This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.
I should have taken time to write ahead, but this is hard, emotional work. I will definitely find more mental space next week. For now, this is a glimpse of another piece of our lives during that time:
The hospital where Samantha spent those days and nights in the NICU had a section on the same floor set aside for the Ronald McDonald House. RMH did have an official house in the medical center, but our hospital had a set of rooms designated just for parents with children in the NICU and PICU, to enable all of us to stay close to our babies.
The rooms were set up in pairs, with a Jack-and-Jill bathroom in between. The best spot was on the end of the hallway, where you didn’t have to share a bathroom but got to have one to yourself. They had larger bottles of shampoo and soap in the showers, and gave us a ziplock bag filled with other necessities like toothbrushes and contact solution. Of course, we had already spent a fortune at the local drugstore buying those items because we didn’t know we could have them provided, but it was nice to have extra toiletries during our stay.
Each afternoon, the room list was put together by the ICU nurses, who would select the parents deemed most in need of a place to sleep. Sometime in the evening, we would be given the opportunity to check into our room, which had clean sheets on the bed and fresh towels stacked on the dresser. In the morning, we were asked to strip the sheets off of the bed and put all the used linens in a basket in the hallway. Then volunteers in RMH vests would clean the rooms during the day and prepare them for the next set of parents.
In addition to the beds, we had full access during the entire day/night to the kitchen and lounge area in the RMH hallway. The kitchen was stocked with snacks, coffee, drinks, and sometimes even had meals brought in by churches, families, and organizations. We could also use the space to cook if we wanted to. Mostly we chose to eat in the cafeteria, which was pricey but they had pretty decent food and a ton of variety.
Whenever I woke up in the middle of the night (pretty much every night), I would walk from our room down the hallway, then through the PICU doors and down another long hallway, turning the corner and following it all the way around to our daughter’s room. I would sit with her for hours, half-asleep but unable to fully rest. No wonder the entire time we were there feels like a dream.
Next post coming soon.