Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Memories

The winter Olympics are on again.  4 years ago I watched Canada win a slew of gold, silver and bronze, cheering from my couch.  I was on bed rest, pregnant with Aidan, (fairly) confident my subchorionic hemorrhage would soon be a thing of the past and our baby would arrive safe and healthy that summer.  I didn't know that it was already almost over, that my water had broken, probably (in hindsight), on the morning of the Olympic opening ceremonies.  

As exciting as the Olympics are, I'm almost glad we no longer have cable and I can't sit around and reminiscence.  The memories of that shiny hopeful time are almost too much to bear.


Last June for our anniversary, Brian and I went to the cottage for a weekend away.  It was cold and rained the entire time, but no matter, we could sit and read and drink tea, cozy under blankets with no toddler present to interrupt the quiet.  It was a nice weekend away.

On that weekend as I was feeding the wood burning fireplace more newspapers, I stopped to look at the obits, a morbid habit I had as a child which still draws me on occasion.  A name jumped out at me.  It was a beautiful Irish name that I had always considered for a girl, but which I don't know if I could actually use due to the absolute butchering it would inevitably receive here 'across the pond'.  The last name jumped out at me a second later.  It was the same last name of the Irish-accented doctor who initially saw me at the high risk pregnancy clinic at 13 weeks with Aidan.  He told me the SCH would 'likely bleed out and be fine'.  4 weeks later, in March of 2010, when it was apparent that no amniotic fluid surrounded our baby boy, he had to tell us the outcome was now 'extremely guarded'. 

I came home from the cottage and looked it up on the internet, finding a picture on the funeral's memorial page of the two of them to prove it.  

Dr. R's daughter died last spring.  She was 22.

I think of him now. It's been 4 years since that hopeful February visit when we left his office, only to leave crushed a month later. I wonder how he's doing.  Does he think of his child every day too?  Does he wish he could see her again, just one more time?  He had so much more time with her than we had with Aidan...does that make it easier? Harder?  Does his recent loss change the way he delivers bad news?  Do the sad eyes of the parents remind him of the awful feeling in his gut when they told him his daughter was dying?

I hope Dr. R. is doing okay.  Or at least, as okay as you can be 9 months after your kid dies.


Back before my recent health issues (which so far seems to have stabilized on brand spanking new meds), I was precepting a new nurse at work.  As I may have explained before, it basically means she works my shifts with me and I teach her the ropes of being an NICU nurse.

One evening on our break we were sitting over tea, and I was asking her about her family.  She is in her mid twenties and has a sister 5 years younger.

My dead baby radar started pinging, and I probed "that's quite an age difference between the two of you".

"Oh yes", she explained, "there was another daughter in between us...she was born early and died".  She went on to say "Actually I was a twin...I had a brother.  He died early too.  My parents don't talk about it, even though I've asked since starting work here.  I mean they know what I do, that I work with sick babies.  I'm sure they understand why I might be curious...  I'm not sure why they don't want to discuss it".

I felt sad for her, as she obviously wanted to know more.  I don't ever want that to be Kaia.  I'm glad at 2 and a half she already knows that I wear an "Aidan" necklace and that one of the pictures up in her room is of him.  I don't ever want her to feel like he's a secret, a sadness to be covered up, too painful or horrible to be spoken about.  I want her to know that he was part of our lives and is never forgotten, and that I am happy to be his mom.  He's not's just sad that he's not here.


This week marks 25 years since my Fontan surgery which saved my life.  It's also Congenital Cardiac Defect Awareness week.  So Happy Valentine's Day everyone.  Cherish your hearts.


  1. Another beautiful post.

    I often wonder whether it would be better to lose a baby than a child? Or a child rather than a teen? Or a teen rather than a baby? I think, at the end of the day, it's like comparing piles of shit. It's all shit. It's all the frigging worst and there's no mercy in any of it.

    I'm glad you're coaching that girl, hopefully these experiences will lead to an excellent NICU nurse in the future. <3

  2. 'The memories of that shiny, hopeful time are almost too much to bear.' Oh dear. Mine too. I can hardly believe that ever inhabited those places now.

    I'm so sorry to read of the loss of your doctor's daughter. Like Laura, I often wonder if it would be somehow better or worse to lose an older child and find myself thinking of the 'extra' time. Oh it's just all so sad. No matter when you lose them. Just horribly sad.

    I'm sorry to hear that your trainee's parents haven't been able to discuss her siblings with her. I have always meant to be open with my three about their big sister but, as the time passes, it hasn't proved to be as easy as I'd hoped. Sigh.

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