Tuesday, 7 February 2017

When a mom feels defeated

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I found this under her pillow the other week.

A note that I had written her almost 2yrs ago. Just after Sophia was born.

A note that I wrote her late at night after she had fallen asleep and a note that I then snuck under her door on my way to bed. I wanted her to find it early in the morning before anyone else was awake. I wanted a little element of surprise for her, along with a long list of all of the reasons why I love her.

So when I found this little crumpled up, water stained note the other week and I looked through what I had written so long ago it brought me back to that place in time when I wrote it.

To that place of a new mom of three very young kids. A newborn in my arms, a two year old and a four year old. It brought me back to that place of utter exhaustion, of feeling like I was trying to keep it all together in those first few weeks after bringing a new baby home and trying to manage all of the emotions that flow through everyone when a new baby comes into a family.

It brought me back to that final feeling of defeat one day after a long hard day of trying to figure out how to curb the emotions of a sensitive little 4yr old girl who was trying to find her way with all of the changes that were happening in her family. A little girl who was so madly in love with her new baby sister--I mean, obsessed with this new little baby. But who was also realizing that life had changed.

*baby Sophia 

So I sat down at my kitchen table after tucking the last little body into bed that night and tried to come up with a different strategy. Because if I've learned anything from parenting it's that sometimes it's important to lay down the law--to use that I mean business voice and to have boundaries and reasonable consequences--BUT, I also know that it's just as important to take a step back especially when you feel like you're at your wits end, and take a totally different approach.

So I did just that.

I sat down that night and made her an I love you Mya because... card, and I sat there and scribbled down all of the things that I loved so much about her. All of the things that I was so proud of her for. All of the things that we would say to her and her siblings, but things that I had never actually written down before FOR any of them.    

And so early that next morning she found that little note, and she has secretly held onto it ever since.

Those words from her mom, written down. 

They meant something to her. 

They meant a lot to her. 

She would ask me to read my little note to her every night before bed after I gave it to her. It became our bedtime ritual, just her and I snuggled up in her bed at night. So she would fall asleep with the words of her mom running through her head--all of the reasons why she was so very very loved.  

So as I went to change her bedding that day just a couple of weeks ago and found that crumpled up note tucked under her pillow it made me realize how important it is for me to continue writing notes to all of our kids. To write them notes telling them how amazing they are, how proud Terry and I are of them, and how and why they are so incredibly loved beyond words. 

And especially on those days when a mom feels like nothing is working--it's amazing how a little love note can change so much in a child. 

And as I look at our now 6yr old, and I sit there practising her French presentations with her at the kitchen table or sitting with her at the piano practising for her next lesson, I think back to when she was 4 and I felt like I needed to write that note--and it feels like a million years ago.

So I'll get my pen out more often now. On the hard days, but also on the great days too--because imagine how great it would be for our kids to have a pile of love notes from us to hold onto in the years to come. 

Erica xo

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Christmas healing

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All that she asked Santa for this year was twin babies.

She sat on his lap in the mall on that dark, snowy day and when the words "What would you like for Christmas?" cheerfully came from Santa's lips, her immediate response was "Twin babies".

It was my wish too, knowing full well that Santa couldn't make miracles happen at that point in our journey. And although I knew it would break me just a little bit more watching her hold, care for and play with her own twin dolls, she needed them.

So Santa delivered. And she was thrilled.

And as I breathed in that Cabbage Patch baby powder scent that is so familiar to me from my own childhood, and I saw her excitement as she read through their adoption papers and birth certificates, it made me smile.

Because a little healing for us all can come in the most unlikely of places.

Because Christmas was tough this year with losing one of our twins so close to that big day.

So I had told myself that I needed to pull myself together for the kids--to show them that I'm sad of course, because that is the honest truth...but to also show them that life, celebrations, happiness, parties, family time and the magic of Christmas still had to go on. Staying stuck in my grief and sorrow was so easy to do, but my kids needed their mom---their mom who would get up and smile at them each morning, and brush their hair, and kiss their cheeks and tuck them in at night and who would make life feel like it was still moving forward, like everything would be okay, even when I didn't necessarily believe it myself.

