Randy and Beth Stephens of Cleveland, Tennessee have three children, John, Will and Kate who anticipated meeting their newborn sister Annie on Dec. 21. Between finding out Annie suffered from dandy-walker syndrome, a human brain malformation, and seizures in the hospital which caused Annie to also have hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain, it was uncertain on when Annie’s siblings could meet their newborn sister.
On Dec. 28, Randy and Beth found refuge in the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House. “This place just highlights all the good in the world,” said Randy Stephens. They considered the House to be an “absolute blessing,” as Beth described it. When they found refuge, they started to find hope.
On Christmas Eve, Annie had a shunt put in to help with her hydrocephalus.
After being separated while their parents tended to their baby sister, John, Will and Kate were finally able to stay with them at the Ronald McDonald House. “My little girl would cry at night because we had to be separated.” Because they were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, they could all be together and not miss memories.
Other than being able to stay close to Annie and have the rest of the family stay with them from time to time, Beth appreciated being able to meet others at the House who were also experiencing hardship, “I love the sense of community and meeting other people.”
After days of constant prayer, surgery and care, Annie was discharged from the NICU. Randy and Beth checked out of the Ronald McDonald House on Jan. 18.
For 21 days they found rejuvenation in the “House that Love built.” “It made all the difference in the world,” Randy said.
Today Annie has a bright future. Her brothers and sisters immersed her with love and were ecstatic when she came home for the first time. “My 7-year-old waved us in. I’ve never seen his face light up so much.”