The Otto Family
Our baby boy Cedar was rushed to the NICU at St. Joe’s after birth, then transferred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The cardiologists figured out that Cedar had an AVSD (atrioventricular septal defect). We spent the night at the hospital in awkward positions on little fold-out chairs. We were at the hospital for four days, then went home. Then, one night I saw his diaphragm retract, and Cedar went into surgery the next day.
It is very draining to be with your baby through open heart surgery. We heard that the Ronald McDonald House might have a room for us. We thought we wouldn’t qualify since we lived so close, but they had a room….a quiet space to lay down, chill and rest. We felt so grateful to have space to calm down and to be so close to our baby! I would wake up around 3 a.m., pump breastmilk, and then go and visit my sweet Cedar. The Ronald McDonald House was our sanctuary in a time of insanity.
Cedar’s first open heart surgery was a fix to get his heart and tissues bigger before the full repair. We came back to C.S. Mott when he was just 4 months old for that repair, involving testing, prodding, healing and pain management. It’s a lot when mom and dad are both working full time. We were once again supported by the Ronald McDonald House in Mott Hospital. We practiced yoga and played some music before going to visit Cedar on the 11th floor. It made for a much smoother time during our week-long stay.
That repair fixed the AVSD and some heart valve issues, but we were back a month later and heard that the repairs interrupted the electricity in Cedar’s heart. It was beating at a very low rate, so he needed a pacemaker. A month after, we were once again in surgery. It’s so hard to watch your 6-month-old baby go through so very much. Once again, we were able to stay in the Mott House and create a little home while he recovered.
The medical charges were immense! Having a place to stay, at no charge, was a very huge relief for our family. When your family goes through heart surgeries, the last thing you need is more stress… about bills, transportation, food and housing. The Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor made it easier on us. This place is amazing! Cedar is 11 months old and is a happy, sweet, chunky little dude. He loves pulling himself up to standing and crawling around the house. He adores his puppy Willow, and he smiles at everyone he meets. We are so grateful!