Published: Aug 09, 2017
The Hoover family is very familiar with joy, and with heartache.
Among their heartaches, they think about the child they lost, who would have been ten this year. They also think of their newborn baby, who has been in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for children since she was born in February.
Three-month old Sierra was born with a cardiac condition called a double outlet right ventricle with sub-aortic VSD. This condition is a heart defect due to a missing connection in the pulmonary artery and a hole between the lower chambers of the heart. At just three days old, Sierra underwent open heart surgery.
Hailing from Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, about a 3-hour drive from Wilmington, Sierra’s parents Jerry and Lorraine didn’t know how they would be able to stay close when she was born with this condition. All they knew was that they needed to be close enough to visit Sierra every day.
The Hoovers came to the Ronald McDonald House. Here, they found resources that helped to alleviate the stress of having a newborn in the hospital.
As members of the Mennonite religion, community is important to the Hoovers. Their favorite thing about staying at the House is being able to stay close to their family, even though they are over 150 miles away. On the weekends, their other children come to visit. They even get to spend time with their new baby sister Sierra in the hospital.
During the week, it’s common to see the Hoovers’ support system, their family and friends, bringing in large, home-cooked picnic lunches to enjoy as a group. These meals, and the meals provided by the dozens of community group volunteers, are a vital part of the Hoovers’ stay at the House. Not only do these meals provide nourishment, but they are a chance to come together, and one less thing to worry about. “It would be stressful to have to come home and cook our own meals,” says Lorraine.
The Hoover family has even found a new community: the other families who stay at the House. They have created strong bonds, friendships, and memories with the other parents and families who call the House a “home-away-from-home.” They also tell us that being able to talk to families in similar situations helps them “know they’re not alone.”
Despite the difficulties they have faced, the Hoovers bring a bright energy to the Ronald McDonald House. The family is hopeful about the future, looking forward to bottle-feeding Sierra, taking her home, and enjoying the summer in Mifflinburg with the entire family and their friends.
Update: We wrote this story in May and we are happy to share that the the Hoovers went home in June!
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