor, we’re very lucky. It provides comfort to all of the families. Parents need to be next to their children when they’re hospitalized, it’s very important.”
Also important to the family is giving back by someday volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Windsor. Joelle’s mother, impressed by the “Dinner at our House” program, is already planning the menu for the night her family will be able to cook for other families staying at the House. As for Joelle and Fouad, they’re looking forward to taking their babies home in a few weeks. But in the meantime, Joelle said she doesn’t need to worry. She’s next to them, right where she’s supposed to be.
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