Anndi's Luggage: another year...
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Location: Somewhere near Montreal, Quebec, Canada

If somebody doesn't believe in me, I can't believe in them.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

another year...

About this time last year I wrote a post that was born of memories... Memories that were both joyful and painful.

As my sidebar states, I live somewhere near Montreal. I listen to the rock station here (CHOM Rocks!), and every year they hold a radiothon for The Montreal Children's Hospital.

Today is the first day of the radiothon and I'm home with my Chicklet who has a fever and a tummy ache (probably a version of the flu I had about a week ago). My heart breaks as I listen to parents recount their losses, for not all stories have a happy ending. But one thing is constant in all their stories... there are angels walking among us in that very hospital, and their support through the most difficult times a parent can be faced with bring renewed faith that there is good in the world.

Here's the story I shared in that post... with a few minor edits. (You can read the original here if you're so inclined)

Hope... give... life... angels... better days

December 24th, 1997.

Christmas Eve. I sit up in bed, surrounded by darkness, and it hits me. I get out of bed and make my way to the washroom, as quickly as I can waddle. It feels like the child I’m carrying is trying to push my bladder up through my right nostril and if I don’t get there soon, the Great Flood of the Saguenay back in 1996 will look like a someone spilled a glass of water.

As I open the door I come face to face with the man responsible for the basketball that has slowly been inflating itself under the skin of my previously flat stomach (have I mentioned that basketball was invented by James Naismith, a Canadian?) and start doing the pregnant woman’s version of the peepee dance.

We exchange a quick nervous glance and he knows.. if he doesn’t move, I’ll run over his 6ft 190 pound frame on my way to relief (a few friends have experienced a mild version of sudden impact with me.. and I all but knocked a few of them down).

Um, sorry dear reader, you are NOT following me in here.

*door closes*

*hum the theme to Jeopardy here as you wait or look for Waldo in the bus at the top of the blog*

OH NO! I remember that I’m actually not supposed to go this morning.. have to keep it in if I can as per doctor’s instructions and of course the father-to-be chimes in with that very comment as I am about to sit down.

Ok.. you can come in now… Might as well start washing up.

As I stand in front of the sink brushing my teeth, I stare at the woman in the mirror. Who is this slightly puffy faced woman standing before me? Man am I glad I’m not her… I don’t want to be in her shoes.. wait… wool socks. Not today…

The phone rings, he answers, I pretend I’m not interested… it’s Mom.. oh now I’m really not interested. I want to crawl back into bed and pretend today never came. I especially want to go pee, but that ain’t happening either.

He hands me the phone with a sheepish smile, kisses my forehead and whispers “it’s your mother”. **cue sinister music here**

The following takes place in French, so I’ll translate.

“Hi mom”
“No, I haven’t listened to the traffic report”
“A jam huh?”
“I’ll be ready in 30 minutes, I just need to find a tent to wear and I’ll be good to go”
“Yes mom, I’ll be sure and wear nice underwear”
“no Mom, I didn’t go pee”
“ok, see you in 30 minutes”

I have dear reader, as a courtesy, spared you the other end of the conversation which was quite long and filled with numerous admonishments and instructions, and talk of what the neighbor’s daughter had done lately (or something to that effect). My mother had a tendency to become chatty when nervous, or should I say chattier.

My child’s father-to-be stands in the doorway waiting for me to hang up. And when I do, eyes rolling and head spinning, he walks up to me, hugs me and asks me to call him as soon as it’s done. He turns quickly, I hear him sniffle and heads out to go to work.

I have an appointment at Montreal’s Children’s Hospital for an ultrasound. They want to look at my baby's heart.

I’d been having a lot of contractions lately and since my due date was Valentine’s Day and a while away, my OBGYN , a lovely slip of a woman who although little had a look in her eye that told you she was the kind of person that could rival Atlas in world shouldering duties, had me regularly scheduled for fetal monitoring at the hospital where I was to give birth.

It was during one of those routine visits that the nurse had heard something that made her frown, stand perfectly still and close her eyes.

Have you ever wondered why we do that? Closing our eyes when we want to listen better? Goes against everything your mother told you doesn’t it: “look at me when I talk to you!”. I of course, have never used that line on my child or the big grown middle-aged babies I work with (I much prefer “Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial” when it comes to them).

There was a skip in my baby’s heartbeat.

And my heart sank.

I think it may have stopped beating altogether for a few minutes as I held my breath. My doctor was informed and I had to go back the next day so she could listen to it herself.

That’s when she told me she was going to send me to The Montreal Children’s Hospital for an ultrasound of my child’s heart. The appointment was made and I was surprised how quickly I had been given one. Which didn’t reassure me one bit.

I am standing in the kitchen by myself on Christmas Eve morning, desperately needing to pee but holding it in, wanting a big ass cup of coffee, in my pyjamas, looking at the bedroom door across the hall, my feet unable to move, knowing I had to get dressed and ready…

Next thing I know I’m sitting in my mother’s car, cursing the seatbelt for adding that extra bit of pressure I needed to make my holding it in a complete experience. I thought it couldn't be any harder to hold it in until we hit a pothole (I swear Jimmy Hoffa was in that pothole) and I start wondering if my mother ever got her seats scotchguarded.

