Newborn baby in NICU.

Sometimes it takes a village

Baby Louise in her mom's arms.

Baby Louise in her mom’s arms.

Louise was supposed to be a December baby, so it was quite the surprise when she showed up 10 weeks early in October 2022. Mom and dad certainly weren’t expecting to have to temporarily move to Reno when they lived two hours north of the Biggest Little City, but a lot of things changed that day at Renown Health.

Mom, Leandra, stayed with us at Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Nevada (RMHCNN), and dad, Jason, stayed home so he could work and take care of their farm. All the while, Louise grew stronger in the Renown Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She always had lots of love around her, especially when Grandma Jenny joined Leandra here at RMHCNN to be close to her daughter and her grandbaby.

Jason and Leandra had struggled to have children and experienced two miscarriages. Louise was their rainbow baby, and now she was early.  “It was pretty rough, but it was a lot better than it could have been,” Leandra says. “It was life-changing to be at the Ronald McDonald House. I was able to be there for her for every feeding during the day and then run back to the House to eat and take a shower before going back to the hospital.”

A Sisterhood of Moms

At the time Leandra and her mom lived with us, the House was very full, and Leandra became part of the RMHCNN sisterhood while Louise got a whole bunch of new aunties. 

“We helped each other and looked in on each other’s babies while we were at the hospital,” Leandra says, adding that the bond was so strong she still talks and texts with many of the moms she met during that time. 

In addition to looking out for each other and their babies, these moms were able to share essentials, like breast pump and cell phone chargers, while also making gifts and clothes for their new little RMHCNN nieces and nephews.

“I would probably not be in as good of a head space if it weren’t for the other women,” Leandra says.

Baby Louise with her mom, grandma and dad

Baby Louise with her mom Leandra, grandma Jenny and dad Jason.

 

“We had all gone through equally traumatizing but different experiences.”

Alone but Not Alone

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most of the other moms had gone home, including Leandra’s own mother, leaving her nearly alone at the House at a time she desperately wanted to bring her own baby home. 

“I didn’t have my husband, my mom, my baby or my dog,” she says. “All I had was the Ronald McDonald House staff, and they made me feel loved, like part of the family. I started bawling at one point, and they gave me a big hug and said, ‘You’re not going to hurt this Christmas. You’re home.’”

Home at Last

Now, a little more than a year later, Louise is doing well. She’s getting ready to graduate from Nevada Early Intervention, and she’s caught up to where she would be if she had been born full-term. Leandra shared that little Louise can speak up to seven words and has even learned how to sign three! Mom and Dad are so proud of her, as are her sisterhood of aunties and all of us at RMHCNN!

We’re so fortunate to be a part of Louise’s family and so many others here at our House. And we’re so grateful to everyone who helps us keep families like these close.