The Hartley Family

Pictured: Savannah and Tyler joyfully awaiting to find out the gender of their baby.

During her last high-risk pregnancy appointment, Savannah Hartley’s doctors found high blood pressure, high liver enzymes, and low platelets. Soon after the appointment, Savannah and her husband Tyler were in the car to drive from Cartersville, GA to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN for an early birth of their son.

Baby Ryker was born on February 16, 2022 weighing in at five pounds and 11 ounces. Ryker needed to be monitored in the NICU to continue his development with a feeding tube and help with sleep apnea. After Savannah was discharged from Erlanger a few days later, she and Tyler traveled hours each day from home to Chattanooga to be near their baby.

“God Almighty that drive was something else. 88 miles, back and forth,” said Tyler. “We’d leave [home] before lunch time and we wouldn’t leave here [Erlanger hospital] until 11 o’clock at night to drive back.”

However, on February 22, Savannah and Tyler were able to check in to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House and change the one hour drive to a short walk across the street.

“It’s made it a lot less complicated,” said Tyler. “It makes it to where we can actually watch him grow every day. They can always call us if something is wrong, and we can get over there faster.”

For five years, Savannah and Tyler have been trying to have a baby. “We’ve had four miscarriages from 2017 to now,” said Savannah. “So he [Ryker] is something else.”

Having an understanding of the unfortunately common experience of a miscarriage as well as the long awaited joy of the birth of her son, Savannah speaks on the power of her journey to today.

“A lot of women aren’t open to talk about it,” she said. “But I like to tell my story because it makes my story.”

Through all the Hartley family has endured, from the beginning of their pregnancy journey to now caring for their growing newborn, the couple has taken each opportunity as a learning experience.

“Sometimes you can’t move day by day, you have to move hour by hour,” said Tyler. “Just soak it all in, because it goes by fast,” said Savannah.

Before all of this happened, Savannah and Tyler both understood the comfort and care provided by Ronald McDonald Houses before their own experiences with the House.

Savannah’s mom was a general manager at McDonalds for over seven years, teaching her daughter all about the importance of the partnership between McDonalds and RMHC. “I have a bigger connection,” said Savannah.

Pictured: Ryker after a successful feeding without his feeding tube.

Tyler’s aunt stayed at the Chattanooga RMHC over 13 years ago when her son needed care from the hospital after he was born.

“She stayed here for 13 days. She was driving back and forth from Chatsworth the first few days so staying here made it so much easier and so helpful for her and my uncle Josh,” said Tyler. “I know there’s a big time frame and their might be different management, but it made me feel better about staying here.”

Now weighing at seven pounds and 0.4 ounces,  baby Ryker is growing more and more each day all while still staying close to his parents, thanks to your efforts to keep Chattanooga RMHC thriving.

“Y’all are part of his journey,” said Savannah. “At this point, home is where my boy is.”