I’m quiet during the trip and my mother feels the need to ensure that sound waves will indeed fill every single moment of the trip.

We park the car in a lot near the hospital and we make our way through snowbanks and slush towards the entrance. I waddle elegantly (yeah right) and we walk in looking for admission.

We go through the whole process of registering, I'm directed to the proper floor and told where to go. The lady sees I am nervous and reaches out, in that moment I feel I have made a friend for life... that an angel has touched my hand.

In was the first in a series of celestial contacts.

I meet the nurse who greats me with a soft smile, introduces herself to my Mom and leads us to a blue room full of equipment. She asks me if I've managed to hold it in. Proudly I say yes .. ''but I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to''. She laughs and tells me we'll get started in a few minutes. She has a lovely lilting laugh and I know I have met angel number 2.

I sit on the examination table and take the gown she hands me telling me she'll give me a couple of minutes to slip it on and then the doctor will come in and get things started.

Mom stays with me, I put on the gown (it's surprisingly soft). And I wait...

The nurse peaks in and checks on me and the doctor follows her in. He steps up to the side of the examination table and extends his hand as he introduces himself and starts explaining the process. ''Of course you've had an ultrsound before, this one will allow us to get a good view of the baby's heart''. At this moment I feel the need to blurt out that I don't know the baby's sex and would really like it to stay that way. He smiles and looks at Mom who would love to know and says ''well, Grandma, looks like you're not going to find that out today now doesn't it.. ''.

I have to say, the staff at this hospital are some of the most caring and compassionnate people I've ever met, it's a hallmark of the Montreal Children's Hospital.

I'm helped onto my back and the lights are dimmed a bit, it's actually quite soothing. The equipment is turned on, the nurse lifts up the gown and the jelly wasn't even cold. Now that's a detail my full bladder appreciates.

I look at the monitor and I have no idea what I'm seeing. It seems like at eternity and he finally says ''this is your baby's heart''. I can see the rapid beating.. my baby's heart. The most beautiful thing. I feel Mom's hand on my foot but I can't tear my eyes away from the screen.

''It's normal, a beautiful strong heart''.

No truer words have ever been spoken, my girl has shown me how beautiful her heart is. She has throughout her 9 years taught me so much.

My baby...

I can't tell you how it felt, there are no words. An expecting mother's deepest fear is that something will go wrong. My baby's heart is perfectly formed, and I am surrounded by angels.

My daughter is now 10, basically healthy and is currently reading in bed. Other parents aren't so lucky.

I'll be calling in today, to give. To give back.

Love you all more than my luggage!
Hugs, smooches and gropes!

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Comments on "another year..."


Blogger Lu' said ... (9:52 AM) : 

I don't like to cry at work. It happens when I walk by the breakfast table and the doughnuts are gone, just kidding. I'll just tell them my sinus are acting up. Beautiful story. Angels are everywhere and it is so nice to find one...


Blogger Anndi said ... (10:08 AM) : 

lu': Thanks dear, and that hospital is filled with them... as is the bloggosphere ;).


Blogger Leighann said ... (11:59 AM) : 

We thought that our oldest daughter was going to have Down Syndrom. It turned out that a technician had written some date inacurately which threw off all the tests.

The first time I ever wanted to kill someone :)

Love ya!


Blogger Doc said ... (1:00 PM) : 

''It's normal, a beautiful strong heart''

I bet you never heard anything that sounded better.


Blogger Anndi said ... (1:14 PM) : 

Leighann: You were expecting when you were 7? ;p
Glad you were spared that babe.
It's the waiting. It kills!

Doc: Two of the most amazing moments of my life: when I got that news and when the nurse handed her over and I got a look at her big blue eyes. YUP.


Blogger Leighann said ... (2:02 PM) : 

Smarty pants! I haven't always been violent *giggle*

E-mail me babe :*


Blogger Anndi said ... (2:18 PM) : 

Leighann: I didn't say at birth.. I gave you 7 years of sugar and spice!

Oh, and I "contacted you" *giggle*


Blogger Bond said ... (2:30 PM) : 

I hope they collect even more this year...


Blogger Anndi said ... (5:56 PM) : 

Bond: So do I...


Blogger Angell said ... (2:01 PM) : 

I cried the first time you posted this, and I'm crying again.

Thanks for the tears.



Blogger Anndi said ... (3:18 PM) : 

angell: Have a tissue and a hug too! SMOOCH


Blogger TopChamp said ... (1:57 AM) : 

Apart from the happy ending - my favourite thing about this is that all the staff you came across treated you so well. That's fab.

Good luck to the hospital with the fundraising!


Blogger Twyla said ... (9:02 AM) : 

Great post Anndi! Children hospital's are the best thing a person could ever send a donation to. We have a huge children's hospital a few hours from here, called the IWK. Both of my girls were born there, and they saved the life of my youngest. That place is dear to my heart. :-)


Blogger Dana said ... (8:37 PM) : 

That was absolutely beautiful - and so is Chicklet.


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