this is motherhood {too}: Rachel’s story

July 19, 2018, This is Motherhood Too, 1 Comment

I’m a mother but have no child to care for. After a seemingly ideal first pregnancy, I was rushed into an emergency C-section at 39 weeks where Coen came to us tiny and needing help to breath. Making acquaintance in the NICU, we fell hard for his long dark “hockey” hair, perfect nose, rosebud lips and the little sighing sound he made after yawning. With both sides of the family surrounding, we felt that so much love would surely heal his precious little body, even though we didn’t know what was causing the worrisome issues.   But a week into our stay in the NICU he suffered a catastrophic brain hemorrhage and the doctors didn’t know how long he’d be able to hang on. Reeling, we asked for every test possible, hoping they were wrong and praying hard for a miracle as every result confirmed our worst fears. Guided by the staff at BC Women’s Hospital, we transferred to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. And there Coen passed two days later – cradled in his mom and dad’s arms, with beautiful music playing and encircled by his devastated grandparents, aunties and uncles. To say I was shocked and sick with grief seems an understatement. Preparing for Coen had become our whole world and without him the smallest of steps took a great deal of effort. Night after night, I’d hold my vacant stomach to ease the grief-nausea, tears drenching my pillow as I desperately tried to make sense of what had happened.

I struggled to feel like a “real” mother because, at first glance, I didn’t fit into the club very well.  There was no new-baby smell to be intoxicated with, no comparing of gear and sending of announcements to congratulating friends. And no crying (besides my own) to keep me up all night. Although I kept our apartment spotless as a way to maintain some sort of control, I resented being able to – wishing for spit-up soaked blankets, tiny socks scattered and adorably-adorned onesies.

A year has passed and after lots of healing I no longer question my identity as a mom. Although I can’t relate to many aspects, I’ve realized that this is motherhood, too and what we all have in common is a deep love for our children. That’s what truly binds us together and it’s all that matters in the end. I love my son fiercely and am so proud of his legacy and how his spirit has impacted others. Relationships have healed and many lives have changed because of Coen. We appreciate every day because it’s a treasure he didn’t get to experience. And we also continue to hope. Hope for happiness here on earth and that we’ll see our little angel again someday.

By Rachel Johnston.

Photos by Katie Cross Photography. Clothing provided by June Isle Clothier.

1 Comment

  • Reply Mary August 16, 2018 at 7:19 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story and the love you have for your son. You sound like one of the most wonderful mamas in the world to me. My very best to you and your family.

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