So I made hot chocolate for everyone on cold, windy days when I was feeling sad.

And I helped them build a snowman on a day when I felt like I just wouldn't be able to hide my tears from them otherwise.

And I dressed them up in adorable matching Christmas dresses, just because I knew it would make them (and me) so darn happy.

Mission accomplished.

And I handed them a massive box of chocolates on Christmas eve and watched their eyes light up as they all meticulously picked the perfect chocolate--which reminded me that it's really the little things that the kids are going to remember about Christmas time.

And we sprinkled reindeer food all over the lawn on Christmas eve for Santa's hungry reindeer...

and they found that sneaky present from the North Pole that Santa somehow always leaves in our mailbox outside for the kids on Christmas eve...ironically a new Christmas story for everyone to share right before bedtime.

And we all woke up to a room full of family and presents and a big breakfast feast...

 and smiles over presents that they had been pining after for months...

and little sisters taking off jammies, just for the heck of it, right in the middle of the Christmas morning madness.

 So Christmas was still great this year. Great, but sad. Because grief really does come in waves--waves that you have to ride out to survive. Waves that make you have to leave the Christmas service in tears, and waves that make you shed a few tears behind closed doors on Christmas day, hiding my grief from the happy little faces that were so excited that Christmas was finally here.

But what I do know is that life has to continue on. I have to get up each morning whether I want to or not, because being a mom means that I have to pull it together and show my kids that even when we're hurting, even when we're sad, we need to get up and find the good. Find the things that we're so grateful for. Find the happiness that on some days is so hard to find.

 So celebrating the start of a New Year with friends became my therapy.

And prepping food, having friends over, and celebrating the fact that life is moving forward is all that I could do to stop myself from crawling into bed and just being sad.

So my sweet babies--my three amazing kids...here is my lesson to you: 

Life is going to throw you some hard times--and when those hard times come, FEEL them, cry until your eyes hurt, talk it over, talk it out, have your moment....but then, realize that life is still oh so beautiful and wonderful. You might have to weed through the pain and heartache to find it, but don't just sit in your pain and sorrow forever. Find the good, do something specific to make yourself happy, connect with people even when you're drained of everything that you have, and rediscover all of the things in your life that you still have to be grateful for. 

Because life is not meant to be perfect and it won't always be easy, but we can choose how we react to the circumstances that we're handed. 

And when all else fails...use Snapchat to get a laugh. 

Works every time. 

Love, your heartbroken, but still standing, mom xox

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A new little life and a terrible loss

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I'm not even sure where to start as I sit here on my couch almost not wanting to even place my fingers on these keys. When I write it, it becomes true and real. So I can feel the anxiety building up in me as my fingers keep moving.

I'm pregnant.

And we're beyond thrilled.

But in the same breath my heart is shattered, I have tears in my eyes, I feel like I can't breathe, and I can feel the weight on my chest of absolute heartache.

Because I was pregnant with twins.

TWINS. My absolute dream came true. It was actually happening. My prayers, my wishes, my belief that I was meant to have twins...it had all come true.

Until this past weekend, when everything changed. When I found myself sitting on a hospital bed, having blood drawn, ultrasounds taken, blood pressure monitored...because one of our twins has died.

I can't even write that without tears pouring down my cheeks, because now it's real. Now it's true. We have lost our baby and we are absolutely shattered.

I still remember so clearly lying there on that crinkly paper as the ultrasound technician ran the cold gel over my pregnant belly and turned the screen to show me our babies--our perfect, healthy, little babies with strong heartbeats. My heart jumped out of my chest as she said "It appears that you have more than one baby in there. You're pregnant with twins".

I couldn't contain my excitement, I couldn't stop smiling, I just couldn't believe it.

"Most people cry when I tell them they're having twins", she said laughing.

