Featured Archives - Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth

In April 2022, Elaina Brooks checked into the hospital with flu-like symptoms; She was 23 weeks pregnant. When she was at the hospital, a sonogram revealed that all of her amniotic fluid was dried up, leading to Elaina giving birth to Gwyneth at 1 pound, 6.9 ounces.

Elaina’s husband, Clint, would share with their two young boys – Levi, 3, and Noah, 1– that their sister was born early and that they’d be moving hours away to Fort Worth for a while and live in one room at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth.

Clint and Elaina knew they wanted to be together, and not hours apart, since their boys were at such a pivotal growing time in their lives.

“Practically, I don’t know how we would have survived for as long as we were here in Fort Worth for five months if it was just me at home with the boys and Elaina in Fort Worth or the opposite,” Clint shared.

“Getting to come to the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth and staying together would have been enough. But the Ronald McDonald House made our stay not just bearable but enjoyable. The boys loved the playground and would go every day, which was a highlight of most of their days. The boys made friends with other kids who had siblings in the hospitals,” Elaina shared.

After 150 days at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, the entire family could finally go home together with baby Gwyneth!


When Maliyah, the eldest daughter of the Sapp family, was diagnosed with meningitis in early June, her family thought a short trip to the hospital would be all she needed. The Sapps had no idea meningitis warrants a 10-day minimum hospital stay. Being over 150 miles from home, they weren’t sure what to do or where they would stay while Maliyah was receiving treatment.

In addition to Maliyah, mom Markeycia and dad Brandon also had to think about their two other children. Markeycia reflected on how helpful RMHFW has been for the entire family during their stay. “It has been a tremendous help” having the House so close, so one parent could stay with Maliyah and the other could be with the two younger kiddos. Knowing the entire family was close helped Markeycia and the Sapp family focus on healing.


Maliyah: Age 8

The Sapp family checked out just one month after they arrived at RMHFW. Brandon, Maliyah’s dad, recalls finding out about RMHFW, “the House has been great and more than we ever expected. We never knew something like this existed, and we wish it didn’t have to, but we are grateful it does.”

Whether a family stays at the House for one month or one year, they are in our RMHFW family forever. While we wish no family had to face serious illness, we are thankful we can be here to provide support for the families that do.

Written By: Madison Obregon

In March, the Vela family made the move from San Angelo, Texas, to the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth (RMHFW), just a little over 200 miles away. Little did the Vela family know, a House three hours away would soon become their “home-away-from-home” for 98 days.

Hunter Going Home

After 98 days Hunter is headed home!

Their son, Hunter, was diagnosed with T-Cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare form of aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To receive the best care possible, Hunter would spend the next three months at Cook Children’s Hospital. Only 447 steps would separate Hunter from his family. Having a child in the hospital is no easy feat, but having a safe place to land at the end of the day makes all the difference. Hunter’s dad, Tony, recalls the House being full of “friendly, caring, loving” folks that “welcome you with open arms.” From “Ms. Kayla” at the front of the House to all the other families the Velas met, Tony says they “would not be able to weather the storm” without RMHFW.

-Written By: Madison Obregon

In January 2022, Oliver was diagnosed with acute aplastic anemia. On February 8, Oliver and his mom arrived at RMHFW. Since his diagnosis, Oliver has received tremendous support from his family, that has been helping out from Texas all the way to Ft. Benning, GA. Through the House, Oliver, His mom, Amanda, and all those who support him have had a helping hand in his journey of receiving treatment and care.

Oliver, better known as “Ollie,” came to Fort Worth from Abilene, TX, to receive a full bone marrow transplant at Cook Children’s Hospital. His donor happened to be his 4-year-old little sister, Avery. Ollie was facing an “uphill battle,” but his mom was facing a battle of her own. She would soon have to leave RMHFW to deliver Ollie’s newest little sister. At the House, we do everything we can to keep families together, and that is exactly what happened for Ollie and his family.

Ollie reunited with his mom after 44 days.

Traveling 770 miles was no feat for Ollie’s uncle TJ. He traveled from Ft. Benning, GA, to Fort Worth, TX, to step in as Ollie’s temporary caretaker. Overall, TJ stayed with Ollie for just over seven weeks. When talking to TJ about his stay here, he said, “The hospitality put on by the RMHFW was spectacular. Through his diagnosis, transplant, and recovery, the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth gave us a safe home-away-from-home.”

“TJ stayed with Ollie for just over seven weeks.”

