Daughter Lucy’s premature birth prompts couple’s gratitude for Ronald McDonald House

JUSTIN and Lauren McGeachin can’t praise the Monash Medical Centre’s Ronald McDonald House highly enough.

Grateful: Lauren and Justin McGeachin with their children, Lucy, five months, and Noah, 3.  PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

Grateful: Lauren and Justin McGeachin with their children, Lucy, five months, and Noah, 3. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

“They saved us. They were not just a room to us,” Mr McGeachin said.

“They helped us make the best of a really bad situation.”

The McGeachins lived at Ronald McDonald House for 10 weeks earlier this year after their daughter Lucy was born at just 29 weeks, weighing 719 grams.

“Two weeks after she was born, my wedding ring could slide up over her arm to her shoulder and up over her leg to her hip,” Mr McGeachin said.

The drama began on March 19 when Mrs McGeachin was rushed to Melbourne with intrautero growth restriction, with Lucy born by emergency caesarean on March 20.

“She wasn’t breathing for the first three minutes,” Mrs McGeachin said.

Meanwhile, Mr McGeachin was in Ballarat with three-year-old son Noah, as he had been assured the baby wouldn’t be born for another few weeks. After a desperate phone call from his wife – and a babysitting rescue by his father-in-law – Mr McGeachin was on the road.

“This side of the Westgate, I knew it was a girl,” he said. “They took me up to meet her on my own.”

At 9pm, a social worker asked Mr McGeachin where he was sleeping to which he replied: “I have no idea, probably my car”.

Instead, he was booked into the on-site Ronald McDonald House.

“I went back at 10pm that night and they had cooked me dinner.”

After Mrs McGeachin came out of hospital nine days later, she also moved to the house, just six minutes’ walk from Lucy’s crib, while Mr McGeachin balanced his time between

Ballarat and Melbourne.

“We weren’t sure if she was going to make it. Lauren didn’t get to hold Lucy until day 19 and I didn’t until day 24,” Mr McGeachin said. “She was born without ears. They hadn’t formed yet. We got to watch Lucy form outside the womb.” 

Mrs McGeachin said she missed Easter, Mother’s Day and Noah’s birthday but a party was held for him at Ronald McDonald House complete with jumping castle and presents.

“For Mother’s Day, we got massages and chocolates.”

Lucy finally arrived at the family’s Miners Rest home in June.

Mr McGeachin said  “considering how close we came

to losing her, it’s a miracle”. 

The McGeachins are now big supporters of the annual Victorian Ride for Sick Kids, which raises funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The ride, which begins on Saturday, will reach Ballarat on Wednesday.

McDonald’s Ballarat licensee Laurie Nigro said the ride was an important fund-raising event.

“Not only does the Ride for Sick Kids raise much-needed funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities, it also connects the charity to the regional communities who rely on its support during tough times,” Mr Nigro said.

 To donate to the ride, visit rideforsickkids.com.au