Shauf family portrait standing outside on sunny day

Ashley Shauf

When I was early in my pregnancy, week 26, I found out that Barrett had cystic fibrosis. As a result my OB wanted to transfer me up to the doctors at Strong so I could deliver there. Then, during my 34-week checkup, the doctors immediately sent me to the hospital for preeclampsia and told me I was going to be delivering my baby. Barrett was born six weeks early.

After he was born, he was sent to the NICU. I was still in the hospital because of the C-section, and when I found out that he had to stay, I panicked. Then the nurses told me I already had a room set up at RMHC because I lived two hours away.

When we arrived at the House, they took us on a tour with my husband and step-son. I was impressed—I really didn’t think the House would be like it was. I had heard of the Ronald McDonald House, but I didn’t really know what it was all about. They showed the kitchen and told us we could help ourselves if we were hungry, and we were really impressed. We were glad in the morning that we could get up, have breakfast and a cup of coffee, and then go to the hospital for the day.

Because I wasn’t famili

ar with RMHC, I didn’t expect volunteers to come in to make food. I figured I would just come back from the hospital, go to the pantry and find something to make for dinner. Then the first time we came back from the hospital and saw this big group of people making food, it was amazing. It really struck me that people wanted to volunteer their time to do that for us.

I loved being able to do my own laundry, as well. When I first was told that I was going to stay at RMHC, I asked my husband, What am I going to do for clothes? I told him he was going to have to take laundry back home for me and wash it, since he had to go home to be with my step-son. When I found out I could do it myself, it was great.

I stayed at RMHC from March 2 to May 20—almost three months. I am very, very, very thankful for having caring staff and a safe place to stay. We would not have been able to drive back and forth two hours every day. I know, emotionally and physically, I could not have done the back and forth. The Ronald McDonald House was like my safe haven.

Today, Barrett is doing really well—we have not been back up to RMHC. He goes back to Strong for his pulmonary visits every month, but they do not have anything bad to say. He is growing and developing perfectly right now.

Honestly, now being home, I worry about Barrett being sent back up to the hospital again, but then I remember that there is a Ronald McDonald House and that I would be OK.