Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

 

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. For those of you who know me, it’s something that is near and dear to my heart. Not everyone is comfortable with talking about their journey and loss, but I’ve found that with speaking out about pregnancy loss can help with healing, open up conversation and help connect people who have been affected by loss. 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy and infant loss. It’s time we talk about it.

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Here is my story:

My husband and I decided quite early on that we wanted children. It was something that was never really discussed seriously, just something that was important to both of us. We decided in early 2012 that we would start trying (a few months before our wedding) because things like that never happen right away. Well, it did. I conceived the first time in early February of that year. We were overjoyed. We told everyone. Picked out names, discussed paint colours and basked in the joy. Our wedding date was May 5th. During the afternoon of May 3rd I began to bleed. I was at my final wedding dress alteration when I first noticed it. I called telehealth and they said that minimal bleeding is normal, but if it got worse to head to a hospital immediately. I drove home with my sparkling ivory dress in the backseat of my car, crying my eyes out with a deep feeling of dread. I was terrified. During the evening it didn’t seem to get worse, so I chalked it up to stress and tried to push on. That night, at about 10pm I was cramping quite badly and the bleeding was much worse. Understanding what was happening, my husband and I went to the hospital. When we got there, I ran to the bathroom and ended up losing the fetus in the toilet of the Emergency Room. I’ve never been so devastated in my entire life. We spend over 12 hours at the hospital that day, and while I was mourning the loss of our unborn child, I was also having to deal with the fact that we were supposed to be married the next day. I had a rehearsal to go to, flowers, favours and everything else to take over to our venue and all the “fun” stuff of preparing for the wedding day. I spent the afternoon and evening in bed, was barely able sit through the dinner and wanted nothing more than to shut out the world and cry. We did get married on May 5th 2012, and while it remains one of my favourite days ever, it will always have a grey cloud over my memories.

We decided to take our time, recover from the loss and try again. In November of 2012 we were able to conceive again. By this time I had been to a fertility specialist and had been diagnosed with PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). My periods had always been very heavy and irregular until I went on birth control at 18. After taking birth control for 6 years, my system was completely screwed up. I was on fertility medicine to get my system in check and ended up conceiving. We were cautiously overjoyed this time. Told only immediate family, didn’t really discuss names or anything that we could get excited over. My doctor ordered an early ultrasound to make sure everything was in order. It was the second week of January when I had my ultrasound and learned that my baby did not have a heartbeat. The doctor recommended that I wait a week, have the ultrasound redone to ensure that there was no heartbeat before taking any measures. I painstakingly waited 8 days and had the ultrasound redone. It was negative for fetal heartbeat. Once again, I was completed crushed. My options were different this time, I could either wait for my body to naturally expel the fetus or I could take some medication to induce a miscarriage. As with the first miscarriage, the timing of this loss was horrible. I was due to start a new job in 4 days and decided to take the medication on the Friday evening, hoping to be able to work on Monday. I’ve never been in the amount of pain as I had been that weekend. The medication took 6 hours to kick in, and I bled heavily and constantly for 3 days. On my first day of work at my new job I had to leave at lunchtime (after having to tell my superior that I had a miscarriage over the weekend – just a tad awkward on that first day) and went to the hospital. After sitting in the ER for over three hours (bleeding severely) I ended up passing out in the hallway on the way to the bathroom and finally receiving care.

After this incident, we decided to put pregnancy out of our minds for a while. I was an emotional wreck, my body was a mess and I don’t think either my husband and I could take another loss. It was 10 months before we even discussed the idea, and at that point I went back to a fertility specialist and once again went on fertility medicine.  We struggled with months of medications, crazy mood swings, pains and failure to conceive. We had given up once again when I fell pregnant just after our second wedding anniversary. Again, we were cautiously happy, didn’t tell anyone other than immediate family and didn’t speak of it much to each other. I know now that my husband expected me to lose the baby and had emotionally checked out – something I completely understand. I hadn’t realized just how much the losses had affected my Husband. Each time I may have gone through the physical pain on my own, but I hadn’t realized that I had someone to share the emotional pain with. This time, 12 weeks passed, then 14 and I felt like perhaps we were out of the danger zone. Then it happened. One morning before work I woke up spotting. Knowing what was in store for me, I called in sick to work and went to the hospital in the next town and waited for news. I had an ultrasound and the ER doctor told me to go home and relax, that he saw a heartbeat but stressing out about it could make the bleeding worse and I could miscarry. So I went home and tried to relax. Just before dinner I decided I couldn’t wait any longer (the bleeding and pains were more intense) and went to the local ER. I was in desperate need of pain medication, and once again ended up losing the fetus in the bathroom at the hospital.

