I delivered Hudson on January 2, 2008. He was born at 34 weeks gestation and had a traumatic delivery. A week prior, I had started wrestling with what felt like an upper respiratory infection. After multiple trips to the doctor, the only conclusion to my trouble breathing was this respiratory infection. I was in immense pain for several days when I went into labor. I arrived at Erlanger at 11:30 PM and delivered my son around 2 AM. It was quick; however, I never sensed anything wrong at the time of delivery. Naturally, being a preemie, I knew they would take every precaution with my little one. One quick kiss on the cheek was all I got and they whisked him away to NICU.

The next morning I went for an x-ray and it was found that I had plural effusion, a big sack behind the lining of my lung. I was treated with antibiotics and some instruction to follow up with my primary physician. I didn’t get to meet Hudson until the next day January 3, 2008. The neonatologists came to my hospital room and advised us that Hudson had a major brain bleed prior to birth (grade IV) and also some seizures after birth.  They didn’t know the extent of the damage and would need to wait to see if the bleed would resolve, or if a shunt would be needed. Hydrocephalus resulted, and so at 18 days old, our little one had brain surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain.

Within days, we were given the opportunity of staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC) of Greater Chattanooga. My illness had not been resolved, and my husband was still trying to work when he could. It was perfect for us to stay at the Ronald McDonald House so that I could be close to Hudson in the NICU. Having a place to rest, pump, and receive a warm meal was at times so overwhelming that I would cry at how thankful I was for the support. It truly was a “home away from home.” Hudson spent 32 days in the NICU. Our stay at RMHC was cut short as I had to have an emergency surgery and spent my own time in the ICU and hospital as my plural effusion almost collapsed my lung.

Even now, the ministry of the Ronald McDonald Family Room has been a source of comfort and rest as my son has spent many visits in the hospital and PICU. Hudson is now 6 years old. He did have a shunt placed and struggles with cerebral palsy and developmental delay. Despite this, he has been a blessing to us and has taught us many things. RMHC has not just been a memory, but continues to be a ministry as we never know when our next visit to the Ronald McDonald Family Room will be.

We hope to stay involved and volunteer and donate when time and resources allow. We are forever grateful for the ongoing support RMHC provides. Thank you so much and keep doing what you’re doing. 

Written by: Crystal Horner (mom)

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