For the first six days after the birth of their son, Rusty and Tania Wallace of Glencoe were only allowed to pat their child, wet his lips and take his temperature. Blaine was born seven weeks early, weighing 3 pounds, 15 ounces, and was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Cox Health Systems for three weeks.
The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Springfield, Mo., was a godsend for Blaine's parents. Had it not been for the Ronald McDonald House the family would not have been able to spend the three weeks with their newborn son.
Blaine was born with a collapsed lung. He also suffered with infant apnea which is a temporary suspension of breathing. For 21 days Blaine remained at the hospital hooked up to apparatus to monitor his breathing. Under hospital policy Blaine could not be released until going three days without setting off the monitor alarm.
It was a difficult situation for the couple. Not only were they dealing with a sick child, neither was able to work. Tania just wanted to hold her baby and Rusty wanted to be home providing for the family. On the seventh day Rusty and Tania were able to hold their child and feed him.
Blaine was given small dosages of caffeine once a day to keep his heart rate from slowing down and prevent the apnea from occurring.
Prior to giving birth to Blaine, Tania had been placed on bed rest by her doctor in October because she had previously lost two babies.
Tania explained she has a condition called an incompetent cervix which means the cervix cannot hold the weight of the baby, resulting in the mother dilating prematurely. Tania underwent a procedure to sew her cervix in order to keep her pregnant. She said the disorder is rare and doctors speculate it was a chemical that she lacked which caused the problem.
Not only did RMH provide the couple with a place to live, they also provided a home away from home, complete with love, hope and support, Wallace said. The cost for a couple to stay at The House is $7 a night unless parents are experiencing financial difficulty; then the fee is waived.
"Dec. 12, 2001, through Jan. 2, 2002 was a long three weeks for our family, but thanks to RMH we got through it. The RMH is a miracle on earth and thanks to that miracle RMH helped provide a miracle in our lives," Wallace said.
The couple was thrilled when their son was released from the hospital Jan. 2, but more trouble was ahead for the young parents. Tania thought when Blaine was released from the hospital everything would be fine, but Blaine traveled home hooked up to monitors. She said at times the monitor would sound for no reason, "I was scared to death of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)," she said. She recalled the monitor was a constant reminder that she had a sick child.
The day after they arrived home Tania received notification from her job in Ash Flat that she was being terminated, and Rusty also lost his job in Salem.
But despair did not get the best of Tania and Rusty. Losing two babies and seeing another hospitalized put things into perspective, Tania said.
After being released from the hospital, mother and son were advised to stay home until April because it was the height of the flu season and doctors feared Blaine would contract a respiratory infection.
As each day passed Blaine grew stronger, and after two months at home the doctor said he no longer needed the monitor. Tania said that was great news but it was also scary news because the monitor gave her some peace of mind.
Blaine is a happy, healthy child now and Tania said she yearns to have more children. "If God's willing one more time, if God placed a baby on my doorstep I would take him," she said.
As a way of saying thank you to RMH Rusty and Tania volunteered at the house in November. She cooked meals and spoke to families about the ordeal they were facing and gave support to grieving parents.