Jake and Julie Meyer have a unique experience: they have stayed at two different Ronald McDonald Houses in Iowa. In 2017 the couple from Grinnell, Iowa welcomed their first child into the world; a son named Brody. When Julie gave birth on April 5 in Des Moines, Brody developed severe meconium aspiration syndrome. After staying a couple of days at the Ronald McDonald House of Des Moines, Jake and Julie were told by doctors that Brody’s condition was worsening. He was immediately life-flighted to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The medical staff at the hospital made their rounds first thing every morning and Brody was one of the first babies they checked due to the severity of his condition. “We would have likely missed Brody’s check-in with the staff if we weren’t just down the street at the Ronald McDonald House. Living an hour away would have meant waking up super early, battling traffic, and rushing to get to his room in time.” said Julie. “Those check-ins were important since it kept us in the loop on how our son was doing.”
While at the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City, the Meyers remember having their every need met. Food, privacy, and a place to call home for 42 days. But perhaps their favorite and most meaningful part of their stay was creating a lifelong friendship with another couple who had a newborn in the NICU. “We actually met at the Des Moines hospital first,” said Julie. “While at the hospital in Iowa City, we saw them again, and then after catching up, we learned they were staying at the Ronald McDonald House just across the hall from us!” said Julie. The couples bonded being new parents away from home. “All four of us took care of each other during the hardest time in our lives, and that’s just invaluable,” said Julie. She went on, “Once you become a NICU parent or a Ronald McDonald House family, it’s embedded in you forever. We always have the desire to pay it forward to the next family in need.”