A Terrifying Journey

Excerpt from a Letter from Jessica Baillie

On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, my life changed forever. The most miraculous and terrifying event occurred – I became a mom. The terrifying part was that my journey to motherhood began two months earlier than anyone expected. Jack Richard Michael Baillie was delivered at 9:56 p.m., via emergency C-section at St. Michael’s Hospital, a full eight weeks early. I thank God that my personal connection to this hospital pointed me up to the 15th floor on that fateful day.

For the year before Jack was born, I worked at the Foundation, helping the events team raise money for St. Michael’s. I’ve always been so inspired by patients, their families and the stories they tell. Those stories were what got me up each day and let me know I was in the right place, doing the right job. You can feel the emotion each of these people shares with you. However, until you’ve lived through something yourself, you can never truly understand the magnitude of what these families have survived. You can’t understand the importance of needing amazing hospitals close to home, until you need them yourself.

I arrived at the hospital on July 29th for, I thought, a routine check. I never thought I would be having my baby that night. I waited for a few hours, as there were a number of other emergency surgeries that day. At 8:30 p.m. I was told Jack needed to come out now. The doctors were amazing with me, so calm, trying to provide as much information as they could to both me and my husband. The anesthesiologists chatted away to me, fully aware of my fear of needles. The surgeons must have sensed my fear because I remember them asking if we knew the sex of the baby and if so, did we have a name picked out? We had found out Jack was a boy on Mother’s Day, a few months earlier and he was Jack from that day forward. They warned me I probably wouldn’t hear him make a peep since he was so early, but Jack surprised us again that night and let out a very loud scream! That was the first moment it all felt real. I remember feeling tears rush down my face in hopes that meant he was OK.

The next part was difficult because Jack was rushed straight to the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and I didn’t get to see him. Not knowing what is happening to your child must be one of the most terrible things a mother can go through, especially a new one. The doctors did provide updates, but until I could see him, hold him, kiss him, it really didn’t push away my fears.

We spent the night in a shared room, my husband checking on Jack every hour in the NICU as I was still frozen. It was killing me not being with my boy. The nurse came early the next morning and told me I could see him, but I’d have to get there on my own. After a C-section, the sooner you’re up and moving the better the recovery. I’ve never been more determined to do anything in my life: if I had to drag myself down that hall I would have. Thankfully, with the help of my husband, after a very painful walk, I got to see Jack, and 12 hours after I’d delivered him I was able to hold him for the first time.

Our next month was spent in the NICU, we were there for about 16 hours a day, taking turns providing kangaroo care – skin to skin contact – for Jack. I would lovingly stock his cart each morning, bathe him every other night and provide whatever other care I was able to, under the nurse’s direction.

I would snuggle him, sing to him and tear myself away from him each night, teary eyed as I walked towards the elevator.

Thankfully we are now home, and Jack is a bright, happy boy. He is smart, feisty and very active. I truly am so grateful that I worked for a hospital that saved my son’s life and mine. I finally understand how those other families felt.

I can’t say enough about the staff who took care of me. The surgeons, doctors, nurses, receptionists and other staff were so warm and made a frightening situation less so. — Jessica Baillie

Dr. Doug Campbell and his staff in the NICU became a family to us during our month there; they were all so patient, helpful and kind, exactly the right people to help you through a situation you never imagined yourself in.

Jack bears the middle name Michael. It’s a tribute to the saint this miraculous hospital was named after, the protector and guardian of our boy.

When you give to St. Michael's Foundation, you're supporting families like Jessica's in their time of greatest need. To make your gift, visit our donation page or call the Foundation at 416.864.5000.