The Shellenberger Family

Three years ago, the Shellenberger family moved to Palmyra, PA with one goal in mind – start a family. After a year of trying to conceive, Alyssa and Michael decided to seek out assistance at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“With the help of the Hope Drive team, we were able to get pregnant without In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment,” Alyssa said.

As months flew by, the family experienced a normal pregnancy and excitement built for the arrival of their first child.

On February 9th, something seemed to change. Alyssa started to have severe back pain and was having trouble moving around. She called the hospital for advice and they insisted that she come in immediately.

To their surprise, Alyssa was 5.5 cm dilated when they arrived at the hospital.

“It was only six weeks before my due date and they told us that I had developed severe Preeclampsia,” Alyssa said. “They admitted me and said I was going to be having my baby in the next 24 hours.”

Alyssa and Michael were very nervous as this was not a part of their original birth plan, but their medical team made them feel comfortable considering the circumstance.

When contractions started getting closer together, a team of nurses from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) were brought in to care for their baby following delivery.

“Xander was born sunny side up and didn’t make a peep,” Alyssa said. “Thank goodness the NICU nurses were in the room and cleared his airways to allow him to start screaming.”

Xander was rushed straight to the NICU, accompanied by the NICU nurses and his father, Michael.

For nine days, Xander grew stronger in the NICU alongside his family who was able to be by his side because of the Ronald McDonald Family Room located on the seventh floor next to the NICU.

“Our entire family, including friends and relatives, were able to be together during this time because of the Ronald McDonald Family Room,” Alyssa said. “We enjoyed the basic amenities, even just a nice cup of coffee and snacks helped during this difficult time.”

Xander is turning one this month and is a happy and healthy baby.

“He is doing absolutely wonderful,” Alyssa said. “He is such a smart and loving little boy with a huge smile.”

In honor of Xander’s birthday, his family is asking for Wish List items instead of birthday presents. Help keep families like the Shellenbergers together by making a donation or collecting Wish List items for our Ronald McDonald Family Room here.