Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Mom Jodi Grimbleby and her daughter Arwynn are seen in the NICU at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario Monday, December 9, 2013.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

This is part of The Globe's months-long series on the challenges facing Canadian hospitals. All of our published material has been reported with permission from staff.

Joy, fear, love are just skinny words until you embark on parenthood, the largest transformative experience in most people's lives. Getting there typically involves nothing more traumatic than fatigue and the sturm und drang of labour and delivery.

For some, though, pregnancy is as precipitous as a roller-coaster ride. When Kate Robson developed pre-eclampsia – think Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey – neonatologist Eugene Ng sat down on her bed and explained why the baby needed to be born immediately. Ng, himself the father of twins, says he is "humbled" by these touchstone conversations with parents, who "will likely hang on to every word I say for the rest of their lives."

Story continues below advertisement

Nearly a decade later, that preemie is a feisty little girl, and Robson is working with Ng as the first staff parent co-ordinator in the high-tech Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Part of her role is sharing her experience with first-time parents such as Jodi and Stewart Stevenson.

Jodi arrived at Sunnybrook on July 2, threatening to deliver twins at less than 23 weeks gestation. Three weeks later, Arwynn and Briar were born by cesarean section, resuscitated and whisked into the NICU. Scared but determined, Jodi bunked in with her babies while her husband commuted daily, racking up an $800 parking tab until he discovered long-term parking.

Every time Jodi expressed any fear, a nurse, a social worker, a doctor, or Robson, would soon show up at her door. At first, Jodi worried more about Arwynn, but it soon became obvious that Briar had serious brain damage. Medical staff spent days talking with the couple as they made their terrible decision to let Briar die, supported them while they cradled their baby until she stopped breathing, and made plaster casts of her tiny hands and feet.

Having survived the worst, last week the Stevensons had the joy of taking baby Arwynn, by then a robust 7 pounds, 12 ounces, home. So many staff, including Dr. Ng, clustered round that it took more than an hour to strap Arwynn into her car seat for her first trip outside the hospital.

Arwynn was due back at Sunnybrook four days later for a follow-up visit, part of an innovative tracking program for the crucial first six years of premature babies' lives. Among the old friends eager to welcome her return will be Robson, who couldn't bear to watch when Arwynn waved her first goodbye.

Follow me on Twitter: @SmartinGlobe

We want to hear about health care in your community: What works, what doesn't, and what you think we should do about it. Share your experiences – and ideas for change. Follow @Globe_Health, tweet with #thehospital or email thehospital@globeandmail.com to join the conversation.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies