Posted by: Willem | March 24, 2010


The setting is wrong.  The air smells vaguely of petroleum jelly and antiseptic hand-wash.  Reminders of the harsh realities of slow recovery dominate the small room:  the walker in the corner – required hardware for trips of any distance; the hospital bed in the center, flanked by cold towers draped with intravenous medicines; the commode – a throne of indignity.

The feeling is wrong.  Her entire body throbs, moaning imperceptibly for relief.  On the floor near her chair sits a VAC pump, designed to remove fluids from her gaping surgical wounds.  The side is transparent, showing a reservoir containing impossible amounts of a sickly liquid to all those who fail to look away.  She longs for a hot shower, and the strength to lift her feet onto a short footstool.

The timing is wrong.  Two weeks away from her family – more than three-quarters of her newborn baby’s life – have slipped away in a blur of pain and fear.  She spends her days entertaining an endless sequence of hospital staff.  The names and faces seem to change as often as the Boston weather.  She spends her nights restless and alone.

The reality is wrong.  It shouldn’t be like this.  She exists as an anachronistic anomaly among a department dominated by patients more than twice her age.  The doctors and nurses regard her with equal amounts of pity and praise – the latter for her ability to recover much faster than predicted.  But she’s not interested in impressing anyone.

She misses her children desperately.  The ache in her heart has been successfully competing for attention with her myriad discomforts, great and small.  The pictures on the wall serve as a constant reminder of a life left behind without her approval.

So tonight will be different.  Tonight, she will replace her medical gown with regular clothing.  The VAC pump will be hidden under a coat.  She will wash her face and brush her hair and attempt to smile through the pain.  She will try her best to be a mother when she knows she cannot.

And it is well worth the effort.


  1. I am happy you got some time with them, surely your heart needed it. Hope it was healing in a bunch of ways.

  2. Good to see. My heart aches for you. Bet you drank the baby smell. And your kids’ touch. Awesome.

  3. Such touching pictures. I am sure you gave them what they needed and what you needed too.

  4. Willem, no fair. I finally finished my own, factual, boring sort of post, and was all set to go to sleep without crying.

    I love you, you know.

  5. What a beautiful post. And I am so glad you finally got to see your kids, especially Isaac.

  6. And THAT’S how healing starts! Bless you all.

    Willem, my husband went through hell when Rebecca was born, 14 1/2 years ago. My severe pre-eclampsia led to life-threatening complications for both her and me. He said it was worse than anything he’d seen or experienced during 2 years of combat (conscripted) in Vietnam.

    You have very good friends, and wonderful family around you, and a lot of prayers and vibes going out into the universe for you all.

  7. Beautiful. What a man!

  8. Kate, I’m sure I would not have endured what you have and look nearly as lovely.

    So very glad you got to hold your kids. And Willem, you rock.

  9. Willem and Kate, the two of you should write a book about this experience. (After giving yourselves time to heal and get the family back on track, of course.)

    Your voices are so different, and yet both so eloquent and they mesh well together. (Hey, maybe that just described a good marriage, huh? That might have something to do with it.)

  10. I like Beth’s idea. A whole lot.

    And I like you two. A whole, whole lot.

    You look beautiful, Kate. Especially holding your children.

    Willem? You rock. A whole, whole lot.

  11. That is so great that you got to see all the kids. 🙂

  12. Well I didn’t expect to be crying over breakfast. You and your children are beautiful, Kate. Much love.

  13. You have a beautiful family. Thank God for this, things could have been so different. You look so beautiful, can’t believe what you’ve been through.

  14. Willem, you are just…too much of a man. God love you. I hope you know how incredible you are.

  15. Wow. Beautiful post. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    Love and hugs to all of you!

  16. Brave Mama, brave children, and bravest of all husbands in the world, I think. Love to all of you!

  17. Willem, you made me cry. I cannot imagine what YOU have been through.

    It hurts my heart to think of all your family has gone through the last few weeks, but you also are so very blessed. Thank you for sharing the pictures. I’m sure Kate was soaking in her babies.

  18. These pictures are gorgeous, as is Willem’s writing (I “third” the book suggestion). Kate, I have to say that you look amazing, given what you’ve been through. And the photo where you’re feeding Isaac and he’s just staring at you … he knows, really knows, who you are, and you’re both just soaking in as much as you can get of each other. Beautiful. I am so, so glad you got to see them.

  19. I know that ache she feels..the one of a mother longing for her child. I have felt it before, and it may be the strongest longing on Earth..the tears are flowing now for sure…and Kate has husband of the year, for sure. Thank you for taking such good care of your family.

  20. Willem, I didn’t think I could possibly love you or respect you more than I did during that awful week when Kate’s future was uncertain and you made time to keep us updated. You and Kate are not just life-partners, but soulmates – and it shows, loud & clear to all of us! Anyone who ever doubted your union has certainly been proven wrong!! D’Arcy & I are so proud to call you & Kate our friends and we look forward to a time all eleven of us are together – the kids are playing, the grown-ups are socializing – and we can look back and say, “Wow – can you believe that?!” Thanks for sharing these precious photos and thanks for being you!

    Love to all five of you! ❤

  21. Oh, these pictures made me tear up. My thoughts are so with you.

  22. I am so glad you got to all be together for at least a short amount of time. The pictures made me cry though.

  23. Willem, you are a ROCK STAR of a husband and father. You have done amazingly well-though I am sure many days you look around and go “how the hell do I do all of this.” but you do because you have to. You are more of a man than many and should be so proud of yourself, even if you don’t feel like you deserve it-you do.
    Hopefully you can all be reunited permanently soon and we can see some even more awesome pictures of that reunion as well.
    Lots of Love to all of you!

  24. Yup. You finally did it. Y’all made me cry. They were good tears though.

    You have a super special guy.

  25. […] This lady has been having a really, really hard time of it. Please give her a […]

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