Ronald McDonald House Reflections…

It was July 26th, 2013. I had given birth to my fifth child, a beautiful boy named Jackson, the previous day.
He was born at 39 weeks gestation after an uneventful pregnancy, at a whopping 9 lbs, 5oz, and seemed the picture of health.

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So imagine the confusion and dismay when a neonatologist came into our hospital room the day after Jackson was born, where my husband and I were beaming, watching our newborn sleep on my chest, to tell us that our baby boy had to be taken to the NICU immediately.

About four hours old

About four hours old

I’ll try to make a long story short. An hour or so before that startling visit, Jackson had some blood drawn. It came back showing he was severely jaundiced, having the condition AO blood type incompatibility. He also had an elevated white count & they were worried about a possible infection. Those first couple of days he was on oxygen, IV antibiotics, and two bilirubin lights (hence the blue glow in the photos).

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He stayed in the NICU for 8 days, and while there were a couple setbacks we were blessed that he got healthier every day. I know many families have much more difficult NICU experiences than we did and my heart is with every one of those babies and families.  I spoke with several other parents of NICU babies during our short stay, and I have gained a new appreciation for the healthy children that I have.
On Jackson’s 3rd day in the NICU, I was discharged as a patient. Prior to that, I still had my room on the OB floor-which meant I had a place to go to eat, shower, and rest. The hospital was an hour drive from home and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t leave my precious baby, who needed me for breastfeeding. I was nursing directly or pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock. I also just didn’t want to leave him. I was then told about the Ronald McDonald house.  The hospital we were at, St.Mary’s in Madison, WI, actually has a Ronald McDonald house on site at the hospital. The Ronald McDonald house provides a place to stay, food, warm showers, laundry facilities, a place to unwind and so many other supports for parents of babies and children who are hospitalized.  I had heard of the Ronald McDonald house, as I’m sure many of you have, but I never knew much about it or what an amazing organization it was until I actually had to use it.

The corner of my room at Ronald McDonald House, where I pumped breastmilk for my son in the middle of the night.

The corner of my room at Ronald McDonald House, where I pumped breastmilk for my son in the middle of the night.

I spent one night in one of their rooms, and it was beautiful- every bit as comfortable as a nice hotel room. The staff was warm, supportive, and helpful. I was able to eat some good, real food in their kitchen which was a welcome change from the cafeteria food and vending machines I had been surviving on. I had only packed enough clothes for a short stay, so I was able to do some laundry. One day, when I was actually sleeping in the NICU to be with my son (my choice) I was able to sneak up to the Ronald McDonald family room and take a shower. I think that was the best feeling shower I’ve ever had in my entire life. There were other parents to talk to who knew what it was like to have a hospitalized child away from home, wonderful staff, and an endless M&M’s candy jar. Hey, a girl has priorities.

My husband getting a snack in the beautiful kitchen of the Ronald McDonald Family Room. It was so great to be able to take a break from the NICU and come to the Family Room with the home-like atmosphere.

My husband getting a snack in the beautiful kitchen of the Ronald McDonald Family Room. It was so great to be able to take a break from the NICU and come to the Family Room with the home-like atmosphere.

Thankfully, Jackson improved and he was discharged at 9 days old. He kept using a bili blanket at home for a couple of weeks till the jaundice totally cleared up, but ever since he’s been a healthy, beautiful, happy boy who is meeting all his milestones and brings us so much joy and love each and every day.

Discharged from the NICU and heading HOME!

Discharged from the NICU and heading HOME!

 

Jackson 11 months old

So what does this story have to do with paper crafting, the main focus of this blog? The reason I’m sharing this story is to tell you why the Ronald McDonald house is so close to my heart, and how excited I was to learn that Stampin’ Up! is a national sponsor of Ronald McDonald House Charities. In the past decade, Stampin’ Up! has donated over $100,00 to this amazing charity, and they also:

  • Make an annual contribution to RMHC.
  • Design an exclusive stamp set each year; a portion of the proceeds ($3) from the sale of that set will be donated to the organization. This year’s set is Flamingo Lingo.
  • Donate items created by our demonstrators to Houses in the cities where we host events.
  • Facilitate a program through which demonstrators can make a caring contribution and organize volunteer activities at Ronald McDonald Houses.

Each year, an exclusive stamp set is produced for the charity, and Stampin’ Up! donates three dollars for each set sold. It is available in wood mount (item #134303,$21.95), clear mount (item #134306, $16.95), and is even available in clear mount translated into both Spanish and French! This year’s set is called Flamingo Lingo:

images copyright Stampin' Up! 2014

images copyright Stampin’ Up! 2014

 

How stinkin’ cute is this set?! I love the flower-a very versatile stamp that would work for a large variety of projects. The “caring thoughts” sentiment is also a great, versatile phrase to add to your collection.

I’m holding a special workshop on July 18th called Stampin’ and Scrapin’ for Ronald McDonald House. My local family and friends are all invited to attend. At a normal workshop or class, I would usually have a make ‘n take project where I teach some stamping or scrapbooking techniques, and all attendees make a project they take home with them. However at this special workshop, we are going to be making cards to donate to RMHC. The guests at RMH will then be able to use these blank-inside cards to correspond with anyone they wish. Some parents are guests of RMHC for several weeks or even months. Some have other children they are separated from as they stay with their sick child in the hospital. My hope is that they’ll be able to use these cards to keep in touch with people at home, send thank you notes, whatever they wish.

I will also be donating 100% of my income earned from each RMHC stamp set “Flamingo Lingo” that I sell in the month of July. That’s in addition to the $3 that Stampin’ Up! donates for each stamp set sold. PLUS I’ll be donating 10% of my income from any other sales at the workshop.

How can you help this effort for Ronald McDonald House Charities?

-If you’re local, come to my workshop on July 18th! RSVP under “events” on my Stampin’ Up! website.

-If you can’t attend, you can purchase your own “Flamingo Lingo” stamp set. Email me at blackbirdscraps@gmail.com or shop through my website (links above in stamp description). Please make sure you’re shopping with me listed as your consultant so I can donate my portion of income earned.

-Remember, your purchase of any other Stampin’ Up! products through me between now and July 19th (at noon, central time) 10% of my income will be donated to RMHC.

-Spread the word! Please, share this post with your family and friends. Talk about it on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading this extra long post. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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