After 3 years of in vitro treatments, my partner Martin and I decided that I would leave my job to reduce my stress and stack the odds in our favour. One week after leaving my job, I found out that I got pregnant naturally! On January 31, 2013, life spoiled us with the most beautiful gift in the world – our Zachary.
There are courses on how to prepare for married life and prenatal classes, but nothing prepared us for the arrival of a child with severe health problems. Zachary was in the hospital for the first 3 and a half months of his life. I remember the medical team and the prognoses, and let’s just say that the future looked bleak.
Some of the folks at Sainte-Justine Hospital told us about Le Phare. I remember the first time that we visited and saw all the other children. I was in shock! In the past, like many others, I’d had trouble seeing children that were different, because I felt bad for them and their families. I could barely muster a smile. Today, we call the other children Zac’s friends. They are all so endearing and seeing them just brings a big smile to our faces! We always have a heavy heart leaving Zac at Le Phare for a few days, but we trust everyone there. Martin and I know how important Le Phare is in helping us maintain a strong relationship and regain our strength so that we can keep giving Zachary our all.
Le Phare is more than just a respite care home, it’s like a second family. Each time we go back there, it warms our heart to see how happy the staff and volunteers are to see him again! Sometimes they recognize his laugh or his voice in the hallway even before they see him, and the volunteers quickly steal him away to rock him! They are always so thrilled to see his progress, that he’s eating and starting to move around with his walker. He’s surrounded by love… and the people who work at Le Phare are there for the right reasons. Not only does Le Phare provide for all of Zachary’s needs during his stay, along with much love, they also provide us with psychological support and guidance in managing his medical needs.
My mom’s heart tells me that Zachary is with us for a reason and for an indeterminate amount of time. When we see our friends’ children, I can’t help but see the widening gap between their situation and ours. Despite his improvements, Zachary is still 100% dependent on us. We’ve had our fair share of grief and there will be more to come, not to mention the uncertainties as Martin and I age. But we’re trying to live in the moment and for each day, just as Zac does! For him, life is beautiful. He is surrounded by love and he has a lot to offer too – and that’s all he wants.
Le Phare is a unique resource, and hundreds of families like ours need its services, yet many cannot access. Resources are very limited, and these families need support to get through such a major life challenge! We love our children and we’re ready to fight with them to the end. They are full of hope and love and have so much to teach society. You need to meet them to get it!
Karine Philipps, Zachary Gagnon’s mother
For the love of mothers and children who are admitted to Le Phare, thank you for your generosity!