On June 4, at 2 a.m., Jackie Hoover checked in to Mercy Medical Center. A few hours earlier, she was prepping for bed when she began bleeding severely. Jackie, who was 25 weeks pregnant, drove herself to Kossuth Regional Health Center in Algona. From there Jackie was transferred to Mercy, where she was diagnosed with preeclampsia, placenta previa, and mild HELLP syndrome. Her doctors advised bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.
As a result, Brandon took on full-time parenting duties by himself – just ten months prior, the Hoovers had welcomed their first daughter, Natalee. Without Jackie around, it was Brandon’s responsibility to change diapers, feed, bathe, and clothe their baby. Nearly every weekend, Brandon and Natalee made the 270-mile round-trip from Algona to Des Moines to visit Jackie at the hospital, and on weekdays, they used video calls to converse for as long as Natalee’s attention span would last. Occasionally, Jackie and Brandon were able to get away from the hospital for short periods of time. But four weeks into her stay, Jackie was told she was no longer allowed to leave the hospital. “They said it was too risky,” she says. “I missed many first milestones for Natalee during my stay in Des Moines.”
About a week later, jackie started contractions. Each contraction caused a dramatic, life-threatening drop in her unborn daughter’s heart rate. Doctors delivered Sadie Hoover via Caesarean section on July 26 – seven weeks and three days early. Sadie, who weighed just 3 pounds and 6 ounces, need to stay in an incubator for three weeks and at the hospital for an additional week. She was fed breast milk through a feeding tube for the first week, her parents could hold her once or twice a day for just 45 minutes.
“When you have to leave the hospital empty-handed, and you see all the other new mothers leaving with their babies, it’s heartbreaking.” Jackie says.
The Hoovers needed a place to stay near Sadie. Luckily, the Ronald McDonald House had a room for the entire family just nine minutes from the hospital. “It was amazing,” Jackie says. “We were welcomed there from day one.” Not only did the House provide everything that the Hoovers needed to make it through Sadie’s stay in the NICU, it provided a place for them to be together as a family after two long months of separation. At the House, Jackie says, “we were more of a family than we had been the prior two months.”
A Proud Memory
The Hoovers left the Ronald McDonald House on August 21, almost three months after their ordeal began. Sadie was off her feeding tube and had gained one pound. She can now hold up her head and knows the sound of her name. And despite her family’s hardships, Jackie remembers her time at the House with happiness. “I have so much joy talking about it,” she says. “I can’t wait to give back so other families can experience this opportunity.”