Chloey Wood was on her way to work when she immediately felt something was wrong. She was pregnant and terrified something had happened to her baby. Chloey and her husband Austin were transferred from their home in Waterloo, Iowa to UnityPoint Health- St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Their daughter, Gabriella, was born 12 weeks early and spent 3 months in the NICU. Luckily, her parents found support and comfort in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Luke’s Hospital.
The couple was not familiar with the Family Room services, but found it would take care of them when they needed it the most. Having food, laundry, and private rooms available allowed Chloey to stay close and bond with Gabriella. Having skin-to-skin time with her daughter was important to Chloey, and this time together would have been more difficult being away from the NICU. Austin traveled back and forth for work, but when he was in Cedar Rapids, they could eat together as a family and experience a sense of normalcy during an otherwise abnormal time. Austin shared, “The Family Room paid attention to what we needed. I was traveling a lot, so they would supply us with donated gift cards to gas stations to help with travel costs. The staff was like family to us during a really hard time.”
Chloey became acquainted with other NICU mothers while using the Family Room, finding solace in these friendships. The relationships she created in the Family Room made all the difference for this new mother. When Gabriella weighed in at 3 pounds, the Family Room staff celebrated with cake. Chloey and Austin were beyond grateful for these happy memories despite the circumstances. It was moments like those that helped the Wood family get through a scary situation. Chloey said, “The Ronald McDonald Family Room was a home away from home. I lived there every day while my child was in the hospital, and I was always asked how I could be made more comfortable. It really did become our home.”