The people who stay at Mobile’s Ronald McDonald House become like family not only to the volunteers and staff but also to each other. It means so much when you have someone close that can relate to you and your family. Please read below some of the following stories of families that has had just that experience at “The House that Love Built”.
If you would like to share your family's story of hope and healing at Mobile's Ronald McDonald House, please click here.
The Smith Family
We believe in Miracles. This is because we have one. We are the Smith Family and this is our story...
Due to medical issues we were told that we would likely never be able to conceive a child. God clearly had different plans for our future. We had been married four years when we found out that we were pregnant. We were overwhelmed and grateful for the blessing we knew we had been given.
Our journey became difficult at about 28 weeks into the pregnancy. My blood pressure was high, and my doctor put me on bed rest. Things continued to decline and my body was failing. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and a plan was made with my doctor to try everything humanly possible to get us to 34 weeks to deliver a healthy baby.
At 32 weeks, my body was no longer providing a healthy place for our baby to grow. I was rushed by ambulance to USA Children's & Women's Hospital. Time seemed to be flying by and standing still at the same time. Doctors feared stroke for me, so Ella Grace Blair Smith was taken by emergency C-section on July 23, 2013 at 8:59AM.
I vividly remember waiting to hear her cry. We were so worried that it was too soon, and what all of this would mean for her.
Ella Grace was born in respiratory distress and the NICU team seamlessly began working to resuscitate her. The minutes seemed like hours, and we finally heard the sweetest, softest little tiny cry that we had ever heard before. Our little miracle was breathing.
One thing I was very adamant about from the beginning was that I would not be leaving the hospital and going back home to Fairhope without our baby. I was fully prepared to sleep in a hallway and not shower for months if that’s what it meant. While I spent the remainder of the day in recovery, Jason was working with NICU nurses to ensure that I would not ever have to leave our baby.
Jason gave me the great news! A very magical place existed, that before this day, I never even knew was there. This amazing place that is right beside the hospital, that feeds you, and loves on you, and listens to you cry, and gives you the softest bed you’ve ever felt to sleep on. This magical place is called The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile.
Ella Grace was in the NICU for over a month. Thanks to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile I was able to be in the NICU to feed her every 3 hours, I was able to be there at a moments notice to sign paperwork for a PICC line when her tiny veins couldn’t hold the IV's she needed. I was able to be there to change her tiny diapers, to be there to celebrate the milestone of her feeding tube being removed, and every other milestone until the day she was allowed to come home with us!
Ronald McDonald House is truly a magical place. One of the moments in my life I will never forget is the evening I checked in to Ronald McDonald House after being discharged. That was a very emotional and painful day to say the least. I will never forget Mr. Curtis welcoming me with open arms. He knew my heart was hurting, and gave me one of the biggest hugs I have ever received. He knew that in THAT moment, no words would suffice, and offered me the very thing that I needed the most. A GIANT hug, and to know that I was welcome at Ronald McDonald House as long as I needed to stay there...
There are a lot of things in life that money can’t buy and that is one of them. The volunteers and staff that greet you each time you enter the front door, always ready to celebrate even the smallest milestone, or offer encouragement for the news of a setback, the family meals cooked with so much love so you have one less thing to worry about. Every detail is taken care of.
In those days your precious baby is the most important thing in your world. They understand that, and welcome you into their house with open arms. Ella Grace has overcome so many things in her short life, and we are pleased to say that today she is a very happy and healthy almost three years old. She loves books, puzzles, playing at the park, arts and crafts, and animals of all kinds. She has a smile that will light up any room, and loves to make new friends.
We are so grateful that God chose us to be her parents, and we are grateful that Ronald McDonald House was part of our journey.
So many families lives are turned upside down by having a baby born too soon, or child hospitalized. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile provides so much for these families... A refuge from the storm.
Thank you RMH for being OUR refuge from the storm, and loving on us like you did. We are so proud to be part of your Ronald McDonald House family. -Rachel and Jason Smith, daughter Ella Grace
The Perkins Family
As a teenager, I had no idea that as I was volunteering with my church youth group at the Ronald McDonald House that my family and I would later be impacted so greatly by the House. Although, premature deliveries are common in my family, I never dreamed it would be a reality for me. In 2011, our first child was born 14 weeks early. For nearly four months while our son was in the NICU, we were blessed to call the Ronald McDonald House our home! From the moment we stepped into the doors of the House, we were welcomed by the staff and volunteers with open arms and smiles. In April of 2014, our second child was born prematurely as well. My doctors were able to hold my delivery off as long as possible, with him being born 12 weeks early. Now, with two children in two separate places, it wasn’t an easy task to share our time and attention between both boys, but the Ronald McDonald House made it possible.
When I think of our experience at the House and what it means to me, the first thing I think of is family. What was most important to me is that we were able to have our family together while we were able to bond and care for our son in the NICU. During our stays at the House, we also gained a new family from the staff at the House. We will forever be grateful to each and every person who touched our lives during such a difficult time. We also became part of a bigger family as we were able to encourage and support other families as well as find strength from those who were experiencing similar situations to ours. The Ronald McDonald House will always hold a special place in our hearts and is no longer just a "house", it is forever OUR home. - Jeanne Perkins
The Howell Family
One cold February night, my excitement about my approaching June due date took a sudden fearful turn when my water broke. At only 23 weeks gestation, you can imagine my horror; it was just way too early! My husband Joel, who was working in Montgomery at Maxwell AFB, was contacted and he immediately began the trip to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.
2 days later on February 6, with my husband at my side, I had an emergency C-section. Our baby boy was alive and weighed 1 pound and 2 ounces. We now know that we were in the absolutely best possible place to get specialized care for our precious baby Ryder.
Joel and I placed our trust in God to save our baby but we felt unsettled about what we should do next. My mother knew that I needed to stay as close as possible to little Ryder. While I was still groggy from sedation and Joel dozed in exhaustion, she made the call. The results of that call were nothing less than the answer to our needs and concerns. The fine staff at Ronald McDonald House were making arrangements for Joel and me upon my release from the hospital. Joel and I could relax now and focus on our baby. I would stay there full time while my husband worked at Maxwell in Montgomery during the week and he would be with me on the week ends. My parents would take care of our other 2 children.
While I didn’t anticipate the need of a safe place to stay while my baby received medical care, others were working hard and planning to meet this need. God provided a wonderful resource for me and my family, Ronald McDonald House is a supportive environment and all of us who are blessed to be able to make a temporary home there have a soft place to land. They provide us with a stocked pantry and many meals as well as a comfortable, private bedroom and bath. The hospital is only a brief, pleasant walk away.
I so miss my home life! ….But, I can’t imagine how difficult our lives would have been had Ronald McDonald House not come to our rescue. Our 1 pound 2 ounce baby boy is now 6 pounds. His home coming date has been delayed; we are just waiting for his little lungs to heal so he can breathe on his own and we can be together as a family once again.