Ronald McDonald House

Elation Times Two—From A Dad’s Perspective…

February 2015

By Gene Davis

When Kevin and Karrie Sebastian decided to be a couple, it seemed like a plan just fell into place. ”We met in Vancouver and we started dating,” Kevin shared. “Karrie told me that her dream was to be a stay-at-home-mom, and I thought that was pretty cool.

Sydney at the hospital
Sydney at the hospital
I told her I dreamed of living in Hawaii, and she thought that was cool too.” They got married about three years ago, moved to Kailua-Kona and started working on making all their dreams come true. Now, here they were at the Ronald McDonald House in Honolulu anxiously awaiting their new daughter Sydney to gain enough strength to go home. Sydney’s identical twin Phoebe had already been released and was cuddling up with mom and dad, and even grandma Sharon (who had flown in from Canada to help out) - at their “home-away-from-home”.

Although 39-year-old Kevin could pass for local, he is actually American Indian, a member of the Gitxsan tribe, whose homeland straddles the Alaskan and Canadian borders. The oldest of four siblings, he worked on a fishing boat and then decided to better his life by becoming an electrical engineer.

It was counter to some of his tribe’s traditions. “When I went into engineering, I got criticized by many in my Native American community. There’s a tradeoff between knowing the past and preparing for the future. A lot of the people I know are just completely immersed in keeping the language and culture alive. But I had to put 99% of my energy into my studies. It was a decision I made.”

Twins Phoebe (left) and Sydney liked being back together after Sydney’s release
Twins Phoebe (left) and Sydney liked being back together after Sydney’s release
After graduating, Kevin started his own small business in Canada and brought it with him when he moved to the Big Island. Now Kevin is juggling more than just running a successful business, he is getting used to being a dad, something that brings him joy that he couldn’t hide – even if he tried.

But it wasn’t easy. Karrie had to be medevac’d here from Kona Community Hospital on October 10 because she was showing signs of labor at about 33 weeks. Kevin said they stayed at the hospital for four days. “Then they said we could leave the hospital but had to stay on Oahu because she could go back into labor at any time.”

x It was a good thing they did too because two weeks later Karrie delivered the twins. “They gave me some scrubs to wear and we went to the delivery room,” recalled Kevin. “It was a long, wild night. Phoebe came out first, but Sydney was misaligned in the womb and they needed to perform a C-section. When they got Sydney out, she was completely blue. She wasn’t breathing, and they had to resuscitate her twice.” Sydney responded and started breathing on her own but she had to stay in the hospital longer, to make sure she would be OK.

Four days after the birth, they discharged Karrie and Phoebe. “Now it was getting desperate because we couldn’t go back to Kona and leave Sydney here alone, “said Kevin. “That wasn’t something that we could even think of, so we spoke to a social worker at the hospital and told her that this was going to be a tough one financially and stress-wise.

Kevin, Sharon and Karrie ready to board the SpeediShuttle and begin their trip home
Kevin, Sharon and Karrie ready to board the SpeediShuttle and begin their trip home
She told us about the Ronald McDonald House, before we knew it, we were checking in, and it’s been extremely helpful to us. It’s hard when you are in this situation and just trying to take care of your most basic needs. Not only did the House help take off a lot of the stress for us, but it also allowed us to take better care of Phoebe while we all waited for Sydney to get out of the hospital. The bottom line is that we’ve been able to take care of our family much better with the help of the Ronald McDonald House. It has increased the odds for our twins.”

Kevin is now allowing himself to think of future possibilities. “I’m really excited for our twins to grow up in Hawaii because there are so much outdoor activities right at our fingertips,” he said. Kevin also embraces the Big Island for another reason. He had started studying volcanology back in Canada and has pursued that love by becoming a volunteer at the USGS at the Volcano Observatory.

Life will never be the same for the new parents, and Kevin wouldn’t have it any other way!

More RMHC–HI Stories: