RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Most people learn who Ronald McDonald is when they’re children. Families usually learn about the Ronald McDonald House when their children get sick.
Meghan Moore-Williamson had her baby 16 weeks early.
“Parker was a triplet,” she remembered. “We had lost the other two babies at 8 weeks, figured out Parker was still there and still doing good and that was the beginning of her journey as being a fighter.”
Moore-Williamson didn’t really want her daughter to be born in North Carolina; she lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. She was only in Durham to take her grandmother to Duke University Medical Center.
“I had to call my mom and let her know that her mom was just diagnosed with terminal cancer, so that was really hard to do,” she said. “While I was there, my water broke, and I went down to the ER and was kind of in denial, like, ‘I’m fine,’ and they were like, ‘No, it’s not.'”
Her husband remembered receiving the news that he was about to be a father.
“She gives me the call, she’s like, ‘I think my water just broke,'” Charles Williamson said. “I was actually at work, and I’m like, ‘What do you mean your water broke?'”
With her husband two hours away, Moore-Williamson was headed into an emergency C-section.
“It all was just like a whirlwind couple of days,” she said. “And we went back to the (neonatal intensive care unit) that night and met Parker, it was amazing. We were preparing to go back and say goodbye to her.”
But Parker, whose mother says she has always been a fighter, just kept going. But at 16 weeks early and weighing only a pound and a half, she faced a long hospital stay. Which meant the Williamson family wasn’t leaving Durham anytime soon.
That’s the kind of situation that Ronald McDonald House exists to help with.
“They come to this area for the first time and they don’t know anyone and their resources are going to getting their child better,” said Oie Osterkamp, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Durham and Wake.
He added, “We take away some of the other things that they would normally have to worry about, where they’re going to sleep, where they’re going to eat.”
The Williamsons have been living at the Ronald McDonald House for four months now. Their daughter is getting bigger and healthier. In the meantime, the house has given them a place to bond with others in a similar situation.
“Dinner’s every night at six, so you walk in the kitchen and you see everybody and everybody had a hard day at the hospital,” Moore-Williamson said.
“The families are able to live with the only people in the world who truly understand what they’re going through and that’s other families going through the same illnesses with their children,” Osterkamp said.
“Being able to stay here has been the best thing because she’s two minutes down the road, she able to be with Parker every single day and she needs that to grow, she needs her mother’s touch to grow,” Charles Williamson said.