A young Naramata family now believe Christmas wishes do come true.
Monday night, Rob and Christina Palmer’s eight-month-old daughter Charlotte came home from the hospital for the first time since her premature birth last May.
Christina and Charlotte flew into Kelowna International Airport from Vancouver and were met by Rob, who had been anxiously waiting the plane’s arrival.
“It’s exciting and nerve-racking all at once, it’s awesome, words really can’t describe it right now,” said Rob prior to going to the airport.
However, not quite everything went according to plan.
“We only had six hours officially at home and Charlotte had another one of these episodes where she aspirates so we had to call the ambulance,” said Rob the following day. “We got discharged about 11 (a.m. Tuesday), she had sort of settled down and they thought we should head home and retry things and get her on her feet and she seems to be doing good.”
“She’s not quite as smiley as her normal self but I think but I think it takes a lot out of her whenever she has one of these episodes,” added Christina:
Christina gave birth to her daughter at 29 weeks at Penticton Regional Hospital. She weighed just over two pounds.
Charlotte was in severe distress at the time and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) resuscitation paediatrician from BC Children’s Hospital with members of the infant transport team flew to Penticton and at less than 12 hours old, Charlotte was at the Vancouver hospital.
Christina stayed in Vancouver to be with her daughter and Ronald McDonald House has been her home since then with scattered visits from Rob and their two-year-old son Rylan whenever possible.
Rylan actually did not go to Kelowna with his dad to pick up mother and daughter, instead staying with his grandparents, Rob’s parents, who live nearby in Naramata.
“We kept it a surprise from Rylan because we didn’t want to make it a disappointment if something happened and we couldn’t make it home,” said Rob. “When he saw her, there were some pretty big hugs he gave her right away.”
“He pretty much leaped into my arms and wouldn’t let go,” said Christina. “It was a huge rush of emotions yesterday being able to come home it’s been so long. Exhausted? That’s a bit of an understatement.”
While the couple still have to get up in the night to tend to their daughter’s needs, they are just happy to be home as a family.
Both agreed Christmas this year will definitely be “low key.”
If all goes well, Charlotte will not have to return to Vancouver until the early part of January for a week of tests.
One of the most important things to the Palmers during the first eight months of Charlotte’s life has been the outpouring of support from friends, family and people they don’t know.
One of those they are most grateful to is Judy Burton, Rob’s co-worker at the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen.
After much convincing, Rob relented and let her begin a $10,000 GoFundMe campaign (www.gofundme.com/fffaurvg) which in just six days raised over $6,000.
The money will be used to help defray some of the travel, accommodation and other related costs.
“I don’t think we can ever thank people enough,” said Christina. “There are lots of people we would like to thank personally but they put themselves down as anonymous. But really a huge thank you to everybody and whatever we can do to pay it forward when we’re through this little journey then we’ll gladly do that.”
Rob agreed: “Overwhelming is all we can say. This is sort of like a real Christmas story and it just shows what people are truly made of.”
Christina summed it up:
“I think all us just being together is just the best Christmas gift we could ever have.”