RMHFW made it extremely easy for Amanda to get TJ to Texas and checked in so he could temporarily reside with Ollie in the House. The transition was “seamless,” and he was “welcomed with a smile.” The community kitchen, play area, and common spaces allowed their stay at the House to feel less monotonous. When asked about the family’s stay at the House, Ollie’s mom said, “It was great! Accommodating: exactly what I expected from the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth. RMHFW is an exceptional place, and I pray that they can continue to help families, who like myself and Ollie, are far from home and need a place to stay while receiving medical care from Cook Children’s,” says TJ. Ollie’s mom was reunited with him when she checked back into the House on June 8. After 129 nights, Ollie and his mom checked out on June 17. We are so grateful for the time families spend at the House and the support we provide for them.


-Written By: Camille Downing

With a house full of kiddos, we get many burning questions about our Resident Chief Love and Comfort Officer, Chief. “Where does Chief go at night time?” “Can I come to see Chief before I go to sleep” “Is he here on the weekends?” “Who feeds him and gives him toys?” The list of Chief questions are endless. The answer to most of these questions involves one extraordinary staff member that is not Chief; it’s his mom, Lauri Adams, Chief Operating Officer!  Today we will answer some of the most asked questions and give you  a little insight on all things Chief.

“Where does he go at night time?” Well, the simple answer to this question is he goes home. When Chief is

Chief and Sebastian

Chief hard at work!

at RMHFW, he is working. So when his workday is over, he heads home with his mom. Lauri brings Chief to work with her every day, and he goes home with her every night. While Chief is working at the Ronald McDonald House, he has a very special setup in Lauri’s office. It’s equipped with two beds, toys, water and his favorite ball. He walks to the playground and around the House and even plays fetch with some of the kids. Most recently, he played fetch with Benny and his toy car! Benny would let the car go down the hallway, and Chief would bring it back to him. They could’ve done that all day. Chief truly loves all the families he meets and is always eager to play.

“Is Chief here on the weekends?” Chief is not here on the weekends. He is at his house playing with his bros

Mac, Chief and Romeo

Chief with his bros!

Mac and Romeo. When he isn’t playing with them, he loves to play fetch, go on walks and get all the treats! He is also known to lay around and take naps. He is a very active pup, so naps are a MUST! Just like in the office, he has a special place at home, ANYWHERE! He is the chief. Chief and Lauri’s bond is evident in all of the pictures she takes while they are home.  One of our favorites is Mac and Chief sitting on the back porch together, enjoying a sunny afternoon. We knew Lauri would be the perfect mom to Chief after being such a great mom to Mac.

“Who feeds him and gives him toys?” We are so lucky to have Hollywood Feed sponsor all of Chief’s food and treats. Lauri feeds Chief while they are home, and he gets treats when he is at RMHFW. Lauri likes to incentivize Chief with treats when we are taking pictures. You would be amazed at what good knuckles he can give you when he knows a treat is waiting inside the palm of your hand. As far as toys go, Chief is very picky. Lauri knows just the ones to get for him, a good rubber ball! One time Lauri stepped out of her office to help a family and came back to her office to find Chief had her wireless computer mouse in his bed! It looked too much like his ball, and he just couldn’t resist.

Lauri and Benny

Lauri helping Benny pet Chief

You can see the overall theme here is Lauri. Lauri is a fabulous dog mom to our sweet boys (Chief and Mac). Since Chief arrived at the Ronald McDonald House, she has never spent a night away from him but will be soon. Lauri’s daughter is getting married this summer, and just like us, she had to find someone to watch her pups. Our outstanding longtime volunteer, Rene, has puppy sit Mac for years, so Lauri knew it would be the perfect fit. Like any good dog mom, she took Chief for a test run one afternoon. Mrs. Rene has a pool, and sweet Chief has never been around a body of water before and walked straight into it. While his Labrador instincts kicked in and he swam to the top, Lauri was ready to jump in and save him. That is just one of the times she has put Chief and his wellness above her own. She is the sweetest mom we could ever dream for our boy. From the puppy stage to training and now being a working dog, Lauri has been there for every step, every vet appointment and every ball thrown. Thank you, Lauri, for your dedication. Chief is lucky to have you.

Food Truck Friday

Landon picking up his individually-packaged meal on Food Truck Friday.

You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal. No matter your walk of life, over a meal, you can find common ground. Often the common ground at our House is the walk to the hospital, and everything endured once inside. Our families can have a rough day or a celebratory one, and a hot meal always brings them together.  A foundational area of our mission is the promise if serving at least one hot meal a day. That promise was much easier pre-COVID-19, and the Meals From the Heart Program was one of the best ways for groups to volunteer at the House; people loved serving and cooking for our families. Since the start of the pandemic, our meal volunteer program has been suspended, but our commitment to our families is strong as ever. We now serve individually-packaged meals. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, we’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful people step up to make sure we are upholding our promise of (at least) one hot meal-a-day.


