You’ll Just Have Heaven Before We Do

25 Nov

Heartache fills me today as I write this post.  I spent my day at Alberta Children’s Hospital participating in a pediatric palliative care workshop.  It was absolutely beneficial, and I am grateful I took it, however it left me feeling emotionally drained.

I arrived home and not one hour later did I find out that an old friend’s beautiful newborn passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  Upon learning this, all the grief and emotions I had been bottling away today, and truthfully, for the last few months, came bubbling to the surface and I dissolved into a mess of tears.

I am asked all the time “I don’t know how you do what you do”, and my standard response is “most kids come in sick, but leave well”.  I rarely delve into the darker and more emotional side of things.  The truth is however, sometimes it is just damn hard.

Dealing with an actual death is one thing, but for myself, anticipatory grief is the worst.  I struggle holding children in my arms who have a poor prognosis and knowing there is perhaps only weeks or months left.  I mourn for the hole they are going to leave in the lives of those who they touch, and often struggle to find meaning in their deaths, or shortened life spans.  It breaks my heart watching parents wrestle with a new reality, and feel empty when I arrive to work, only to discover a little one is no longer in this world with us.

I won’t pretend that these situations are about me, because they certainly aren’t, but I can’t deny how affected I am by them.  I am grateful for my spirituality, and the trust that these little ones are lucky, because they receive a heavenly reward so soon, without the pain and suffering a longer earthly life can bring.  I still do grapple with the feelings of anger or uncertainty for those left behind to mourn. 

A line that struck me in my workshop today was “grief is the price we pay for loving”.  I take some comfort in the fact that I am able to connect on a level with those I care for that I do grieve, proof of their impact on earth.  Although I still do struggle on occassion with the “how” of pediatric nursing, specifically regarding death, I still feel absolutely grateful and privledged to be in this profession. 

Tonight, I hug my little girls a little tighter, and make my prayers a little more earnest for those who are hurting.  I hope they also feel some sense of peace when times are dark and the hurt is overwhelming.

Just Show Them Love

3 Nov

Shortly after the shooting in Ottawa two weeks ago, I was watching the news with Abby when they played footage of Sgt at Arms Ken Vickers being received at the House of Commons.

I did not expect all the questions that would flow out of my little four year old. “Why are they clapping?” “Why is he a hero?” and most poignantly, “why are they crying?”.

Deep breath.

I explained to her, as best as I could, that he helped stop someone who had a gun from hurting lots of people.  I answered honestly when she asked if anyone got hurt, and then was faced with the toughest question of all: “why would someone do that?”.

The best I could do was tell her that some people have hate in their heart, and there are lots of reasons why that happens.  I told her people can make really bad decisions, and quoted Frozen:  “people make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed”.  I reassured her there are police officers, like her uncle, who are specially trained to stop people like this and put them in jail. 

I then took it one step further, and told her it was our job to love these people anyway.  There are troubles and problems in the lives of strangers that we know nothing about, and can’t always understand someone else’s struggle.  We talked about hate breeding more hate, and that working towards understanding is the best way to resolve conflict.  I went on to tell her that if she really tried, but couldn’t find love in her heart, she could always ask God for help.  She seemed really satisfied by this, and we moved on.

It absolutely sucks having to talk about heavy issues like this with a four year old, however just yesterday I was able to see that as awful as these situations are, they create a framework for moral lessons.  We were watching a show together and things got quite heated between two characters, one being particularly nasty to the other.  My sweet little ginger haired girl turned to me and said “he should just show her love…because then she will show him love and they can stop fighting”.

Wouldn’t that be perfect if we all thought that way, all the time?

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: My Story

15 Oct

I hadn’t realized there was a Pregnancy and Infant Loss day, but have been toying with blogging about our loss for a while now.  So here goes…

Tyler and I knew we wanted kids for a long time, well before we were married.  After we got married (in 2007) we decided to wait to have kids until I was done with my second degree.  As the years passed we started to get itchy for a little one and decides to start trying.

