Tuesday marks one year since the passing of a wife, mother of three and a competitive Saskatchewan athlete — Aly Jenkins.
Scott Jenkins met her at a golf event 14 years ago before getting married and starting a family in Warman, Sask.
“(Aly) was just a sweetheart and an athletic person that just enjoyed sports and enjoyed training and CrossFit and enjoyed family like she was an amazing mother and a wife to our family that we dearly miss. She was definitely the rock that held everything together,” he said.
“She was a great golfer, too. We always had battles. I’d beat her pretty much 99 per cent of the time but our last round ever together in Rosthern … she beat me our last-ever round together.”
Jenkins said there’s been a lot of anxiety leading up to the tragic milestone on Tuesday.
“Definitely a lot of emotions this last week … thinking about the last day I had with her essentially back in our place and Warman and knowing what I guess tomorrow would have held for us and what happened,” he said on Monday.
The day, Oct. 20, is also his daughter Sydney’s birthday, which they celebrated early.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask that, ‘what do you want to do?’ Because it’s my birthday, too … We had Sydney’s birthday on (Oct. 18) with family and friends … but yeah (Tuesday’s) a mixture of emotions. You got two birthdays and you got the one-year anniversary of (Aly) passing away. So it’s going to be a day. Not looking forward to it at all. Haven’t been since it happened,” he said.
Aly passed away suddenly on Oct. 20, 2019, after experiencing complications during labour and delivery of her third child, Sydney, who Scott still calls the “miracle baby.”
“Pretty much told there was really bad news with Sydney and to expect the worst. And then two, four days later, all these machines were coming off her and things were looking good, her lungs were working. She had zero brain activity when she was born. So and then four days later, everything started to work again and she came back to full health. So she is the miracle baby,” he said.
“Sydney is one hundred per cent. There’s been no side effect. She’s been. She’s battled. From right from the beginning, she’s been a healthy little girl ever since she left that (neonatal intensive care unit) … from going in there to being told that she may not survive to leaving in nine days is quite a miracle.
“Her mother was on her side for sure on that one.”
Scott said he’s joined a support group on Facebook where he speaks with other families that have gone through amniotic fluid embolism (AFE).
“(AFE) is a rare condition, happens maybe one in 20,000 births,” said Dr. Jennifer Blake, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, on Oct. 24, 2019.
“Fluid from the amniotic sac — that’s the sac that’s around the baby — gets into the mother’s circulation and then gets into the lungs and causes a complete collapse of the mother’s ability to give oxygenated blood to her brain and to her vital organs and can lead to death.”
“We’re all just trying to figure out how it happens, maybe there’s the warning signs, things that could maybe prevent this in the future. They’re making a little bit of progress,” Scott said on Monday.
“It’s such a rare thing that it’s honestly something that they can’t really catch until it’s too late. And then life-saving measures have to go into effect and the outcome is very bad. For Sydney to survive was very rare, actually. It usually takes both.”
Along with son Brady and daughter Avery, the family now lives in a new house in Warman.
“I ended up selling my house four months after she passed away, it was just too much being in that house … it was a grind but we came out of it stronger. And we’re in our new place now, settled in and the kids are happy. They’re resilient,” he said.
Scott said it’s of the utmost importance to carry on while keeping Aly’s memory alive.
“Honestly, the biggest thing is keeping it alive for the kids. I mean, I don’t want them to forget. That’s my biggest fear, worry,” he said.
“They see a picture of their mom daily. We talk about her. We don’t shy away from it. We show them videos … And so we’re not letting her name disappear.”
“We’re going to keep it going and do it for a good cause. That is the biggest thing, being in the NICU there for nine days and seeing the machines and how everything worked, how well Sydney came out of it and how effective it is on kids. Fundraising for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation is a thing we’re going to do in Aly’s name every year.”
With the passing of each family milestone, Scott said it’s frustrating.
“It’s always the first (without Aly). It’s the first birthdays of the kids, the first Christmas, the first … So many things that happen in this year that she hasn’t been around for and it’s frustrating for sure. Just, for someone to get taken away at 30 is just so unfair. She had a full life to live,” he said.
“I can’t see them being any easier than the first, to be honest. Maybe the third, fourth, fifth will get easier. But to me, it’s all these things that she’s missing that she should be here for.
“We are going day-by-day. Just getting through every kind of emotion that pops up and little things here and there … right now, we’re just day-by-day and keep grinding.”