Wednesday, November 26, 2014

how disaster strikes

Today Emma went to the store with her daddy, just a normal outing.  They left like usual, and came back like usual, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until they told me that Emma choked very severely on a piece of candy and just about passed out.  Thankfully, MrH had the knowledge and presence of spirit to administer the Heimlich maneuver, but I cannot stop thinking that if this happened with the nanny, maybe things would not have been the same.  Perhaps it was not a piece of candy, perhaps it was just saliva causing her throat to close up (laryngospasm), in which case she might have recovered.  Regardless, Emma could have just as easily died in the store today.

And that is how disaster strikes, swiftly, unexpectedly.  One moment your kid goes to the store to get fruit with her daddy, the next moment she can choke on candy and drop dead. Gone from your life forever, just like that.  One moment you are pregnant and loving your round belly that is growing, the baby that is kicking, and the husband that thinks you are a miracle in transformation, and the next moment you start leaking amniotic fluid and in less than a few hours, or days, all is over and you are alone, no baby, no belly, and no miracle.

How is it that knowing this in the depth of my bones, I can still go through each day completely oblivious to this universal truth?  Is this mercy or blindness?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

clothing style

I am wrestling with my clothing style again.  I say again because it is one of my periodic areas of upheaval, at least since I have been pregnant, not pregnant, skinny because of losing Adrian and being sad, a bit overweight because of IVF with Emma, then pregnant with Emma, then post partum, then fit but not very skinny until Daniel, then pregnant with Daniel, then back to fit and not the skinniest ever but normal BMI weight again.

Are you dizzy yet?

I am.

On top of that, I have started work again after being a stay at home mom for eight months after having Daniel.  But I am only working half days, so that leaves half days of being with kids at home. My work and the kids require vastly, vastly different clothing choices.  I work in an office, and although the environment is very forgiving, I am a professional, and I feel better if I dress as such.

Lastly, I am torn between my equally strong pulls towards minimalism and order on the one hand, and creativity and choices on the other hand.  I need to respect both, as if I forget about the minimalism/order side, I feel overwhelmed, and if I go too spartan in that direction, I feel bored and drab and blah. I have been down to one pair of pants, one skirt and two sweaters on the one hand, and up to a very full walk in closet of which I pretty much wore everything, as everything fit and had a cousin to match.  I now do not have the time to sit and fold and look after so many clothes with the TLC that they deserve.  I like my clothes ironed.  I don't like stains or pills, and I spend time getting those out.  I fix small holes immediately, no kidding, I have a needle and multiple threads next to my toothbrush in the bathroom.

My actual style is forever changing as well...I am talking about my style at work.  At home, I have a simple formula of 4 jeans (or 2 lululemon crops in summer), and four nursing tops (long sleeve in winter, and short sleeve in summer).  Ugg boots in winter, and flats in summer.  All done.  Summer is short, winter is long, so I allocate proportionally more clothes to winter, and more money to that department.

At work, I mostly wear wool skirts with boots and cashmere sweaters on top.  I have just acquired (this year) two wool trousers, one dress, and two blazers.  I am branching in that direction now, so as to avoid the repetitiveness of skirt plus sweater.  However, as a wannabe minimalist, I should love the repetitiveness of my very defined tendency towards skirt/boot/sweater. See what I mean? I am pulled in the direction of variety and my minimalist side feels uncomfortable with the expansion, but my variety craving side was feeling bored and wanted to break some new ground.

I am reading style and fashion blogs, and find that even stylists don't have their own style sometimes!! Some people alternate so much from earthy/warm colours to cool/black/white, from whimsical/boho to clean/sharp lines, from patterns to solids, that I am thinking IF I WANT TO BE A MINIMALIST, I CANNOT READ FASHION/STYLE BLOGS.  I would say it is definitely a good idea that they vary things, but man, I need to see a trend, a pattern, a tendency of the wearer, not just nice outfits creatively put together.

I have no idea what any of this has to do with the topic of my blog (nothing?), except to say that, as with anything in life, we hold inside ourselves two opposing sides, and they pull us in different directions at different times.  If I were to listen to miss minimalist on the left side of my brain today, and severely cut down my wardrobe today, miss creative on the right side would be very sad tomorrow...