We tried “on and off” for a while, (as in, would stop trying if there was something on the horizon it wouldn’t be convenient to be pregnant for) and in 2009 were ecstatic when we finally discovered we were pregnant!  We started planning our future with our little one the minute we saw that second pink line and couldn’t wait to tell friends and family.  The timing wasn’t superb, as my due date was right around the date I wrote my nursing exam, but we knew we would make it work.

We received a dating ultrasound and I was quite early (about 6 weeks) along.  The two of us grinned from ear to ear and stared at the fuzzy black and white picture of our little baby, who was just a small sac at the time.

I was doing a flu shot clinic in my final student rotation and discovered I was bleeding.  My heart sank, and my instructor drove me to the ER to get checked out.  I was reassured that since I wasn’t cramping it was most likely fine, but only an ultrasound would tell.  My blood work came back with positive numbers, and I was relieved to discover I was still pregnant.

I continued to have light intermittent bleeding, but no cramping so I brushed it off and hoped for the best over the next week.  One night, I was at my sister’s with my mom watching her kids, and I discovered that I had passed what looked like a small sac.  I called my mom to the bathroom and, between sobs, told her I knew it was over.  I felt absolutely empty, and was certain I had miscarried this time.

An ultrasound the next day confirmed I had in fact had a miscarriage.  Tyler and I were beyond heartbroken.  We sobbed in the darkened room, and were fairly silent on the ride home.  What I will never, ever forget is what happened when we came home.  Ty went down to our fourth level, and I lay down upstairs.  Suddenly, I heard sobs that sounded like a heartbroken animal crying.  I went downstairs to find Tyler beside himself with grief.  He explained that he was trying to be strong for me, but just couldn’t right that moment.  My heart broke even more, but my love for him grew.

Things I learned:

1. A baby is a baby, now matter how early the loss.  The minute I found out I was pregnant, that was my baby. I thought in the future, and even though I had an early loss, I still pictured what would have been.

2. A miscarriage is not a one day event.  Following the loss, I had pain and cramping and even ended up in the emergency room to have remnants of conception removed over the two weeks that followed.  It was horrible, and while the physical is still happening, it was impossible to move forward with the emotional.

3.  A loss is just a profound for the father.  Tyler lost his baby too, and hurt just as much as I did.

4. Miscarriage puts a future fear in you.  I was terrified to try to get pregnant again after, because I was worried I couldn’t handle another loss.

Obviously our story ended up happy.  We gave my body some time to heal and decided to try again shortly after and were shocked when we got pregnant on the first try.  Holding Abrielle in my arms made me realize that without losing my first baby, I would have never had her.  Down the line, I wouldn’t have had Gracie either, and while it is a lot easier to say that now that I can hold them in my arms, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.

For myself, I feel it is important to share my story with others because so many people have experienced it.  I was not ready to talk about it until after Abby was born, but now I share it freely.  I know that talking about it helped me heal, and I feel at peace with what happened.

At the Heart of it

6 Oct

I have to say, as much as I wasn’t looking forward to being in my thirties, with it has come a sense of self acceptance and peace. 

I have gone through a lot of changes this year, both physical and emotional.  After hurting my back (an annoying issue that I am still dealing with), I gained a lot of weight back that I had lost.  It is hard to watch your body change back after working so hard to make positive gains (no pun intended), but I am surprised that it hasn’t affected me mentally as much as it would have in the past.  I think I have a new self confidence that I have grown into, and I absolutely know that I am responsible for promoting a positive body image to my girls.

Although I want to change my body, and am not satisfied with it, I still love what it does for me, and what it has done in the past.  This body has comforted the sick, grown babies, run a half marathon and danced at concerts.  It has swung my babies high over my head and threaded needles in tiny little veins.  It deserves respect, and I intend to give it that, extra jiggle and all.

