Faith&Spirituality, Motherhood

Miracles & Trauma

Marc-Antoine and I would like to take a moment to thank EVERYONE from the bottom of our hearts for the incredible amount of support and prayers we have received through this very difficult time. I am presently on the mend but remain in critical condition with a long road of recovery ahead.

If I haven’t responded to messages or phone calls, it is only because it is difficult for me emotionally and I need to be careful not to put too much stress on my heart, physically (due to my fragile state). Besides, every time I cry, I make the hospital monitors go haywire (ha-ha).

Know that ALL of your prayers have had a significant impact on me and my family. I might have a hard time vocalizing everything at this time, however, I find I can express my testimony through the written word. This is why today, November 8th, 2021, during a moment of rest, I find I have energy to write an account of both the miracle and trauma that my family and I have been going through.

(Disclosure: this is a long story and deals with infant loss but every detail needed to be written so that I can bear witness to the power of faith and prayer).

On the morning of November 5th, still in pyjamas, I woke to prepare my three oldest children for school (William 8, Caleb 7, Agnès 6), when suddenly heat rushed to my head, I felt overcome with nausea and also weak like I might pass out. Knowing that these were all symptoms of low blood pressure and that pregnant women are at greater risk of fainting, I lowered myself to the ground to avoid injuring myself should I indeed faint.

Once on the floor, I experienced a moment of disorientation, like I was waking from a dream. I knew I’d lost consciousness for a few seconds. As my mind started to clear, my chest got tight like I couldn’t fully expand my lungs and it hurt to breathe. I immediately instructed my oldest son, William, to get my phone and I called my Mother (who lives minutes down the road) if she could come be with me and help get the kids off to school. I was unable to get off the floor without the symptoms coming back and seeing black spots. My Mom called 9-1-1 then helped me get to the living room where I awaited the paramedics, just trying to breathe and get my core temperature back to normal using cold compresses.

Once on scene, the paramedics confirmed I was having low blood pressure. They called backup since one of their machines wasn’t working. With my husband en route, my parents took care of my youngest (Ellie-Anne 3) and I was quickly brought by ambulance to the Hawkesbury General Hospital.

On our way, I was started on an IV which helped raise my blood pressure to more normal levels. Once admitted at the hospital, blood samples were drawn, eventually revealing a high probability of thrombosis (blood clots). I was 25 weeks, 4 days pregnant and with blood clotting being a high risk factor for pregnant women, the next step was a CT scan to either confirm or rule out clotting as the issue.

After waiting and resting most of the day at the Hawkesbury Hospital, I was finally able to go in for the CT scan. About an hour later, the results came back and I was shocked to hear that I had a substantial pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lungs). Anticoagulant (a blood thinner) was quickly administered through a shot, and an OB nurse came to monitor the baby for 20 minutes. His fetal heart rate was high, as was my own, and I was having regular contractions. Together, the ER Doctor and Lead OB-GYN Doctor recommended I be transferred to The Ottawa General Hospital High Risk Pregnancy Center for more accurate monitoring of my unborn baby boy, since his gestational age would require a team and hospital better equipped for an emergency should he be delivered earlier than anticipated. I was in agreement and waited until a transfer could be arranged. By 7 p.m., I was on my way to Ottawa.

The ride was difficult, I felt warm and nauseous but we finally made it. The nurses in LD (Labour and Delivery) took great care of me and Raphaël. His heart rate was improving and he was making us laugh, running away from the Doppler, making it hard for us to get his heart beat. Breathing was still a challenge for me so I remained mostly in bed to keep my blood pressure from plummeting. I received a second dose of anticoagulant and tried to sleep, waking at close to 3:30 a.m., November 6th, feeling much better. Even the nurses commented on the return of colour to my skin. I was breathing, I didn’t feel hot or sick, the chest pain was even gone.

I began sending messages to family and friends, letting them know that the treatment was working and that I was on the mend. Then suddenly, 10 minutes later, a rush of dizziness hit me, I felt like I was falling into a dream but with an excruciating inability to expand my lungs and get oxygen. Quickly, I reached for the nurse call button, crying out that I couldn’t breathe. They acted promptly, slipping an oxygen mask on and getting me to focus on my breathing.

The rest is a hazy memory. I have glimpses that I can recall and others that are just a blank but I was later filled in by the medical staff about what happened during those two hours of confusion.

