Togetherness Heals a Twin and a Military Family Comes Home to RMH

It’s the intangibles of comradery, warmth and support that often lead to very tangible outcomes. When twins Christopher and Michael were separated for several weeks shortly after birth, a single photo showed us the true healing power of togetherness.

“This was such a special moment. It was an experience I will never, ever forget.”

-Jennifer Tacbas, photographer

Philip Lindler was hundreds of miles away when his twin sons were born. The active duty U.S. Marine was stationed in North Carolina, and his wife Brittney had traveled to her hometown of Cleveland to be with her mother, Kriss Coventry, during pregnancy. The couple had been apart for three months when Brittney went into labor. On June 21, 2014 Christopher and Michael were born, eight weeks before their due date.

Brittney and Michael by Jennifer Tacbas

Brittney and Michael by Jennifer Tacbas

Despite their prematurity, the twins seemed healthy. They were admitted to the NICU for care until they could grow large enough to go home.  Philip, unable to leave base, looked forward to the day he could meet his sons. However, at ten days old, a routine ultrasound showed bleeding in Christopher’s brain. Two days later, the bleed had progressed dramatically and Christopher was transferred to a larger Cleveland hospital for specialized care.  Insurance guidelines prevented a transfer for Michael, so Brittney was left with two infants in intensive care, in two different hospitals.  It would take the Ronald McDonald House and Family Rooms to keep her and Kriss near both boys during this crucial phase of their development.

You have that connection to sit down and have a meal with someone you don’t even know. It’s those little connections that build relationships and give you a support system that you thought you would never have.
— Brittney Lindler

“Mornings I would go to Christopher, afternoons go see Michael, then evenings back to Christopher,” Brittney recalls. “I would stop at the Ronald McDonald House to sleep and Mom made sure I ate.” The women spent their days crossing paths, taking turns with each baby so neither was alone for long. During the day, they relied on the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms inside the hospitals for comfort and support, a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. At night they slept at the House, gaining strength from good meals and other families. At a month old, Michael was able to come home to RMH. Brittney and Kriss could nurture him in the home-like atmosphere of the House and travel just minutes to see Christopher.

After 6 weeks apart, Michael and Christopher immediately snuggle into each other. Photo: Jennifer Tacbas

After 6 weeks apart, Michael and Christopher immediately snuggle into each other.
Photo: Jennifer Tacbas

At two months, Christopher’s condition had worsened and doctors expected him to remain in the hospital for months longer.  When a photographer volunteered services to RMH, they gave special permission to allow Michael into the NICU for a portrait with his brother. “Getting the pictures was even more important because they hadn’t seen each other since they were two weeks old,” explains Brittney. When the brothers were placed together “they immediately snuggled into each other. Once Christopher saw Michael all of a sudden something happened; things just turned around and within that week he came home.”

It was very emotional and exciting all at once. He had to meet one boy at a time. He held Michael for the first time right there in the Ronald McDonald House parking lot.
— Brittney Lindler

Just days after the photograph, dad Philip was finally able to come to Cleveland, meeting Michael for the first time at RMH and Christopher at the hospital. He and Brittney had been apart for five months. When Christopher was discharged, the new family came home together for the first time--to the Ronald McDonald House. Philip has since finished active duty. The Lindlers have returned to RMH twice for Christopher’s follow-up care, and Kriss always looks forward to seeing her grandsons. At four years old, Christopher and Michael are happy children who enjoy being together more than anything. 

Photos courtesy of Brittney Lindler

For forty years, the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland has been keeping families together when it matters most. Your continued generosity is a vital part of this story. Please give today for the families that will need us tomorrow.