Emotionally, I feel I have grown the most.  I use to be very concerned with pleasing everyone, and hoped everyone liked me.  I don’t want to sound glib by saying “I don’t care what you think about me”, because that isn’t entirely true.  More so, what I am concerned with is how what you think of me makes me feel. 

I can’t control the opinions of others, and some of those opinions will always be true, whether I like it or not.  All I can control is how I feel about it, and how I choose to let it affect me.

For example, if someone says they don’t agree with a parenting choice that I make, in the past I would have thought “that person is judgemental” or something along those lines while bitterly defending my decision.  Now, my focus is on not what they said (because they absolutely have the right to say it) but rather what emotion it evokes in me.  Insecurity?  Is it because maybe I don’t actually agree with my own decision?  It is always worth a reflection.

It is especially hard if this comes as a character attack. Hearing someone say something about you that you don’t believe to be true is a hard pill to swallow, and hard to walk away from.  I do believe that anytime something is said, it is worth a reflection.  Is there truth to it, even if I don’t like it?  More importantly, what motivated them to say it?  Where are they coming from?

My experience is, most times, it isn’t really about me and conversely comments I make might not truly be about the other person. What is at the heart of it?  Are they motivated by trying to inspire a change, or is it more likely coming from a place of hurt, jealousy or insecurity? 

This new outlook has brought me so much peace.  It has made it easier to confront a problem to delve in and see if there was actually an issue, or maybe just a misunderstanding.  It has allowed me to let go of anything that just doesn’t serve me or make me happy.
Why hang on to something like that?

Something I have been focusing on lately with Abrielle is the statement “is it true”.  Just because something is said does not make it true, and it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Brush it off and move on.

I feel so blessed to have such a fantastic group of friends and family, and hope the same for my girls.  Life is a journey of self reflection and growth, and I hope they always push themselves to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

I will try to do the same. :)

Sunday Scenes

5 Oct

This weekend has been unseasonably (and amazingly!) warm.  I am in a new position now where I work 2 weekends of days a month, so I was happy to have a family weekend these past few days.

Yesterday was an absolutely lazy day.  We had a big brunch and stayed in our pjs until about 3:30. 

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Ty’s AA team was playing at home so Richelle, the girls and I head out to watch.  It was nice to have some girl time while my little ladies ran around and devoured popcorn, and Richelle even walked away a little more flush after winning the 50/50.

Today was wonderful in that I slept in until almost 11:30!!!  I cannot even remember the last time I did that and it felt great.  We had lunch and then head down to the park for some play time before Ty left for the rink again.

Gracelyn was fairly hilarious on her bike, yelling “cwazy dwiver!” and “back me up, I stuck!”.  The girls had fun running around before heading home for some down time.

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We hit up another little park outside the hockey rink before going in to watch today’s game.  We also hit it up after the first period following an absolute and totally embarrassing full on melt down by Grace that was related to a 5 cent candy.  She was a full blown terrible two for a little while, but thankfully settled after a talk outside.  I tell you, there’s a little bit of devil in those angel eyes!  Good thing she is adorable and sweet 96% of the time….

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Go hockey!

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Both girls actually intently watching the game!

We stayed until the end of the 2nd period and then head out to my mom’s for dinner where the girls had a blast playing with their cousins.  A little blip on the radar when Abby threw up because she saw Gracie’s poop (this kid has a hair trigger poop related gag reflex!) and then Gracelyn who has been a little….erm…..backed up, made her second deposit of the night that ended in needing her pants and my mom’s bedding washed.  All in all a good night!

Gracie Goo at 2

1 Oct

Angel,

My baby, you are no longer a baby.  I can’t believe at this time two years ago Abby was just your age and we were getting ready to be induced.  Time has absolutely flown.

At 2, you are a wildly happy, stubborn, spirited girl.  Your smile is big, your temper is short, and your laugh usually from the belly.  You have such a grab life by the horns attitude and know what you do (and don’t want).  You go from using the sweetest little “please?  Pleasy weasy?” to having a melt down if you don’t get your way, but thankfully are almost always quickly redirectable.

