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“We were told we wouldn’t make it home for Christmas”: Hallie's story

December 17, 2021

Guest blogger: Rachael

We found out that Hallie needed surgery as soon as she was born. The doctors decided to induce me early, and at four hours old, she was whisked away to have an operation on her stomach to connect the bottom of it to her intestines.

It’s a condition called Duodenal Atresia only found in newborn infants. It’s a rare congenital digestive disorder that occurs for no apparent reason. Without treatment, it can be deadly.

The doctors told us that it was unlikely we would make it home for Christmas.

But Hallie is a fighter and reacted incredibly well to total parenteral nutrition (TPN). By the fourteenth day, she was taken off the TPN and faced every challenge thrown at her head-on. She had an infection on the wound site, but she bounced back thanks to antibiotics and mummy’s milk. There was always that constant worry that the doctors might find more issues, or she would get another infection.

But after just over two weeks, we took Hallie home and spent Christmas as a family.

After I first gave birth to Hallie and she was in surgery, I started to panic about leaving her in the hospital and travelling to see her daily. I had absolutely no clue about Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, I’d never heard of it. A nurse told us about the ‘home away from home’ facility just around the corner and managed to refer us. We had a room at the Camberwell House within two days of being in hospital.

When we first got to the House, everyone was so friendly. The lady behind reception talked us through everything we needed to know and showed us the shared kitchen, lounge, and our room. It was so nice and clean! They were always there to help. I couldn’t be more grateful for the House and everything they did for me whilst I was there.

They allowed us to stay close to our little girl whilst in hospital, which we thought was going to be hard as we lived so far away – we would have had to book hotels and trains. For us to get that opportunity to get to see her at every waking moment was just an amazing feeling and it’s all thanks to the House. I also think she had the opportunity to heal faster because I could pump for her every three hours!

I spent Hallie’s first Mother’s Day at the House, which was tough, but they made it so special by giving out little gifts and yummy treats to eat and drink, as well as a full body massage – completely free!

I loved living in the Camberwell House. It was such a calm and loving environment and I felt like I was living at home with family.

In 2019, I donated some Mother’s Day bags to the House because I knew first-hand how special it was to receive one.

If you find yourself in hospital, like we did, find out if your hospital has a Ronald McDonald House and get your place! You will not regret it. The support is impeccable, and you will feel so much relief!

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