Rosemary and her husband Paul Thorsen have been making regular monthly donations to Women’s ever since their first baby was born at the hospital in 1993.
“It was my first time and it was just an amazing experience,” Rosemary recalls. “The nurses were lovely—very calm, caring, and professional. They kept offering me ice chips and juice and made sure I was comfortable. I’m sure they were really busy but they still remembered I was there.”
Rosemary’s daughter, Tamara, was born after 28 hours of labour.
“After she was born, they wheeled us into our own little room. I brought Tamara with me, which was great as I was able to keep her in the room with me to breastfeed her,” Rosemary says. “And they allowed my husband to be there. We had a sleeping bag and he slept right next to us. It was like being at home, but we still had all the care we needed.”
After coming home with their new baby, the Thorsens decided to show their appreciation for the hospital in the form of a donation.
“I made a one-time donation at first, then switched to a monthly basis,” Rosemary explains. “Making monthly contributions is a lot easier—you can acclimatize your lifestyle to it.”
Rosemary believes that all people should put part of their income back into the community.
“I believe you need to pay back the world,” she asserts. “And for me, healthcare for women and children is very close to my heart.”
Rosemary hopes that more people will join her in supporting Women’s in the future.
“At the end of the day, you can have tons of money but if you don’t have your health, you don’t really have anything,” she says. “BC Women’s is part of the solution to helping women maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
When Shelby found out she was expecting twins she was thrilled, but her joy soon turned to fear. Her identical twins were both in one amniotic sac, which can cause extremely dangerous complications. Shelby knew she would have to draw on every ounce of her inner strength to face this unforeseen challenge.
"As a mother, your first instinct is to protect your children. When it was discovered that I was carrying rare and risky mono/mono twins, I felt powerless that I wasn't able to keep our babies safe while in utero.”
In order to receive expert, critical care needed during her high-risk pregnancy, Shelby and her family made the difficult decision to move from Horsefly, B.C. to Vancouver. Nothing was more important than the health and safety of her twins. After five weeks of careful monitoring, complications arose putting the twins in danger, and Shelby’s specialists called for an emergency cesarean section.
Shelby gave birth to Camden and Courtlen, both just 3 pounds 11 ounces, but healthy and strong. “Thanks to the incredible care we received at BC Women's, both of our boys were born healthy and safe,” says Shelby. “We are forever grateful for the amazing team and resources available at BC Women's Hospital."
Click here to make a donation and celebrate your hero this International Women's Day.
With a smile that will melt anyone’s heart, strangers frequently tell Natalie that her son Lachlan will be the next Prime Minister.
Baby Lachlan’s first home was BC Women’s Intermediate Nursery. His parents credit his warm and personable nature to those early moments interacting with the nurses.
“They provided a happy and comfortable environment for Lachlan to grow.” - Natalie
For Natalie and Duncan, BC Women’s Hospital is an important part of their family story. It is where their son Lachlan, now one year old, was born and cared for, and where the doctors, nurses, and staff helped prepare them for their life’s next journey—as parents.
For them, putting a BC Women’s Baby Tile on the Hospital wall is to become part of the legacy of care and service that BC Women’s has given over the years.
“Our hope is that when others walk by Lachlan’s tile along with the many others, they are able to take a moment to reflect on what the Hospital has done for so many families.” - Natalie
Photo by: Vanessa Fukuyama Fortune Hill Photography
The efforts to save twins Elianna and Scarlett began even before they were born.
BC Women’s patient Twyla was on bed rest for 6 weeks prior to the birth of her twins, first at home and then at BC Women’s Hospital. As Elianna and Scarlett were born at just 26 weeks, the BC Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was the twins’ first home. The family considers the Hospital a huge part of their story.
“The delivery team literally saved Elianna’s life when she needed to be resuscitated at birth.” – Twyla
Today, Elianna and Scarlett are busy three years olds. Elianna is a performer at heart and enjoys belting out “Let It Go” in the early hours of the morning. Her sister Scarlett is a sensitive girl who loves to cuddle, but still finds creative ways to be mischievous. Together they are a priceless gift.
