October 19, 2016
By Naomi, from St. Catharines, P.E.I.
It’s hard to put into words, but Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto gave us a lot of relief and distraction from the stress of having our child in the hospital and not knowing if he would survive the next hour.
My husband, Joey, and I had our fourth child on Sept. 7. Isaac is the latest exciting addition to our family, joining Aliosha, 7, Isaiah, 5, and Anna, 3.
Unlike his older siblings, Isaac wasn’t born in our home of Prince Edward Island. Twenty weeks into my pregnancy, I found out that Isaac would be born with several heart defects and would require surgery very shortly after birth. Since there were no surgeons who could perform the operation on the east coast, I had to travel to Toronto to deliver my son.
The idea of packing up our three young children and moving across the country was a daunting thought. I had to go to Toronto several weeks before my due date, so Joey and I found a small apartment near the hospital to rent.
Isaac was born on Sept. 7 and was immediately admitted to the critical care unit. Joey brought our older three children to Toronto so they could meet their new brother and we could be together as we confronted Isaac’s medical issues.
Though we tried to prepare ourselves for our stay in Toronto, we didn’t realize how draining it would be to wait for test results, wait to take our son to one exam or another and wait to speak to doctors and nurses. Full days of waiting are extremely tiring. Plus, I still had my other children who also needed my time.
That’s when we started to make use of the RMHC Toronto Family Room at SickKids. Isaac didn’t have a private room, so the Family Room became our place to go sit and have lunch, relax, have a coffee, and just feel some relief from the hospital atmosphere.
Our family was also eligible for the RMHC Toronto Day Pass program, which gives families from the Family Room access to the facilities at the House. We were thrilled. Travelling from PEI, we didn’t have room to bring more than a few toys and books. Our three energetic kids were struggling with the confines of the city, used to having open P.E.I. fields as their playground. The House has outdoor space to run, a playground, a clubhouse, a craft room, a library, hockey sticks, soccer balls, scooters… It’s a facility made for kids to enjoy.
My husband and my oldest two children returned home after two weeks so they could start school, but the House has continued to be a huge help to us while Isaac recovers from surgery. Important things that you don’t have time to think about are provided there, like dinner, a stroller and a business centre so I can do some work while I’m away. Between the House and the Family Room, RMHC Toronto has saved us a lot financially as well.
Isaac recovered from his surgery sooner than expected, so we got to go home yesterday. We know he’ll need another surgery, which will likely have to be performed in Toronto. The prospect of relocating again seems so much less daunting this time knowing we’ll have access to RMHC Toronto.