Gavin Applegate was born and everything seemed so perfect. At 7 lbs 9 oz, his parents, Jill and Chip, were elated with their beautiful baby. But, in an instant, everything changed; Gavin’s little lungs collapsed and the birthing room became an emergency room. Jill and Chip’s perfect first-born son became a critical-care patient in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center.
“You don’t expect it. Jill doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink,” explains Chip. “She ate healthily and did everything right during her pregnancy. You just do not expect it.” That is the common thread of guests at the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor – dealing with the unexpected
Parents at the House share their stories with one another and in the process, they find the support and hope they so desperately need. “People need to know there is hope,” says Jill. “When you are watching your child struggle for his life, for each breath…the Ronald McDonald House offered us peace. We were able to relax, be calm and get our rest right here at the House.”
Gavin spent the first 28-days of his life in the NICU. Now, at three years old, it’s hard to tell. “He runs into things,” laughs Chip. “He gets hurt then he gets back up. He’s healthy now and that feels good.”
The Applegate family remains involved with the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor. Each October, they celebrate Gavin’s birthday the best way they know how – by raising funds for the House. To Jill and Chip, it has all been a lesson in giving. “We know our son is a miracle and that we owe a debt of gratitude to the hospital, the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor, and to every volunteer and donor who made that happen,” says Jill. “We are teaching Gavin that it is a trickle-down effect. What we do today will help someone else tomorrow.”