Twyla and Jesse wanted to commemorate their daughters’ NICU journey in the place that holds so much meaning for them, and find a way to give back for the care they received. With the support of friends and family, the couple raised over $2,000 for the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation towards commemorative BC Women’s Baby Tiles for both Elianna and Scarlett that now live on a Hospital wall.
“Fundraising for the tiles made it easy for us to get our friends and family involved. They gave more than we ever could have on our own,” says Twyla. “I am looking forward to taking them to see the tiles again when they’re older and can really understand what a difficult beginning they had… and the miracles that happen daily at BC Women’s.”
Photo credit: Julia Ufimzeff Photography
Bryn and Emily were in the middle of every parent’s nightmare.
It was Emily’s second pregnancy, and complications had arisen. Terrified, they didn’t know whether their baby would survive or what challenges she might face. Despite the distance, they left their home in Sun Peaks for help. They knew that BC Women’s Hospital was where they needed to be for the future of their child.
Within hours of their arrival, Bryn and Emily had met with several specialists in different areas. The Hospital staff quickly made the couple feel safe and confident in the quality of care.
“The care we received was second to none. It was like watching a well-oiled machine at work.” -Emily
Thankfully their story has a happy ending—or perhaps it is better called a happy beginning. After all, their daughter Ivy’s story is just getting started. Today she is a strong and healthy one-year-old. Curious and active, she loves to follow her older brother around, and always wants to be part of the excitement of this busy family.
The family decided to express their gratitude to the Hospital with a BC Women’s Baby Tile on the Hospital walls.
“Our Baby Tile represents how thankful we are to BC Women's Hospital for the pre- and post-natal care we received before and after Ivy's birth…British Columbia is lucky to have such a world-class facility.” -Bryn
For Kristie, BC Women’s Hospital is more than just a workplace. It is the place where each of her children took their first breaths, and the place where their own journeys began.
Kristie knew long before her first child that she wanted to give birth at BC Women’s. She fell in love with the environment following an opportunity at the Hospital she had while in school. When the time came, the experience did not disappoint.
“With each consecutive pregnancy, the time that we have spent either via ultrasound appointments, prenatal classes, or deliveries has been outstanding…These individuals are phenomenal human beings.” – Kristie
The three boys fill their parents’ lives with love. Roman, six, loves being the eldest brother, and takes it on wholeheartedly. From choosing clothes for his brothers, to sharing what he learns in class… he is always showing them the ropes. Kristie describes four-year-old Kaine as the sweetest, with his love of sharing and cuddling. Kristie’s youngest, Constantine, is an easy going, gentle baby who has made the experience of having three children a joy for their family.
Kristie and her husband Gurp chose to celebrate the births of their children with BC Women’s Baby Tiles. Once Constantine’s tile was completed, the family made a special visit together to see where the tiles live on a Hospital wall. The boys loved seeing their names and looking at the tiles of other children. For the family, these tiles are something that their children will one day be able to share with their own families.
“My hope is that this special tradition will continue for generations to come.” - Kristie
For Kristie, now working at BC Women’s Hospital herself, it feels bigger than a regular job. If anything, she describes how her relationship with the Hospital as an employee has made her fall in love with it even more. BC Women’s Hospital will forever hold a place in this family’s hearts.
Photo credit: Charlotte Gamache Photography
Pregnancy is an exciting and enjoyable part of life for many women. Even morning sickness, an unpleasant but common side effect of pregnancy, is often taken in stride, seen as a right of passage and a reassurance that the pregnancy is progressing. However, for those who experience Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness, wherein the vomiting and nausea become dangerous to mother and the developing child, pregnancy can be a nightmare; physically debilitating with long-term negative financial and emotional impacts.
The Duchess of Cambridge brought this condition to the spotlight when she was hospitalized with all three of her pregnancies. Here in Vancouver, BC Women’s Hospital has been caring for women suffering for quite some time. One such patient, Megan, was sent to BC Women’s for care in her ninth week of pregnancy.
Less than a week after receiving a positive pregnancy test, she could barely eat because of worsening, intense nausea. At six weeks pregnant, Megan was vomiting multiple times a day and could not keep food down. She was unable to make it to work or even get beyond the bathroom.
