For first-time parents, pregnancy can be an awe-inspiring experience. It can also be scary, and sometimes doesn’t go according to plan. This was the case for Stephanie and Terrence Morrison when they welcomed their son, Will, into the world.
Stephanie gave birth to Will with no complications in 2015 at WakeMed in Raleigh. All signs pointed to Will being a perfectly healthy baby, yet, shortly after birth, he began having trouble breathing. After testing, doctors diagnosed Will with meconium aspiration, a condition that occurs when a newborn breathes a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs around the time of delivery. Unfortunately, WakeMed did not have the resources to handle Will’s severe case which resulted in an immediate transport to UNC Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill.
At UNC, the family was essentially living in the waiting area and with wintry weather in the forecast, any travel at that time could have been dangerous. Visibly seeing the toll this experience was taking on Stephanie and Terrence, nurses at UNC Children’s suggested they consider staying at Ronald McDonald House so they could be within a mile of the hospital.
Stephanie said, “My first impression of the House was that it was homey and didn’t feel like the hospital where we had been staying. It had everything we needed – food, laundry, shuttle service, and a breast pump so I could pump for Will while he was in the NICU. The details were so impressive.”
The Morrisons stayed at RMH for two weeks while Will received treatment in the NICU. Stephanie stressed the importance of just how meaningful it was that they were able to stay at the House. “It would have been a huge financial burden to stay close to the hospital. The stay for two weeks combined with medical bills would have been a challenge. I would have had too much to worry about in a time where I was recovering, away from home and worrying about the health of my child.” When asked if there was anything they would like people to know about the House, Stephanie responded “It is a wonderful place that supports WHOLE families. The House is stocked with everything a family needs, children too. They take the burden of shelter away from families so they can focus on their children.”
The family still resides in Raleigh, and Will is now 7 years old, healthy and “living his best life” according to mom. The Morrison family visits the House from time to time to drop off supplies to help support current families in their greatest time of need. “The House gave us the opportunity to be active parents, always close to Will, [and kept] us together as a family, and we are so thankful for that.”