Two years ago at this time (9:45 PM) my family and I were packing it in early, heading up to our room at the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton for the night. This time it wasn't just my husband, young son and I going up to our room. This time it was my mother, mother-in-law and father-in-law, all packing ourselves into our room with cots and a pull out couch to accomodate all of us. Thankfully, the House really was able to accomodate this stretch on the usual number of occupants of our room. The House had cots, pillows and blankets stored for times like these. We were preparing to meet Twin B at 7:00 AM on June 25, just before they wheeled him into surgery to have a ventricular reservoir inserted to help relieve the pressure of fluid on the brain due to Hydrocephalus. By this time the baby had grown enough and was stable enough to help relieve the pressure by this surgical procedure. To say we were "scared" does not describe it well enough, yet I can't actually put the feelings into words. They were feelings and they were strong!
The next morning my brother and father met up with us as we headed into the hospital as a strong family, going in to be strong for our little Twin B. It was a bright, sunny and warm day. So much to be positive about--instilling confidence in me that this day would turn out well.
After only a couple of hours the reservoir had been inserted and the baby came out of surgery awake and alert, which the doctor advised prior to going in would not be the case. This was another positive for the day, making me feel our baby would be okay.
There was our little man up in the NICU, back in an isolette to avoid infection, and to recuperate and grow strong again. By this time, Twin B, was perhaps 4 pounds, give or take. So small to be going through so much!
This surgery was the first of two to deal with his Hydrocephalus. Ironically, the month of June is Hydrocephalus Awareness Month in my province of Ontario. This is yet another sign to me, that this baby was put on this Earth to help us raise awareness for various causes and conditions, which children and adults face each day. Hydrocephalus is generally a lifelong condition, which requires regular monitoring and awareness individuals with this condition. Here is a great explanation of Hydrocephalus, which is outlined on the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario website. There are more people walking around with this condition than you may be aware of, so it's something to consider and understand if you can.
Additionally, today marks another milestone. After about 18 months the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton, where we stayed for over 3 months, had their Grand Opening following a very large addition to the existing House. Today we got to visit the House and take a walk down memory lane and see all the amazing changes they made. I was inspiring to see how so many people could come together, create a new design, blend the old with the new and be so creative while doing it! They talked to parents of families from the past, talked to experts and those that could give some insight on what things would make the house operate most efficiently for all types of needs.
Some of the great new ideas they implemented include:
A room for new mothers to pump or have some time to themselves.
A fridge in each room (previously there were communal fridges on each floor, which wasn't always ideal for mothers.)
Various quiet nooks or niches throughout the building, for family quiet time and spaces to gather away from open areas for some privacy.
A library-reading room, which was gorgeous! Our oldest son didn't want to leave the room today.
A playroom right off the eat in kitchen area, closed in by windows and visible from the kitchen area, so kids can play while family eats.
Hotelling rooms--Similar to Care-By-Parent rooms you might find in a NICU area or other parts of the hospital wards, but larger, more welcoming and spacious. Families staying at the hospital can potentially be referred over to use the room for a night or two. This would definitely be great for tired parents, who want to be close to their child and just need a quick refresher and a night away from the hospital room recliner.
A large culinary kitchen.
Last, but definitely not least, an amazing secret room for children to visit.
I could go on and on, but I won't. It is safe to say the families that must visit the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton will feel very much welcomed and as though their specific family dynamic and needs were well-planned for...because they were. I get the feeling the staff of the House left no stone unturned when it came to planning and researching the needs of families and understanding each family is different in order to ensure they can accomodate pretty much anyone that walks through their new front door.
So, congrats to Ronald McDonald House Hamilton for such an amazing and inspiring job you did on this new "home away from home." We loved it and the families of the future will too!
Thank you to those that helped support my family while fundraising for this amazing cause over the past two years!