Ethan Stone was born at 36 weeks on April 4, 2015 in Wilmington, North Carolina. And his mother, Jerianne, would receive her first mother’s day gift at the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill just one month later. “I got lucky, Ethan’s birthstone is a diamond.”
Ethan has a G tube, a tracheostomy tube, a cleft palate, a congenital heart defect, Pierre Robin Sequence, and a great personality.
“He is the funniest little boy in the whole entire world. He knows he’s funny,” said the two-year-old’s mother. “With all of his stuff, he is so easy to take care of.”
The Stones were first referred to the House when one-month-old Ethan had a G-tube procedure at UNC Children’s. They went home after a month-long stay, but returned to the House after Ethan stopped breathing at three-months-old. This time they stayed for 43 days, and then off and on for the next seven months.
“He has defied the odds. He has stopped breathing a grand total of 9 times,” said Jerianne. “He pulled through it and fought hard.”
During their stays for Ethan’s 18 procedures over the past two years, Jerianne is typically accompanied at the House by her mom or dad, while her husband stays in Wilmington to work.
“We’ve gotten stronger for it,” she said. “We’re thankful for this House because it’s been an extension of our family.”
For Jerianne, the most important thing about the House is always having a “home-away-from-home.” “We’ve enjoyed coming in and the House is always filled, there’s always someone here to vent to” she said. “There’s always someone who has been in your situation before.”
This April, with the help of family friends at the Salty Air Open Market in Swansboro, NC, Jerianne and her mother went on a $750 shopping spree for the House.
“They sent my mom a check and told her to go to the store and get everything.” she said. “She asked me ‘what do you need when you stay at the House?’”
Donation day for Jerianne and her mom was exciting. Jerianne said she wanted to give back, because the House had done so much for her. “It would have been an interesting two years if we were staying in a hotel.”
Jerianne remembers sitting in the living room one night with four other NICU mothers, bonding over their shared experiences. “One of the the babies in the NICU with Ethan is now bigger than him. They switched,” she said. “It was really exciting to see them grow. I’m friends with all of them on Facebook and it’s nice to see all of our kids grow up together”
“The extra support has gotten me through some interesting stuff,” Jerianne said. “Coming here has made our family more humble and gracious to everything we’ve been give. We appreciate every little thing that have.”
Carolina Love is a series of stories written and presented by Ronald McDonald House Chapel Hill.
CAROLINA LOVE: Celebrating the stories of families, volunteers and donors who have made the House a true home away from home over the last 30 years. For three decades, we have embraced every family that has come to our door, and each has a unique story. These are but a few of the many stories the House has been a part of since it opened. Carolina Love is a behind the scenes look at what we do, those we serve and those on whom we depend to help us carry out our mission of keeping families close.