Written By: The Smith Family: Jen, Ryan, Bren and Gideon
Summer 2016 we went in for an ultrasound to measure how big our little man was since due date was quickly approaching in the beginning of August. My favorite ultrasound tech noticed something that didn’t seem right. She went and got another tech that was more advanced to take a look. She also got the doctor who was filling in for mine who was on vacation at the time. They spotted what appeared to be a mass on his heart. They decided to send me down to OSU for a level 2 ultrasound to see what it could be. After going down to OSU it was determined there was something on the baby’s heart and we would need to team up with Nationwide and get a fetal echo as well as an MRI performed. Once we had both performed we met with a couple different doctors and came up with a game plan that I would come down to Columbus to deliver and our little man would be taken to Nationwide to have tests run as soon as he was born because of what they saw. They were confident they figured out what he had, but couldn’t officially diagnose him until after he was born.
A coworker of mine suggested asking if they could put my husband, my mother, possibly our 5 ½ year old daughter and once I got out of the hospital even myself up at the Ronald McDonald House across from Nationwide. I inquired at one of various appointments we had at Nationwide leading up to our son’s birth and they set it up for us to make this our home for the week we would be down there.
On August 6, 2016 Gideon James came into this world at a whopping 9 lbs 5 oz. Luckily for me there was no room for him at the main campus at Nationwide so he got to stay with me at OSU, only he had to hang out in their NICU and not in the room with me. Sadly the next morning I received a phone call that they are loading him up to go over to Nationwide and I need a nurse to roll me down to say bye until I could get a day pass to go visit him. I got down to give him Mommy love before they took him only to see he was already strapped into his transportation gear and I got to hold his hand from the opening of the carrier. My Mom had already been at the Ronald McDonald House and my husband had stayed the night with me at the hospital.
Flash forward to a few days later, I’m finally discharged from the hospital and I get to move in with my husband and mom into the Ronald McDonald house. Needless to say it was nothing like I had expected. The house was warm and inviting with everyone so kind and helpful from the moment you walk from the doors. The volunteers who came in to cook the meals for not only us, but the other families were friendly and took the stress away on having to worry about food. The beds were comfy and having a hot shower to freshen up in our own private room was wonderful. A few days before all of us were able to head back to our hometown my mother in law brought our daughter down to us so she could join in and get spend time with her brother. The house definitely won her over too with the various rooms in the house she could explore and play in. By far her favorite thing was one night she was invited to a princess party in the princess room. She still gleams that she got to dress like a princess and keep her princess dress. Which is why I think she insists on trying to go back with us every time we have to go down.
Gideon was officially diagnosed during his stay in the NICU with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. Luckily for us, two of his doctors from Nationwide come to our local hospital so we can utilize them from the comforts of our hometown. However, his neurologist requires frequent trips, right now of every 6-8 week visits. Due to the frequent visits we have become frequent guests at the Ronald McDonald House. The last two trips to the house we have got our church involved in taking up donations that we can bring as our way to say Thank you for being there for us. Our daughter who is now 6 does her part by collecting tabs to send with us as well. She has been able to have family members all the way from New Mexico mail her tabs. She created a video we had posted on my Facebook page in which she shows some of the tabs and tells people why they need to donate them and how they help families. Because of the video she has had various family members and some of Mommy’s friends mail her the tabs that don’t live close by to us.
The Ronald McDonald house has been a huge blessing to my family and I know it will continue to be as we continue to have frequent doctor’s appointments that our son will have. I encourage anyone who wants to help whether collecting tabs like our 6 year old does, to collecting items off their wish list, to volunteering to cook a meal, play games or make crafts with the families to do so. Don’t do it out of pity, but do it out of love and you will touch the lives of all who enter the house. We may be just one family, but what little we do to help makes a difference for other families.