Image of Waylon in a stroller

When families walk through our doors to check in, many of them have never heard of Ronald McDonald House. However, when they leave, there are no better people to describe what we offer them, thanks to supporters like you. Amanda is one guest mom who took the time to share exactly what she found in our House during the scariest time of her life. She shared this:

“Waylon was born at 29 weeks due to fetal heart concerns and fetal anemia. I had been transferred to Cincinnati from our local hospital in Indiana the day before in hopes of treating Waylon in utero and delaying delivery. Instead, he was born only a few hours after making it to Cincinnati. He was 3 pounds, 11 oz and very, very sick at birth. He was immediately intubated and rushed to the NICU at Cincinnati Children’s where he was diagnosed with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, brain bleed, severe anemia, hepatosplenomegaly, underdeveloped lungs, PDA and PFO of his heart as well as pulmonary hypertension.

Within hours of Waylon’s birth, we were given information about the Ronald McDonald House, and we were fortunate to get a room a couple weeks after he was born. The House was such a huge blessing and a relief. Waylon’s dad had already gone back home to be with our almost three-year-old daughter, and I was staying in a hotel, driving back and forth to visit Waylon daily.

Within an hour of receiving the call that I could move into the House the next day, I got a call from the NICU telling me that Waylon had experienced a pulmonary hemorrhage and I needed to get to the hospital as fast as possible. I rushed to the hospital and spent the next 18 hours at his side watching teams of amazing doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists fight to stabilize him. Once he was stable, I was finally able to walk over to Ronald McDonald House, where I was greeted by friendly, compassionate people, a hot meal and a comfortable bed to finally get some sleep.

Waylon stayed in the hospital for nine months, from May 28, 2018 to March 5, 2019, undergoing many procedures and surgeries, including a tracheotomy and g-tube placement before he was finally able to come home. During that time, the people at Ronald McDonald House became our family, crying with us on the bad days and celebrating with on us on the good days. Having a room at the House meant that I was able to stay with Waylon the entire time he was in the hospital without worrying about how to afford hotels and food and gas while also being out of work and in a different state.

Waylon’s dad, sister and extended family members were able to visit on the weekends and over holidays, as well as coming up for training to learn how to use Waylon’s vent and other equipment in order to bring him home safely. We made life-long friends with other families in the House, especially a family whose little girl was just a few weeks older than Waylon and in the same NICU pod as him. Being able to share meals with another family who understood the challenges of NICU life was another huge blessing. Our babies went home just over a month apart and we still remain in close contact.

Caring for a child in the hospital is hard; leaving another child at home hours away to be at the hospital is just as hard. Thanks to Ronald McDonald House, our daughter Aubrey, who turned three just a few months after Waylon was born, was able to visit her brother regularly and also enjoy all of the activities the House provides for kids. She loved playing in the playroom, picking out books from the library at bedtime, watching plays and doing yoga with the different groups that visited.

We were disappointed to spend Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital, but the House made sure that those holidays were extra special. Aubrey still got to enjoy Trick-or-Treating as Ronald McDonald House had costumes for kids to borrow. She was able to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with her whole family thanks to the generosity of RMH supporters. Best of all, Christmas time at the House is truly magical. Words do not even come close to describing the joy Aubrey experienced that Christmas, from the Santa flight, a Christmas Eve dinner that can only be described as a feast, a Santa visit before bed on Christmas Eve, to waking up to a huge pile of presents Christmas morning. Christmas at Ronald McDonald House was nothing short of magical.

We are so grateful for everything RMH does for families. We have visited the House several times when bringing Waylon back to Cincinnati for his ongoing care. It is so nice to just walk across the street at the end of a long day at the hospital to find a warm meal and a comfortable place to rest and play away from all the medicine and machines and procedures.

We always feel so welcome when the staff see Waylon and comment on how much he has grown and how strong he is getting. A simple ‘thank you’ never feels like enough when RMH means so much to us!” – Amanda, Waylon’s mom

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