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Hey, if you are reading, comment just to say hi.  I am curious who is still reading my blog!  At one point I thought it was becoming a journal, since I am the only one that is still showing up here, but I see I am still getting over 100 reads a day, so can I please  find out who out there is reading my journal???  HAHAHA

Saturday, November 15, 2014


This is so very true!!! I felt like a failure when I could not get pregnant, then definitely felt like a failure when my cervix gave way and I lost the baby at 20 weeks, then felt like a failure some more when I could not get pregnant or had chemical pregnancies, and then when I did have the baby I felt like a huge giant failure for not producing enough breastmilk. By the time I got to having the third baby and developed a rare case of severe preeclampsia, and on top of that had a placenta accreta, I was so used to being a rare bird kind of failure at the whole reproduction thing that I no longer felt ANYTHING about it and just got on with life. I think you have inspired me to write about my feelings and how they just atrophied with repetitive injury...

I wrote this comment in response to a very good post that I read at No Kidding in NZ.  I used to feel like such a failure, that it is worth repeating the concept in my words as well, if only to help others who are at the point that I was.  

When I could not conceive initially, it was a shock.  Prior to that, I thought of myself quite highly (why exactly, I don't know, and it bears examining, since being healthy, smart, tall, beautiful or any other adjectives that I might have self-attributed or heard from others actually have nothing to do with my own achievement really and have everything to do with the gifts received from God, genetics and the luck of the draw).   I still hold myself up to extremely high standards, and it will be part of me for the rest of my life to bear the burden of my perfectionism.  However, suffice it to say that I got quite the shock when things were just not working as planned, despite no obvious problems.  

I took some time to accept that not all things can be done perfectly, that conception was out of my control, and hence that I could not hold myself accountable for the outcomes.  Then, I got pregnant via IVF and lost the baby due to incompetent cervix.  The sense of guilt coming out of that "failure" is still around to this day, but I have learned to live with it.  There was guilt about all of the subsequent failed IVF's, and sense of guilt about not being able to breastfeed Emma like I thought all mothers SHOULD (ha!  good word, should...). 

By the time I got to Daniel, something interesting had shifted in me.  I simply became immune to guilt, more or less.  I just accepted that that is the way I am built, that my luck of the draw was this never-ending series of mishaps, some more monumental than others.  And I suddenly felt free of a giant burden.  Yes, occasionally the burden can be triggered again by a senseless comment that I unwittingly do not filter, usually when I am tired and run down.  But somewhere in my subconscious mind, I have accepted the futility of trying to do anything to change my reproductive "failures", and that acceptance was a huge relief.  

I don't know how this happened, I just know that it did, and it did not happen right away, but after many, many times of being hurt.  I guess I just decided that I can no longer be bothered to be hurt by these judgements, whether they came from me or from others. 

My hope is that this healing happen for everyone eventually.  Every emotional pain, including guilt, and the sense of failure, has to dull down at some point.  The initial intensity has to diminish, otherwise we would not be able to function.  I think that is what happened to me, it was just too much to feel badly about, so I just stopped feeling badly.  And when I did, I felt relief.  But it was not something I had chosen to do, it just came about (and I am glad that it did :). 

Friday, November 14, 2014

mother to a stillborn baby

I don't often post about Adrian, my stillborn little boy, but that does not mean that I don't think about him every day.  I find it hard to write about him.  He belongs more in my thoughts than in my everyday life, and the people that I hang out with don't know much about my past, and about my pregnancy with him, about losing him.  Since he came into my life and left, I have moved to a different city, got a different job, had two more children, and the hospital in which he and Emma were born was completely demolished and the ground is now bare.

I also don't allow myself to feel the pain of losing him too often.  I worry that I am suppressing that part of my life a little too well.  I touch his urn every day, and once in a while I remember his limp body, his tiny chest, his vulnerable neck that I wanted to kiss but would have had no room to do so as it was so small.  Everything about him small, fragile, lovely, sweet, and tiny baby-ish.

