Our third child, Brooklyn, was born last August with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome, meaning the left side of her heart didn't develop. She was admitted to CHOC right after she was born. When I was discharged from St. Joseph's I checked in that same day to the Orange County Ronald McDonald House. We felt very welcomed when we checked in. It was so nice to have a place to stay that was close. I spent each day at CHOC with Brooklyn, but would take a break for dinner. I would either walk for take the shuttle back to the Ronald McDonald House to have dinner. Having a home cooked meal prepared for us was so wonderful. I didn't have to worry about getting dinner for myself each night. I knew I would be taken care of. After dinner I would go back to CHOC to spend a few more hours with Brooklyn. I would then come back to the Ronald McDonald House and sleep. Having a place to get the rest I needed was so instrumental in giving me the clear head I needed each day as I talked to the doctors and nurses about Brooklyn's condition.
My husband brought our two other children, who at the time were almost four and just barely six years old, to visit Brooklyn and I. After they would visit Brooklyn in the hospital, we would go back to the Ronald McDonald House. They loved playing with the toys in the family room, especially the fire trucks. We would eat dinner together as a family and it was so nice to spend time with them. Because I wasn't at home with them, it was nice to have a temporary home away from home where they could come and we could be together. It's been a little over a year and they still both talk about their evenings at the Ronald McDonald House.
Brooklyn had open heart surgery at five days old and was progressing very well. Around 12 days old we were told we could probably take her home in about one week if all went well with her feeding. In the early morning on her 14th day of life, I received a call to come in. Things had taken an unexpected turn for the worse, and our sweet Brooklyn passed away.
When I let the staff at the Ronald McDonald House know, they gave us a sweet card and a butterfly windchime. We planted a flower garden in the backyard in memory of Brooklyn, and that Butterfly windchime has a permanent place in Brooklyn's garden. Whenever I look at that windchime, I am so grateful for the Ronald McDonald House. It holds a special place in my heart. I didn't know I would only have two weeks with Brooklyn, so I am incredibly grateful that I was able to spend all of my time with her instead of on the freeway trying to get to her.