"Because they're so happy?" I asked, naively.

"Um, no", she replied. "They're usually not too happy, so I'm so glad to see that you are".

Then I proceeded to explain to her that with every baby I've been pregnant with I have always asked the ultrasound technician if there was more than one baby in there, hoping and praying that we'd be blessed with two.  But with a resounding "no" from each of them, I loved on the single pregnancies that we were so blessed with and counted our lucky stars that we were so lucky to even be pregnant with one beautiful baby.

So when I found out that I was carrying twins, it literally felt like a dream come true.

I left the building, carrying that ultrasound picture of those two beautiful sacs side by side, holding those two beautiful little babies inside, and brought it home to show Terry and mom who were waiting back with the kids at our house. I had no idea what their reaction would be. Terry had ultimately made the decision to take the leap and try for baby number 4 back in the summer--knowing that it wouldn't take anything at all to convince me to try for a fourth. But I ultimately had no idea what having five kids, 6yrs old and under, would mean to him.

But you know what? He was excited. Sure he was shocked as much as I was. But as I went through the millions of emotions that come with the idea of carrying two babies at once, it was him who was calm, confident and telling me how lucky we were and how happy this news was. We were actually having twins! Dreams really do come true, I thought.

So as I sat there in that hospital bed just this past weekend, it felt like our dream had turned into a nightmare and I was desperate to wake up.

I wanted so badly to leave. I wanted the doctors to stop coming in. I wanted the ultrasound technician to stop looking. I wanted that screen shot that I secretly saw when she was moving the gel along my belly to leave my memory. Because all I remember seeing were two sacs on that screen...one with a good sized baby in it and another with a tiny one. And right then and there I knew. It was over.

Our baby was gone.

I wanted to run. I wanted her to just stop. I wanted her to tell me that it's all been a big mistake. I wanted her to tell me that our babies were okay.

But she didn't.

And when the doctor came in to discuss the results, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I heard the words "Baby B has died".

So I sit here now in a bit of a daze. In a heartbroken, desperate, daze..not knowing what to do or how to feel or how to act. Because when we miscarried our last baby, it was so final. It was so devastating because it was over. The pregnancy was completely over. But this time, the heartache is so real and raw and terrible--but I'm still pregnant. I still have an incredible little baby growing inside of me, and I'm so ridiculously grateful. I think that's why for the first couple of days after hearing this news I was in a lot of shock, and in a lot of denial. I tried to go on about our days with our kids as if this all wasn't happening. I held my tears in for most of the day, and cried late at night. Because it was all just too much to handle. Because the other terrible news that the doctor also told us is that there is no guarantee for our other baby at this point. Many surviving twins go on to be just fine and healthy, but there are no guarantees. There really are never any guarantees in any pregnancy. So with more ultrasounds, blood tests and OB visits scheduled for this week, we are holding our breath and praying that our baby will still be okay.

"The grief comes in waves", Terry said to me as I broke down yesterday. Because one minute life feels normal, as we're cleaning up dinner dishes and tucking kids into bed. But the next moment it hits us, and we cry and cry together.

I just want this feeling to end. I want our baby back. I want this all to go away.

But it won't. And it can't.

And we now still have another beautiful baby to live for, to be happy for, to be excited about. Our dream of Sophia being a big sister is still here, in this very moment.

 So we're going to hold onto that. We're going to hold onto it so tightly that it can't slip away.

 Erica xo

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A little Halloween magic courtesy of Loblaws

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Sometimes you get these little pockets of magical things that happen in life. These little moments that bring you to tears, things that make your heart jump, things that make you realize that the world really is full of so many great people.

Last Friday I had one of those moments. One of those moments that took my breath away and made me so incredibly grateful.

You see, I was on a bit of a mission this past week. A mission to convince companies to donate Halloween costumes to our school. Halloween costumes for all of the kids who I knew would walk into school Monday morning, see others dressed up and feel upset knowing that their family couldn't afford such luxuries. So, I went store to store begging asking managers to please consider donating some costumes to our kids...but I got turned down over and over again.

