Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Ronald McDonald House: A Home Away From Home

Kylie doing the ‘carseat test’, getting ready to go home!

I am so excited to be a parent blogger on Hand to Hold’s parent site, PreemieBabies101, and am looking forward to sharing my experiences, making new connections and being here to listen. I wish I had heard of this organization when my daughter was in the NICU.  Hand to Hold and PB101 are a wealth of information that not a lot of people understand or can relate. I am proud to be a part of this!

My daughter, Kylie, is now two-years-old and doing amazing.  I developed preeclampsia at 29 weeks gestation. We lived in Butte, Montana, at the time where the hospital did not have the resources to take on a baby less than 34 weeks. My doctor sent me to Missoula, two hours away.  Two days later, Kylie was born weighing 2 lbs. 10 oz., at 30 weeks.

Knowing I wouldn’t be bringing my baby with me after my own discharge was one of the most heart-breaking days of my life. My heart literally hurt. I not only had to leave without her but we lived two hours away.  The hospital gave me information about the Ronald McDonald House, which was within walking distance of the hospital. I walked in with my head low and very sad, then I looked up to see this beautiful house I would be staying in for the next few months. It was absolutely gorgeous – serene, calm and relaxing. The staff was wonderful and I really felt like I was ‘home’.  In a way, I think it helped that I didn’t actually go HOME without Kylie. I told myself I was just in another part of the hospital.

The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) staff and the families that were there when we were have become family to me. Some of the women whose husbands also worked out of town and I created a club called “The Lonely Wives Club.” We would sit around and vent, cry, encourage each other and laugh. We gained lifelong friends there and memories that I will cherish forever.

Were you transported to a different town due to emergency circumstances? Did you stay at a local RMH or with family? If you were able to stay in your hometown, did you have any support with other parents in the NICU, such as a NICU support group?  I’d love to hear from you!

To find a RMH near you or if you want to direct a friend to this life-saving home, ask your hospital or visit the RMH national website.  Presently, Hand to Hold is looking for volunteers to staff local Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in Austin, Texas.

Dani Curliss About Dani Curliss

Dani Curliss (TX) is the mother of two, Kylie and Austin. Kylie was born 10 weeks early, weighing 2lbs. 10oz., and Austin was born at 37 weeks. Both babies were born early due to preeclampsia. Kylie is now three and has no lasting complications from her prematurity. Dani and her husband have made their life mission to raise awareness of prematurity and preeclampsia and she shared Kylie's NICU journey on her personal blog. She learned a wealth of information during their six-week NICU stay, and finds healing from their experience by helping and encouraging others with their story. You can find Dani on Pinterest, or email her at d.curliss@outlook.com.

Comments

  1. Beki Montoy says:

    This was very good! Nice job!

  2. Jennifer Hirtzel says:

    My daughter was born at 28 weeks also duentonpreeclampsia. We were taken 2 1/2 hours from home. I went home on the fourth day and left my heart in that NICU. 2 days later i was told by my husband to get my behind back there, he couldn’t take the tears anymore. So i drove myself back in severe pain and discomfort from the emergency csection and it never once crossed my mind to not go. She spent 42 days there and i drove back and forth. Had 3 other children at home to worry about too. It was so heartbreaking whether i was there or here. Toughest 42 days of my life. I was getting ready to go to rmh when i received the surprise phone call saying she was ready to come home. I wish i had stayed there. I think it would have been helpful to connect with other families. I think that it would have been comforting in what felt like such a lonely time for me.

    • Dani CurlissDani Curliss says:

      I can’t imagine driving all of that, especially while trying to recover! I think the best thing I got out of staying there was that I didn’t actually go ‘home’ without her. I just pretended I was in another part of the hospital as her since it was within walking distance. I also couldn’t have survived without the friends I made there. I am the type who needs that bond/connection with someone who is/has going through what I am. I am glad that your girl is home now though 🙂 Kylie was there for 42 days too!

  3. Love the photo. Kylie is owning that carseat!

  4. I love RMH. We have stayed at the one in Cincinnati twice during trips there for Caleb’s surgeries. They are home to me- my Cincinnati home and we’ve made lifelong friends there too. Such a wonderful place. I would have been so lost without it.

  5. Dani CurlissDani Curliss says:

    Thanks for all the comments! It’s nice to see that the RMH helped other families as well!

    @Jennifer…I can’t imagine driving all of that, especially while trying to recover! I think the best thing I got out of staying there was that I didn’t actually go ‘home’ without her. I just pretended I was in another part of the hospital as her since it was within walking distance. I also couldn’t have survived without the friends I made there. I am the type who needs that bond/connection with someone who is/has going through what I am. I am glad that your girl is home now though 🙂 Kylie was there for 42 days too!

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