With the “Love Letters” Program, the Ronald McDonald House of Tallahassee shares the kind words of past families who have stayed with us in their time of need. We wish all of our families good health and happiness for years to come. If you have stayed at the Ronald Mc Donald House of Tallahassee and would like to share your experience, please send an email to email@example.com.
A Journey Towards Home
On Saturday morning, July 8th we set out with my whole family for a vacation on St. George Island. The drive from Ocala passed quickly despite being an uncomfortable 25 weeks pregnant. We arrived at the beach and I began experiencing a lot of pain. By Monday night I was in an ambulance on the way to Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center where they worked hard to keep me from having my baby. However, early Friday morning on July 14th, MacKenzie Grace entered this world at a tiny 2 Ibs. 2 oz. She was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before I even had a good look at her. She was so small my husband’s wedding band fit over her hand and up her arm. It was hard to believe. As the next few hours passed and the shock of delivering 14 weeks early wore off, I felt as though I was looking up from the bottom of a huge mountain that I had to climb. I knew it would be a long road ahead. I was miles and miles from home in a strange town with a baby fighting for her life. While I was in the hospital I felt secure that MacKenzie would be okay, because I was there too. But on Sunday night as I was being discharged the impact of what that meant hit me full force. I had to leave without her.
My husband and I drove the four blocks to the Ronald McDonald House where we were greeted by the weekend volunteer staff. They were kind and compassionate and asked questions about how our baby was doing. I was immediately bitter. These people knew nothing about what I was going through and I wasn’t in the mood for idle conversation. I went to my room and cried. The next day we received the same compassionate treatment. After two or three days I realized two things, these people truly cared and many of them had stood where I was standing. A sudden wave of relief came over me as I realized I could be “at home” even though we were 250 miles from where we “lived”.
The Ronald McDonald House was a gift from God during our time in Tallahassee. After spending long hours at the hospital we could come home and not worry about what to eat or where to sleep. When my husband had to go back to Ocala to work, they kept me company. It was a beautiful home with comfortable surroundings. It was a shelter during an extremely turbulent time.
The first week passed slowly, MacKenzie made little progress. At one week old she had heart surgery followed by several days of us wondering if she would survive. At last she recovered from the heart surgery and began to make the long journey towards home. She gained weight slowly. I would come back to the Ronald McDonald House discouraged and there was always someone or something that lifted my spirits. On one particular day I was feeling very sorry for myself about having a child in the hospital until I stopped and read a card on the bulletin board. It was from a family thanking the Ronald McDonald House for their kindness and they said that their little boy was still in a coma but showing signs of improvement. I immediately realized that as bad as I felt there were so many people who had it worse.
From that point on I tried to look at everything as a small victory. After all, MacKenzie was doing things she shouldn’t have to be doing yet. First she made it back to two pound, then three, then four. Before we knew it, we had been in Tallahassee for nine weeks, MacKenzie weighed 4 Ibs. 4 oz. and we were on our way home. Leaving the Ronald McDonald House and the hospital was difficult. Obviously we wanted our little girl home, but this place had become like family to us. We had spent every day for nine weeks with these people. While we were thankful for the support, we headed for I-10 with a prayer in our hearts that we would never see these people under these circumstances again!
At this writing MacKenzie is 14 weeks old, today is her original due date. She weighs 61b. 3 oz. and smiles all the time. Sometimes I just sit for hours and stare at her. It seems like it has been a long time since we were in Tallahassee, sometimes it’s hard to remember it all. But one thing is for certain, we will never forget the love and kindness we were shown by the staff and volunteers of the Tallahassee Ronald McDonald House … it is truly the “home with a heart”.