I decided then that having children wasn’t in my future. I obviously couldn’t carry a child to term and tried to resound myself to that fact. Inside I was devastated. I was having issues at work and I was so messed up emotionally. It was the worst time of my life.While my husband was supportive and tried to help, it was difficult for him to reach me on the emotional level that I needed. We decided to look into adoption and fostering, but under the stipulation that we were in absolutely no rush. Since our ages were no longer a factor (adoption agencies in Canada state that both the mother and father must be 30 years old) we agreed it would happen –  at some point.

Six weeks later (after one drunken night at a party) we conceived our daughter. I have honestly never been more scared about something in my life. It pains me to say that I was not excited, and in fact quite upset that I had conceived again. I was not looking forward to miscarrying again, to the pain and the bleeding, the loss and feeling of utter disappointment. It was at this point that my doctor decided that if there was anything to do about saving the pregnancy I would have to stay off my feet as much as possible. I went on medical leave when I was just 6 weeks pregnant. I decided at that point to consult a midwife and do things a little differently this time around. I was not prepared to get pregnant again, so I decided to do everything I could to maintain the pregnancy. I went on a very strict regime of supplements and vitamins, as well as aspirin every day. Every single day during that pregnancy I was scared. Terrified. Every time I went to the bathroom, I expected to see blood in the toilet. Every ultrasound (once a month until I was 6 months along) I expected the midwife to tell me that there was no heartbeat and that I had lost my child. The first time I felt that succinct “flutter” in my belly I cried all day. From then on, I became a little more optimism with each week that passed. We had a 3D ultrasound in January of 2015 and I saw my little Nugget’s face for the first time and bawled my eyes out.

After 41 weeks 6 days, 28 hours of labour and an emergency c-section, our precious little girl was born. I felt like it wasn’t real (aside from our daughter being whisked away from the operating room and into the NICU) that one moment I was pregnant and the next I wasn’t. Like it was almost a (very long) dream. We spent some time in the NICU at the hospital, but eventually brought our daughter home and life hasn’t been the same since.

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My precious daughter, 4 hours after birth.

For all those of you who have gone through pregnancy loss, I feel you. I know your pain. I’ve been where you are, wondering what you’ve done to deserve this, wondering what you could have done to prevent it, and wonder how you’re going to get through it. Here is what I’ve learned. We didn’t do anything to deserve it. Nothing could have prevented it. We will get through it. We will never forget the children of our hearts, but we will find a way to live without them. By sharing our stories, we can erase the shame and stigma of pregnancy and infant loss and help others who are suffering to know that they are not alone.

To my three angels; I hope you’re watching over us, knowing that we loved you and wish you were here with us every day. To my husband, you’ve been my rock through some of the hardest times of my life and for that I will forever be grateful. To my daughter, you will always be my special gift, one that I will cherish until the day I die with the entirety of my heart and soul.

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Finding a Soul Sister

You know when you meet someone and you just click? Like you’ve been friends for years but you’ve just met? You open up about things that you haven’t talked about with anyone, feelings, thoughts and worries. Women who understand what you’re going through and give advice and perspective that is real. No judgement and no bull shit.

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These are my soul sisters.

I was always that girl in high school who would rather hang out with a group of guys than with a group of girls. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be liked, wanted to be pretty enough. I never felt good enough in a group of girls as a teenager, I was always a little bigger (not fat per se, but not skinny either), I had acne and before hair straighteners my hair was a frizzy mess. I tried SO hard in high school to fit in, to be part of any group that would have me. When I graduated high school and moved on to University I told myself to focus on school and work and not worry about making a ton of friends. So I didn’t, and after a difficult break up with my high school sweetheart I lost the few remaining friends I had from high school.

I’ve met some great people in the last 6 months, women who have helped me through a really rough time in my life. These women are all quite different, who bring different things to our friendship and I’m grateful for each one of them. Who would have thought  that there was someone else out there that might have similar issues with family? Or that someone else might be frustrated at their spouse for the same thing? Having Mom friends that can relate to what my crazy kid is going through is amazing. Helping a new mom muddle through the tough newborn phase is rewarding, and reminds me that women are amazingly tough and can handle just about anything. I’m grateful for women who when planning a movie night to see Bad Moms decide unanimously to see Life of Pets (in 3D, without shame!) when the first is sold out. One who understands my need to go off the handle about a difficult customer or co-worker. Most importantly I’m grateful for being able to be myself. I’ve always felt like I needed to become someone that fit into a group. I don’t really remember being myself in a group situation, I always tried to become whoever would fit best into the situation.
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The age old saying “the older you get the wiser you are” is a classic for a reason. The older I get the less I care about other’s opinions of my life. I will speak however I like. My husband and I will raise our daughter how we like. I find myself caring less and less about what other people are saying about me, or what they might be thinking. I live my life by my own rules. I’m thankful to have found friends who are real, and appreciate the person I am – not the person I (used to) try to be. To these women I say; I will always have your back, keep your secrets and call you on your bullshit.

