Before her birth, Faith was diagnosed with Hydrops, an often-fatal condition where fluid builds up around the organs and tissues, causing organ failure and death. Doctors told parents Andie and Jake that Faith had only a small chance of making it to birth. Even if she did, she would most likely pass away shortly after. When Faith was born at 29 weeks, Andie and Jake were told that she would most likely not be a “take home baby.”
Faith fought hard to prove everybody wrong despite mounting challenges. At birth, she underwent several surgeries to treat a cloacal malformation and allow stool and urine to pass out of her body. At 2 months old, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation with only 11 other known cases in the world.
Due to this mutation, Faith also had a single kidney, hip dysplasia, scoliosis, and congenital liver, respiratory, and cardiac abnormalities. During the first four months of Faith’s fragile life, Andie utilized the Ronald McDonald House on the 7th floor of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital while Faith received treatment in the NICU.
“It was during COVID so only one parent could stay at a time,” Andie explains. “And Jake had to keep working. The 7th floor Ronald McDonald Lounge was my place. It was where I could go to get away from the medical stresses. You could meet other moms and share stories. Or just sit alone and decompress.”
Andie recalls the long days sitting at Faith’s side. “It was so helpful to have free meals and snacks available. When your baby is in NICU, even the hospital cafeteria seems too far to go. You want to stay nearby and at least be on the same floor as your child – just in case. The HEB meals and the snacks were a lifesaver.”
After 4 months, Faith was able to go home with her parents and older brother. But she still has many surgeries and challenges ahead. Faith and Andie return regularly to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital for follow-ups and surgeries.
“I really depend on Ronald McDonald Houses and Lounges,” Andie says. “Now, we are using the Ronald McDonald House and Lounge on the 3rd floor Pediatric ICU during post-op for Faith’s surgeries.”
In addition to Ronald McDonald House facilities, Andie recalls the support and kindness of the staff. “Caitlin, the RMH Hospital Programs Director, is one of our “rocks” while Faith is hospitalized. She is someone I can always depend on to be there for us when we are going through challenging times.”
Faith is almost 3 years old now, and she loves to sing, dance, read and build. Despite all her diagnoses and challenges, she is a wonderful, smart, funny, spicy little girl who has much to share with the world.
“She continually amazes us with her strength and resilience,” says Andie. “She is a blessing to us each and every day!”