On Tuesday our family moved into the Ronald McDonald House here in Vancouver. The last couple of days have been a big transition for our family as we have unpacked and tried to figure out what life will look like for us in the weeks ahead.
Here are a few answers to some basic questions that people seem to be interested in regarding moving into the house itself:
-We were lucky enough to get a parking spot in the underground parking the day that we moved in. There are not enough spots for everyone in the house and therefore spots are given out on a first come, first served basis. If we didn’t get a spot, we would have had to park on the street or use hospital pay parking.
-We have one bedroom with a full bathroom. The bedroom includes a queen size bed and a single bed with a pull out trundle bed. We were given an extra mattress when we moved in, which thankfully is able to be stored under the queen bed along with the suitcases. The rooms are well planned out with storage, etc, which makes cleaning up fairly easy.
-In regards to food storage, we have one shelf in a communal fridge. This is not a lot of space, but enough for the essentials. We also have a relatively small drawer for our own dry goods. There is also a shared freezer that we may use and just label our items. There isn’t much space in that, so we probably won’t be purchasing many frozen items. There is also a shared fridge with condiments, etc that we are welcome to use. Coffee and Tea are provided as well.
-There are laundry facilities in the house (lots of machines) and detergents are included.
– Our room is cleaned once a week along with our bedding and towels. Thankful for the gift of cleaning!
-The house is home to up to 73 families at once. It is divided into four wings, each with their own kitchen and lounge area. There is a common eating area that joins up two kitchens. The kitchens are very spacious and well equipped. In fact they are so large, that meal prep and clean up can feel like a big task since everything is so far apart. Even though a lot of people stay here at the same time, it does not feel full or busy since people are often at the hospital at appointments or back and forth between home and the RMDH. We have actually been surprised how quiet it seems to be most of the time.
– Meals are provided a few times per month (depending on the month). Different organizations will come in and cook a meal for the families on designated days. We have already been touched by this gesture! What a wonderful gift and missions opportunity for organizations and church groups. It really is amazing what a gift a cooked meal can be!
We live in the “Mountain” wing of the house. The kids know that the grey/ purple areas are where our room is.
The kids already seem to know where everything is in the house and are getting more and more comfortable going from room to room. This isn’t always good since we have to be with them at all times.
There are several areas in the house designed especially with kids in mind. The above photo was taken in the “Magic” room. Our kids have enjoyed several hours in this room (much to my amazement). There is also a lego lounge area, arts and crafts room and games/ toy room. Our kids have been enjoying the X Box and other systems available.
So how are we actually doing?
Honestly, this is really tough. We are thankful to be able to live in a lovely space but this is definitely no holiday. We are finding it extra exhausting to be “on” all the time with the kids. Our room isn’t a space that we spend much time in, simply due to the lack of space and things to do. If we’re anywhere else in the house the kids need constant supervision and often help with activities. It seems to be go, go, go from one activity to another. While everything is fairly enjoyable, there’s a lot of stimulation and excitement. We’re hoping that after the first week things will slow down a little and just become more normal. It’s only been a couple of days and we’re already feeling fairly drained, I can’t even imagine how David and I will be doing in a few weeks time.
Sarah and Calvin had their first day of school today (actually just a morning since it’s 9:30-12). They are going to a school room in Children’s Hospital weekday mornings. Everyday there is a different number of kids in their “class” since it depends on who’s around, who’s at appointments, etc. Today there was about 8 of them (grades K-12). There are 3 teachers, so lots of help for everyone. They also had a clown visit their class today, which they were thrilled about. Most of the kids that are in their class are patients at the hospital. I’m already curious to see how this whole experience will change and shape our kids (and family). After just a couple of days, the kids no longer seem to notice or care about kids that have no hair or other obvious differences. I can see that they are learning to love and accept in a way that only an experience can really teach. Several of the kids in Sarah and Calvin’s class are also living in the RMDH, which has already been super exciting for the kids. Tonight after dinner, they were all building swords out of lego and having battles together (yes, there was a big mess). I couldn’t help but feel happy as I watched the kids all play together excitedly.
David and I went to several appointments yesterday. Baby continues to seem stable and all is as it was. We met with a kidney specialist for the first time as well. It was good to get some more information about what seems to be happening with baby’s kidneys as well as what things will possibly look like after the baby is born. Since they are still just possibilities, I won’t go into any detail about it at this time. Time will tell what reality looks like for baby and our family. We are thankful that we are so close to such a great hospital with such skilled physicians. We know our baby will be well taken care of in every way.
It feels very strange to literally just be waiting for our baby to be born. Whenever anyone is pregnant, the last few weeks always seem like a bit of waiting game, however this is at a whole other scale. Everyday we are just passing time, waiting for this baby to arrive. We are not able to enjoy the comforts of our own home and there are no usual life distractions, etc. We are here to just wait and be ready. As was always the case, there is NO plan for a C Section. At one point one of our many doctors told us that they would induce a week early, but the doctors that we have met with since have said that this isn’t the case and want us to go into labour naturally whenever we do (just don’t want us to go overdue). So we wait… I have also had quite a few aches and pains with this pregnancy and am therefore really looking forward to not being pregnant anymore. I continue to feel very uncomfortable most of the time and find just doing life to be extra challenging. Sleeping hasn’t been great for me here yet, so hoping that will improve as well.
We have been instructed to stay relatively near the hospital, after all that is why we are here. Therefore, we’re staying in about a 30 minutes radius from the hospital at all times. We happily welcome friends and family to come visit us during our time here. We are allowed to have visitors in the RMDH and/ or could meet people out if that works better. Please get in touch with us if you would like to visit. I won’t be reaching out to people to come for visits, not because I don’t care or don’t want you here (actually the opposite is true), I simply can’t really handle the extra planning and scheduling right now. Please understand that this is a difficult time in our lives and we need people to reach out to us rather than the other way around. For those that have asked us what they can do for us, simply bringing a meal (pizza or take out is awesome), is a huge gift. Meal prep isn’t a simple easy process here, therefore that’s super appreciated. We are also not in a position to feed others when they come to visit, therefore having an idea about what to do at meal time is helpful in itself.
A big thank you to our community and friends in Oliver that sent us off in a way that touched our hearts beyond words. The little and big gestures still bring David and I to tears when we reflect on your love, kindness and generosity. It seriously has made a huge difference in our transition here to the RMDH.
Thank you as well to those that have sent texts, facebook messages and emails just to remind us that you’re thinking of us during this time. I know that we will never be the same through this experience, and for that we are grateful.
We will do our best to post updates regularly.
Shari, David and family