Dear Moms, I’ve had the privilege of being part of your transition to motherhood for almost 2 years, as a nurse with Sainte-Justine’s birthing unit and the high-risk pregnancy clinic (GARE). As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I’d like to honour your strength and the uniqueness of your stories, each of which has touched my heart in their own special way.

To you, who have had to stay at the hospital for an extended period of time and long to return home to your family. And to you, who have bravely given birth on your own because the pandemic robbed you of your birthing partner.

To you, who have marvelled at the first drops of colostrum you have expressed in the intermediate obstetric care unit. And to your neighbour, whose heart melted the first time her preemie daughter looked into her eyes.

To you, who I just helped get into the bath to let you relax, activating your pressure points when the pain started to make you panic.

To you, who feel like you have “failed” by asking for an epidural. And to you, who were crestfallen to end up getting a C-section after pushing for so many hours.

To you, who stayed in bed rest for 120 days to keep your baby safe.

GARE Noel 2021 11 22 complice 013 phase B 62
© Stéphan Ballard

To you, who are lost in wonder looking at your son’s tiny little feet.

To you, whose determination to bring three babies into the world vaginally blew me away. And to you, who want to experience natural childbirth after a C-section.

To you, whose dreams of carrying a baby turned into a nightmare.

To you, who speak neither French nor English, whose eyes search mine for reassurance and whose hands I reach for to comfort and say “I’m here for you and I’m not going anywhere.”

To you, who thought you’d never experience motherhood after your long battle with cancer. And to you, who have undergone fertility treatment and still can’t believe it worked. Your dream is finally coming true.

To you, who just made the hardest decision of your life to terminate your pregnancy.

To you, who listen to your baby’s heart beating every morning and who giggle every time they play hide-and-seek with me as I try to pick up on it during my exam.

To you, who are preparing to say goodbye to your newborn as they receive palliative care.

To you, who will be raising your child by yourself.

To you, who have lost babies in the past and are petrified of it happening again.

To you, who just got good news and are crying tears of joy and relief. And to you, who are sobbing because you’ve been told your baby’s heart is no longer beating.

To you, who clutch on to me and beg me not to let go while your epidural is being administered.

To you, who tell me you’d never have made it without the birthing team and everything we do.

To you, who laughed when we played the Lion King song as your baby came was delivered via C-section.

To you, who tell me that I’m the first person you’ve seen since lockdown and how good it feels to have someone hold their hand.

To you, who are going home with empty arms.

To you, who almost died giving birth. Still today, I get choked up thinking about how strong and determined you were to hold on.

To you, who are thinking of giving your baby up for adoption.

To you, who struggle with depression and are grateful for the psychological and psychiatric services you are getting from the Grande Ourse project that the Foundation has helped fund.

To you, my best friend who gave me the honour of being there as her baby was born by C-section. It still gets to me.

To you, who will “finally” be a mother at age 43.

To you, who have made the heart-wrenching decision to leave your child’s bedside to be admitted to the high-risk pregnancy clinic.

To you, who have had your uterus removed and are grieving the possibilities that will be denied to you.

To you, who have arranged a makeshift maternity photo shoot at the high-risk pregnancy clinic because you’re not allowed to leave the hospital.

To you, who were so glad to get out of your room to meet other mothers during the Ombrelles workshops. You were moved to find out the initiative is donor-funded. Activities like these are what has helped you cope with your hospital stay and all the ups and downs of a pregnancy you thought would be much different than it turned out to be.

To you, who have chosen to donate monthly after your time at Sainte-Justine and who understand the importance of giving back. You are proud to be making a difference by helping fund state-of-the-art equipment in the unit that was so good to you and your baby.

To you, whose path will eventually cross mine when you become a mother yourself.

To you all, my dear moms: you never cease to amaze me, day after day. You move me, and you keep me humble and grounded. You don’t know it, but you’ve shaped the mother I will be one day.

You have made me a better nurse, a better person, a better human being. You make me proud of my profession, proud to work at Sainte-Justine, proud and lucky to see the efforts I believe so deeply in take shape, thanks to the Foundation’s donors.

Every day, my dear moms, you remind me of the importance of science, teamwork, research, clinical simulations, philanthropy and donations. All of this together is why my colleagues and I can provide you and your babies with the best care imaginable.

Your stories stay with me long after I finish my shift. And I feel each of your smiles and tears, your grunts and giggles, your sighs and wistful moments, deep inside my heart.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Laure-Hélène Bourgouin
Nurse in the birthing unit and the high-risk pregnancy clinic (GARE)

*The remarks expressed in this article reflect the opinion solely of the author and should not be considered as representative of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.