The Oliver family

Stayed with

Ronald McDonald House Calgary

Nights spent with RMHC


I always wanted to be a mom. Because I was single, I decided to go through in vitro fertilization. When I found out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. From nausea to maternity clothes, I was looking forward to everything pregnancy brings.

On November 15, at 22 weeks pregnant, I went to the Red Deer Regional Hospital because something didn’t feel right. The doctor did a check-up and told me that I was three centimetres dilated. To save my unborn son, I chose to have an emergency cervical stitch. However, when I woke up from surgery, I was told they couldn’t put it in because I was fully dilated.

I didn’t understand or believe it when the doctor told me I would likely lose my baby. I went on strict bed rest to try and maintain the pregnancy. If he was born prior to 24 weeks gestation, they would not resuscitate, which meant two weeks at the Red Deer Hospital before they would consider transferring me to Calgary or Edmonton where the neonatal intensive-care units (NICU) are equipped for a baby born so early. After five days at Red Deer Hospital, I was told that the Foothills Hospital in Calgary agreed to take me at 23 weeks.

On December 4, 2013, at 6:28 p.m. and 24 weeks five days gestation, August Christian was born weighing 1 lb. 14 oz and 13 inches long. I didn’t get to hold him or even look at him for more than a few seconds before the neonatal team took him to start lifesaving measures. Three days would go by before I was able to hold him, and even though it was only for an hour, it was a turning point for me. I felt in my heart that he would be okay.

I had been on a waitlist for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Alberta and, thankfully, the day I was discharged I checked into the House. It felt surprisingly big and homey. I was also moved to tears by the generosity of donors; a bag of thoughtful goodies for me and August was hanging on our doorknob.

We were in for the long haul as most premature babies don’t go home until around their original due date. Staying at RMHC Southern Alberta was a blessing. Being single, having people around that could empathize with me was very comforting. Each night when I would go back to the House for supper, we shared about our day and gave each other strength and encouragement. We are all now lifelong friends.

“Staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Alberta during this time was more than a blessing”

Because I couldn’t work, I faced financial strain. Staying at Ronald McDonald House lifted most of that burden because I didn’t have a hotel bill or food costs. Not only that, but every evening I had a hot meal cooked by caring volunteers. I honestly don’t think I would have eaten most nights otherwise.

The staff and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House truly make it a wonderful place to come back to after a day at the hospital. They are always happy to see you, and have a big hug and smile for you. They go out of their way to make you feel at home.

August was steadily gaining weight and, by mid-January, he was 3 lbs. 3 oz. On February 10, we were transferred to the Red Deer Regional Hospital NICU because he wasn’t considered critical anymore.

The first thing I noticed at the Red Deer Hospital was a sign saying the Ronald McDonald House of Central Alberta was available for day use for families with a child in the NICU. Though I didn’t need a place to stay, I occasionally visited the House for meals and to get a break. It was within walking distance of the hospital, and the staff and volunteers always made me feel welcome.

One month shy of his due date, I was finally able to take August home. Things had gone smoothly for two weeks when disaster struck: I noticed he wasn’t breathing. I called 911 and we ended up back in the hospital for five days of monitoring.

After getting back home, August had another breathing scare and we were once again in the hospital. Even during these short hospital stays, the House was there when I needed them. With new medication, we went home... on his due date!

Fast forward a year and August is thriving. He’s happy, healthy and BIG! He’s over 20 lbs. now and not only sits up on his own, but rolls all over the floor. I think he will skip crawling and go straight to walking. Our little family will forever be grateful to Ronald McDonald House — they were truly my home away from home.

Help keep families together while their sick child is treated at a nearby hospital.

Donate today
Smith Family
The Smith family, RHMC Toronto