Following a difficult pregnancy, Jordan and Brad Boykin never thought they would have another child, but in the summer of 2015, they were shocked to learn that Jordan was pregnant. They were overjoyed and hoping for the best, but almost immediately, Jordan started showing signs of trouble and was placed on bed rest.
At one of their first checkups, the doctor told them that their baby, Juliet, had hydrocephalus and some heart defects. In babies with hydrocephalus, the brain fills up with fluid, placing pressure on the brain and potentially causing brain damage or even death.
Brad and Jordan’s small local hospital was unable to provide the treatment Juliet would need and told them that they would have to deliver at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, over 5 hours away from their home. They were also told that Juliet’s conditions could keep her in intensive care for months.
“That’s when the Ronald McDonald House really came to our rescue,” says Brad. “I’m an environmental scientist, and Jordan is a wedding coordinator. We have a home, two SUVs, and two older kids, one in school and one two year old. How on earth were we going to be in Gainesville, a town neither of us had ever been to, for months at a time? When we arrived, it was so comforting to know that we had a place where we could stay right by the hospital for as long as we needed.”
Shortly after the Boykins moved into the Ronald McDonald House, Juliet was born. She was put in the NICU and had brain surgery at less than 24 hours old. Three weeks later, she had open heart surgery, and her treatment and recovery continued for 2 more months.
“After long, emotionally and physically draining days at the hospital, we were able to come home to RMH and talk for hours like a big family over the donated dinners and fresh baked goods from volunteers. We became friends with many of the families, and we still keep in touch. There is something comforting in coming back to a family of people who understand your day to day struggles and the ups and downs. Our RMH friends truly cared about Juliet’s progress, as we cared for their children’s stories.”
“We felt so alone being so far away from our families and support group,” remembers Brad. “RMH made one of the scariest times in our lives a little easier. Without having a place to stay like RMH we could not have been able to be at Juliet’s side for life changing decisions that often happened in the middle of the night. We were able to stay close to her and help her recover. We were able to take shifts sleeping in the hospital with her while one of us came back to RMH to recharge in a nice bed.”
“The Ronald McDonald House was and continues to be a blessing to us. Having a place to stay and alleviating that burden was just one weight lifted when we were already carrying so much stress.”