The day after Tucker was born, we were sitting in our hospital room, my discharge only days away, and we were trying to figure out where we were going to stay. With traffic, it would take us a little under an hour to get to the hospital each day. I already hated being even 1 floor away from Tucker. Our plan was to call local hotels near the hospital and plead our case, explain our situation and hope they would give us a discount on a rate.
Then there was a knock at the door. The NICU social worker walked in and she began to give us the run-down on paperwork, insurance, NICU policies, handbook etc. Then she asked us where we lived and what our plan for housing would be. We told her our hotel plan. She said-“oh no, you don’t have to do that-we have a Ronald McDonald House right down the street.” We had no idea there was one in Charlotte. She called the house, gave us the referral and two days later, we moved into Room 211.
We settled into a routine at the house. We visited Tucker 3 times a day, in between working, and stayed for several hours each visit. If we had been at home, that would have been roughly 180 miles back and forth-every day. We also had lots of laundry-to keep germs to a minimum, we changed clothes every time we went to see Tucker. At 3 visits per day, that makes for A LOT of laundry. Not to worry-the house had 6 washers and dryers so Darrin could do all our loads in no time. He liked to do the laundry because there was a TV in the laundry room-and it was, after all March Madness. And besides, I had been fired from laundry the first few weeks of our marriage, but that’s for another post on another day.
Darrin and I both have full time jobs so we needed to be able to work remotely from the Ronald McDonald House. Again, no problem-the office and library space at the house had everything we needed to be able to do our work. And meals? Done. Every day, gracious volunteers cooked us a warm meal-not just on the weekends, not just special occasions, but every. Single. Day.
If I’m being honest though, maybe my favorite part was the cookies. When we came back from our morning visits with Tucker, the fresh baked smell tickled the inside of my nose and I couldn’t resist. I will forever blame the Ronald McDonald House for not letting me get out of my maternity jeans before I left. They would bag up the cookies that had not been eaten during the day (HOW did that happen?) and would leave them by the door for the families coming in from the late night visits. Most nights, I was in for a second round. No questions asked. In fact, Jill that worked the front desk at night would give me a thumbs up or down when we walked in to let me know if there were leftover cookies.
You can imagine after 5 months, we were tight with the RMH staff. So when it came time to leave they were, on one hand happy to see us go-it meant our baby was coming home. But they (and we) were sad to part ways with people with whom we had become so close. We send Tucker pictures often. They adore him and we adore them. We speak on behalf of the house every chance we get. In fact, recently I was honored to be a “model mom” in their Girls Night Out fundraiser fashion show. It was such a fun night and I loved every minute. Mostly because it celebrated this house that means so much to Team Hucks.
Everything about that place is so very perfect for families in their time of need. The tagline for the Ronald McDonald House is this: “The House that Love built”. And that is absolutely true. But it’s also the house where Hope resides. The house where miracles unfold. The house where prayers rain on the floor. The house where love is baked. And, at the end of a long day spent helping your little warrior fight, it was the house, in room 211, where your weary soul can rest.
For more information about Ronald McDonald House or to learn how you can volunteer, visit: www.rmhofcharlotte.org
CLICK HERE to watch the video shown at the RMH Girls Night Out event before I walked out on the runway!