It has been over 6 years since twins Beauregard Lee and Genevieve Rose were delivered by emergency C-section more than 16 weeks ahead of schedule at just 23 weeks and 4 days. Marcy and James Walker found themselves juggling work, newborn babies, and trips to the NICU. Marcy recalls sleeping on a hospital bench one night before discovering the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. The Family Room provided sleep rooms, meals, and more for the Walker Family during their 5 month stay.
Being able to go right from work to the NICU made life easier for Marcy and James. They knew there would be a hot meal available in the Family Room and wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. They would eat dinner there almost every night while visiting Beau and Genevieve. Being able to use the sleep rooms made a huge difference in allowing the couple to bond with their newborns, especially while traveling back and forth for work each day. Marcy shared, “The Family Room helped me stay with my babies. It wasn’t just the meals or sleep rooms that made a difference, it was feeling some normalcy when life wasn’t.”
At 6 years old, the twins are doing better than ever. They love the outdoors, cooking, crafts, and skiing. The Family Room made a difference for Marcy and James, but it also made a huge impact on Beau and Genevieve. The twins love collecting pop tabs to donate to the Pull Tab Program, and often encourage others to donate to their collection efforts. Over the years, they have volunteered as a meal group for the Family Room, as well as attending events like the Red Shoe Run & Walk 5K. Marcy explained, “The kids love knowing that they are ‘making dinner for the babies’ when we volunteer as a meal group.” Beau and Genevieve enjoy giving back, knowing that they are helping families and kids going through something similar to when they were born.
Marcy and James Walker from Marion, Iowa expected to give birth to fraternal twins in June of 2016. What they didn’t expect was for baby Beau and baby Genevieve to arrive in February, nearly four months early. Balancing newborn babies and careers seemed like an uphill battle. Luckily just a few miles away from their home was the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.
Without the Family Room just feet away from Beau and Genevieve, Marcy would have missed out on important moments with the kids such as skin to skin contact, “I would get up at 5:00 am every day, drive to St. Luke’s, be with the kids, and then head to work” said Marcy. After work Marcy would head back to the Family Room for dinner, “We were able to get an extra hour or so each day with our babies which adds up over time. James and I didn’t want to miss a thing.” Since the Family Room provides a hot meal every night for dinner, the Walkers didn’t even have to leave the hospital for food, snacks, or drinks. Everything they needed was taken care of so they could focus on Beau and Genevieve.
Today Marcy and James consider themselves graduates of the Family Room and now love giving back to current families. Marcy explains, “James and I see Ronald McDonald House Charities as an extension of our own home. The Family Room was there for us and provided the necessities to continue about our everyday life. Helping cook meals and giving back to the charity is our favorite thing to do as a family. Our efforts hopefully encourage other families at the hospital who are going through a tough and emotional time.”
When Marcy and James Walker found out they were having twins, they knew there was a chance there could be complications. For months, Marcy took every precaution to ensure a smooth delivery: she ate healthy, got exercise and tried to limit stress as much as possible. But as many NICU parents can attest, despite all their efforts, things didn’t go as planned.
At 23 and a half weeks, twins Beauregard Lee and Genevieve Rose were delivered by emergency C-section more than 16 weeks ahead of schedule. During their five month stay at the NICU, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Luke’s gave Marcy and James the chance to stay close to their children while continuing to work.
At 5:30 every morning, Marcy would visit Beau and Genevieve before heading to her job, and as soon as the work day was over, she was back in the NICU with the twins. Thanks to the free meals, sleeping rooms and other resources provided by the Family Room, the Walkers could go straight from work to their children and skip the trip home, saving them time and allowing them to focus on the twin’s health.
While the NICU was the last place Marcy and James wanted to be, the Ronald McDonald Family Room made a helpless situation feel more controllable. “It turned a stressful, emotional, life-changing experience into a positive, manageable, life-changing experience.” Says Marcy. “The support here is indescribable.”