Charles and Tara Toombs visited the Ronald McDonald House on July 10. Tara was pregnant with twins. Three days later she delivered two girls by cesarean section. Her husband, young son and parents came to the house to check-in and wait for Tara’s release from the hospital.
Tara delivered at 36 weeks. Haven weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 1/2 inches long at birth, her twin sister Hope weighed 2 pounds, 1.5 ounces and was 13 inches long. The couple knew by the fifth month of pregnancy that something was wrong with one of the babies but refused an amniocentesis for fear of putting both babies at risk.
The couple had lost their first child, a daughter named Serenity, to a rare condition called Microcephalic Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism Type 1 in 2006. Their son Christian was born in July 2007; he is a happy, healthy, active boy. Haven, the larger twin, came home from the hospital with her mother several days after birth. But Hope remained in the NICU at Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center, she had inherited the same genetic disorder as her sister Serenity.
The family’s sadness over Hope’s genetic disorder was tempered with the joy of having two lovely and healthy young children to care for. They knew that Hope would experience seizures, respiratory problems, bone malformations, and high blood pressure, making it hard for her to grow and ultimately survive. During Hope’s four months in the NICU at Stormont-Vail, Charles and Tara’s deep religious faith and support from their extended family helped them with their decisions.
In early November, Hope was transferred to the Children’s Hospital at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center to have a tumor removed from her chest. At the time of transfer she weighed a little more than 4 lbs. She has a long way to go before she is released, but Charles and Tara hope to bring their daughter home. Charles and Tara have relocated to Oklahoma City to be closer to their families.
While the Toombs stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, they made the house their home and lived comfortably as a family. Their parents visited as often as they could. Charles’ mother Sharon wrote in a journal that the house “has been home, family and friends, a place to cry and laugh, share good times, and find solitude when needed. Our hope is that this will not be only home we know while Hope is with us but if she is called to heaven we will have found a home away from home while we spent time with Hope.”
That is the gift the Ronald McDonald House offers its guests, a place to feel at home while caring for their seriously ill and sometimes incurably ill children. Final outcomes are not always happy but the stability we offer our families during extremely difficult times makes what we do so important.