We may not have a pair of magic jeans that fit all of our fat asses, or and shout “Ya-ya!” randomly, but perhaps with time and a little booze we just might pull it off.

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Dear Lunch Police

As I’m scrolling my Facebook news feed the other day a story jumped out at me that I can’t just sit back and ignore. As a parent I’m outraged. As a mother of a semi-picky eater I’m pissed off. As a full time working mom who pays her own damn bills and buys her own damn groceries – I’m fuming.

The article published by the Toronto Star discusses how some children in a GTA school district have been singled out for the items that are in their lunch. Some children were told to chose a different item at snack time (one particular example was to choose grapes instead of banana bread, as the banana bread had chocolate chips in it) or were sent home with a half eaten lunch and a note from the teacher on healthy food choices.

I literally had to pause for a minute or two to simmer down and let my fingers keep up with the words that are spewing out as I write this post. My child isn’t of school age yet and I am completely outraged for every parent that has to pack a lunch for their child. There are so many things wrong with what has happened in this school district.

  1. I feel like this is the most important point that I have to make in regards to this issue. THIS IS MY CHILD. Who are you (teacher, lunch monitor, whoever) to tell me what is best to feed my child? Do you know my child’s preferences? Do you know any allergies that my child might have? Did you carry my child for 9 months, spend the last 1.5 years keeping this tiny human alive? The answer is no. So shut your face and let me pack the lunch that I KNOW they will eat because I’m the parent.
  2. I buy my own food for my household. I make a list every Friday, and every Sunday morning while many people are still in bed, my daughter and I usually do our grocery shopping for the week. We have a list, a budget and try to stick as close to that as possible. If there aren’t any good sales on fruit that week, it’s a banana week. If there aren’t any good sales on meat, we might have pasta 3 days that week. (For all those out there that are concerned, I make a special sauce for Miss Thing that has carrots and broccoli in it so she does eat veggies). When the time comes that you pay for my groceries, you may have some input on what goes into my shopping cart. Until that time, zip it.
  3. Make up your mind. First, kids can’t bring peanut butter (what kid doesn’t LOVE a pb & j sandwich?) for lunch anymore. Homemade snacks are discouraged because there might be a kid with allergies to ANYTHING in the classroom. So what is left? Snacks that are “clearly labelled” nut free. So sure, I might buy a box of those nut free brownies for my kid’s lunch that week. I’m not allowed to bake avacado brownies (that are much healthier and probably cheaper to make) and send those, so what would you like me to do? If you tell me you don’t enjoy a sweet treat after a meal you’re going to need  a bucket as your pants will be on fire.

Listen, to the parents who have picky eaters, I feel you. My husband is picky. My daughter certainly has her favourites and will NOT eat a green vegetable on its own. So what do I do? I cook veggies, puree them and add them to pasta sauce. This kid can DEMOLISH a bowl of pasta and I don’t feel guilty for giving it to her a couple of times a week. When Miss Thing goes to school I’m going to pack her lunches that I know she will eat. My husband and I are the parents of our little girl. We are the ONLY ones who have the right to decide what the child eats.

Perhaps the focus can shift to making sure that all students have enough food in their lunch to sustain them throughout the day. What about those families who shop at the local food bank in order to make sure their kids have a lunch? Would you take away one of the main meals that the child might have that day simply because you disagree with the contents? The number are staggering, the 2015 Hunger Count from the Canadian Food Bank shows that a remarkable 44% of families helped by the Canadian Food Bank in 2015 are families with children – and half of these families are two parent families (read the report here).  There is no way to tell which families use the food bank. Those children do not come to school with a note from Mom saying “oh by the way, ignore what is in Tommy’s lunch today, I had to scrounge at the Food Bank and this was my only option”. Give me a freaking break. My family is in a situation where we do not need to use the services of a food bank, but neither are we spending $200 a week on food from the organics grocery store in town. There was a time when I was able to purchase an Organics box every two weeks (a local delivery service that brought a box of organic, locally grown produce to your door) but found after a couple of months, the prices kept rising and it just wasn’t feasible any longer. Did my kid eat less fruits and veggies? No, they just weren’t organic. Do not get me wrong – I’d LOVE to be able to afford to only have organic anything in my house. The reality is, it is simply not an option. My kid eats fruit, veggies, dairy and protein every day. She also loves Nurtigrain bars, multigrain Goldfish crackers and Teddy Grams.

Teachers, educators and school board personnel. It’s time to focus on a lower teacher to student ratio, time to focus on teaching methods that work, time to focus on making learning fun. Maybe if you had a brownie in your lunch you’d be a little less hangry and find something else to worry about. 

Just saying.

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Spilling the Tea

Well hey all!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I have a good excuse. Or a couple of them. Working, raising a very busy toddler, maintaining a relationship with my main man and the busy schedule that accompanies the beautiful summer weather have all had an impact on my blogging time. Well fear no more, the bitch is back!

