Three years ago, high school sweethearts Brittany Caravaggio and Mike Caravaggio were married. Several months after their wedding, the couple was ecstatic to discover they were expecting a baby boy. Then, barely five months into their parenting journey, the Caravaggios made another discovery: they were expecting another child.
Ronald McDonald House Helping Toronto Families
Brittany’s pregnancy was, for the most part, uneventful, until things took an unexpected turn last Thanksgiving. “I had laboured on and off for about three weeks and it was very stressful,” says Brittany from her home in Kincardine, Ontario. “I was trying to keep Hayden (her youngest son) in, and keep Mason (her eldest son) happy and make sure my husband could go to work.”
The closest hospital to the Caravaggio’s home did not deliver babies before 34 weeks. So the 29-week pregnant Brittany had to make a two-hour trip to London, Ontario and deliver their son at the London Health Sciences Centre. Hayden was born on November 4th, 2013 and weighed 3.15 lbs. “He came out crying. He was wonderful, but really small,” says Brittany.
The Caravaggio’s knew they were very lucky. They also needed to stay near the hospital for at least a month. As Mike and Brittany went over their options, the calculations added up to a small fortune. Yet, just a stone’s throw away from the London Health Sciences Centre campus was a refuge for the Caravaggio family. Mike noticed the Ronald McDonald House logo by chance and immediately went inside with their son Mason.
The Ronald McDonald House is a residence for families of seriously ill children and infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the Paediatric Unit. Families who have a child at a hospital that has partnered with the Ronald McDonald House, and are based outside of the city, can stay at the house.
“It was a godsend,” says Brittany. The family was able to stay together and the NICU was only a three-minute walk away. “I looked outside my window and I could see the hospital.” For over 30 years, Ronald McDonald House Toronto has been providing a “home away from home” for seriously ill children and their families to heal better. To date, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada have served about 250,000 families and last year there were 1,600 families on the waitlist.
So the Caravaggios, and the families who are helped by Ronald McDonald Houses every day, are asking people to get involved and support Canada’s 14 Ronald McDonald Houses. Here’s a list of the Ronald McDonald’s Houses in the G.T.A:
• The Family Room at Markham/Stouffville Hospital – open April 2013
• The Family Room at Credit Valley Hospital – opened early 2012
• The Family Room at SickKids is slated to open in late June/early July 2014
• The Family Room at Rouge Valley will also open this year, likely in the Fall of 2014
• The Ronald McDonald Toronto House re-opened in 2011 and now accommodates 81 families per night and is the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world