On 16th October 2019, my son Adam was born and our lives changed forever. He was a full term baby and I had a normal delivery. So many dreams and plans were crushed the moment he took his first breath. A code blue was called and I never heard my baby cry. Within seconds the midwife passed my son to me for a quick photo and he was taken away to the NICU. The next time I carried my baby was 40 days later.
After my delivery, I was discharged on the second day and sent back home. Our son Adam continued to stay in the NICU. Travelling back and forth from Woodlands to NUH was no joke. After childbirth, the usual confinement regime was no longer applicable to me. I was going back and forth to the hospital just to give my son breastmilk. I didn’t follow anything that a normal mother would do after delivery. After seven days in the NICU, we received a call that Adam was not able to breathe on his own and that he had to be intubated. They also told us that he would be transferred to the PICU as he was a full term baby. The day Adam went to the PICU my husband and I were a total mess. We were all over the place, confused, angry, and broken.
I remember so clearly I received a call and I knew it was the hospital but since I was next to my baby I refused to answer the call. Then my husband received a call. It was from Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Singapore. We had no clue what this was all about, so my husband and I took our time and went.We were told that they were located right next to the PICU. When the staff explained how the family room worked, nothing sank into my head. It was just all words blah blah… I was so overwhelmed with all that was happening with my baby. The next day again RMHC called. I was getting irritated with the calls simply because I didn’t have an ounce of energy to speak with anyone. Once again my husband received the second call and we went back to meet the staff again. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. They handed us a key. It had a tag “B”. We were brought to the room and showed around. It had an attached bathroom and a television, it was a fully air conditioned room. We then toured all around the house, to the kitchen and all other amenities such as the laundry area.
I sat down on the bed and sobbed my eyes out. I was in complete disbelief that we were given this access to be next to our son in the PICU. The Ronald McDonald House has a total of four rooms. All the rooms were occupied by different families and we shared all the facilities together as a little community.
I saw families come and go. Kids who recovered and left. Kids who moved out of the PICU to normal wards. I saw kids who passed on and I saw how the family was torn to pieces. Six months passed by in the blink of an eye. Six beautiful months I lived in the Ronald McDonald House where the staff became my family. The room became my house. I was provided with so much comfort and care for six months with no charges. We received and received and received all the support we needed every single day. Everyday Adam got worse and there were more and more problems. We came to know that he was born with multiple congenital birth defects. I would come out of the PICU and head back to RMHC and the staff would be there to hold me in their arms as I cried my heart out. I spent days and nights talking to their volunteers and they became my family. My husband and I stayed there together till April 2020 and then Covid-19 came.
I remember staying there alone as the circuit breaker measures were being put in place and there were so many changes, and only one parent was allowed to stay. Within weeks all the families from the other rooms had moved out and I was the last person staying there. RMHC had a meeting to address how they could help me cos they were no longer able to keep the place open due to the circuit breaker. I was so blessed to have lived there for six months. Every day I got to be next to my son who was so critically ill. They even promised me that when the Circuit breaker was over I would be given my room back so long as Adam was still in the PICU. I prayed so hard for the day to move back to be with my son. However Adam was tired of fighting and he passed away on 2nd May of 2020.
The days I spent at the RMHC taught me so much. I live in a four room flat and always complained that I should get a bigger house. For Six months at RMHC when I spent most of the time in my room or in the PICU, versus the days when I went back to my home; suddenly,my house seemed so huge. Everything seemed different. We spend too much time on the material aspects of life that we fail to see all the simple things that actually mattered. Food on the table, that was always something available at the dining area in RMHC. There were always sponsors giving the families so much. Festive occasions never went by without a dinner from a sponsor. They even gave us the pleasure to invite our own extended family to join in as well. I never knew such an organisation ever existed. I started sharing with my friends and colleagues and they were all shocked too.
RMHC will always and forever be something we close to our hearts. Today, I see the purpose of my son’s birth and death. He has made his parents better individuals. We have so much more to give now. We see life differently and this was only possible because of the family we had at RMHC. Although we didn’t get to take our baby back home like how were thought we would. The days spent at the Ronald McDonald House would definitely be the six most beautiful months of our lives.
Adam’s Daddy & Mummy