The nausea lasted beyond the typical time-frame of ‘morning’ sickness—she felt sick all day, every day. If she swallowed a few bites of cracker and some Gatorade without immediately vomiting, that was a good day.
Because Megan was missing work, she had to let her colleagues know she was pregnant earlier than she had hoped. They would often ask why she didn’t just come to work like other expecting colleagues whose morning sickness had never kept them away. “I don’t know if they truly believed I was being dramatic … but it felt that way. I was embarrassed.”
She called her midwife and was given Diclectin, a drug commonly prescribed to those dealing with morning sickness. “I was taking the maximum dose, I think I was taking 8 pills a day and it didn’t change anything.” She was frustrated, but the stigma attached to Hyperemesis kept her from reaching out again. Megan was offered numerous home remedies from her midwives, such as ginger capsules or acupuncture… but nothing worked.
For 3 weeks she was throwing up, up to 7 times a day, not eating anything, and had lost a considerable amount of weight. She was worried about her baby’s well-being but didn’t have the energy or mental will to call her health care team, only to be referred to home remedies again. It wasn’t until she went to her family doctor for an unrelated issue, that she finally got admitted to BC Women’s. A consulted obstetrician said she was so shrivelled and dehydrated that she looked like a raisin.
Senior Medical Director of Acute Perinatal Programs at BC Women’s Dr. Ellen Giesbrecht notes that this condition is difficult to diagnose since vomiting and nausea are so normalized in pregnancy. Women may not realize it is something more severe like Hyperemesis, and seek further treatment.
BC Women’s admitted Megan to hospital after seeing her weakened and dehydrated condition. She was put on a strong IV anti-nauseant medication and started on a detailed menu plan while in hospital. Once discharged, Megan started an oral anti-nauseant called Ondansetron, a medication often prescribed to patients suffering nausea due to chemotherapy.
On this medication, she was able to return to work and put back on the weight that she had lost… but it was not without side effects. Unfortunately (as with many suffering from Hyperemesis) her illness was not limited to the first trimester. Even up until 38 weeks gestation - 2 days before she gave birth, Megan had her safety net beside her, a bucket she carried whenever she felt nauseous… just in case. She had tried to wean off of the medication several times during the pregnancy, but the nausea and vomiting would come back every time.
A healthy baby girl, Alyvia, was born at BC Women’s Hospital on June 13th of 2017. Megan was happy to share that the delivery went really well… especially compared to her pregnancy. “If I could do delivery again, without the pregnancy, I definitely would!”
Megan is especially grateful to the doctors and nurses for their support and reassurance. Hyperemesis Gravidarum can be a very isolating condition, and many health-care professionals are dismissive. After giving birth, about the pregnancy itself, Megan still thought, “That was the most challenging 9 months of my life!”
Megan hopes that sharing her story will help more women reach out and speak honestly to their doctors about how they are feeling during pregnancy. “It can feel like defeat,” she says, “like already you are failing at motherhood” but Megan hopes that we can break down the stigma and reach a better understanding of the condition, and how to care for those suffering.
With further research and tested medication, health care professionals will be able to diagnose Hyperemesis Gravidarum earlier, offer appropriate medication, and ultimately allow other women like Megan the care they need to experience pregnancy as an enjoyable stage of life.
Your acts of generosity help fund research and programs for women like Megan. Please consider donating today.
Four years ago, Shannon Lim’s normal pregnancy unexpectedly became high-risk when her midwife noticed a sudden jump in her blood pressure. The change pointed to preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition for Shannon and her unborn son. She was immediately referred to the Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists at BC Women’s Hospital.
“My blood work showed that my liver enzymes were so skewed that I needed to be immediately admitted,” says Shannon. “All of a sudden, things were very serious.”
Dr. Wee-Shian Chan, head of BC Women’s Department of Medicine and lead of the Obstetrical Medicine Group, was part of Shannon’s care team: “Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy where the placenta may be malfunctioning, producing a range of symptoms that can threaten the lives of the mother and the baby.
“Although I reassured Shannon, I also told her that the only cure for preeclampsia was to deliver the baby, which would likely mean her baby would be premature. We decided to treat her with bedrest and medication to give the baby as much time as possible to develop.”