The kitchen is  and continues to be the heart of our House. Thinking back over all of our meal groups, we have had some serious fun! In 2019, the Red Shoe Society made pasta for dinner one Sunday evening. They even brought along a pasta maker to teach the kids how to roll out and make their very own noodles. The look on Carley’s face when the pasta started to roll out was priceless. When Amazon comes to cook, they always bring a couple of extra helpers to assist in a game of tag or hide-and-go-seek on the playground. Last January, Game Theory came to our House to host a game night and cook a delicious meal. We learned how to play all kinds of games, and Jaylan’s grandmother, Mrs. Barb, beat Jaylen in Jenga! We can’t forget about Lockheed Martin’s annual Mid-Autumn Festival. They get to the House early and are in the kitchen cooking all afternoon. Before dinner, we have a parade throughout the House, then everyone heads back to the kitchen for homemade Chinese food. If you have never tried an egg roll from scratch, you are really missing out! We also have families that come back to serve after they leave and go back home. After Mia passed away, her dad  Joel, and his

Mia and Family

“He knows first-hand that a warm smile from someone behind the counter can change your entire day. “

group, The Bearded Villains, served a meal. He knows first-hand that a warm smile from someone behind the counter can change your entire day.


These groups and many more have kept our cup overflowing for the past 40 years. As we come upon a year without having meal groups physically in our House, we have been thinking about how we can measure the comfort a hot meal still brings to our families. Usually, it’s measured in smiles, laughter and conversations, but now it is measured by the cup! We are excited to launch our new meal sponsorship program, Cups of Comfort!

  • Cup Full Sponsor – One meal per month or 12 meals per year
  • Half Full Cup Sponsor- A meal every other month or 6 meals per year
  • Quarter Full Sponsor- A meal quarterly or 4 meals a year.
  • Hot-Shot sponsors -Someone that has signed up to be a first-time sponsor


Cups of Comfort Sponsorship Levels

Something as simple as a boxed meal takes a massive burden off our families’ shoulders and lifts their spirits more than you know. Here at RMHFW, our cups are always full and never empty. If you’d like to fill your cup, please contact Tonja Sparks, Meals Coordinator, to become a part of the Cups of Comfort Circle today. Our families would love to celebrate the highs and lows together over the individually-packaged meals you provide. Grab your favorite coffee cup and check back next month as we talk more about filling your cup and the fantastic  meal groups that have come through our kitchen. Cheers!

Large colorful heart on wall at RMHFWWhen you think about “the holidays,” Valentine’s day is typically not at the forefront of peoples’ minds. There are so many other “important” holidays; however, at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, every day is like Valentine’s Day. It is evident from the moment you walk in the front doors that the House is filled with love. The House Operations Team welcomes every person with a smile and positive attitude, and the Marketing/Communications Team gets to play with children on the playground and take the pictures that encapsulate the joy of that moment. The Development Team carefully and diligently presents the mission to people who have a strong desire to financially support the House, and there are a countless number of Meal Groups and volunteers who serve RMHFW families. The love pouring into the House is visible everywhere you look.

At RMHFW, love is unconditional. Often the House focuses on milestones and successes of the children or families who are staying at the House. While there are definitely more happy moments than sad while visiting the House, the reality is, the families are here because they have a seriously sick or injured child. Many of the families have a huge impact on everyone at the House.

Angie Gallaway, Chief Development Officer, shared a story about a young man named Eriq, who arrived at RMHFW on June 18, 2015.

“He and his family were an inspiration to us all.  Eriq was 19 years old when he was staying at RMHFW, and his parents, Joe and Charity, were with him every step of the way.  Eriq and his parents were always so positive and did their best to live as normal of a life as possible while they were in and out of the hospital.  I vividly remember having conversations with Eriq and his parents about their favorite restaurants while they were trying to decide where to go to dinner that evening.

Young man with athletic jacket on with arms out holding athletic medalsA photo of Eriq from high school is hanging in the hallway at RMHFW, and it has always been one of my favorite photos. The photo shows Eriq with his arms draped with medals…. capturing what a successful athlete he was in high school.  It is a true reflection of Eriq and his family…. they were so strong… through every step of his battle.

I will never forget the day that I received the phone call that Eriq had ended his battle with cancer.  We were on our way to a high school football game, and Lauri (Chief Operating Officer) called me to share the news…. I just started crying.  It was so unexpected.  Eriq was such a fighter, and we just knew that he would be one of the ones that would make it!  So, as we cheered at the football game that night, all I could think about was how Eriq had impacted my life. Always enjoy the little things and make a positive impact on what’s around you,” which is what all the staff members at RMHFW strive to do.

