Burnaby North-Seymour MP Terry Beech stoop up in front of the House of Commons for what was probably the toughest one-minute speech of his life.
Beech shared the story of his new baby Nova, born on Dec. 4, 2018, with a condition called meconium aspiration syndrome. Basically, it involves stool entering an infant’s lungs, blocking their ability to breathe and leading to swelling in the lungs.
Beech shared this difficult experience with me at the Record office in January, but now here he was in Parliament talking about he, his wife Ravi and daughter Nova spent about three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.
It’s one thing to talk about your child suffering from a dangerous medical condition with a single person. Standing up in the House of Commons is quite another.
Beech spoke fast and rocked back and forth as he shared this story – likely wanting to get through it without breaking down.
I spent eight days in hospital watching my daughter Emily struggle with jaundice – which is nothing compared to meconium aspiration syndrome. It’s 20 years later and I still get choked up thinking about.
I can’t even fathom how tough it must be for Beech to talk about.
Ravi and I will be forever grateful to the NICU angels at Royal Columbian Hospital (@RoyalColumbian ). Because of their incredible minute-to-minute care, our little girl is able to reach for the stars (and come door knocking) 💫! #Grateful #nicu #thankyou #so31 pic.twitter.com/MhjxS9uDUr— Terry Beech 黃志峰 (@terrybeech) March 3, 2019
The main point of Beech’s speech was to pay tribute to RCH’s NICU – one of the best in the country, let alone North America.
In November, I wrote about how the RCH NICU was shown some love when the 2017 Canadian Neonatal Network annual report ranked it No. 1 in the country for having the lowest neonatal mortality rate. The unit has a rate of 99.5 per cent of babies in care surviving.
Beech can agree with that assessment. He praised all of the doctors and nurses during his speech.
“Having our newborn daughter spend her first few weeks struggling to survive was heartbreaking, but it made me realize just how ‘intensive’ intensive care really is,” Beech told the House of Commons. “It’s 24 hours a day, minute by minute.”
Nova managed to make it home for Christmas and is now “happy, healthy and ready to take on the world,” said Beech.
“We are endlessly grateful to the angels at Royal Columbian Hospital.”
Beech finished it off by encouraging people to give a hug to those in work in NICUs.