I am his mother, perhaps (one could argue) in a different way than I am Emma and Daniel's mother, but still there is no doubt in my mind that I am his mother.  Mothering, I feel, is a way of being, not really something that I do.  I feel protective, loving beyond belief, courageous, firm, I feel like nothing can get in the way of what I perceive as being the best path for my children, and I am fearless  regarding what would happen to me when it comes to protecting them.

I know that mothering Adrian is quite different from mothering my toddler Emma, but hey, mothering Emma is different from mothering baby Daniel too.  They all have different needs.  Adrian needs to be remembered and prayed for and held softly and gently in my heart forever.  Emma needs lots of things, but mainly attachment and security and a happy environment in which she can thrive.  Daniel needs lots of food, and warmth, and a dry clean diaper, and to touch my face and pull my hair and giggle with me. I honestly just do the best I can for every one of my children, but I do not feel any less of a mother to one than to the other two.

I am writing this because I know that some women have not had living children after their stillborn babies, and because I would have wanted to know whether I was any less of a mother than a woman who has living children.  Having been blessed with having both sides of this experience, this is my take on things.  Once you bond, you are a mother, and bond you will, whether the baby is born alive or not.  For a little stillborn boy or girl, you want to do your best to make sure there was no suffering, you tell them and show them your love, you look after their body with care and reverence and take great pains to make sure that their memory is kept alive.  You never forget them, and you don't allow those who love you to forget your son or daughter either.  There are another hundred big and little things that you do that I am leaving out now, because I know I don't need to continue.  It is the love that makes one a mother, not the presence or absence of the child on her lap.

Emma's conversations

This is kind of like microblog Mondays, which I should sign up for.

I just woke up and am struggling to put back on her pi's (why she took them off is anybody's guess)

Emma:  You look stinky!!! (giggle)
Me:  I do? (worriedly smelling own morning breath)
Emma:  Yes!! you are stinky!!
Me:  Is it my hair?
Emma:  Ooops!  you made a silly fart!

Conversations with a toddler are the best.  So full of wisdom and compassion and logic.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

full of pie

This was me last night:  come home from work after working for four hours at a fairly fast pace, all wired up and full of tense energy.  Yell at kids and husband because house not clean.  Apologize and resolve to be a better person in the future.  Put kids to bed and, instead of falling asleep, have a wonderful time with my husband, just chatting and relaxing.  Feel like I have gotten over my tiredness and emotional fatigue associated with work.  Wander to the kitchen, just to make sure that the fridge is still there.  (Occasionally one has to check, you never know).  Find blueberry pie in the fridge, about a third of a double crust pie leftover from the day before.  Eat a big slice (with whipped cream).  Mmmm, very good.  Hit the spot.  Eat another slice.  Mmmm, still good.  Definitely not hungry anymore.  However, continue eating because this pie is so good, it is a shame to throw it away, and it would be weird to put in the fridge just a tiny piece left, all the while realizing that none of these reasons is a good reason to eat.  In addition, I felt like my hand was moving by itself, my jaw was chewing by itself, and my actual brain was somewhere else, on a tropical island vacation.

I have not been in a mind space like this in a very long time, and it shows that I am overtired.  I have decided today that any measure designed to help me do less work, or be more efficient at cleaning the house (or at work, if possible) is worth investigating.  Hence, I have ordered a dictation software for work, instead of typing, and also I have thinned out a bit the toys that are lying all over the place (particularly the ones with many small pieces, you know what I mean).  Anything that can help me streamline the process of tidying up a bit is worth the effort and sacrifice.  And a bounty of toys plus cranky mother is not as good as a scarcity of toys plus happy mother.  (Still aiming for the medium though :).

Thursday, November 6, 2014

it went ok

The first day back was actually pretty uneventful.  Nothing bad happened, really, my password got sorted out, the kids got along with the nanny ok, and all was well.  When I came back, Daniel took one look at me and started screaming upset sounds (meant to tell me that I must never dare leave him again).  Emma was very hyperactive and tired this evening, likely because of the change as well, as I am certain that being with the nanny required more attention and energy than simply chilling with me in the afternoons.  The nanny seemed ok too.  Everyone survived. The only glitch in the whole day is that I forgot to put mascara over the mascara primer, which is white, and so I went to the office with white eyelashes.  Luckily nobody said anything.

