Monday, March 23, 2009

Home and "The House"

I can't believe it... today marks exactly eight weeks since we left home for the hospital! But who's counting :) Eights weeks ago today we were still hopeful that this was just another visit to the hospital (there had been quite a few before - and even one to this hospital), and that either we would be sent home with strict orders, or we would spend a few weeks in the hospital monitoring my belly. Nice plan, huh?! As it turns out, OUR plan wasn't exactly THE plan - funny how life works out like that, especially when kiddos are involved :) The babies came two days later!

THE plan has taken us on a crazy, amazing, eye-opening, scary, wonderful journey over the past eight weeks. One of the experiences we haven't written a lot about is our living arrangements... I still can't believe I've been away from home for eight weeks! Besides the NNICU, this has been one of the most eye-opening experiences...

I never really knew much about the Ronald McDonald House, except that when I got my value meal there was always a little container to donate your extra change. If you have ever donated your change - THANK YOU!!! The RMHouse has been my house away from home - my bedroom is exactly like a dorm room, with two twin beds, a night stand, a desk, a little shelving unit, a sink, and a mirror. There are communal bathrooms, except in the transplant rooms - these patients can't be around other people very much so they have their own bathrooms. There are a lot of neat things for the families staying here - a TV room, porches that face the sunshine, a conference/game room, a kids playroom, a laundry room, and a nice sitting area. But I am typing from one of the most used rooms in the house - the dining room :) Which is attached to a large kitchen!

A different group comes in every night and makes dinner for everyone staying here - it is absolutely amazing. There are generally enough leftovers for lunch the next day :) There are also donations of breakfast foods, snack foods, lunch items, orange juice, milk, etc. It might seem a little strange that I am focusing so much on food... but for families who are at the hospital all day, generally don't have a car here, and carry a lot on their shoulders, it is such a huge blessing to not have to worry about finding food three times a day, every day. Staying healthy is something the nurses emphasize daily to parents, and nutrition plays a huge role in that.

There's another great thing about the meals and the dining room that has nothing to do with food - this is also the place where you hear the most incredible stories. Not incredible in the way you might think... but incredible stories of triumph, pain, hope, sadness, and joy. I have met some of the strongest people here - families who carry loads I couldn't imagine. There is never an empty room in this house - actually, there is a waiting list of families needing somewhere to stay while their loved ones, most of the time children, are either in the hospital or receiving daily treatments there. (When I was discharged from the hospital, I did not have a room here the first night... I was lucky to have incredibley kind friends with a house close by, and DB here with a car.)

Life takes some crazy turns! The RMHouse, the volunteers, and the people who support this house may never know how they have lightened the load of so many people, the Byrne Family included - I wish I could hug every single one of them :)

Baby time! Sleeping babies :)

Olivia cuddled in for a good snooze :)

Samuel chillin' with his toes stretched out :) (Not really sure why he looks a little blue in this photo - he's actually quite pink! But I couldn't resist posting this cute pose!)

George passed out with his paci :)

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