12 Jul A Journey that Started Over 30 Years Ago
The best stories are those told directly by our families. Read Christina’s story and her Ronald McDonald House Journey that began in 1982…
“Ronald McDonald House has been a blessing all of my life, with my first stay in a house being in early 1982 in Oklahoma City. I have a rare complex Congenital Heart defect that has required several surgeries and procedures over my lifetime. I was always told from a very young age that I would never be able to have children of my own. I was always told from a very young age that I would never be able to have children of my own. Chuck and I were married in 2003. We were very happy traveling when time allowed, building our business, and enjoying life to the fullest. We were content with the fact we would never have our own biological children. In late 2014, we signed up for foster to adopt classes, starting in February 2015. We celebrated my 35th birthday in January 2015; about 2 weeks later we had the surprise of our life. I was pregnant, after being together over 14 years! Although it was a rough pregnancy due to my health problems, it was very welcomed, and so very much wanted. After being watched by my Adult Congenital Heart Doctor,MFM(maternal-fetal medicine), and High Risk OBGYN, River was born at 32 weeks in August of 2015. He had a NICU stay, and I was sent to the CICU. Thankfully, Medical Center Hospital in Odessa had a Ronald McDonald Family Room for NICU parents. We were and still are very grateful to be able to stay just steps away from River during that time.
Fast forward to 2017. We were very happy living life with an active little toddler. Life was busy! The day before Easter, River and I were going to the local Easter Egg Hunt at the park. That morning, I found out I was pregnant with our second baby at 37 years old. Again, pregnancy was not easy because of my health problems. Due to our experience with River’s pregnancy, Chuck and I decided to seek an MFM that would/could provide full care, so that we could have a better experience and consistency with our medical team; not to mention a hospital that I would not need to be transferred from if another heart was needed for myself. So, we relocated temporarily 400 miles from home for 4 months, living in our RV. This put us relatively close to the hospital. We were not expecting another NICU stay.
My unborn baby was doing great. I was on bedrest, and made it past the 32-week mark. The week of Thanksgiving, I wasn’t feeling too great. I had a scheduled appointment on Monday morning. Baby was fine, but me not so much. Tuesday, my husband rushed me to the hospital because I had gotten significantly worse. I was admitted that night. I was sent to the cardiac floor to keep a better eye on my heart. It was decided late that evening, it was in my best interest from a medical standpoint that Baby Lake needed to be delivered.
As soon as I was stable enough, we went off to surgery. Lake was born at 35 weeks, the day before Thanksgiving in 2017. He also required a NICU stay, followed by another PICU stay, just 48 hours after being released from NICU for RSV. He was gravely ill.
He too has a Congenital Heart Defect, but has not required any surgeries thus far. We stayed at the RMHFW for a little over a week, and we were able to make it home just two days before Christmas. Today, Lake is 18 months and River will be 4 in August. They are both thriving, healthy, and very active toddlers.