Welcome to the world Alyssa! This sweet little girl was welcomed to her family in May and I was so excited to finally meet her and her lovely family this August for their Extraordinary Love Session.

Extraordinary Love Sessions are meant to honour a family’s struggle with miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility. These sessions have become a way to share stories from those within our community and also a way to celebrate the arrival of these much-anticipated babies. You can read more about these special sessions on my website here.

Alyssa’s parents, Shauna and Matt, welcomed their first beautiful little girl Kailey in 2016. In 2017 they were excited to again be expecting a baby and to have a little sister or brother for Kailey. The excitement over their pregnancy was shortlived however as the couple sadly experienced a miscarriage. After their miscarriage, Shauna and Matt decided to try again and were thrilled to fall pregnant with their rainbow baby. 

Their pregnancy this time went well and everything seemed to go very smoothly. Shauna and Matt learned they were having a boy and settled upon the name Tristan for their son. Shauna’s pregnancy continued to progress well into the third trimester and her c-section was to be scheduled for 37 weeks along. Because the day she turned 37 weeks fell on the Canada Day statutory holiday they decided to schedule Tristan’s birth for the 4th of July, 2018.

The evening before his scheduled c-section, Shauna became concerned when she noticed less movement by Tristan and went to the hospital to be checked. At the hospital they were devastated to learn that Tirstan no longer had a heartbeat and had died, just hours before his scheduled c-section was to take place. 

The loss of Tristan was extremely heartbreaking and traumatizing to the family. Shauna and Matt did everything they could to keep everything as normal as possible for their daughter Kailey. The couple reached out for support from Roger’s House, found comfort from their family and friends, and worked hard to find ways to keep Tristan present in their lives.

Shauna and Matt decided that they wanted another baby after Tristan’s death.  They were able to become pregnant again but shortly into the pregnancy, in November of 2018, they were frightened to learn that Shauna was experiencing a cesarean scar ectopic pregnancy. This rare complication happens when a pregnancy implants on the scar tissue from a cesarean and causes much risk to the mother’s health. It took three surgeries after the ectopic pregnancy and one year of healing time before they could begin trying again for a baby.

It was a long and difficult journey but on May 25th, 2020, Shauna and Matt were thrilled to finally welcome their precious rainbow baby, Alyssa, into their family. A beautiful sister to Kailey, but also to Tristan. While she will never get to meet Tristan, he will always be a part of her life and family. Congratulations to this family on the birth of their very special little girl!

Thank you to Shauna and Matt for sharing their story with us and their beautiful children. The couple would love to share with other parents experiencing the loss of a child what they found helpful after Tristan’s death and the ways in which they have continued to include him in their family.

From Shauna and Matt to other parents experiencing the tragic loss of their baby

After the loss of Tristan, we reached out to Roger’s House and were immediately welcomed with open arms.   We started both individual and group counselling and found it incredibly helpful to be able to talk through everything that we were feeling and realize that we are not alone.   We are still friends with the couples that we met and continue to support each other through our grief journeys.

We were also very thankful for the family and friends that held space for us as we mourned Tristan.  We always appreciated when they reached out to us and continued to say Tristan’s name.  

I found it cathartic to write after Tristan’s death.  It was really difficult to explain how I truly felt, so when the emotions overpowered me, I decided to start writing.  I knew that if Tristan were alive, I would have shared photos, videos and stories.  Instead, we had only three, short days with our baby boy and I wanted to keep his memory alive.  

We have kept in contact with one of our nurses from the Ottawa Hospital.  Every anniversary, we go back to the hospital and thank the Labour and Delivery team for all the love and support that they provided us while we were in the hospital.  One particular nurse, Jarka, has a special place in our heart as she was the nurse in triage that checked for Tristan’s heartbeat, my c-section nurse and the nurse for most of our days in the hospital.  She treated Tristan like he was her own and even cared for our family and friends that came to meet our baby boy.  We have visited her several times over the last two years and hope to continue our relationship.   

Matt and I were really happy with the care that we received at the hospital but we were disappointed to hear that Tristan would not be receiving a hospital bracelet of any formal documentation of his birth.  The most important thing to us was that Tristan’s life was validated.  I decided to contact the Patient Advocacy Board and voice my concerns.  A few months later, they informed us that they would be changing their procedures at all Ottawa Hospitals and providing stillborn babies an authentic hospital bracelet that was linked to their mother.  Tristan received the first bracelet in Ottawa.  Matt and I were very proud to honour our son and advocate for other families experiencing this devastating loss. 

We found it really important for us and our daughter, Kailey, to stay active and to keep things as “normal” as possible.  Matt found it helpful to continue going to the gym and I would go out with my girlfriends.  We continued to plan fun outings for Kailey and encouraged her to express how she was feeling whenever she was ready.  We love to travel and before Tristan passed away, we had planned a trip to Mexico.  We decided to continue with our plans and the trip was just what we needed to escape reality for just enough time to relax and breathe.  

The most important thing that we have done is to continue to incorporate Tristan into everything we do.  We share his story, say his name and use his beloved baby items for our new baby, Alyssa.  We see dragonflies everywhere and we believe that they are signs from Tristan that he is with us.  We use the blue heart to symbolize his presence in our lives and we will continue to honour his memory for the rest of our lives.