Our son, John Henry, was born 6 weeks early on November 3, 2018. That morning I was transferred, by ambulance, to the UVM Medical Center from our local hospital. My husband followed behind in our car and our older children, ages 8 and 9, waited at my sister’s house for some news. Everything was a scary blur, but by that evening our son was here and the incredible medical staff had saved both his life and mine. Over the next couple of days, reality began to sink in: my husband and I would be leaving the hospital without our baby, who was being cared for in the NICU. We were sad and scared and couldn’t stand the thought of being separated from him, even for a minute, while he fought to grow bigger and stronger. We didn’t know how long he would be there or where would we stay. One of his nurses said “have you ever heard of the Ronald McDonald House?” and things were set into motion. A social worker made arrangements for us to stay there until our son was ready to come home. I remember feeling annoyed that I had to leave the hospital, even long enough to go and check in at the house and the sour attitude I had as we pulled into the driveway. As soon as we stepped through the door, everything changed. I honestly knew, in that moment, that we had not just found a place to sleep but we had found a home away from home during the hardest time of our lives. We were greeted warmly by staff who knew that we must be facing something difficult or we wouldn’t be there. They showed incredible empathy and kindness as they gave us a tour and offered anything we needed to accommodate us. They brought a breast pump and mini fridge to our room so I could pump and store milk during the night to bring to the NICU every morning. They let us know that they could provide transportation back-and-forth to the hospital if we needed it and that there would be at hot, home cooked meal waiting for us every night. The kitchen was stocked with food that we were welcome to have any time and they even had things available to take to eat at the hospital so we didn’t have to buy food every day. We were given handmade hats and blankets for our son, our older children were welcomed with open arms on the weekends when they came to visit and we found that there were always loving people around to share the ups and downs of each day with, if we wanted to. Even Mike, the house dog, was on hand offering 4 legged support which was fantastic! They really think of everything to make a difficult time a little easier. An affordable, lovely home just minutes from the hospital and our baby.The Ronald McDonald house will always be a part of our family’s story. Our family has decided to make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Burlington, VT each year on John’s birthday as a way to say thank you and as a way to be a small part of ensuring that other families will have a home away from home when they need it the most.