Ronald McDonald House
A Maui Couple’s Patience is Richly Rewarded
Introduction — Gene Davis
Andrea Ciro and Kalei Riggs of Makawao, Maui are two of the few guests who have had the occasion to stay at both Honolulu Ronald McDonald Houses. Andrea delivered premature twins in March and was originally lodged at the Oahu Avenue House, where most neighbor island parents with preemies stay during their newborn’s hospitalization.
When Aidan, one of the twins, was eventually released from the hospital in June they moved together into the Judd Hillside House and were joined by the twins’ dad, Kalei, who previously had only been able to come to Oahu on weekends to be with Andrea. Together they waited for Alec, the second twin, to grow strong enough to go home. Finally in August, Alec was allowed to leave the hospital with the help of an oxygen feed. When both twins were eventually cleared to leave Oahu in September, the family bid farewell to their home–away–from–home.
Below, Andrea shares some vivid memories of her early experiences while staying at the Oahu Avenue House, and the time she, Kalei, and the boys spent as guests at the Judd Hillside House.
The Crystal Houses of Manoa
By Andrea M. Ciro ~ April, 2008
It’s 10 pm. The front door code buzzes me in and I enter into the beautiful, low–lit, front foyer that is filled with the sounds of the garden’s waterfall through the screen door. I walk down the hall towards the kitchen where pots and dishes clang and the smell of frying fish fills the air. The shuttle has just returned from its evening drop–off and several house mates are making late dinners, common after a whole day spent at the hospital visiting our children.
“How are the babies?” Chelsey asks. With one question, we begin to gather in the kitchen, one by one, sharing our daily updates on our children. I share my current status on both of my micro preemie twin boys, Alec and Aidan, who were delivered at 26.5 weeks and Chelsey, a young single mom from the Big Island, gives me the details of her preemie son. Marilyn, 34 weeks pregnant and counting, joins us for a glass of milk and we find out how she’s feeling and what news the doctor had for her today about returning home. Tiare and Bronson talk story of their faith in beating the odds the doctors gave them for their son.
Wes, our weeknight manager, enters and places on the counter several bags of pasta, bread, and salad from the dinner made by volunteers at the Judd Hillside House. We say good night and I find myself upstairs in my room, alone, quiet, and anxious with anticipation of how my babies are doing throughout the night. Before I try to sleep, I pray for my sons to survive and to be given the chance to live healthy, normal lives. Though neither my family nor my friends are near, and I only see my partner on the weekends, I feel safe and I feel blessed.
It’s Sunday evening at Judd Hillside and Kalei and I bring baby Aiden downstairs in our green laundry basket packed with pillows, blankets, pacifier and toys. The kitchen is alive as families and volunteers serve themselves dinner. Aiden is quick to become the topic of conversation and we proudly share his story with all the listening ears. Some are shocked that, although his original due date wouldn’t be until June 21, he had actually been born nearly three months ago. Now we can finally enjoy one son, as we patiently wait in this wonderfully supportive environment for our other son to grow strong.
Now here we are, months later, making final preparations for our transition back home with our two beautiful, alert, healthy, baby boys and I think about my long difficult journey. Like a powerful and clear crystal rock, my faith in one thing has not wavered nor has it left us vulnerable for even a moment: this magnificent, gracious house on Judd Hillside. It has given us shelter, food, friendship, comfort, love, tranquility, and the ability to be present by our babies’ sides, every fearful, joyous, miraculous, healing step of the way.