But Shannon didn’t wait long. Four days later, she went into labour, delivering her son Westley by C-section. Born a day shy of 29 weeks and weighing just 895 grams, Westley was immediately taken to the Newborn ICU (NICU) at BC Women’s.
Although Westley was premature, he was remarkably healthy. He went on to spend the next two months growing and maturing under the expert care of the NICU team with his mom by his side.
“The NICU staff were so amazing,” says Shannon. “I was included on morning rounds every day and was totally involved in Westley’s care, which took away a lot of the stress and gave some normalcy to our lives.”
Today, Westley is a thriving three-and-a-half-year-old toddler who has achieved all the normal milestones for a child his age. It’s a joy Shannon and her husband Ryan attribute to the expert care they received at BC Women’s.
“To this day, we’re still in touch with some of the wonderful people who cared for us,” says Shannon, her voice choked with emotion. “I really cannot be more grateful.”
Article by: Ann Collette
Photography by: Erin Wallis
At 34 weeks, Megan experienced a placental abruption in the middle of the night and was rushed to BC Women’s Urgent Care Centre.
After an expedited ultrasound, Dr. Ellen Giesbrecht explained Megan’s options and the risks involved for both Megan and her daughter.
While Megan already had two children, she had never experienced a premature birth.
Megan and her husband Michael were in the process of moving. Megan described how expecting a third child while moving homes was already stressful; “We were in such a state of disarray. Our home was literally in boxes and the two kids at home were feeling all of these changes…”
She described how lucky she was to have help from family, but BC Women’s also played a key role in support. “From the moment we reached out for help we were met with care, compassion, support.”
Megan decided to proceed with a Caesarian delivery, and after which she was admitted to one of BC Women’s Mother-Baby rooms. And since Michael often needed to be home caring for their two kids, Megan relied on the support of the BC Women’s team in caring for Nora during those first few days.
She emphasized the importance in her journey of being able to stay with Nora. “Having all these services in one place allowed for continuity of care…. knowing that I didn’t have to go somewhere else, didn’t have to be apart from my young daughter, was ideal and so much appreciated. It really facilitated my getting to know and care for my new daughter.”
“Nora is now a thriving 5 month old baby. Thanks to all of the members of our healthcare team, from OB to Pediatrics, nurses and doctors, in hospital and out, who created a safe space to welcome our little girl and attend to her needs, ensuring that she grow and thrive.”
When Nicole and Niko went in for their 20-week ultrasound, they never expected to hear that their daughter had a heart defect. It was a frightening moment. Fortunately, help was there for baby Maya and her parents.
The Maternal Fetal Medicine team from BC Women’s and the cardiology team from BC Children’s worked together to bring Maya safely into the world. She was born on June 20, 2017 at BC Women’s Hospital.
Her parents were prepared to be separated from their newborn daughter while she received the specialized care she needed. “It was difficult knowing that we would be spending her first few days apart from each other,” says Nicole, “but we knew it was important.”
But thankfully, after an initial assessment Maya and her mother were able to stay in the brand new Mother Baby Care unit in the BC Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This pilot project allowed mothers and their newborns to receive the care they need in the same room and from the same nurse, keeping them together during an important time period.
“It allowed us to be with Maya as we recovered and prepared for the next steps in fixing her heart,” says Nicole.
Since Maya’s time there, the NICU has moved to the new Teck Acute Care Centre in October 2017. As part of the improvements that the new space brings, the Mother Baby Care unit has been expanded to 12 dedicated private rooms.
Despite Maya needing surgery at eight days, and again at two and a half months, she proved herself a fighter and recovered quickly. Today she is a strong girl with a playful personality.
“From that first ultrasound right through to the care that we received after giving birth to Maya, and spending time in the Mother Baby unit in the NICU... we felt well taken care of.”- Nicole
Maya’s parents chose to celebrate her birth with a BC Women’s Baby Tile that now lives on a hospital wall. For them, the tile is a piece of Maya’s story, and a special place to visit as a family.
The family says they will always be thankful for the care they received here.
Born prematurely at 27 weeks, baby Saoirse spent the first part of her life in the BC Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), receiving the specialized care she needed to live.
Now healthy and at home, Saoirse’s time in the NICU is behind her. But for her parents Matt and Sabine it will never be forgotten. BC Women’s Hospital will always be the place that gave Saoirse her chance in life and gave the couple comfort and strength when they felt most vulnerable.
“It was through the efforts of BC Women's Hospital, the advanced technology, the love from all the doctors and nurses that Saoirse was able to grow and flourish.” - Sabine
Today Saoirse is a driven, curious toddler. Even as a newborn her family could feel her desire to live, observe, and connect with people, and her wonderful sense of life has not faded since. Her parents believe that these early experiences will one day help her shape the world.
Matt and Sabine wanted to show their gratitude to the Hospital. They brought their friends and family together to raise money for BC Women’s and help more newborns like Saoirse. Most recently, they put up a BC Women’s Baby Tile honouring Saoirse.
“BC Women's Hospital gave us an opportunity to start our family and will forever be a part of that journey.” – Sabine
For this family, the tile holds many meanings. It represents their daughter’s journey, their own gratitude, and hope for future families like theirs. It represents the staff and volunteers who guided them through difficult times and the place where their family began.
For Dario and Miriam, staying positive was difficult during these heartbreaking experiences – but they found much more support than they imagined possible at BC Women’s specialized Clinics for both Early Pregnancy Assessment and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. Dario stated that “although it was difficult to find things to be thankful for, one thing I'll be forever grateful for is the women and men of the BC Women's Hospital. Without their knowledge, caring and support I don't know if we would be where we are today.”
Sometimes the darkest experiences can inspire and motivate a grateful heart. One year after their first miscarriage, the young couple asked themselves what they could do to give back to BC Women’s for the incredible care they received. And the Haunted Circus in support of BC Women’s Hospital was born. By collaborating with the creative hub at the Beaumont Studios this brave couple is giving Vancouver a great Halloween event, raising awareness about early pregnancy loss, and also giving back to the hospital that supported them through their darkest hours.
Miriam and Dario say that “what we personally are hoping to achieve with this, besides hopefully raising a lot of money for the hospital, is that pregnancy loss becomes a topic women and their partners are not afraid to talk about; because the unfortunate truth is that 1 in every 3 pregnancies results in a miscarriage…. If we open up this conversation in our circle of friends and families, each one of us most likely knows someone who went through this.”
Thanks to the vision and passion of people like Dario and Miriam, the silence around early pregnancy loss is being broken and the community of support is growing. BC Women’s Foundation sends our deepest gratitude to this brave couple for their sharing their journey with us!
The Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic provides medical care to women who are experiencing complications in early pregnancy. The Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Clinic helps women and their partners who have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss. These specialized clinics provide a full spectrum of medical care, as well as education and counselling services.
Find out more about Dario and Miriam's fundraiser Haunted Circus
Days before the birth of her son, Gwennie learned she had pre-eclampsia. Thanks to your support, BC Women’s was able to support her in delivering her baby safely despite this complication.
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. It typically begins later in pregnancy for women whose blood pressure had previously been completely normal. In Gwennie’s case, she was diagnosed and, a mere three days later, Emmett was born at 36 weeks.
“Without BC Women’s, Emmett may not have been born safely.” - Gwennie
Emmett was small but healthy, at 4.1 lbs. He spent eight days in BC Women’s Intermediate Nursery before he could go home for the first time with parents Gwennie and Peter.
Gwennie describes how the exceptional care she received led her to choose a BC Women’s Baby Tile for a wall in the Hospital, to celebrate Emmett’s birth and thank the nurses and doctors.
“Although it was rough, I knew both my baby and I were in good hands. I want Emmett to remember how he was welcomed into this world.” - Gwennie
When Lindsay McIvor’s son Maverick was born, he was three months early and weighed just two pounds, six ounces. While he proved to be a fighter, during the first weeks of his life he needed not only the advanced life-saving care of the Newborn ICU, he needed the help of mothers who didn’t even know him.
“Considering he was so small, and arrived so early, he was doing really well,” recalls Lindsay. “But on his ninth day, he ended up getting an infection, and was put onto full breathing support for the next four weeks.”