All I can remember was the pain and the difficulty breathing, of knowing I wasn’t going to make it, that I was dying, and I kept praying to Jesus and Saint Raphaël for healing. There was even a point that I felt I couldn’t fight anymore but a nurse came into view, looked me in the eyes and told me not to give up, that I was a fighter and to just focus on my breathing.

I later learned — and this is the GREATEST MIRACLE — that during the two hours of confusion, of struggling to breathe, I slipped into cardiac arrest FIVE TIMES and was successfully reanimated with CPR on each account, struggling to breathe and to live. I was also told by multiple members of the emergency team that they are all in disbelief that I made it, that 90% of people who experience cardiac arrest, don’t make it. And that I survived five!

Not long after, Marc-Antoine (my husband) was at my side. I held his hand and focused on breathing as much as I could, despite the painful and frightening difficulty. There were medical staff all around working efficiently with clear and expert communication. I knew I was in the right place, in the best care and that I just had to breathe. The highest dose of a more aggressive “clot buster” was administered but wasn’t enough to get me stable. It was decided I needed immediate surgery to get the medication directly to the site of the clotting so that the “clot busting” medication could be released in smaller doses through catheter lines.

However, when inserting an IV into my thigh, an artery was accidentally nicked, adding more danger to the situation. The same nurse that encouraged me to continue fighting, hopped on the hospital bed, applying pressure to my thigh to minimize the bleeding while I was wheeled to IR (Interventional Radiology) for surgery.

This surgery lasted almost 5 hours. It consisted of repairing the hole in the artery with a metal stint, and then putting in three sheaths in my left thigh to run catheters up through my body to my lungs and heart. The surgery was long but it saved my life. When they were preparing to transfer me back to the ICU for monitoring, one of the medical team came close and informed me that during the time of my multiple cardiac arrests, Raphaël’s heart had stopped beating. We had lost our baby.

At this point, despite the terrible news, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and strength come to me. I was heartbroken but knew my heart and lungs were too fragile for the stress of grieving. It was also clear to me that I shouldn’t have made it and yet I had. The gratitude and joy of being able to go on living and be with my family helped strengthen me to keep on fighting. I attribute this grace to the enormous amount of prayers being offered on our behalf. As a hyper-sensitive person, I would normally be hysterical with uncontrollable grief. Yet, an other worldly grace sustained me, kept me strong and fighting.

My contractions persisted into the day, the new concern shifting from stabilizing my heart to safely delivering the baby without hemorrhaging from the blood thinners. Even though my condition was improving, my life remained in danger. The medical team put plans in place to address every and any emergency that could happen during the delivery. I laboured all day and, finally at one in the morning, November 7th, we proceeded to the OR to get ready for delivery. By 3:44 a.m., Raphaël Joseph Joachim Caron was born. The delivery was slow and perfect with no excess bleeding. Another miracle!

Marc-Antoine and I spent time with Raphaël until 5 a.m., at which point we gave permission to the Labour and Delivery nurses to bring him upstairs to make a memory box for us of his handprints, his footprints and plaster castings of both hands and feet. We were gifted a small blue blanket and a teddy bear to remember him by.

The hospital chaplain, a priest well-known by my parents, came by later that day to do a blessing. The nurse had Raphaël beautifully dressed in a white gown and cap and Marc and I were gifted a professional photo session to capture our last moments with him. It was a deeply emotional time for us but also a blessing. We have been so touched by every one who has prayed for us, fed us, offered their condolences, especially grateful to the incredible medical team and various staff at the Ottawa General Hospital for not only showing us much love and compassion, but without whose help I know I wouldn’t be writing this today.

As I continued to improve, I returned to IR for surgery to have the sheaths and catheters removed from my leg. My heart continues to improve, and I no longer need oxygen. My main pain now is in my chest where the ribs meet the sternum. Bruising and interior damage from the resuscitations hurt when I take deep breaths or when I move my upper body, but there is no fracturing or breaks that have been identified. Again, despite the discomfort, I was told by the nurses that most people who survive cardiac arrest often struggle with a variety of mental damage, such as incoherence or the inability to speak. The fact that I experienced five, continues to impress them, a testament to the many prayers that have been covering me and my family.

I remain in critical care until my heart is stronger, after which I will likely be transferred to a regular hospital room to rest and continue with physiotherapy since my whole body has been weakened from the entire trauma and I work to regain the strength to walk.

