Providing Support for Babies Born Prematurely

What happens when you are released from the hospital but your child is not?

Gabriella experienced this when her daughter, Violet, required an extensive stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) a few months ago. Over 300,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States each year and about 10-15% of all babies born require special care in the NICU.

The average length of stay for a baby in the NICU is 13 days while a mother is typically released from the hospital in 2. If a baby is born before 32 weeks, that number jumps to a stay of 46 days in the NICU. Given these statics, babies born prematurely are one of the top five reasons families stay at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio.

Only 26 weeks pregnant, Gabriella was shocked to learn she was in active labor after going to the doctor for a headache. Given the complications, Gabriella was rushed to surgery and Violette made her way into the world 14 weeks early.

When Gabriella woke up, she couldn’t wait to meet her daughter; but much to her surprise, Violet was not at the hospital. Born weighing only 2.8 pounds, Violet was life-flighted to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, TX, all while Gabriella was still asleep and in recovery. Gabriella was beside herself. Her daughter who she had never held much less met, was fighting for her life more than 3 hours away from their home in San Angelo, Texas. Overwhelmed is an understatement.

Gabriella was released from the hospital 24 hours later and she set off on the 3-hour drive to meet Violet! Upon arrival, the new parents were shocked to learn Violetwould be hospitalized for at least a few more months. That’s when reality set in, where would Gabriella stay in an unfamiliar city by herself?

How Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio Can Help

Gabriella could not imagine leaving Violet’s side, but she could not afford $5,000 a month in hotel and food costs. Luckily, the hospital staff informed them about the Ronald McDonald House and Gabriella was given a room and meals, free of charge! Gabriella was so relieved to be with Violet every step of the way as they worked on increasing her weight.

At the Ronald McDonald House, Gabriella found more than a room, she found a home-away-from-home and a family when she needed it the most. Gabriella shares, “The other families know what you are going through and offer kind words or a prayer when you are upset.” When we spoke to Gabriella, she had been separated from her extended family for more than seven weeks, but she didn’t feel alone living in a House filled with families and staff who really cared.

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