When Casie was 32 weeks pregnant, she faced an emergency C-Section and the news that there would be a rocky road ahead for her and new baby Aceyn. In addition to his premature birth, Aceyn would need the support of the NICU at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital for a rare genetic condition, IMAGe, and Chronic Lung Disease. When Casie and Aceyn’s dad, Jordan, were told to expect a one year hospitalization, they experienced a roller coaster of emotions. Staying 10 months in the hospital, Aceyn’s had a G-tube, trach, and twelve chest tubes. Despite battling several medical conditions, Casie described him by simply saying, “He’s just a little miracle.” And Casie was by Aceyn’s side through it all, while Jordan was at home working during the week and visiting on the weekends.
“The Ronald McDonald House was really my home away from home,” says Casie. The House in Iowa City gave Casie a sense of home and provided what she needed to take care of herself. The ability to cook in a kitchen gave her a sense of normalcy. She remembers the first time she cooked chicken wings at the House. It had been a while since she and Jordan shared a meal they prepared together and family time was precious since Jordan and Casie were only able to see each other on weekends.
Casie also cherished her ability to have meals with other families and tell their stories. She has witnessed how RMH has been a home away from home for so many people. “The House truly means so much and is an important outlet. It was a place to lay my head that is comfortable. The availability of the parking pass was an advantage especially for those moments when I needed to get to Aceyn as quickly as possible,” says Casie.
Casie knows how important it is for parents to take care of themselves and try to get some sleep. When she interacted with other families she encouraged them to take time for self-care, even if it is just sitting down to paint nails. She knows the support offered at the Ronald McDonald House allowed her to practice good self- care and take care of Aceyn in the best way possible.