The Pershing Family
My pregnancy began like many others do. Our other three children were school-aged and begging to have a baby. This would be number four for us. I became an obstetrics nurse because I loved being pregnant so much that helping other women through the birthing process became my career. Of course we would have baby number four!
Around 20 weeks we found out the baby was measuring small. Not just small, but extremely small; less than the first percentile. We were referred to the high risk doctor at Parkview Regional Medical Center and told that we wouldn’t be delivering in the community hospital but in Fort Wayne where there was a Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Being a nurse and working professionally with this doctor, I knew something was really wrong.
The next week we met with the high risk doctor and after a couple weeks of specialists, testing and hospitalizations, it was confirmed that I had pre-eclampsia, and I was admitted to the hospital where I would stay until the baby was born. At this time, the baby was too small to live so we were made aware of palliative care options. I knew the options. They weren’t acceptable.
On my 11th day in the hospital, at 26 weeks and 5 days gestation, we went to emergency an C-section to get the baby out before it became too sick from my pre-eclampsia to have a chance at survival.
On August 27, Karli Mae Pershing was born a magnificent 1lb 3oz and 11.8” long, and all my mind could do was look at my husband from the surgery table and say “Ok, we can do this. We can work with 1lb 3oz.”
Karli was whisked away immediately to the NICU to begin her life sustaining measures. We were warned that life in the NICU would have many roller coasters for our micro-preemie. It did. There were so many violent ups and downs that I don’t care to ever attend an amusement park again.
Karli eventually would be intubated for life support for 60 days and then spent another 90 days beyond that growing strong enough to come home from the NICU. We spent 150 days with our child in the hospital. Looking back, I can’t even fathom how we did it, but I know we did it because of the love we have for our child and the fact that the Ronald McDonald House exists.
The Ronald McDonald House became my refuge. It was my home. My family. My way to stay connected to my tiny little baby that needed me so badly. It was the place my family could be a family. I made friends. I had spiritual encouragement. I shed tears there with other mommas and our baby was prayed for by strangers.
We saw three seasons while living at Ronald McDonald House. We celebrated birthdays and Halloween and Christmas and New Years. And eventually, on January 24, our baby came home. She came home whole and complete and healthy, and I owe so much of that to being able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. I didn’t have to worry about traveling an hour each way every day to see our baby. I didn’t have to worry about travel expenses, hotel bills, food, and how to get clean laundry. The Ronald McDonald House alleviated all of that. It was a burden that could be lifted from our family so I could take care of our baby and have safe access to her 24 hours a day. It was a game changer. A LIFE changer.
There will never be enough ways for us to thank the Ronald McDonald House Charities for what they gave us. This was never the way we imagined number four would go, but we couldn’t have gotten here without Ronald McDonald House.