There won't be a long blog post tonight as I am tired and I have a sore throat.  In addition, my car is still at the repair shop and I need to go get it, it is 9 pm already and I have to be back by 10 pm in order to sleep.  If I don't get to sleep by 10 pm, I am incredibly tired the next day, mostly because I wake up around 6 every morning to exercise.  That being said, tomorrow morning I plan on sleeping in, since I don't feel so well and I need rest.

Have a good night everyone!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

back to work tomorrow

I am going back to work tomorrow, and I am having anxiety in all colours of the rainbow.  Anxiety about leaving my kids, first of all, but also anxiety about the work itself.  I hope I did not forget too much of what I know, because if I did, I might screw up and hurt somebody (I have the kind of job where I might easily do that).  I hope also that my computer password finally starts to work at some point in the next few days, because so far it has been a hard road trying to log in, despite IT trying to fix it during several attempts on the phone (IT is remote).  I am anxious about being anxious about my computer password, because HELLO, what crazy person has that kind of anxiety?...I also hope that the booking secretaries don't kill me in my first few days with too much on my plate.  Finally, I hope that I still fit into my office clothes, because I have lived in lululemons (you know what those are) for the past year.

I am also undergoing a sudden shift in identity the moment I start to work again.  I am no longer a mom that is looking after her kids, I become my professional persona to everybody other than my husband, my kids, my parents, my brother, and my oldest friends, who have known me as just me, not me-the-professional.  It is a bit like carrying an invisible aura that weighs uncomfortably heavy after a while and I would like to be able to put down, but I get reminded to pick it up the moment I see any person in this town other than my nuclear family.  I don't necessarily mind it after a while, but it is definitely a change, and it is worth mentioning.  Lastly, I will never be able to shut off my phone, which was one of the most blissful parts of my recent existence.  Yes, I missed numerous calls from people including my mom who gets worried, but the peace and quiet that I got to just exist and not have to pick up if I don't feel like it was exceptional.

I think that the kids will be OK with the nanny.  She seems nice, a little to soft and indulgent, but rather that than a scary meanie.  I let her spend individual time with both Emma and Daniel today, and I have started to relax a lot about my role not being changed in any way by her presence.  Plus, she did the dishes when we cooked, and that is quite a treat, because I baked a huge pumpkin, two different kinds of cookies, and a sugar free pumpkin cheesecake, plus made two soups today, pumpkin and beet borscht, so the cleanup was no small feat for me or for her (I have a dishwasher, but it does not wash well, so we have to wash everything first by hand and use the dishwasher as a final touch/drying rack mostly).

It will help me to think about what work does for me and why I chose to go back, and why I will always choose to go back under just about any circumstances:
- fulfilment of what I believe God wants me to be in life
- fulfilment of what I have always wanted to do with my life before I knew how nice it is to raise kids and stay at home with them (grin)
- the opportunity to use my extravagantly expensive and rather long education
-I might actually help someone
-I am probably good at what I do, or at the very least decent, so I might as well do it
-it inspires my kids, particularly Emma, to aim for a career, a calling, and not just settle for a random job
-oh, did I mention that I get paid?  And man, after many months of no income, that is a welcome bonus.

OK, I have convinced myself, tomorrow I am getting dressed and I am walking out that door like I mean business.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


It is hard to believe how much Emma, baby, MrH and I have become our own little tribe.  We are very close.  Particularly since I am at home all day long with the kids, and take them with me everywhere I go, as I was writing before, I am very attached to them, and to the feeling of having them WITH ME, just like during a pregnancy.  (I suspect this is at least partly due to my being a control freak who needs to know all the time what the kids are doing).  This is just our way of life.

