I'm sure that you all have seen those little boxes on the counters at your local McDonald's. If you are like me, I saw them and pretty much ignored them - it was just one more "charity" that was for someone else, no one in my family would ever need those services - so, I could ignore it. I gave to the American Cancer Society and participated in my local Relay for Life activities - so who needed RMH? Also, to tell the truth, I had no idea what the Ronald McDonald House did. Well, in June of this year I found out.
June 7th started out as a 'normal' day. We were getting excited as it was almost time for my first grand baby to come into the world. Melissa, my daughter, went to work that morning. It was the final work day for the teachers in the county where we live, and she had everything all packed in her classroom and was ready to spend the summer getting used to being a first time mommy. She had a doctor's appointment at 3 that afternoon - no big deal, just an appointment before the delivery.
Well, who knew that she was already in labor? She still doesn't know when her water broke (in the shower, maybe) and didn't know that her labor had started, but it had. Due to some medical issues, it had been determined that she would need to have a C-section instead of a 'regular' birth. So, after a quick call to me, she and Justin headed to the hospital to get ready for the birth. Mountain Man and I were fortunate enough to get to the hospital as she was being transported to the delivery room and give her a kiss.
We went back out into the waiting room and settled in. Sometime later, and I'm sorry to say I really don't remember how long it was, the nurses went into the "nursery" and closed all the blinds. We really didn't think that much about it - then we saw Justin in the room. I just thought that they had brought the baby in to take weight and do all the newborn stuff. A little later Justin came out to the waiting room and told us that Melissa was doing fine, but the baby was having some breathing issues. Once again, we weren't worried and just thought that she needed some oxygen for a little while.
We were able to go back into the room and visit with Melissa while things were being evaluated. It was then that we found out just how serious the baby's breathing problems were - every time she was taken off the oxygen she turned blue - not what we wanted to hear. The doctor came in and talked to all of us and let us know that they were going to keep her on oxygen over night, but if she didn't improve she would have to be transferred since they were not equipped with a stage 2 nursery. (Actually, this hospital really did not have a "nursery" as the babies usually stayed in the rooms with the mom.) After a little while Justin came out and told us that we were going to be able to go in and see the baby - but we had to wait until Melissa could be in the room with us - this was something that they wanted - they wanted to be in the room with us when we saw her for the first time. (Melissa wanted to see our faces when we saw this beautiful little one for the first time.)
The nurses were able to get Melissa out of the bed and into a wheel chair and take her into the nursery and she and Justin had a few minutes with the baby. It was decided that the two grandmothers would be the first to go in and to say that I was beyond excited would be an understatement!
Now, one of the "conditions" that the kids put on us was that we could NOT take pictures of the baby with all the tubes and stuff on/in her - so I do not have any pictures to show - but it was such an experience. I was so excited to see her, and she was so beautiful, but I was also so scared. Here was my first grand baby lying there with IV's and an oxygen mask and I couldn't touch her or make it better. After all the family was able to go in and see our pretty little girl Justin and Melissa told us to go home. Melissa needed to get some rest - remember she had just had a C-section, and we were hopeful that the baby would be fine the next morning.
We received a telephone call from Justin first thing the next morning telling us that the baby had had a turn for the worse and they were going to transfer her to Orlando via helicopter. It was pouring down rain and I was scared! We jumped in the truck and headed back to the hospital in Sebring - about 45 minutes away from our home in Lake Placid. I told Mountain Man that I was going to stay with Melissa. My thought, at the time, was Justin would go to Orlando to stay with the baby and Melissa would stay in the hospital in Sebring. Well, we get to the hospital and find out that not only was she having breathing issues she also had a hole in one of her lungs and it had partially collapsed. The kids had decided on the Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando and the transfer team was on their way. The good thing was, due to the weather and other issues, the doctors decided that they did not need to send the helicopter and transferred via ambulance. Another surprise for us - they released Melissa so she would be able to go to Orlando, which meant I was going to Orlando too.
Well, it took a little while, but we made it to Orlando and were able to see the baby after they had her settled in the NICU. By seven o'clock Melissa was hurting and we had no where to stay. The hospital called the Ronald McDonald House - but they didn't have space for us - so we spent the first night in a hotel (at least they gave us a break on the rate) and Justin and I got Melissa medicated and settled in bed. Melissa was in one bed - I was in the other and Justin slept on the pull out couch.
The next day we spent the entire time at the hospital going in and spending as much time as allowed with Lorelai. We, including Melissa and Justin, were not allowed to hold the baby or even touch her. It was so difficult seeing our little baby with tubes down her nose and in her mouth, IV's all over and the oxygen tube. All those machines hooked to our little, bitty baby. By the time the nursing staff told us we really needed to leave we weren't sure if we would have a place to stay, but the hospital had contacted the RMH and they had a room reserved for us.