In addition to getting back to writing, a big reason I’m rededicating myself to the blogosphere has to do with my new favourite thing: Tea. In particular Steeped Tea. As I’ve discussed in the past, I’ve cut out coffee for health reasons (too much caffeine, stomach ulcer etc etc) and have turned to tea as a substitute. The need for that morning jolt never subsided, but regular bagged orange pekoe tea just wasn’t going the job. I had been to David’s tea before so I wasn’t completely shocked by loose leaf tea, but I hadn’t had much success in finding something that I loved. Queue my daycare provider, who (after I introduced her!) became a Steeped Tea consultant! She provided me with a handful of samples and after a couple of taste tests I fell in love. The richness of the pu’erh, the healing aspects of the herbal teas, the sweetness of the roobios and the comforting black teas. *sigh*  What sounds better than being curled up on a cool fall night with a good book and a pot of fragrant tea? Not much in my book! Not only am I obsessed with tea, my husband (never a coffee drinker) has taking a liking to the pu’erh tea. It may sound silly, but being able to share a pot of tea on a Sunday morning while our toddler runs around like a crazy nutter is a really beautiful thing.

So, after all this chatter about tea I’m sure you’re thinking “Jeez get to the point already”. My point is this – I’ve become a Steeped Tea Consultant! Wahoo!!!i_just_joined_steepedtea

I know what many of you are thinking, another pyramid scheme, another direct sales company blah blah – and yes it is a direct sales company. Obviously. However the thing is, I’m getting into this company because of one thing. I. LOVE.TEA. Seriously. I’ve become obsessed, I talk about it constantly (which is annoying to many I’m sure) and drink copious amounts each day. Will I be able to be a stay at home mom as a Steeped Tea consultant? Maybe. Will I get to meet new people and share my obsession? Absolutely. Will it be fun? YES! Whether I earn enough money to stay home with my kid, make no money at all or just make enough to fund my tea habit, it isn’t the point. The point is that I’ve invested in myself, in the opportunity to be my own boss and work with a great company. I’ve tried direct sales before and failed. This time will be different. I’m committed, I’m wiser and most importantly – I love the product! Check out my website, peruse the products, place an order!

Shout out to my fellow tea drinkers – who’s ready to parTEA?!?!?!

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Olympic Fever

Colourful leotards. Slicked back hair. Sparkles everywhere. Power and grace.

It must be gymnastics day at the Olympics in Rio.

Seriously, I LOVE gymnastics. I was not involved in the sport at all growing up, but always wished I could flip around like my friends could. As I’ve continued to watch the sport through the years, my yearn to change my name to something Russian and fling myself around some uneven bars has yet to subside. It is one of the sports that I will stay up late (11pm to find out who made the American Team after the national competition), hog the tv and watch every group. You never know what will happen, the girl or team that won the world championships could fall off the balance beam and not even medal. The 41 year old gymnast from Uzbekistan is amazing. She is competing in her 6th Olympics and is expected to make the finals for Vault. She is competing against girls were in diapers when she was winning Olympic gold medals. It’s crazy. (For more on Oksana Chusovitina read this great article from ESPN) I also love when a county who isn’t known for their gymnastics is a medal hopeful. That’s right folks, our very own Canadian women are a medal hopeful in the team rotation, with a couple of the women hopefuls for some apparatus finals. I’m so excited to watch the Canadians this afternoon.

*GO CANADA GO*!!

Then you have the disasters. In the women’s competition so far (after two of five subdivisions) you have girls from random countries that are likely to make apparatus finals (Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland on the Vault) and you have at least two girls from each rotation falling off the balance beam. It has been very dramatic. I have absolutely no qualifications with this sport, but when I watch from my couch it’s as though I’ve been in a national training school in China since I was 5 years old. I can tell you why the most decorated Olympic gymnast ever (Russian Aliya Mustafina) fell off the beam (her shoulders weren’t square throwing her balance off) and what the Chinese women need to do to make the top 3 in the team finals (stay focused and consistent in their landings). See? I told you.

I leave you with this epic disaster that happened during the men’s competition yesterday. (Please be aware, this video is EXTREMELY graphic. If you are sensitive, it’s probably a good idea to stop reading. Right now. It’s so gross it’s good.)

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I can’t do it. It’s so gross. YouTube it if you want to see it. The gymnast’s name is Samir Ait Said and it breaks my heart to watch. Not only is his Olympic experience over, his gymnastic career may be also.

What sport do you have an honorary gold medal in?

Update: So the American women won the team gold and top 2 in the all around competition, the two Canadian women made the all around with Elly Black making the top 5 and Canadian trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan won gold for the second consecutive Olympic games. It has been a pure pleasure to watch – GO CANADA GO!!