Flashback: Staying at the Ronald McDonald House
For the past few years, we have talked to the Ronald McDonald House people about the "Rock the Socks and RUN FOR THE HOUSE!" I NEVER imagined I would end up staying at the Ronald McDonald House. How we got there is painful, like it is for most people but while we were there I saw some beautiful things. I will never be the same.
We arrived there Monday November 21, 2016. Our daughter Phoenix was born with Down Syndrome and had to be put in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was born on the 17th and my wife was released on the 21st. The hospital set it up so we were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House here in Lansing. It was very emotional leaving the hospital without our child. I kept thinking, at some point we will get to take her home. She was not bottle feeding very well and had to be fed by the feeding tube. Until she could eat on her own, she was going to be there.
We met with Ruth Lumbert who gave us a key and told us all the rules. She gave us a tour and explained how random people drop off food. She took us to this double wide fridge packed full of homemade food. We said "we doubt we'll eat it." She took us to the room and made us feel right at home. Every 3 hours we wanted to be at the hospital for our daughter's feeding. I was working with her on latching the bottle and Sabrina (Mrs. Pants) was pumping breast milk. I would spend so much time there pounding coffee and staring at our first and only baby, I would forget to eat. One night, we returned to the Ronald House about midnight. Both of us were famished and devoured some chicken breasts in the fridge someone dropped off. There was spaghetti and meatballs. We ate well. Slept well. It was the best we ate and slept since our child was born.
The Ronald McDonald House also had a Thanksgiving dinner cooked on the spot by a family who has done this for about 7 years. We were unable to have Thanksgiving at home because we were NOT leaving our baby. She wasn't going to spend her first Thanksgiving alone. So, Bruce and Laurie Rasmussen and their grandkids Isabella and Aidyn helped make our delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. Pants family made it out for dinner. Every time I would try to tell people about this I got emotional. How AMAZING of these people to take time out of their Thanksgiving to make us strangers dinner. A dinner that we needed and time we needed with our family. He said he wanted to show the children how good it feels to do nice things for others. That killed me, I was moved to tears by this family. I am so grateful to this man and his family. They have NEVER stayed there. They just like to do right by others. Thank you Bruce, Laurie, Isabella and Aidyn.
We ended up leaving the next day, Phoenix was released on Black Friday. Taking our baby home was much easier after having a good meal and good sleep. We also were able to keep with our Thanksgiving tradition, watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles in our room, thanks to a DVD player someone donated.
Being able to be there for my baby was something I am very grateful for. My wife had a C-section and needed time to recover. The Ronald McDonald House kept our family together through our most difficult test. I remember throwing change in the bin at McDonalds when I was younger, I never really knew where that money went. Now, I make sure I throw cash in there. When things slow down, we expect to drop off our own food donations and contributions to the House. You can also help.