In May 2014, I gave birth to our first son Kazuki. He was sent to NICU immediately after his birth because he was born before his due date and suffers from a heart disease. He is still very small and fighting with the disease one month after his birth.
Amid significant worry over our uncertain future with the heart disease, my body did not respond due to post-baby fatigue and I had great trouble deciding whether to go to hospital from home by train or to lease a weekly rental condominium. Then a nurse in the obstetrics department introduced me a Ronald McDonald House in the hospital premises. I and my husband did not know about the facilities so went to see the House with some hesitance. We were satisfied with its bright atmosphere and warm remarks from the House staff and decided to stay there.
While my base of living was established, my life to support Kazuki had only just begun. I was obsessed with doing one work at hand and another, including meeting him in limited time at the hospital, expressing my milk every 3 hours, eating meals, and doing laundry.
The House and its staff helped my greatly in the busy life. I could use a well-cleaned room, a neat and clean kitchen where I can cook for myself, washers and high-performing dryers and amenity items bought with charitable donations. When I didn’t have time, I ate rice cooked by the house staff and donated instant food items so I could go to the hospital quickly. I was not accustomed to milking but could express my milk in the House’s relaxing atmosphere and bring the milk the hospital on foot to for my son.
When I returned to the Hose exhausted, I was greatly reenergized with a nourishing meal served under a meal program implemented by a good faith company. At that time I met and talked with other mothers who are in similar situations in the dining room and conversations with and advice from them really encouraged me.
Brief and casual talks with the House staff and volunteers in daily life supported me, too. When I was told, “You have regained your strength and become active”, I was happy to know that they always care about me. All of these relationships and encounters are now treasure for our family.
My husband also stays at and goes work from the House and always says, “Let’s make Kazuki healthy” with smile. If I had to go all the way from our home to the hospital or was staying in a weekly rental condominium, I might have gone into my shell and been feeling lonely. We really grateful to the House for giving us opportunities to meet people who have supported and encouraged me.
My son will go through his first operation this year and need to live long time with his disease. I truly hope that the House will continue to serve as “home away home” to physically and mentally support families with sick children like us.