Gerhardt exhibited breathing problems three hours after his birth and was immediately intubated with HFOV (High-frequency Oscillatory Ventilation). He was then diagnosed with PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of Newborns) and was treated with various medication related to his diagnosed breathing problem for a month.
It was later discovered that Gerhardt actually had a congenital cyanotic heart condition. Our hope in Gerhardt’s recovery was faint, but like any other parent, we gave all we could. We immediately made the decision to arrange for Gerhardt to be transferred from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) for treatment.
However, challenges came rolling in on a daily basis. When Gerhardt arrived at NUH, he could not undergo his first heart operation as originally planned because he had contracted a viral infection and sepsis during his hospital stay in Indonesia. In addition to all the stress, we had to commute every day from our hotel to NUH to be with Gerhardt. On top of which there was no refrigerator in our hotel room, making it difficult for me to keep my EBM (expressed breast milk) fresh for Gerhardt.
One of the doctors in Paediatric ICU (PICU) heard about our predicament and referred both my husband and I to the Ronald McDonald House at NUH, just adjacent to the PICU ward. There, we met Judy, the Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities, who showed us around the House and asked if the House suited our needs. We were actually amazed at how roomy it was, with a private bathroom in each bedroom, a laundry room, a kitchen for us to use when cooking simple meals and a refrigerator filled with fresh fruits, juices, drinks and snacks that we could help ourselves to anytime. In addition, meals were provided and served by the volunteers and staff during the week. All the support and facilities were provided to us at absolutely no cost!
Staying at the Ronald McDonald House helped us with the most important thing – to be able to stay close to our baby, Gerhardt. It also made it easy for me to make my EBM available to Gerhardt at any time, as I could store it at PICU, which was conveniently located right next to the Ronald McDonald House. This helped reduce our burden physically, mentally and financially. As a result, we were able to focus our attention on our baby’s healing and recovery process, without having to worry about our daily necessities.
Staying at the Ronald McDonald House also helped us emotionally, as other families staying there shared similar situations, making us feel a lot less alone. The staff and volunteers were also very helpful – taking the time to listen to us talk about our pain and lending us a shoulder to cry on. Sharing good news and joy always gives us the strength to move on one day at a time. We all grew stronger together!