Enter nanny, and the option today of leaving the kids with her while I go buy lightbulbs and toilet paper and odd grocery items like cream of tartar (don't ask).  I went without them, mainly because I wanted to see what it would be like.  On the plus side, I went to three different stores and to the post office in the span of less than one hour.  I got to tick off a list of items that had been running on over the past two weeks, I was just strategically trying to do it without having to put the kids through the stress of being in and out of their car seats so many times.  On the minus side, by the time I reached the hardware store (my last stop), I was so lonely and sad that I was jealous of the mothers coming in with three kids in tow.  I mean c'mon, we all know that having to do shopping with kids is universally the stuff of parental nightmares, and yet, I found myself missing my little wingman and my little wing lady.  (Never mind the fact that the woman with the multiple kids is actually working, and she probably had just picked up her kids from school/daycare after being away from them for the whole day).

This is going to take some getting used to.  Having the nanny in the house feels intrusive to both Emma and me.  Today, as I was putting Daniel to sleep with a boob in his mouth, Emma climbed into bed with me, shut the door (the nanny was in the kitchen, putting the groceries away), and she said "mommy, I want to go home".  I wanted to say "so do I". My feelings exactly, little girl.  We don't like change, and this is Big Change to all three of us.  Luckily for Daniel, he is mellow and little and just goes along for the ride.  I am big and anxious, and feel like opposing the change with all four hoofs digging in the dirt.

Anybody remind me where the carrot is?  It is supposedly dangling in front of my nose, but I just cannot see it, tears clouding the view and all... (One would be completely unable to tell that it is I who chose to have a nanny instead of dropping off the kids at daycare, because of the daily grind of having to be in time both for my work start and for the daycare closing time).  Yep, people, it was my choice.

On the plus side, my house has never been cleaner.

Here are some pictures of what my kids look like in the snow.  It was -5C today (23 F), and we had fun while I shovelled the driveway and the patios.  Emma likes to help with her own shovel, and baby likes to sleep on my back (preferably) in the Ergo carrier, or in the stroller if the going gets rough and I have to do a lot of shovelling fast.

Monday, November 3, 2014

mixed feelings

I am feeling quite mixed up at the moment about having household help.  On the one hand, it is nice to have someone else do the sweep/vacuum/mop routine, and to have somebody look after the kids while I am doing the grocery shopping or going to my piano lesson, for instance.  But on the other hand, I am very very VERY used to having Emma and Daniel accompany me everywhere I go, and having them around when I do the cleaning.  Emma even helps out by now.  It is hard, exceptionally hard sometimes to have to carry four piano books, a super-bundled up baby (the clothes have more volume than the baby at this point of winter), and a toddler that is dressed in head to toe snow gear to the point that she needs help getting in and out of the car.  I definitely stress out about not having enough hands.  So that madness can end now...

On the other sweet to have my two children with me everywhere.  They are part of my life just like the air I breathe.  The post office lady knows them, and is used to me shuffling boxes and baby while struggling to find my VISA, all at the same time as unwrapping the compulsory lollipop that Emma gets whenever we go there (she has learned to expect it, and now she asks the post office lady for it shamelessly!).  The piano teacher is used to holding my baby on her lap, while Emma is sitting on her couch looking at books.  The baby is used to being on the kitchen floor while Emma and I empty the dishwasher.  It is not always love all around, but it mostly is, and we are incredibly close.  Now this bond is about to change somehow, because of the presence of the nanny, and because of the shortened amount of time that I will be spending with the kids.  I feel that we are always going to be quite attached at the hip, if the kids allow it, because that is my natural tendency, but the truth is that we will probably never be quite as close as we have been during this past year.  So much has happened, so much trauma, so many miracles, so much drama, so much love, and while it was hard, it created this intimacy that envelops us at this point, and that I am scared of losing.

As an aside, I am suddenly aware that ever since I have emigrated to Canada in my late teens, it has been just my nuclear family around me and no other relatives or help of any kind.  It was difficult, but  it created a type of enmeshment which I have felt comfortable recreating within my own family.  I love having just MrH, Emma and Daniel around, and nobody else. I feel a bit protective towards this small and dear family of mine, and do not want to share this space and this love with anybody else.  I am pretty sure that somewhere in the past few sentences I have lost all logic and am thinking with my primitive brain, the one that is trying to protect the tribe from intruders.  Even when the intruders are helping me clean the house and make it possible for me to work, earn money and practice the profession that I love.  Sounds terrible, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

the nanny begins

Tomorrow the nanny is coming to our house for the first time.  She will be looking after the kids for five hours a day or so, and helping to clean the house for the other three hours.  I am very apprehensive, because I have never had a nanny, nor do I know really what they do.  I have been looked after by my grandparents when I was little, and so were all my friends.  When that was not possible, I went to kindergarden (a big daycare really).  My daughter Emma has been going to a person's in house daycare, and then to a bigger daycare when she reached the age of 2.  She enjoyed it, but I am fairly certain that she has enjoyed being with me a whole lot more.

