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'His life was too short': Sandie Rinaldo shares, for the first time, the loss of her son


When CTV National News Executive Producer Rosa Hwang pitched the idea of a network special to mark my 50th anniversary with CTV, which has since turned into two specials — we talked about my comfort level in revealing personal aspects of my life I have kept private all these years.

As a journalist, I’ve always been reluctant to reveal too much to you, the viewers. After all, I report on other people’s stories — not my own. But as Rosa said to me — it’s time.

The first special called “I’m Sandie Rinaldo” retraces my parents’ journey to Canada after the Second World War. Rosa also asked me about losing my husband to cancer and other tragedies I’ve experienced since I walked in the door of CTV on May 6, 1973.

Much of what I shared I’ve never spoken about publicly before; like, losing my son, shortly after he was born.

I had already had my first child, a daughter, during a very public pregnancy, while I was the news anchor on CTV’s Canada AM. I was one of the first women in Canada, if not the first, to go through an entire pregnancy on national television. Remember it was pretty much a man’s world back then; it had only been a few years that a tiny handful of women in North America were in these high profile jobs.

I was co-hosting with Norm Perry in 1980, just before Christmas, when I began experiencing the early stages of labour. The story has likely been embellished over the years; a frazzled Norm timing my contractions during commercials and calling for towels to be on standby. We laugh about it now, but when I phoned my obstetrician to ask what to do, he reassured me that if the contractions stopped when I stood up and walked around, it was the body getting ready to give birth, but not quite the real thing, just yet.

Our daughter was born the next day and by early February, I was back at work sharing photographs of my precious girl with correspondent Craig Oliver; the two of us filling in as co-hosts on Canada AM.

Two and a half years later, I was pregnant again, an easy pregnancy, nothing to suggest there were any issues. My baby was due mid-May 1983, so I said my goodbyes on air earlier this time, not willing to chance another close call, and was presented with a bouquet of roses and well-wishes.

Noah was born on June 1. He died the same day.

I had gone beyond my due date and was induced to bring on labour and delivery. No one prepares you for unexpected loss, nor does the thought cross your mind, until it happens. Afterwards, life feels more fragile; worry sets in about everything and everyone.

Medical advances, more sophisticated ultrasounds, would have alerted the obstetrician to developmental issues, but back then, we were operating blind, much like our mothers and grandmothers had for generations before us.

I also learned there was no parent group for sharing loss. Miscarriages were largely kept secret; losing a child was in a completely different league; even hospital staff were ill-prepared to provide counselling. The doctor virtually disappeared.

Michael and I buried our son and only began getting answers about what happened, when another doctor who had been called into the labour room shortly after Noah’s birth, reached out. We were grateful to him, for his kindness and for helping talk us through a very dark time in our lives.

The morning after we lost Noah, sportscaster Wally Macht shared the news with the Canada AM audience. The reaction was swift, supportive and stunning.

Hundreds of viewer letters poured in, people sharing the most intimate details of their own losses; some telling me they never had the courage or felt they could open up about what had happened them.

I answered every letter — which turned out to be therapeutic for me, and established an ongoing dialogue with several viewers who told me it was therapy for them as well.

Times have changed. Diagnostic tools are more sophisticated. There are more support groups to share loss; more social workers at hospitals, trained to provide counselling.

Every year, I still mark Noah’s birthday. This June 1, he would be 40 years old. I try to imagine what type of a man he would have become and how much joy he would have brought to all our lives as a son, a brother to three girls, an uncle to even more girls. His life was too short, but still my son Noah left an indelible mark. And he will always be part of our family.

  • In the hour-long special I’M SANDIE RINALDO, the longtime CTV anchor explores her family’s history, tracing her roots across Canada and around the world, airing Friday, May 12 on CTV, CTV News Channel,,, and the CTV and CTV News apps Top Stories

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