I’ve eaten at McDonald’s on many occasions in my life. If you’re reading this, I’d bet it’s likely you have too at some point. Many times now, I’ve passed by the spare change donation jar inside the stores (and drive thrus), that say something like “change a child’s life” on them. I had heard of the Ronald McDonald House, but until November 12, 2017, I had little idea what exactly it did, or for who. That’s why I want to share my story for you. I know there are tons of quality causes that deserve attention, but for me, I’ll forever feel indebted to what the Ronald McDonald House did for my wife, Tiff, and I during one of the most tiring, stressful times of our lives.
My story begins about 2am on Saturday, November 11, 2017. Tiff leaned over to me in bed, and whispered, “I think it’s happening. I’m pretty sure I’m in labor.” This being our first child, we probably did it wrong. By “it,” I mean, not going back to sleep and staying asleep as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely got a little sleep that night, but not more than a couple hours tops. The excitement and anticipation of what was to come — finally meeting our perfect little girl, getting to hold her and snuggle her — was enough to make substantial sleep a non-reality. “Sweet,” I thought to myself. “We’ll have this baby by Saturday night, be home to bed, and I’ll be able to wake up Sunday morning laying in bed watching the Vikings play the Redskins, while my cute little peanut gives daddy snuggles all afternoon long getting indoctrinated to the NFL at the ripe old age of 12 hours,” was how I had envisioned it going.
In this last exam, the nurse had noticed our baby’s respiration level was ticking up from earlier, and starting to approach a not “normal” level (normal for a baby is 50-60 respiration per minute). She said, “at this point, it’s nothing to worry about. But we should probably keep you guys here a bit longer for observation and hopefully see her breathing return to normal.” So we waited. But the improvement never came, and I can still vividly recall how violently Mae’s tiny little lungs were gyrating in and out, in and out, more rapidly and violently than you would think a little 6lb 14oz human could possibly do. And then grunts in her breaths. They made the decision we needed to get referred to Children’s Hospital, as Mae’s breathing was now over 100 respirations per minute…. But not only referred, taken there by ambulance. Yup, my 7 hour old baby got to do something that to this day her father still has never done: ridden in an ambulance. Tiff and she rode in it to Children’s, while I drove our car behind it for the 5 minute commute from our birth center to the Saint Paul Children’s Hospital. We were reassured at this point it was still considered a “non-emergent transfer,” meaning the ambulance wasn’t using its sirens, and stopped at signs/lights.