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June 2014 Feature Family

 

"Little did I know when my water broke at 12:30 am on February 19th that it would be the last time I would sleep in my own bed for the next 16 days.  Everything seemed to be pretty normal that day. Going into labor 2.5 weeks early...check, not too far from the norm. 14.5 hours of labor and delivery...check.  Three hours of pushing...check.  I had nothing to compare it to as it was our first child, and everything really was pretty normal...until it wasn't. 

 

When our son, Brooks Foster McGrew, who was born at 2:50 pm and not breathing, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded in the delivery room with  a team of 15+ doctors and nurses doing CPR and checking vitals. For five full minutes he didn't breath on his own.  Once he finally started breathing, they immediately took him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For more than two hours we waited for updates, not yet getting to see our newborn that had been whisked away. 

 

Our doctor gave us the unexpected news that despite the negative prenatal testing, our son has Down Syndrome and that we would have to wait a full week before the test results came back to confirm for sure. As we were struggling with what it meant and not at all prepared for life in the NICU, the next words out of my doctor's mouth, gave us some light and a little hope. He told us that Brooks would probably be here for awhile and that he would make some phone calls down to the Ronald McDonald Family Room so we would have a place to stay upon my discharge.  I  remembered the RMFR from our tour during childbirth class and remembered thinking how beautiful and amazing it was for families that needed it. But that it surely wouldn't be for us. Yet here we were, desperate for a place to stay while our son was in the NICU.

 

We were so incredibly grateful RMFR was there and we were welcomed  with open arms. Being in the NICU, we were limited to seeing our son during his feeding times, every three hours around the clock. Going home wasn't an option, there just wasn't enough time.  And sleep?  There was very little of that too but we got what we could. I don't know what we would have done had RMFR not been there for us.  The staff at RMFR really went out of their way to make it feel like home  and to make us feel comfortable. 

 

 With the exception of the snow day, (more to come on that in a bit), a hot meal was provided for us every night with  plenty of snacks and drinks available. After my husband inquired about regular Coke, staff member Jacquelyn went above and beyond not only to get Coke for him and the other guests staying there who also preferred Coke, but stocked some in the back fridge for them and labeled it with their names and smiley faces.  Despite all the scary stuff we were going through with our son, those little sticky notes made me smile every day.  How touching it was for someone to recognize the things that provided us comfort and make sure that we had them.  It was the little things that kept us going. The staff became our family, sincerely asking how Brooks was doing and asking if there was anything we needed or anything they could do for us. 

 

Angie McGrew cooking dinner 
And on that cold snowy day in late February when there wasn't a meal provided due to the dangerous weather conditions, my husband decided we should step up.  Yes, we were guests there at RMFR, but at the time, we were the most senior family staying there.  The other families were new to life in the NICU and RMFR. Josh, my husband,  decided we should get out in the snow , run to Walmart Neighborhood Market, buy some groceries and cook everyone a hot meal.  And so we did, and it was the best time.  My husband and I cooked bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches.  Another family spruced up some hash browns they found in the freezer and another family made the dessert...brownies, which had been donated and were in the RMFR pantry.  It may sound strange, but it was the perfect meal. 
For a short time we were able to push pause on all of the unknown stuff happening with our new babies.  We were able to bond with the other families that were going through a lot of what we were going through. And for the first time in days, we laughed,
 smiled and broke bread together with our new friends. 

 

We will forever be grateful to the RMFR for being there when we needed them the most; for providing all of the families a bed to sleep in and a warm meal to eat while we care for our most precious little ones.  As for my husband and I, we've decided to make RMFR our charity of choice, donating a hot meal once a month, saving our pop tabs and helping out by promoting fundraising events.  For us it made a huge difference, and we will never forget their generosity.

 

As for Brooks, his health continued to decline the first week after birth and he had a lot of hurdles to cross, but slowly he started getting stronger.  15 days after giving birth, we were "rooming-in;" the last step to complete before going home, and by day 16 we were actually going home!  It was the longest 2.5 weeks of our life, but we pushed through it and came out on the other side stronger and more united.  All of the connections we made, from the staff to the other families, will never be forgotten.  And we look forward to watching Brooks grow up around our other NICU friends and babies.

 

 Thank you RMHC.  You have forever changed us and you, along with the NICU nursing staff, will always have a special place in our hearts."
 
Sincerely, Angie McGrew 

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Contact us:  Leah Jones, Program Manager   479-338-4910

Front desk: 479-338-4911