” They feel safe to celebrate the wins.” -Kayla Burkholder
While there are stories with a sad ending, lots of the families at RMHFW like to share their victories with staff members. Senior House Operations Coordinator, Kayla Burkholder, reflected on her time at the House and the reasons why she loves RMHFW. “The reason why I love RMHFW is our impact on families. I see milestones met here at the House. I hear the families telling me about their NICU baby gaining weight, or their child with cancer finally getting their port removed. I watched an oncology patient who is only two years old take his first steps the other day–his family videotaped and cheered him on. It is the moments of hope and happiness that I see around the House that pushes me to continue doing what I do. Their circumstances may not be ideal, but I hope that we can ease their burdens so that when good news does come, they feel safe to celebrate the wins.”

Man with little boy and woman smiling. They are a family.So many of the families that stay at the House feel a connection with one or multiple staff members. RMHFW harbors an environment where families feel comfortable and want to share the good and the bad with them. Lauri Adams, Chief Operating Officer, was with RMHFW from 1995-2005 then returned in 2013. Throughout her years at the House, she has experienced “joy, humbleness, heartache, and miracles.” Looking back, Lauri said, “I have always said the children who enter our House are my heroes. The perseverance, bravery, and strength of these amazing children never cease to amaze, inspire, and humble me. We hear so often how RMHFW has provided a “home-away-from-home” for our families, which gives them a sense of normalcy and comfort during the most difficult time in their lives. RMHFW has been a place where families have fostered lifelong friendships. I am so blessed and grateful I get to walk through these doors each day.”

“This Valentine’s Day, the best gift you can give or receive is a compassionate heart.” – Julie Pickett
The families and memories made inside the brown House on 8th Avenue are what makes the House so special. Even if you are “just the accountant,” Chief Financial Officer, Julie Pickett, sees how resilient the families at the House are and describes why she loves RMHFW, “What gets me the most is the resiliency of the human spirit. These children and parents alike show us on a daily basis what it means to power through the most difficult times of their lives, showing us the true meaning of love.”

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see the fundraisers, events, and fun things the staff at the House get to participate in. These things are a large part of everyone’s positions at the House, but they all know how to prioritize what’s important.  Chief Marketing Officer, Beth Lamb, hits the nail on the head: “Tigger says, ‘Make room for the real important stuff.'” That’s what the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth does for me…makes room for the important stuff: family, friendships, and community. Every person in this House teaches me how to care for someone else, and that’s really important ‘stuff.'”

Baby sitting next to a sign that says they are going home after 233 days of staying at RMHFWThe truth is RMHFW isn’t a hospital. The staff members don’t medically care for the families, but they do care about and support them every day. Caroline Speer, Communications Coordinator, knows first-hand about the “care” the staff members give to their families. “Although I haven’t been at the House for long, the connections I have made with the families are unlike anything else. I am lucky enough to have a position where I get to run around the house and take pictures of all of the families. I get to laugh with parents in the kitchen cooking cornbread (their sick kiddos comfort food) or give a sibling some sense of normalcy by playing hide and seek on the playground, or hold hands and pray with a mom who is hopeful that this time the transplant is going to work.  Getting to listen to stories and be present for the families is why I love RMHFW. It is a special bond I will always cherish.”

CEO Jennifer Johns sums up perfectly why everyone at RMHFW is so in love with what they do. “There are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many things I love about RMHFW, that it’s hard to choose just one; so I’m going to choose two because they go hand-in-hand. First of all, I love how inspiring our guest families are. I regularly witness their smiling faces, upbeat demeanor, and positive attitudes, even amid extremely challenging circumstances.  Observing this makes me realize that whatever little problems or issues I may be worrying about are truly insignificant. The second thing I love most about the House is the amazing group of people I’m blessed to work with every day. I see how hard they work to fulfill our mission, and am grateful that they embrace their work and support each other to help families when they need it the most.”

There are so many reasons to love RMHFW and to make room for the “important stuff.” This blog is just a peek inside a few staff members’ everyday lives, and why they wake up every morning, ready to walk into the House that Love Built. With love in their hearts and smiles on their faces, the RMHFW staff treats every day like Valentine’s Day.


Madison and Georgia162 days… that is how long the Slaughters stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth. Most of the time you could find the family with baby Georgia napping in her stroller and big sister, Carlee, running around like a ball of energy. An outsider would never guess that they had another child, Georgia’s twin, Madison Grace, at Cook Children’s on the cardiac floor.