Then my mom, my 6yr old daughter Mya and I walked into the Superstore this past weekend and I stopped the very first lady who I saw with a name tag, and I told her about my kids at my school. I told her that I didn't want any child to show up feeling upset, feeling like they didn't fit in, or feeling that terrible sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach when it feels like you don't have what everyone else has.

And I could all of a sudden see it happening in her eyes.

She GOT it.

She felt it.

She immediately called her manager.

And then the real magic happened. She literally spent all of two seconds explaining the needs of some of the kids at our school and the managers response was an immediate YES.


I couldn't believe it. I swear my heart stopped for a moment.

This angel of a lady turned to me and said, "Go pick whatever costumes you need".

I thanked her profusely, took Mya's hand in mine and turned away so she wouldn't see the tears streaming down my face. Overwhelmed with gratitude. Overwhelmed with shock and with the incredible feeling that people are good.  

I turned to look at my mom and her eyes were full of tears too. So there we were, two blubbering women, walking down the aisles at the Superstore, heading towards the costume racks knowing that those costumes were not just costumes anymore--they were a lifeline to some kids at my school who would all of a sudden get to feel that surge of excitement of being handed something new, that feeling of belonging and that sense that they could, if even just for a moment, have what everyone else had.

So we picked through the racks of beautiful princess gowns, complete with jewels, crinoline and beading. We scanned through the Ninja Turtle costumes complete with built in muscles, turtle shells and masks. We looked at sizes and types, holding each one up to Mya's body to make sure we had appropriate sizes and we tried to pick a variety of options so that there could possibly be a good match for any child in need who showed up at my classroom door on Monday.

And then we carried our pile of costumes to customer service where they scanned each and every one of those amazing costumes through and handed them over to us, free of charge, with a smile.

When I stood there watching her scan each and every one of those costumes through, I realized that Loblaws had just donated over $300 worth of Halloween costumes to our school, without a second thought.


So my intention with this blog post is to say a great big thank you to Loblaws. To this wonderful company, please know that when the word started trickling through the school that I had costumes available for kids I started having teachers stop me in the hallway. I had one teacher tell me that she had a little boy in her classroom at that very moment who was incredibly upset since he didn't have a costume. Ironically, she told me that he spent the day before drawing a picture of Ninja Turtles since he loved them so much, so I handed her a Ninja Turtle costume and watched her walk down the hall to deliver this amazing gift to this unsuspecting little boy.

Please know that I had a kindergarten teacher come to my room telling me that a 5yr old little girl in her class was crying in the hallway since she didn't have a costume to wear, so I brought her into my room to pick a gorgeous sparkly dress from the pile that fit her perfectly and all of a sudden made her feel like she was the same as everyone else.  

Please know that I had a shy little girl show up at my classroom door with her friend asking if there was possibly a costume that might fit her since she didn't have one of her own. So we pulled a gorgeous Snow White costume over her head and she was all of a sudden transformed.

Please know that at the end of the day a little boy came up to me in a panic, asking if I had any costumes left since he had nothing to wear trick or treating that night. I'll never forget watching him skip down the hall holding his Ninja Turtle costume over his shoulder, thrilled beyond belief.

Please know that there was a little girl whose mom drew whiskers on her face with eye liner and told me that it was all that she had. She said that they were late for school that day since this little girl was so upset about not having a real costume--so we took her back to pick from the pile of gorgeous ball gowns.

I wish I could post a picture of her beaming face wearing the most beautiful purple princess gown that day.

So thank you Superstore and Loblaws for making this joy happen.

Thank you for caring as much about our kids as we do.

Thank you for your generosity, your thoughtfulness and your kindness.

And thank you for showing my own 3 kids the importance of giving--even if it meant Mya watching her mom and Nana sobbing down the aisles of the Superstore.

Happy Halloween from our little family to yours.

 And thank you Superstore and Loblaws for being so amazing.

 Love Erica xo

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