I went in to labor at 29 weeks. Until that point, the pregnancy was going well—there was no sign of history, no sign of anything, and I just spontaneously went in to labor. We live in Canandaigua and I was planning to have her at Thompson Health, so I started there and they said she was probably coming that day, so they sent me right up to Strong. They were able to give me the steroid injections for her lungs to develop and they did an ultrasound—they said she was probably around 3 pounds.
They were able to hold off Arie being delivered for three days, just to keep her in there as long as possible. However, it got to the point where it would be more beneficial to deliver her—with my water being broken for more than 48 hours and I kept dilating, but nothing was really happening. I had her November 19, and she was just 3.5 pounds and 14.5 inches long.
I remember they immediately just took her away. They wheeled her out in her little incubator. We never had anyone in our family with a baby who had to be admitted to the hospital, so the NICU was a completely brand-new experience.
I had heard about Ronald McDonald House, but I didn’t know what it was about. Once we were discharged, we went over there. Someone showed us around and I just remember the warmth of the person. We immediately got set up with a room, she showed us the kitchen and the layout of everything. I think the next day we just went home and packed a suitcase and came back and we stayed up there for six weeks.
Our experience with Ronald McDonald House—there was always someone there with a warm smile. We didn’t have to worry about our next meal or toiletries, everything was there. I remember I was walking in, the food, I could just smell the food. The cupboards were full, the refrigerators were full. I loved the families, businesses and people coming in and making the meals and getting to connect with them. We would come back from the hospital in the evening and there was a hot meal. There were always leftovers there for lunch and we could pack anything up. You forget that it’s so valuable to be eating well because that’s what you need to stay healthy while your child is in the hospital.
There were times when my husband had to leave for the day to go work, so I would use the shuttle service RMHC offered. It was always the same guy and it was always so comfortable and nice to be able to talk to somebody.
If I had to describe RMHC in one word, I would choose family. Love, generosity and warmth—those are all things that the feeling and presence of family provides and what we felt at RMHC. We were just so grateful that there was somebody there besides families; we were strangers, they were strangers. You know, we were kind of broken in pieces, and they helped us along the way.