Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House Charities® South Central Ontario About Us

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The Ludlow Family

Our son, Niall, was born unexpectedly early at 32 weeks + 1 day due to placental insufficiency and intrauterine growth restriction. He was born at the St. Catharine’s General Hospital, but was moved to McMaster less than 24 hours later due to his small size, weighing only 960g.

Niall spent his first night at McMaster’s NICU alone because I was still admitted to St. Catherine’s General Hospital while I recovered from my emergency c-section. Bret and I were scared and concerned when we found out he needed to be moved to McMaster, not only because it is far from our home in Niagara, but because it seemed his prematurity and very small size for his gestational age were a big concern.

Our next thought was, “what are were going to do about seeing him everyday?” -McMaster is an hour drive each direction from our home. We heard about Ronald McDonald House through friends who stayed there, but we weren’t sure if we would qualify. Our social worker at McMaster was great in getting all of the paperwork sorted out for us and we were able to get into RMH two days after Niall was admitted. When we arrived at RMH, we were overwhelmed by everything the House provided: two meals a day, a large comfortable room, a space for pumping and most importantly peace of mind.

We were in tears after we checked in because we felt so taken care of. A huge weight was lifted knowing we could stay close by our son in the NICU, not having to drive an hour back and forth from our home. We also really appreciated the dinner leftovers we could take with us to the hospital for lunch the following day - we spent full days at the hospital so we needed the fuel. We would often spend time in the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at McMaster too, eating our lunch or enjoying a snack and hot beverage in a quiet space.

On a few occasions, we expected to miss dinner at the House, so the volunteers saved us a portions of dinner in the fridge. All of this meant we weren’t having to eat fast food, order takeout, or worry about where we were going to eat our meals. While I was still recovering from my surgery and our firstborn baby was in the NICU, it meant so much to us to have home cooked meals readily available.

I was also exclusively pumping because Niall was fed through an NG tube, so I made use of the pumping/nursing room on the 2nd floor of the House. It was great to have access to a hospital grade pump and space to properly clean parts. Bret and I booked time in the Wellness Room each night to make use of the massage chairs and the peaceful space. It was a great way to unwind and take a little time for ourselves (which is so important when your little one is in hospital!). The Wellness Room was the highlight of our stay, and something we wished we could have access to at home.

We spent a total of 15 nights at Ronald McDonald House and then Niall was transferred back to the St. Catharine’s hospital. At this point we were able to commute from home for the additional 49 days he spent in the NICU. We are forever grateful to everyone at RMH for their hospitality during our stay— we wouldn’t have kept our sanity without your support and help. We plan on fundraising in the future and continuing to support RMH any way we can in order to give back.

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