A Kindred Spirit
The Ross Family of Hokitika have stayed at our Christchurch House twice in two years. Read about their journey below.
The Ross family of Hokitika have stayed at Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch after the births of both of their daughters: two-year-old Sadie, and Ivy who was born in June this year. Mum Ashley experienced high risk pregnancies with both girls and stayed for 65 nights with us prior to Ivy’s birth during her antenatal care.
Ashley was first introduced to Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch after her waters broke early on in her pregnancy with eldest child Sadie, who turns three this year. “I was 34 weeks along and suddenly my waters partially broke,” Ashley says, “there’s limited neonatal support where I live on the West Coast, so I was flown to Christchurch Hospital to be monitored.”
The team at the hospital tried to keep her stable and delay her labour for as long as possible, but at 34 weeks, 6 days her waters broke fully; baby Sadie was in the breech position and due to the various risk factors, Ashley underwent an emergency caesarean section. Sadie was immediately wheeled into the NICU where she stayed for a week, while dad Jordan was based at Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch, a short walk away from the hospital.
Following Ashley’s C-section, the surgeon sent her for an MRI scan which confirmed she had a ‘septate uterus’: when tissue divides the uterus into two separate parts. The condition can sometimes cause issues during pregnancy. “We thought we knew what we were getting into the second time around,” Ashley explains. “At 24 weeks I had a scan, and it showed a second issue which meant we had to relocate for the remainder of my pregnancy.”
The scan showed that Ashley had placenta acretta: a serious pregnancy condition that occurs when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall. This can be life threatening to the mother, and careful surgery needs to be done at delivery to avoid the need for a hysterectomy.
Once again, the family travelled to Christchurch where Ashley could be closely monitored at nearby Christchurch Hospital. The family of three arrived at Ronald McDonald House where they stayed for nine weeks until Ashley gave birth. “Having my husband Jordan and Sadie there for the entire journey meant the world to me,” Ashley explains, “I’d never really been away from Sadie and my biggest fear was having to stay in Christchurch for that long by myself. Instead, Ronald McDonald House meant we could stay together.”
Through a combination of rest and medication to stop preterm labour, Ivy was delivered at 36+6 weeks via C-Section. There was a team of 25 medical professionals in the room due to the risk at delivery and Ashley was put under general anaesthesia as precaution. Ashley was relieved the delivery went perfectly. “Jordan was even allowed in the room to cut the cord which is pretty awesome. I woke up in recovery and Ivy was on my chest which was so lovely”. Ivy required hospital care for just four days before she was strong enough to head home to the West Coast with her family.
Ashley says Ronald McDonald House took the pressure off at an already stressful time, and not having to worry about accommodation or meals was a huge relief. “Jordan could get his work done in the Adult’s Lounge and Sadie had the best time living at the House.”
The support they received from the team and other families at the House was something they will always remember, especially as they had to isolate from their own families due to Covid-19 restrictions at the time. “We became close friends with so many of the other families there. We actually felt really sad leaving as we had to say goodbye! I am still in contact with one family as we developed such a strong bond over the time we had there.”
Ashley was very impressed by the volunteers, in particular the ‘Tuesday Chicks’ who she would look forward to seeing each week.
“The House holds a very special place in our hearts. We’re so grateful that it exists, and we intend to bring the girls up to know all about what Ronald McDonald House does to keep families together. When they’re a bit older we plan to do the family dinner programme and to give back in whatever way we can. It’s hard to explain just how much it means to us.”