My daughter, Audrey Ann, was born with several life-threatening congenital birth defects that required surgery in order for her to sustain life.
175… is the number of days Audrey lived in the Brandon Holden NICU at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and me in the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor, before she was discharged to go home. During her initial stay, she went through several major and minor surgeries including open heart surgery. While my husband and oldest son were two hours away during the week, the other house guests, volunteers, and Ronald McDonald House staff became my family. On the weekends, when Josh and Bailey came to Ann Arbor, the Ronald McDonald House became their home as well.
While I was busy praying and learning how to care for my medically complex daughter, the RMH staff and volunteers were filling a pantry with food and a laundry room with detergent so that I did not have to. While I FaceTimed my 7-year-old son to hear about his school day, the staff and volunteers were making sure the WIFI worked, and the playroom had clean toys for his weekend visit. While I was overwhelmed with grief for the life I had dreamed of and a fear for my child’s life, Ronald McDonald House staff and volunteers became an ear for listening and a shoulder to catch my tears.
On January 1, 2015, Audrey was admitted to the PICU for respiratory distress which turned into respiratory failure. During this admission, I was blessed to stay at the House within Mott on the same floor as Audrey. This allowed me to sneak away for showers, sleep, and alone time. I was able to connect with other parents and talk with staff while there. This was something that was vital to my mental health as Audrey suffered a severe ischemic stroke and cardiac arrest. Audrey was placed on life support to allow time for her lungs to rest and heal, but ultimately they did not heal. She was unable to sustain life and passed away on February 18, 2015.
So yes, while there is no place like home, there is also no place like my Ronald McDonald House home. Thank you for taking away some normal daily stresses during an overwhelming and emotional time, for giving me a place to rest, and for providing a temporary home for my family.