Now, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly was not what we found. The Ronald McDonald House in Orlando took us in with open arms. This organization is wonderful, not only do they provide a lovely room with a private bath (the room had two twin beds and they brought in a roll away bed for me), they had a laundry area, a full kitchen, a TV room, a visitor area, a play room for the kids, and every night an outside group came in and fed the entire house dinner (this was always done during shift change at the hospital when we could not be in the NICU with the baby). Also, on the weekend groups came in and fed us brunch.
The staff at the house was so nice and if there was anything that we needed they tried their best to supply it. There was a full kitchen that we could use for breakfast or lunch - leftovers from the night before were always in the refrigerator for you to warm up. They provided a place for you to put your own groceries - dry goods or refrigerated. There was laundry detergent and fabric softener in the laundry room. There was a 'pantry' area that had additional supplies for your use. They just tried to make sure everyone was as comfortable as possible and it was one thing we did not have to worry about - we always knew that we had a "home" to come back to every night. And the thing that really took a load off our minds - there was NO cost for any of this. Yes, when we checked out I made a donation to the house, but it wasn't a requirement for staying there. We were at the house for ten days - and they didn't charge us one red cent.
So, why am I telling you this long drawn out story? Well, as I said at the beginning - I never paid any attention to those little boxes that sit on the counter at all the McDonald's I have been in (and I've been a lot of McDonald's).
I never thought that I would have a need for the Ronald McDonald House -
I was wrong.
I hope and pray that you never have to stay in the house, but isn't it nice to know that it is there? How does McDonald's continue to do this all over the world (yep, all over the world)?
When you drop change into that little box it goes to the houses.
Plus they do fund raisers. In fact, my oldest daughter, Crystal, just ran in a 5K in Nashville for the RMH. (If you are interested, you can go to her site to make a donation, I'll put the link at the end of the post) and at Christmas she is asking the guests at the party she always throws - to bring supplies for the RMH in Atlanta (she always has people bring toys that are donated, but decided to do for the RMH this year in honor of Lorelai).
Melissa and Justin are also trying to give back. They are getting a group together and are going back to the RMH in Orlando and cook dinner for the guests. They are also getting donations of supplies that the house needs.
Would you like to help?
McHappy Day continues to be the main fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children's causes around the world - yes, around the world. McHappy Day is November 10th and kicks off the annual "Give a Hand" fundraiser in support of the RMHC. This year the campaign runs from November 10 - 20 at participating MacDonald's around the country. During this period of time customers can show their support for the charity by purchasing a paper "hand" for $1, $3, or $5. ALL proceeds from the sale of the paper "hands" will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Also, did you know that for every purchase of a McDonald's Happy Meal or a Mighty Kids Meal throughout the year, a donation is made to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
You don't have to give money to help a RMH in your community, there are so many other things you can do. If you run/walk, check and see if there is a RMHC event you can enter and ask friends or the company you work for to sponsor you. Or, you could even ask your boss if you could put a box in the break room at your office where people could donate things for the house or you might be able to do something at your church - the house we stayed at had a list of items they always needed such as diapers, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic table ware, paper towels, napkins, etc. You can always call the House closest to you to see what their individual needs are.
The following ways to show your support are from the Ronald McDonald House Charities website -
Support Ronald McDonald House Charities
You can show your support for RMHC and McHappy Day at McDonald's all year long. Give A Hand for RMHC or consider other ways of lending a hand and getting involved.
- Become of fan of RMHC on Facebook
- Follow RMHC on Twitter
- Become a friend: Join our online community
- Sign up for the E-newsletter
- Find a volunteer opportunity
I know that this has been an extremely long post, but I can't explain the help that these houses provides to families in need. I can only share with you our story. I can now show you the first picture that Melissa and Justin allowed us to take and share
ALMOST ready to come home.
She was still in the NICU, but Melissa was finally able to hold her and feed her. Chest tube was out, feeding tube was out. We still had the IV but we were down to just the nasal oxygen. So much progress!
And here she is at three and a half weeks.
This is our precious little one today.
Happy and healthy.
Happy and healthy.
All I can say is thank you to the doctors and nurses at the Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital. Their care for our sweet baby made all the difference in the world. I would also thank the staff and all the many volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in Orlando.
I sincerely hope that you will never need the services of a children's hospital or the Ronald McDonald House, but I am so very thankful that they were both there for us. If you find it in your heart to want to help make sure that there is always a place for parents to stay so they can be close to their sick child, please think about reaching out to your local Ronald McDonald House. They will so appreciate it.
If you are interested in helping Crystal with her fund raising for the RMH in Nashville here is the link for her site:
(the event in Nashville was called the Hustle for the House, cute huh?)
The home site for the Ronald McDonald House Charities is:
If you find it in your heart, please give what you can.
Thanks so much!
I posted this link on a friends Facebook page and there have been many ideas for donating without having to give money. McDonald's will take soda tabs and that money will go to the houses - and I have been told that they will even take the cans (but they have to be crushed). Just a couple more fantastic ways to get involved - how about getting your child's school or your church to do this. What a great way to teach our children/grandchildren how to give back to our community.
Thanks again and many hugs!
Linking to these parties: