(LifeSiteNews) – It was April 17, 2020. A Friday, in the Octave of Easter. It still felt like a never-ending Lent, and it was not to be over any time soon. Clearly, at that point in time we had no clue how the far-reaching government intrusion in our lives was going to manifest over the next couple of years.
After dinner I was reading a favorite book with my then-four-year-old son, “What Can You Do with a Shoe?” (deRegniers 1955). Suddenly, I felt something strange. I was about 33 weeks pregnant, so baby was not due until June. This was my eleventh pregnancy, so my first thought was, oh no, my water has broken, and too early.
I got up and there was blood everywhere.
In timely fashion, my husband had just gone upstairs for a well-deserved shower after a busy day of work outdoors.
I yelled to my older children to tell their father that we needed to leave NOW. I tried to compose myself, leaving the embarrassing mess behind for my older children to clean up. As we started off towards the closest emergency department, I said, “Go to the ambulance station,” which was only a concession over from our home. Perhaps I had the instinct that this could go terribly wrong. The paramedics had just returned from another call and had to prepare a few things before whisking me away as quickly as they could. Once we arrived (my husband had followed in our truck), he was told he would have to wait outside, pacing the parking lot, due to the recently imposed lockdown rules.
Although frustrated, he endured the next hour and a half, praying and pacing in that parking lot. He ended up helping another small group of people who were having difficulty getting a family member into their vehicle, who had just been discharged but was having yet another epileptic type of seizure. Everything was already upside down and backwards in this new world of a purported COVID “pandemic.”
I recalled later how it was not much more than a week before that I had been at a prenatal appointment in the same hospital, and how eerily it felt like a complete ghost town in the empty first floor of the hospital. Many months later, I also recalled that I had been mildly coerced (I was exhausted and did not feel up to an argument) into getting a booster shot for DPT. This is something I am curious to research and learn more about.
In the emergency ward the doctors and staff started asking very personal questions, although I was beginning to be unfocused. They were monitoring both my heart rate and heart rate of baby. I started to pray over and over, Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us. Hail Mary, full of Grace…St. Gerard…Suddenly the doctor shouted, “she’s crashing, we’re losing her…” and I blacked out.
Thank God they were able to work diligently to revive and save both baby and me, bringing us back from the brink of death. Once I came to, the doctors and staff were discussing (arguing) about whether to do an emergency C-section right then and there, or to send us to London. The smaller hospital is no longer set up to do C-sections at all, and so once we were considered stable, they rerouted us to London. I remember being semi-conscious, my husband thanking the doctor and medical staff outside in the chill of the evening, as they transferred me to another ambulance.
Arriving in London, I was rushed up to the Mom and Baby unit to prep for the C-section. I had my eyes closed for the most part, trying to focus on what was going to happen, praying to get through this next challenge and asking God to protect baby. I have a strange memory of someone shoving something up my nose briefly; not a pleasant feeling. Later I realized this was likely a dreaded “PCR” test before going into the operating room.
Gavin Benedict was born just after midnight, weighing in at 4 lbs 11 oz, a good size for 33 weeks. Since I had lost a lot of blood, my hemoglobin and other blood counts were low, and I needed some transfusions. I remember the first few days in the post-natal ward as being very strange, as I overheard many conversations from the nearby nurse’s station, where they were discussing all the “perks” they were being offered as the elite, newly knighted “front line workers,” as though in the battlefields of war.
There were also discussions with me about how I would be housed, to be nearby and deliver milk daily to baby Gavin in the NICU. They had completely shut down the Ronald McDonald House next door due to the “lockdown.”
Instead, the hospital would pay for me to stay at a motel south on Wellington Road, and to travel by taxi back and forth each day. The new rules were such that only I was allowed to see the baby once a day, and no one else, not even his father, was granted that privilege. If I was willing to “give up my spot” so my husband could go instead, that was my choice. But I needed to go to drop off the breast milk I was struggling to pump multiple times a day. He was a preemie who had to be fed by tube, and the chances of transitioning to breastfeeding were slim. Siblings – not allowed. Grandparents – not allowed. I took lots of pictures to send over email, and some days I tried to fit in a “zoom” call with family so they could “see” Gavin in the incubator.
Amidst all this, my parents just happened to be moving all the way to Alberta that week. I pleaded their case: can they not test, suit up in hazmat (I mean PPE) so they could at least see their grandson for five minutes before they left the province? Absolutely not. (They had, unfortunately, planned the move well before and had sold their house just prior to the initial COVID lockdown in March).
After about nine days, the authorities in the NICU decided that since Gavin was stable, he should be moved to a closer NICU relative to our home. On Sunday afternoon we were transferred to the NICU in Sarnia, which was empty, and I would be able to stay right with him in a private room within the unit.
Thus began almost three weeks of being “locked in,” unable to leave the hospital, not even leave the unit to get a coffee downstairs, or get out for a walk in the fresh air. I had to beg permission to go out on a balcony connected to the nurse’s staff room. Granted, I met several very kind people on staff who helped me get food for my special diet (being celiac is not easy in the hospital) and a couple nurses generously brought me a special coffee to enjoy. One kind nurse finally let me go for a walk around the Maternity unit when I explained that my body was seizing up, especially my legs, due to lack of movement.
Again, no visitors allowed. No one. Not my husband, not Gavin’s siblings. No grandparents. No friends to be with me during this emotionally vulnerable time of postpartum. I certainly had a renewed empathy for any mothers who struggle with postpartum depression. And it is often more of a struggle for women who have children by C-section. The Friday before Mother’s Day happened to be our wedding anniversary and I attempted to plead my case, since my husband needed to come pick up laundry, drop off fresh clothes and a few other items. No, out of the question. A nurse would go down and do the exchange for me. My husband and I, and even a couple of the nurses I spoke with, were already questioning the situation around “COVID” and having absolute certainty that there was “something bigger going on.”
After being cooped up for so long and watching cable television for a short time each day (which I was not accustomed to), the propaganda on the mainstream media was obvious. I did momentarily “lose it” when one of the women in charge of the floor told me she wanted to speak with me privately about my grievances (not being able to get out for a walk in the fresh air or see loved ones). It was absolutely horrific to realize that countless people (millions, tens of millions?) around the world were being deprived of basic human contact and care, especially those who may be in very serious medical situations, or even the last days or weeks before death. What an abhorrent situation, to literally die alone: loved ones unable to spend that time, to hold their hand, to say goodbye.
There were already several articles being written on various, alternative news websites about the negative psychological impact the lockdown was having on all of society: the children, the elderly, those already struggling with addictions, and those with mental health issues. Since then, we now know of the huge increase in addiction-related issues, domestic violence, suicide, and other insidious suffering.
After almost a month, Gavin was no longer fed by tube and thriving on the bottle. We were free to go home – we needed to be home! It happened to be our daughter’s birthday, and so it was a great day to once again be together and celebrate. We were also very grateful to have a good priest willing to confer the Sacrament of Baptism (as well as Confirmation) upon Gavin soon after we came home. For the most part, many Sacraments had been put on the back burner or simply abandoned (Last Rites, for example, the prayers of the priest anointing the sick or dying) throughout the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
For myself, having survived stage 4 cancer (colon, liver) four years earlier, the unexpected and miraculous conception and birth of our Gavin Benedict was an incredible blessing to our family amid an ever-changing and increasingly unstable society. His name literally means “God sends blessings.” Although the last two years have been an immense challenge for all of us, with so many uncertainties, difficulties arising in our relationships (family, church groups, communities, workplace, etc.) we need to remain steadfast in our faith, and cling to the hope only God can give us. This is a constant battle between good and evil, with copious amounts of constant commentary on all current events (especially online, in the anti-social media) making it difficult the navigate these muddy waters strewn with truth and lies.
Our hearts break for all the untold, unnecessary human suffering we witness all around us. Millions of people have suffered in a myriad of ways. We still suffer. We have become victims of the fallout from the “vaccine mandates” of all shapes, colors, and sizes.
We were betrayed by both our civil authorities and spiritual leaders. How insidious that something can sow such division and hate between people, even family members and those who have been friends for decades. I have never personally heard of so many suicides as well as “sudden, unexplained” deaths, not to mention the adverse reactions and damage being done to people of all ages, including a marked increase in miscarriages and stillbirth. Our world is no doubt very different compared to our lives back in 2019. It can be extremely exhausting at times to keep up with the constant onslaught of information. We must always beg God in His Mercy to protect us from harm, and otherwise give us the strength necessary for us to endure the hardships we may face.
“Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me. For You are my God my Saviour, and my hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25: 4-5
This month we will celebrate Gavin’s second birthday, and we look forward to all which our good Lord has in store for him in his lifetime. God’s will be done. For no one can take away the precious truth that life is a gift of God, which should never be taken for granted. It is true, although we can easily forget, that life can change in an instant. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord giveth and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. Many of us get those stark reminders, a smack on the head if you will. These experiences are meant to reorient ourselves to God, to release the iron grip we have on our lives, and to discern His loving providence. Some of us are perhaps proud and stubborn – consequently it takes more of these crazy, life-changing moments.
We love you, Gavin! As we sing in our parish, of Byzantine tradition, “God grant you many years, many happy years. May you be blessed with health and Salvation. God grant you many happy years!”