The Mitchell Family

Checking into the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House over 200 days ago, Erin Mitchell, along with her mother and sister, are used to calling RMH home while 11 pound baby Bailin receives the care she needs across the street.

At 24 weeks pregnant, Erin unexpectedly went into labor way earlier than her or her doctors had planned. Starting out as back pain, her doctors in her home town of South Pittsburg, TN wanted to transfer her to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, but decided they would wait considering the high amount of COVID patients at the hospital.

“I went home and was able to take a nap,” said Erin. “But then the pain got worse so we drove immediately to Erlanger.”

Having an emergency C-Section, Erin was in labor for half a day while the doctors took careful care of her and her newborn. Born September 6, 2021 at 1 lb, 7oz. Baby Bailin was taken into the NICU minutes after birth and has yet to leave.

“It was touching, she was real little,” said Lana, Erin’s mom. “We were really worried about her at first, but all the technology they [Erlanger Hospital] have is incredible, and all of the nurses and doctors there are very good.”

Due to the weight of Bailin, Erin had to wait 70 days to hold her baby for the first time.

“In the NICU, some other babies aren’t intubated so other parents are getting up and playing with their babies and getting to go home with them,” said Erin. “That was a little sad at first having to leave Bailin up there, but she is better off there.”

Due to the early birth of Bailin, she has had to endure numerous surgeries and receive constant care as she grows.

“She had emergency surgery, her first surgery [back in November], and as soon as they called that morning we went straight over there,” said Erin. “If we had been home, we wouldn’t have gotten to see her before surgery,” said Lana. “We were able to see her only five or ten minutes and then they took her off to surgery.”

The drive from the Mitchells’ home to Erlanger Hospital is only a short 30 minute drive. However, during an emergency surgery, the difference from a drive to a short walk across the street can be life changing.

Having taken her kids to the RMHC Autumn Children’s Festival every year when they were little, Lana already knew the impact the house has on families in the community.

“I remember you could buy the pumpkins – do y’all remember that?” Lana asks Erin and her sister Logan as they laugh and shake their heads no. “They were real little, but I will never forget that.”

Having stayed at the house for months, the Mitchell family has experienced numerous events and changes. From Thanksgiving to the Super Bowl to RMHC kitchen renovations, Erin and her family understand the effect of the House.

“They’re really nice here, the people who work here and the volunteers, they’re really nice and they’ll take care of you here,” said Lana. “We’ve always felt safe when we leave here, that’s good for when we need to leave early or come back late at night.”

One day when Lana was walking back to the House after visiting baby Bailin, she noticed a family and their little boy holding a sign with balloons posing for a picture in front of the house.

“They were a past family who comes here every year for that little boy’s birthday,” said Lana. “I told Erin that every year we are coming back on Bailin’s birthday and standing in front of this building and taking a picture too.”

RMHC’s mission strives to create a safe and peaceful home for the families with sick kids. By creating that space for them, the everyday stressors are taken out to allow them to focus solely on their child in the hospital. Baby Bailin’s family has been and will continue to be taken care of to make the focus on her and her healing effortless for the Mitchell Family.