How the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital supported Josiah’s family after his premature birth.

In late October 2021, Janelle’s water broke spontaneously while she was coming home from a playdate with her two-year-old daughter. Panic set in immediately because her baby boy wasn’t due until January 2022.

Janelle called her midwife, who advised her to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Once she and her husband, Shashi, arrived at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital, doctors informed the couple that Janelle needed hospital bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Later, the family found out that Janelle had Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM), which is why her water broke so early. Fortunately, their baby wasn’t ready to leave Janelle just yet, and wasn’t born for another three weeks.

Josiah, also known as Jojo, was born prematurely at 31 weeks and one day on November 8, 2021. He was born weighing a mere 1,330 grams (less than 3 lbs.) but was, despite his size, a strong baby. Moments after Jojo was born, he was rushed to the NICU where he would remain for another five weeks.

The couple’s first introduction to the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital was the morning after Jojo was born. A very tired mommy and daddy were greeted by the Family Room coordinator who insisted on making coffee and getting them some food before visiting the baby.

By this point, Janelle had been in the hospital for nearly four weeks, while Shashi had been back and forth taking care of their daughter at home and working.

“We were overwhelmed, emotionally spent and exhausted,” says Janelle. “Nearly every day for five weeks we walked into the Family Room and were received with the biggest smiles, a full pot of coffee and all the snacks one could ask for. It became so routine to us.”

Shashi was able to use the Family Room as his new work-from-home office, while Janelle was able to relax and watch TV while Jojo napped.

“While the doctors and nurses took care of Jojo, the RMHC Toronto staff and volunteers took care of us. We didn’t even know it at the time, but this was so important for our mental and physical health.”  – Janelle, Josiah’s mom

Janelle, Josiah’s mom

Even though Jojo’s big sister wasn’t allowed to visit him in the hospital, the Family Room coordinator always sent the parents home with extra snacks and treats for her, and this small act of kindness meant the world to the family.

Janelle, Shashi and baby Jojo were discharged just days before Christmas, but leaving the hospital and Family Room felt bittersweet.

“We had developed such a deep appreciation for the doctors, nurses and Family Room staff and volunteers that it was very hard to say goodbye,” says Janelle. “Words cannot express what the RMHC Toronto team meant to us during the most difficult time of our lives and being able to feel taken care of in the Family room will never be forgotten.”

Today, Josiah is a happy and healthy one-year-old. Any time the family comes back to the hospital for appointments or are in the area, they drop in to say hello.

On November 17, World Prematurity Day acknowledges the challenges families encounter during premature birth. Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms are proud to support families experiencing preterm birth when they need it most.

For more information on RMHC Toronto Family Rooms, please visit