Kari and Matthew Braniecki stayed at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio for 74 nights in 2021 while their daughter Lyla recovered in NICU. Last month, the Braniecki family celebrated Lyla’s first birthday! We caught up with the Braniecki family to see how Lyla is doing and for them to share their thoughts on RMHC. Below is a message from Kari Braniecki:
My husband and I came to RMHC because our daughter Lyla was born 13 weeks early and was going to require a long term NICU stay. We live an hour away in Marblehead, so the option to stay somewhere that was walking distance from my newborn was a beautiful gift. It was especially helpful in the first couple weeks as I was recovering from a severe case of preeclampsia as well as a C-section. As Lyla got bigger and stronger and more aware, I spent longer and longer days in the NICU to work on feeding. To not have to take 2 hours a day out of that time driving to and from Marblehead was priceless.
Lyla is doing fantastic. She is hitting milestones for her true age (instead of her adjusted age which is 3 months younger) and is such a happy, inquisitive, spirited little girl.
Other than the house being within walking distance to the hospital, I really appreciated the homemade dinners every night. It was such a blessing to be able to spend as much time as I could with my daughter and not have to worry about grocery shopping or cooking. The open kitchen/pantry was amazing as well. It was so easy to grab leftovers or something tasty from the shelves for a quick lunch or breakfast. And I know sweets get a bad rap, but at that stressful time, I really needed comfort food! When I would walk into RMHC and smell cookies or brownies baking, it brought a smile to my face (and stomach!) every time! Everything was so delicious!!
Even though our family and friends could not visit us at the house, they were incredibly supportive while we were going through this NICU experience. My husband and I were able to be strong for our daughter because we had so many people helping us to stand on our feet day in and day out.
Everybody was so kind at RMHC. To come back to the house after sometimes worrisome or stressful days in the NICU and to have everybody you pass say hello and give you a smile is something that touched my heart. Some even got to know who I was and would ask about Lyla. In a place where you are away from your friends and family (especially during COVID times), it was comforting to have someone know you well enough to know what was going on in your life and to care enough to ask about it.
Thank you to RMHC and to everyone who works for and volunteers with this amazing organization. They provided us with the ability to be physically close to our daughter for the duration of her hospital stay and that was the most amazing gift that we could have during that time.
Consider a gift to RMHC of NW Ohio so that we are able to support families like the Braniecki family. Give HERE.