Lindsay knew that her breast milk was the nutrition Maverick needed to heal, but, as is common for moms who have premature babies, her milk was coming in slowly.
A nurse told Lindsay about BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank. It screens breast milk donors and collects and pasteurizes donated milk for distribution to babies in need.
When Lindsay started pumping, it wasn’t enough for a feed, so she topped it up with donor milk. “It was awesome,” she says of having access to donor milk. “It was such a stressful situation and having the Milk Bank was so helpful.”
“For premature infants you can’t really replace human milk with anything else, because they’re so high risk,” says Milk Bank coordinator Frances Jones. “That’s where donor milk comes in. It provides them with the antibodies needed to fight disease and infection.”
Donor milk will soon be available to all 13 NICUs in the province, thanks to provincial and charitable funding. “But the need for milk continues, and we are always looking for new donors,” says Jones.
Lindsay was so grateful for the donor milk she received that later she, in turn, donated about five litres of her own milk to other moms in need.
Maverick went home 75 days after his birth. He continues to thrive.
As a nurse, I am used to staying calm in stressful situations, but nothing could have prepared me for what was coming.
We live in North Vancouver, so we headed to Lions Gate Hospital. Despite the medicine they gave me to ease the cramping, the pains continued. The doctors discovered that I was slightly dilated and sent me over to BC Women’s Hospital immediately.
This decision saved our baby’s life.
I spent four long days in the Evergreen antepartum unit at BC Women’s, knowing that every day was a bonus for our baby’s development. The pains continued and the doctors said I could go into all out labour at any time.
I vividly remember how I felt when a nurse came to talk with me in detail about what we could expect if our baby was born at 29 weeks. She even gave me a tour of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), so I could see firsthand the level of care provided. I felt so reassured.
This reassurance came at the perfect time, because suddenly our baby was coming and I was rushed to Labour and Delivery.
I was able to deliver him naturally after two good pushes…well, I guess you could say after four days of pains, and two good pushes!
Finnegan was perfect. He was tiny and needed to be in the NICU, but for his first ten days he was completely healthy. Then, one morning, I returned to the NICU to find Finnegan struggling for his life - his skin had turned from a soft, rosy pink to a sickening shade of yellow overnight.
I was devastated. Finnegan had overcome seemingly insurmountable odds already, could he survive this too?
The doctors worked quickly and discovered a spontaneous perforation in Finnegan’s intestine that made him septic. We were terrified, but the team sprung into action with a surgical intervention done right at Finnegan’s bedside in the NICU.
Finnegan’s skin slowly turned to pink again. After two more months of valuable time in the NICU, he was ready to come home with us.
I can’t say enough about the amazing care we received at BC Women’s Hospital. I’m tremendously grateful for the team of people who never stopped believing in Finnegan. You are a vital part of that team, and I can’t thank you enough for being there for our family when we needed you the most.
Finnegan did not have an easy start. And, just like him, 1,200 more babies born this year will desperately need the BC Women’s NICU to survive their first hours and days.
Your donation to BC Women’s Hospital means compassionate support and vital medical care for families as they get their start.
Please, give generously this Mother’s Day.
You have given me the chance to be a Mom to Finnegan - join me in giving this same precious gift to others.
Grateful mom to Finnegan
What began as a routine birth quickly turned into an emergency when Danica presented foot first exactly when Shannon's labour kicked into high gear.
Suddenly, my wife and baby were in trouble. I knew the situation was serious, but I also knew we were in the best hands. Thanks to the rapid, professional response to this emergency, Shannon and Danica pulled through – we all pulled through.
Today, we have two healthy daughters, Danica and Teagan, and their baby brother Connor. We live every day with gratitude for our family – and so do our girls. In fact, every year on their birthdays, instead of asking for gifts for themselves, Danica and Teagan ask family and friends to donate to BC Women’s NICU to “help the tiny babies.” We’re so proud to say that the girls have raised more than $19,000 – money we know will go a long way toward ensuring other moms and babies receive the highest level of life-saving care – like we did.
Article by: Ann Collette
Photography by: Claudette Carracedo