By Emily, mother to Catherine
Catherine Ruth-Ann was born on November 14, 2013, at Northwest Health Centre in High Level, Alberta. Right after Catherine was born, I was crying tears of joy and she took her first breaths. After Catherine was assessed, I didn’t even have anyway of processing the doctor’s words: “I believe your daughter has been born with Pierre Robin Sequence.” Dave and I just looked at each other in disbelief, thinking, “What does that even mean?”
I never thought that we would be saying goodbye to our sweet angel just five hours after her birth; she was loaded into an incubator on a stretcher to make her way to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
On November 15, friends of ours were able to set up a plane ticket out of High Level to Edmonton so that I could make it to the hospital where Catherine was staying. As soon as I saw her I couldn’t hold in my emotions; I just couldn’t stop crying. Her father made the 12 hour drive in the snow soon after to be with us. I was met by a doctor and was told what exactly Pierre Robin was. Catherine was born with a small jaw that causes her tongue to sit far back in her throat and cause airway obstructions as well as a cleft palate. I kept wondering “Would she be ok?”
The staff members at RMHCNA are an amazing group of caring people. Dave and I were able to attend an Oil Kings game through RMHCNA to take our minds off of everything, and we were introduced to some great people. They listened to our story and ensured us that if we needed anything that they would be there for us. I cannot get over what goes on in the House for families. There is schooling for children, frequently free tickets to hockey games, a scrapbooking room and the Edmonton Eskimos even came to cook dinner for the House families one night!
I honestly don’t think I could take being at the hospital 24/7, looking at my sweet girl. I needed that hour or so in a day to let my mind get away, to escape, to process the day’s events. The House gave me that.
Catherine is everything to her father and me. She is my light and my heart. Thank you to everyone who has been there, helping us every step of the way; whether it be staff at Ronald McDonald House Charities® Northern Alberta or her doctors and nurses.
On December 18, 2013, baby Catherine was able to go home. She celebrated her first Christmas at home with her family, and is happy, growing and thriving under the love and care of her parents.