Family Story: Little Things Make a Big Difference

Baby Emmalyn Carter sleeps with a knitted bunny ear hat on.

Emmalyn Carter. Source: Carter family

They say a mother’s intuition is never wrong; this proved particularly true for the Carter family.

One morning early in her third trimester, mom-to-be Sarah Carter began feeling unwell and knew she needed to get to the doctor. After a round of tests, she was diagnosed with HELLP, a serious syndrome which raised major concerns for the health of both mother and baby. Sarah was rushed via ambulance from Dothan, Alabama, where the Carters call home, to UAB Medical Center, where they would call home for the next few weeks.

Sarah and her husband Mike welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world on March 26, 2019. Born prematurely at 30 weeks, Emmalyn was just 2 pounds and 11 ounces. During the family’s time at the UAB Women & Infants Center, they made regular use of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, located just down the hall from baby Emmalyn.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB is designed to provide a calm space for families to take a break.

“It’s a place where you can go to not look at tubes and wires and monitors,” Mike says.

Sarah and Mike take a break in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB

Sarah and Mike take a break in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB

“It keeps some normalcy in daily life in a not normal circumstance,” Sarah adds.

Outfitted with a kitchen where families can grab a snack or warm up a meal, a comfy sitting area, laundry, showers, and even a room to nap in, the Ronald McDonald Family Room enables parents to step back and take care of themselves so they can then focus on taking care of what matters most: their child.

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Mike says having a space like this to recuperate and rest is invaluable.

“It’s very easy to just sit there [in the hospital] and just be consumed. Before you know it, four hours have gone by and you haven’t left the spot and you’ve been sitting there, staring and worrying. To have the capability to look at someone and go, ‘Let’s take a walk and go down to the [Family Room].’ It’s really nice to be able to go grab some Kool-Aid or coffee and a pack of crackers.”

He continued, “It’s not only the Ronald McDonald House itself, but the spaces like this that allow you to recuperate.”

Mike and Sarah Carter grab a cup of coffee in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB.

Mike and Sarah grab a cup of coffee in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB

Sarah expressed the family’s gratitude for the peaceful break provided by the Family Room.

“Words can’t even begin to express how thankful we are that this space is even available. Never in a million years would I think that a room with some snacks and a friendly face would mean so much, but it really does mean the world to pretty much everybody here,” she said.

“It’s the small things in life that really make a difference for people,” Mike agrees.

Thanks to your support, the Carters and other families like them have a place to rest and recuperate. Your time, talent and financial support provide this calm space where the daily needs of families are taken care of so they can focus on what matters most: their child.

Thank you if you have already made your gift this year. If you haven’t yet, please make a donation today to help ensure RMHCA can continue its mission of keeping families together!