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Your favourite things are playing with your sister, playing babies, princesses, doing fashion shows and tea parties.  You love Bo on the Go and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  You love to sing and dance, and Daddy recently taught you to fist pump, so that is hilarious!

You continue to be an excellent sleeper and  terrific eater.  You are almost potty trained (I just need to take the leap and stop putting pull ups on you!).  Your vocabulary is amazing in my opinion and there aren’t many words you don’t know! 

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At 2, you are incredibly busy and love jumping, playing chase, riding your bike and going to the park.  You love swings and slides and climbing…baby, you give me heart attacks with your bravery! 

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You are now almost 25lbs, 33.5 inches, in anywhere from 12-24 month clothes and size 6 shoes.  You just popped your last eye tooth today and are a very healthy little girl.  You have long legs, and I suspect you will be a tall lady! 

Your love for coffee is ridiculous and insatiable, and you steal sips every chance you get.  You love colouring and doing “hair pretties” and harrasing the dog.  You think you are hilarious and laugh with a goose like honk at your own antics. 

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Gracelyn Ella, you are nothing but a delight.  Although I recently said I was going to sell you to the gypsies (you would probably establish a coup and become their most wild leader), you make me laugh every day.  You are incredibly sweet and love to give kisses and snuggles.  You are beyond cute and have the most precious little face.

Gracie Goo, you completed our family when you arrived 2 years ago and I can’t imagine a day without you.  You are such a joy and a blessing, and I am thrilled and grateful to be your Mama little girl.

Love you always,
Mama

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A Royal Affair

28 Sep

Another birthday party is under our belts, and once again, it was a gooder.  We celebrated Abrielle and Gracelyn’s upcoming 4th and 2nd birthday yesterday with a royal themed joint party, and it was a blast.

This might (not) come as a shock, but I like to have a theme for a party.  I feel a little lost without one.  This year was a no brainer, as both girls are princess obsessed.  Although they dressed up as Elsa and Cinderella, I made the executive decision not to do a Disney theme, as a) I didn’t know where to even start…the merchandise is exhaustive and b) it felt a little non inclusive for boys.

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This is a very, very grouchy Cinderella

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I internally do a happy dance every time she asks for a crown braid

The morning of the party Mike, Richelle and I went to the venue to decorate.  The space is awesome, but ugly so I quickly covered the walls with table clothes and we strung some bunting and homemade pom poms. 

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Before

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After

The whole time I was watching the forecast hoping the thundershower warning would be called off.  Our bouncy house vendor, Parker Parties, was beyond gracious and offered to give it until 1 hour before the party to improve before cancelling.  I started to think of a back up plan! Thankfully it was a go, so we headed back to the venue at about 2:45.

Naturally, I punished anyone who arrived early by making them help me make drinks, set up picnic tables and direct traffic.  We were ready just after 3 when friends started to arrive.

I had set up a dress up station with sparkle spray and dress up accessories, but this was largely ignored early on in favor of the bouncy house.

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Shortly after everyone arrived our Fries and Dolls food truck was ready to serve up dinner.  Everyone lined up at their leisure and Lisa did a great job pumping out the food and even made me a veggie dog.  People looked stuffed and satisfied afterwords, so in my mind, that is a success!

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Shortly afterwards, we sang happy birthday, ate cupcakes, and then the kids tackled the pinata.  It was the cutest frenzy when Craig finally ripped it open on them!

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There was a mad opening of gifts, where the girls were absolutely and utterly spoiled and then people started to trickle out (incidentally, we ran out of beer at the same time, lol!).  A few folks stayed for some time around the fire we had going, and Danielle, Craig and Rick all helped clean up and take down (major thank you by the way!).

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A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came and helped celebrate our girls this weekend.  I appreciate all the love and support we are shown, and am so thrilled to be raising our daughters in this little village of friends and family.  Xoxo

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