Everyday we see other families in the dinning room or the playroom. Or crossing paths in the hallway or on the elevator. We recognize our new neighbors by their blue Ronald McDonald House wrist band. Or the Arial Tram pass saying “OHSU patient” hanging from their necks. Maybe it’s their tired faces, or wearing PJ pants in the lobby of the Marriott, which gives them away as someone who has been living in this hotel for too long.
Moms taking a pile of yogurt and bananas back to their room, because she’s to tired to manage 3 kids at continental breakfast since the kids feel a little bit too at home to be at such a nice hotel. Or children running around with a crazy looking scar on their head, or funny device on their leg.
We have seen families headed out the door, with a hotel luggage cart loaded to the top. They looking like they are moving out, because they are finally going home! But they disappear without any fanfare or congratulations. Then a new family takes their place.
We don’t know the names of most of our new friends. Although some of the other children know Monkey’s name. We tend to skip the small talk of ,”Hi. How are you? What’s your name?” And go straight to “how is your kid?” We have heard bits and pieces of their stories. Babies born way too early, or a son or daughter recovering from surgery.
Most these people we would never hang out with in “normal” life. But we have been brought together by the commonality of our circumstances. So we watch our kids play together, while we sit and talk. Thankful to be part of a community who can relate to our stories. of emergency rooms, the scariness of the unknown. Not to mention, the logistics of getting a good night sleep with the whole family sharing a hotel room.
Daily I get comments of “still pregnant?” Yes, we’ve been living here two weeks now, but we technically we haven’t even started yet. In some ways I feel like an imposter, but soon enough we will join the other families going back and forth to the hospital day after day, faithfully pumping milk for the baby.
Or maybe, hopefully, our little girl will be fine. We will have a “normal” birth and be able to go home a few days later. Maybe it will turn out that we never actually “belonged” at the Ronald McDonald House. For now we live in a strange balance of being thankful for such a great place to stay. Yet feeling trapped here until our child is released from the hospital.