A word about “Raphaël”

When I found out that I was pregnant for a fifth baby, I cried for a week. Not because I didn’t want him but because I wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for a fifth child. Marc was immediately excited and was a crucial support, helping me move through my emotions. Since I believe God has a purpose for everything, I came to see our fifth pregnancy as a blessing, telling Marc how I knew this little one would bring great healing to us.

It didn’t take long for me to get excited and begin developing a fond attachment to this little life growing in my womb. The day we found out his gender, it was the Catholic Feast of the Archangels. My Mom suggested we name him after one of the Archangels, Michael, Raphaël or Gabriel. When Marc and I heard the name Raphaël, we both looked at each other and I knew that would be his name. Later, when I looked up the meaning of the name, I was blown away that Raphaël means, “Healing,” or, “God has healed.” This information made me certain he had a great purpose for our lives.

When I was losing my life in the hospital, I kept praying to Jesus and to Saint Raphaël to get me though the pain and to help me breathe. My body was struggling to pump blood for two and I firmly believe my son’s death is what saved me. Our hearts are devastated and yet we will be forever grateful that, “God has healed,” me when I wasn’t expected to make it. Saint Raphaël, the Archangel, is the patron of doctors, travellers, science and healing!

I continue receiving visits by the medical staff who were either witnesses to this event or who have heard what has happened. They have come to see, “a living miracle,” as some have put it. Each wears such joy on their faces seeing me in my recovery journey. Even as I thank them for being instrumental in my survival, they can’t stop thanking me for fighting and living. We have joy and we have sorrow, but God has healed and continues to heal.

Again, Marc-Antoine and I thank you all so very much. We have been blown away by all the love and support.

With love and gratitude,

Vanessa and Marc-Antoine

Raphaël’s Story: Submissions!

The amount of stories I’ve heard, testimonies of healing, all spurred by Raphaël’s little life and the incredible power of prayer, are too much for me to keep to myself. I have already begun writing Raphaël’s story in greater detail since even the original blog post I shared is missing details I learned after or that I merely forgot to include. I want to include a section in the novel for testimonies from all of the people who have been touched in a special way or who have experienced healing as a result.

Where to Submit?

If you would like to submit an account of your experience for potential publication in Raphaël’s story, you may make your submission at:

Should you wish to remain anonymous, please specify in your e-mail. I will respect any name changes for privacy also. 

Lastly, I would like to thank you in advance for sharing your vulnerability with not only me but with the world. I keep asking, “Lord, why me? Why did You save me?” The only answer I have is that this story is GREATER than me, that God is using Raphaël more than for my own personal healing. Already the reach has been mystifying and I firmly believe Raphaël’s story needs to be shared, and that all who have been personally touched or affected should be given the opportunity to bear further witness to the power of prayer and the power of miracles.

12 thoughts on “Miracles & Trauma”

  1. I was so moved by your testimony. What a witness of faith and prayer. Thank you for sharing your journey. Jonah and I have been praying diligently for you and your family. We will continue to pray for you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I cry as I respond! You are a true miracle indeed! When I heard of Raphael’s passing I had a strong sense that he died to save his beautiful momma. What a little Saint! So very grateful for your continued recovery and the faith community’s response to your needs! Much love and prayers to you, Marc, children and family! XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karis, thank you for your vulnerability, for sharing your loss so that I can join in your grief and perhaps be comforted imagining our children in each other’s company, laughing and playing. I will pray for you and your family, for the warmth of comfort to envelope you, to be a light in the dark when everything ceases to makes sense.

      “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” —Matthew 19:14


  3. As a mother of 4 angel babies, having lost mine to miscarriages, my heart and love goes out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this and I truly hope you all heal in love from God, your family and friends, and us strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lacey, for the solidarity and your vulnerability. To lose a baby at any age or stage is an indescribable pain. Please accept my condolences for each of your babies. I will keep you and your momma’s heart in my prayers as I grieve.


  4. We are so very sorry for your loss Vanessa and Marc-Antoine. We wish you and your family all the best as you recover and gain your strength again. Sending you all big hugs and lots of prayers! XOXO

    Lorna &Tony Aucoin


  5. Beautiful Testimony of Faith and Trust in God. Many blessings and graces in your journey today and always. In my prayers always❤️🙏


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