In 2013, Kyle and Randi Leeson were expecting their first child and living in Didsbury, Alberta when Randi went into labour five weeks early. Taken by ambulance to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, their daughter Claire was born just two hours later weighing 5 lbs 13 oz. Due to her size, Claire would have to stay in hospital until her lungs matured. Though grateful for their daughter’s otherwise good health, the Leesons were now faced with the daunting task of figuring out how they would afford to stay in Red Deer with their newborn.
“I had no idea how we were going to manage driving 160 km roundtrip from home to feed and hold her. I remember thinking I could ask my parents for a loan and get a hotel room or maybe it would be cheaper to rent a suite for the month.”
When a child is sick, the last thing their parent should have to worry about is how to afford staying close to them. Thankfully, hospital staff told them about Ronald McDonald House.
“The nurse sat us down and asked where we would be staying. We didn’t have an answer. She told us that there was a room at Ronald McDonald House that was available for as long as we needed,” says Kyle.
When they arrived, the Leesons were overwhelmed by the House and what it offered families.
“The best way to explain it is a cross between staying in a five-star hotel and going to grandma’s house. I can’t explain how much we appreciated having a warm meal every night and the privacy of our own room.”
They stayed at the House for 17 days. After returning home with Claire, the Leesons thought their time with RMH was behind them. As grateful as they were to have been able to stay at the House, they never wanted to need it again. But at 34 weeks pregnant with her second child, Randi went into pre-term labour again. Though the contractions began to subside once they arrived in Red Deer, doctors hesitated to send them home knowing Randi’s history. Once again, Ronald McDonald House was there to welcome them.
“To be honest, it was such a great feeling coming back and having the relief of being so close to the hospital in case something happened again.”
While staying at the House for the second time, Kyle stayed in Red Deer with Randi while one-year-old Claire stayed with her grandparents. In the evenings, Claire and Randi’s parents would come to visit. Claire would spend most of her time in the play areas and craft room.
“She really enjoyed being at the House and having the freedom to play and explore. There was an oversized Cat in the Hat stuffed animal that was definitely her favourite.”
The Leesons stayed at the House for one week this time around. Although he threatened to come early, baby Oliver managed to hold on until 39 weeks and was delivered in Olds at a healthy weight of 8lbs. 5 oz.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for everything that the House has done for us. I don’t know what we would have done without it,” says Kyle.