Leo's Family Stays Close for his 65-Day NICU Stay
“There were days...I literally don’t know what we would have done.” December 17, 2018
Leo, or “King Leo” as he came to be known by his nurses, was born in July to proud parents Trea and Anna. Up until the day he was born, it was a very average, normal pregnancy. Anna was active and healthy the whole time, and even ran a half marathon while she was 18 weeks pregnant. Every doctor’s visit, right on schedule, everything always checked out just fine. Until the 30 week appointment.
“I went in for a routine prenatal appointment and my blood pressure was high, and that was kind of the first warning sign. My blood pressure is never high, so there was a concern about preeclampsia and they ordered some more tests before sending me home.”
“I was home for maybe an hour when the doctor called and told me to go to the hospital immediately. The test results had come back as bad as they could be.”
They went to the hospital and began taking hourly blood draws. As her condition continued to worsen, Anna was told that the only option was delivery. “They said, ‘you’ve got to have this baby’, and Leo was born at 10:30 that night.”
They thought they would have all summer to prepare for their first baby, but were suddenly faced with so many more questions than just when they would find time to buy diapers or finish the nursery.
“We were just thrown into it. We were terrified. I had no idea how developed a 30 week baby could even be.”
Trea and Anna were told that Leo would be in the NICU for a very long time. “We were told to go ahead and plan to be there until the due date…and my due date was ten weeks away!” The new family didn’t know how they would get through it.
“Everyone kept mentioning the Ronald McDonald Family Room, and I had heard of it before but had no idea we had anything like that here. My husband talked to the staff. They told him, yes we have a room for you, stay as long as you need, we have dinner every night.”
Anna was treated in the hospital for seven days, her room directly across from the NICU. Finally, she was discharged, but it would still be months before Leo could come home. “At first, I was just like, I don’t want to stay in a hospital. Trea said, I promise it’s nice, let’s just go look at it.”
“So I went to the Family Room, and I could not believe how…it was like a nice hotel, and everyone was so sweet to us.”
Their home was just a short drive from the hospital, but going home would have meant battling traffic, finding parking multiple times a day, and worst of all, leaving Leo behind. It very quickly became clear just how far that short distance could be when Anna was well enough to leave her hospital room. “When we moved down to the Family Room, we cried because it felt really far away from Leo. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we had had to go home. We would have just been devastated, because even two floors away felt too far.”
So, Anna and Trea moved in, and they stayed for 65 days. Because of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, they didn’t have to spend one single night outside of the hospital away from Leo. They became friends with the security guards and nurses. Every evening, they ate a meal provided by a Share-A-Meal donor. Every morning, they woke up to coffee and pastries.
“When Leo’s feedings were three hours apart, sometimes they would take up to 90 minutes, because he was on a slow feeding tube. That meant I would only have another 90 minutes before I had to start again. 90 minutes to sleep, and eat and shower.”
“So even though there were restaurants nearby, we didn’t have time to go find food, we didn’t have time to go home…thanks to the Family Room, we could just grab something and then head back upstairs. Or have time to take a nap before we had to go back. It was immensely helpful.”
Leo was ready to go home two days before his due date, on his daddy’s birthday. It was a bittersweet moment for everyone who had gotten to know the three of them. “All of the Family Room staff had checked on us every day, everyone asked about Leo.” One of the NICU nurses even crocheted a special ‘graduation cap’ to celebrate the occasion.
“There were days…I literally don’t know what we would have done.” Thanks to the support the Family Room and all of RMHC of Arkoma’s programs receive from the community, thousands of families are able to find this kind of support when they need it most.
Thank you Anna, Trea and Leo for sharing your story!