At just one-week-old Madison was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects (bilateral superior vena cava, VDS, PDA, ASD, and incorrect formed hepatic veins). After complications with open-heart surgery, she also developed hypothyroidism. While Georgia was growing and getting stronger, Madison was not. So, on November 23, 2018, the Slaughter family made their first trip from San Angelo to Fort Worth. They ended up making that drive two more times. They were five hours away from home, with no family in Texas. There would’ve been no way for them to stay near Madison if it wasn’t for The Ronald McDonald House. The House made it possible for Carrie to see Madison daily, and continue to be a mother to Georgia and Carlee, and “some days just to breathe.”

It’s hard to be a mom of three in general, but with one child in the hospital, it can be overwhelming. “The staff, volunteers, and other family members were so welcoming and never made [them] feel out of place”, even when it was just Carrie and the girls. For the majority of their stay, JW (Carries Husband) had to stay in San Angelo to work. He made the trip back to Fort Worth as often as he could to see his girls. When you are at the House you soon realize that you might have arrived as a small family, but when you check-out your family grows in size. The families support, help and encourage each other. When you’re at the House you are never alone.

Madison Grace was so sick, there were some days the Slaughters weren’t sure she’d get to make the trip back to West Texas with them. It helped we were greeted with a smile daily.” “RMHFW housekeeper, Viviana, made it a point to greet Carlee every morning. Even though she speaks limited English, she wanted to make sure to say hello.”  As the Slaughters stay extended, Carlee would even look for her when they were making their way to the kitchen for breakfast. “Hospital life isn’t cheap, and when you’re there for so long, it gets repetitive and no one wants to drive to eat or feels like cooking” (Carrie). The meals were a lifesaver for the Slaughters, and getting to see a friendly face was always a bonus. Carlee even got to help feed the fish. “To most that doesn’t seem like much, but when you don’t know what another day holds it means a lot.”(Carrie).

The Slaughters even spent the 2018 holiday season at the House. They were sad they weren’t home to decorate their own tree, and do their own holiday traditions, but Carlee loved walking around and looking at all the decorations. She wasn’t a fan of Santa, but they “will never forget that Christmas.” RMHFW made it possible for the Slaughters to stay together. “Not only did I get to see my baby every day, but the House made it as comfortable as possible,” Carrie says. Looking back at their time at the House, Carrie describes it as “Unity. Love. Hope. Some days I just wanted to give up, but I received so much support. So many people helped us. So many. We didn’t know them at all, but they served meals, gave gifts, smiled, etc. I want to pass that along.”

Hello to all of my friends and family! I’m sure by now you’ve heard the big news… Yes, I am officially retired! Over the past 63 years (nine people years), I have gotten to know so many of you, and your love has been so overwhelming! On Wednesday, we celebrated my retirement until the dogs came home (which was about 7:00, because I’m old now guys, and I have a bedtime!). But let me tell you, IT WAS A BLAST!! The awesome humans from Texas Chisholm Trail Crime Prevention Association cooked and served a yummy meal (Officer Biggs grills a great steak!).

On top of that, Mancuso’s provided some seriously good sides! I even got a little taste! The RMHFW staff got a cake for me, and it was the bomb! It was a quite lot of cake, but I licked the plate clean. The humans got treats with my face on them. It was a little strange to watch people eat those, but they all raved about how good they were. This celebration was one for the books!

Now that I’m home and have some leisure time, I got to read all of your Facebook comments. Man, oh man, you guys are so kind. I’ve always thought of you as family, and it was so comforting to know that you think of me as family as well. There were several questions posed so I wanted to give you a rundown.

  1. Although I might be “officially retired,” one pup can only nap for so long! I will be making frequents stops by RMHFW. They can’t get rid of me that easily.
  2. Some of you were wondering about where I will live. Although I do love each and every one of you, unfortunately, you can’t adopt me. I will still be with my mom, Lauri. She takes great care of me, and gives me lots of treats. Who would want to leave her side?! Not me, that’s for sure!
  3. While I might not be at the RMHFW every day, their wonderful staff is dedicated to the dog program. Stay tuned for an update from the big boss, Jennifer, on that!

Although my job at RMHFW has transitioned into Emeritus status, I am honored to have been able to love and comfort so many of you. My friend Hallie Bea said it best, “you will always hold a special place in my heart.” I will not forget all of the good times I have had with all of you at the House. Thank you for the nine spectacular years! I can’t wait to see what the next nine hold for me.


Chief Love and Comfort Officer Emeritus

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.