Daniel is only six months adjusted, and I am apprehensive to leave him, and Emma is very much attached to me, so I am not too thrilled about leaving her either.  However, it is time for me to go back to my work.  I have invested lots of time and effort into my training, and the other day a nice lady I swim with said that I am very good at what I do and it would be a shame not to go back.  I was not even debating the possibility of not going back, but she certainly made me feel better.

Anyway, today, as I was making the beds, I was thinking that this might well be the last time in the next year or two that I am changing the sheets, since I sincerely think I am going to delegate this particular task to the nanny (insert big grin).  Sheets get changed every two days on our bed, because we all sleep in it and if I don't it takes on a nest-like aroma.

I am thinking that I might feel intruded on by the nanny, that my privacy with my kids in the mornings will be decreased, but on the other hand, not having to do all the housework will also be quite nice.  We will have to see how it goes.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween has come and gone

Ohhhh, I have time to sit down and write!  What a luxurious five minutes this is going to be...
I cannot remember when time spent sitting at the computer to blog has become akin to a massage and pedicure at a high end spa, but I guess it must have been around the time I had a baby on top of the toddler to look after, and probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of when our TV fell down from a great big height on top of MrH and broke (the TV, not MrH, he is thankfully ok).

I am a happy happy clam.  Next week I am going back to work, part time in the afternoons, and I doubt that I will be as happy then as I am now, but, staying in the moment, for now all is well.  Winter has come for real here, but the cold is still not too bad.  -6C this morning (21 F), and I went for a run that lasted well over one hour, because some of it was slippery and I had to walk.  I got a pair of shoes with spikes, but they have not arrived yet, and so far I might as well be skating on portions of the forested path.

I am finding that in winter my energy level is not as high.  Waking up at 5:30 am to go swimming, or at 6 am for a run, is quite the chore.  Once I am done, however, my body feels better, more alive and full of energy, until about noon when the BIG SLEEPY hits me.  We used to nap, all three of us, but I am going back to work in the afternoons, so I won't be able to anymore, and Emma has outgrown the need to nap, so she hangs out with me while baby is sleeping.  As a consequence, we now put the kids to sleep at 8 pm and have a whole 1-2 hours to ourselves (!!!!).  This is such a change, that I felt in a state of shock the first couple of evenings that it happened.  I cannot describe how much my kids have become part of my right hip, to such and extent that I am never without them, except for the morning exercise, when they are with MrH.  Now, to have them sleep soundly without us in bed while we can cuddle and talk, it feels like an unexpected gift.  I am slowly getting my husband back!  Yay!  ('cause I like him ;).  Also, as a bonus, I now have time to practice piano, so I have started taking lessons again, and I will have some more time to blog I guess, so I probably will start to post more regularly and to update the background, etc.

Halloween has been a great big party from morning until night.  I have allowed Emma to have enough candy until she did not want anymore (that wasn't even a lot), so that she can share with the kids coming trick or treating.  Here are some cute costume pictures:

Emma as a lion in the evening (a nice costume for layering lots of clothes underneath to keep her warm.  I much prefer this type to the Elsa dresses that made other girls freeze out there).

Oops, this is about half of the amount of candy that I ate.  Double this and you get the idea...and add a few cookies too...

This is little man dressed in the cutest costume ever.  I wish I had the tripod installed to be able to take a good picture of him (he was in my arms the whole time, as this costume made it hard for him to sit).  I at least wish I had bothered to take out the proper camera instead of the iPhone.  But I cannot complain, the iPhone has provided me with many opportunities to take pictures where before I would not have, at all...

 Emma as a princess for the morning Strong Start party (Strong Start is a place parents and kids hang out and do activities for a few hours).