Baby Charlotte

Mom and dad holding baby in pink shirt with their hands placed on babies head

‘Our stay at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice wasn’t about dying. It was about living’

Living life to the fullest, no matter how short

The worst possible news

Baby Charlotte’s parents, Anne-Marie and Tommy Warren received the worst possible news shortly following their daughter’s birth. Doctors determined that Charlotte had sustained a devastating brain injury during her birth, with only a small portion of her brain stem remaining, possibly not enough for her to know how to breathe. Broken-hearted, Anne-Marie and Tommy prepared to let their newborn daughter go.

A focus on making memories

The Warren family chose to have Charlotte’s breathing tube removed and to have family pictures taken so they could remember their time with their daughter. After an hour in the garden, her heart rate and breathing were slowing, but Charlotte was still breathing. When she opened her eyes and even started to hiccup, it was clear Charlotte wasn’t ready to go, so her family came to Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice.

Living every day to the fullest

When the Warrens arrived at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice, it was expected they had only a few hours — maybe a day at best — to say goodbye. Charlotte had other plans, living at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice for 37 days, and her family lived every one of those days to the fullest with the support of our team.

Charlotte and her family experienced many firsts in our care: her first bath, her one-month birthday party, car rides to Tim Hortons, tasting mommy’s favourite Swiss Chalet sauce, dressing up for Halloween, and countless family snuggles. From the very beginning, the family was able to build memories to make the most of their time together.

‘Our stay at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice wasn’t about dying. It was about living’

While Charlotte’s time would be short, the focus from the very beginning was to spend time together and build memories as a family.

When her last day arrived, her mom knew. Anne-Marie took her to the nurses’ station at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice first thing in the morning and told them the time had come. At 44 days old, Charlotte Warren died in the arms of her family at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice. Anne-Marie and Tommy just snuggled with her in bed until she passed away.

Anne-Marie is grateful to have been a part of the first pregnancy after loss support group at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice, which she attended through her pregnancy with her son, Colt. This program at Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice allows parents who have experienced a previous loss to share their worries and concerns with others in a similar situation. Parents have a safe space to talk about their loss and fears and to welcome joy back into their lives during pregnancy.   

The support that Anne-Marie and Tommy received from Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice left a meaningful impact on their lives. Anne-Marie is now co-chair and media director for the Butterfly Run Ottawa, which has, since 2017, supported Roger Neilson Children’s Hospice and families who have experienced infertility, a loss during pregnancy or the loss of an infant. It’s one of the many ways Anne-Marie feels her daughter Charlotte and her son, Colt, can stay connected. 

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