The DeKeyrel Family

At just 26 weeks pregnant with twins, Kelly DeKeyrel’s water unexpectedly broke. Kelly immediately went on strict bed rest at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. When the twins made their entrance into the world at 27.5 weeks, Kelly and Brandon’s hearts swelled with both fear and hope. “We were told about RMHC-EIWI by our nurses while I was in the antepartum unit of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics,” recalls Kelly. With a long NICU journey ahead of them, traveling daily between the NICU in Iowa City and their home in Geneseo, Illinois wasn’t an option. Brandon called Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois just hours after the girls were born and was able to check in the next day.

“Until we were staying there, we were in no way aware of how much RMHC-EIWI provides to families. There is not much they do not think of to make a very trying time a little bit easier.” Brandon and Kelly adjusted to a new normal at the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House became a sanctuary for the weary parents. Each day began with a grab-and-go breakfast and a much-needed cup of coffee before the couple headed to the hospital to be by their daughters’ side. Each evening, they returned to the house to find solace in a warm meal and the company of families facing similar struggles.  Kelly says, “It was such a huge weight off of our shoulders to not have to worry about what we were going to eat or constantly having the expense of getting food from the hospital or going to a restaurant after a long day with the girls.” Kelly and Brandon’s toddler was able to join them during their stay. “It was so nice to include her in our stay. She was able to use the playroom and crafts to create things for her sisters.”

After returning from the hospital one night, Brandon and Kelly shared with staff  all the progress the twins were making; they were stable and doing well in the NICU. The staff offered them a pair of women’s basketball tickets that had been donated and encouraged them to take some time for themselves. “We decided to go, and for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, had a great time together taking in the sights and sounds of the game instead of the hospital room and beeping of monitors and machines. This was a big morale boost for us, and every game after was something we could look forward to and watch with the twins in the hospital room.”

As spring bloomed outside, so did the hope of finally bringing their daughters’ home. The twins grew stronger each day, with their parents’ steady presence. Shortly before Easter, baby Hazel was well enough to be discharged from the hospital. “Hazel’s first outing out of the hospital was an amazing and thoughtful Easter brunch at Ronald McDonald House. We are so lucky and grateful to have that first memory of her first holiday out of the hospital at RMHC,” reminisces Kelly.

After 99 days of tears and triumphs, baby Maeve left the NICU and the DeKeyrel family was whole. Reflecting on some special memories, Kelly says “There were so many great moments we were able to experience in our 99 days at RMHC. From our daily interactions with staff and other families, the little surprises that were given to families like flowers or gift cards for Valentine’s Day, or our door being decorated for my birthday, the staff always went above and beyond.” As they said goodbye to their temporary home at Ronald McDonald House, Kelly and Brandon couldn’t help but feel gratitude for the love and support that had carried them through their darkest days.

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