When the Past Haunts the Present

I’m going to share a story with you today. A story I never intended to tell. A story that I thought I had put behind me. Coped with. Put into my past and locked it there. A story that is consuming me today with ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’
It happened 6 years ago. Almost to the date. I chose not to tell people then. And that’s my first ‘what if’ What if I had reached out for help back then. Maybe I could’ve saved some hurt. Not just my own. But the hurt of others too.
6 years ago I was in the military. I injured my knee and I chose to release. My biggest reason for choosing to release was that I was pregnant. And I didn’t like the level of care I was receiving. They were refusing to even give me confirmation of pregnancy. I was told the pregnancy test was ‘inconclusive’ whatever that means.
My boyfriend at the time denied it was his. Said I must have been cheating on him. (He was seeing someone else on the side, so I guess he felt I must have been to)
Because of his denial I didn’t want to tell anyone else. I felt that him and I should work through it first.
So I released. I went home to my Dr. My Dr decided to do an ultrasound in office to confirm the pregnancy. I seen my baby moving around, their little heart beating. He couldn’t date the pregnancy so he ordered an ultrasound for me for the next day.
That night I got into a fight with my boyfriend. I was mad that he was accusing me of cheating on him. I knew he was seeing someone else. But I didn’t tell him I knew. I wanted things to work out.
The next day I went into the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. The heartbeat that seemed so strong the day before was gone. I don’t have words for how I felt. It was a Friday, the Dr told me they were going to give me the weekend to miscarry naturally and scheduled a D&C for Monday morning. That evening I told my boyfriend. (He wasn’t in the same city as I was at the time) he told me I was making it up. And that I was doing it for attention… I didn’t tell anyone else. No one knew I was pregnant. Why would they believe me?
Over the weekend my boyfriend and I ended things. Well he did. Through an email. He said he stopped loving me. Months ago. He had found someone else.
My body never expelled the baby. I went in for a D&C Monday morning. I agreed to allow an intern to do the procedure. I didn’t know it took almost 3 times as long as it should have. I was numb. I was alone.
I was lost.
A few weeks later I still hadn’t stopped bleeding. My Dr did an internal ultrasound. He informed me that there was a lot of scaring on my uterus. He wasn’t sure how it would heal. If I would ever carry a child.
I don’t remember much of the next few months. I know there was a lot of alcohol. And things I’m not proud of. A lot of alcohol… A lot of nights… And days… I have no memory of.
Then one morning I was going through my phone and found text messages between a friend and I. (The same friend I just went to visit in Edmonton this past December) I admitted to things in those drunk texts that I hadn’t admitted to myself. Reading them sober… It was scary. I didn’t know what I was doing to myself. I called my dad, I asked him to pick me up. I didn’t tell him or my mom what was going on. Just that I didn’t feel well. I spent a couple days locked in my room ‘sick’. I think my parents knew something was going on, but as close as I had always been to them… I didn’t know how to talk to them.
Around this time I had started talking to hubs. I told him a little about what was happening, but most he found out later. I started seeing a therapist. I slowly got over everything. So I thought.
I went to have four healthy beautiful babies. I healed better then the Dr even predicted I would.
My physical scars healed. And I thought I had healed my emotional scars too. Put it behind me. Overcame it. Dealt with the emotions. Put it all into a tidy little box and locked it up. Gotten past the overwhelming feelings of loss and heartbreak.
And yet…. Here I am. Haunted by the memories of that little heart beating, followed by being told that little being… Wouldn’t be. Haunted by nightmares. Anxieties. Fears.
Holding my babies a little tighter and thanking God a little louder for my blessings. For those four sweet, amazing people he blessed me with.
I don’t know why. Why I’m torturing myself this way. What triggered these what if thoughts. What if… What if… A million what ifs, I don’t even know where to start with them, and I don’t know how to make them end. How do I put these memories back… Back into that little compartment. Still a part of me, but not consuming me.
I’m so blessed, so lucky to have my babies… And I know everything happens for a reason, that baby, wasn’t meant for this world. But… What if I had done something… Anything… Different. Would it be better? What is better? Where would I be?
I wish I could stop torturing myself with these thoughts… I wish so many things.
Maybe this is something that I will never leave locked in that little box of memories. Maybe its something that will walk with me forever. I don’t know. I just. Don’t. Know.

Potty Training – Second edition

I meant to write a post on this in the lead up days… We decided to attempt potty training Nick. We started yesterday morning. He had one accident yesterday, and one accident today! He woke up dry this morning and immediately went to his potty (with a bit of prompting)
I am soo excited to be down to 2 in diapers full time and 1 only at night!

We were going to try potty training Nick and Zoey at the same time, since they are both showing signs of being ready…. But, 2 at once seemed like a lot of pee to clean so we decided to focus on one at a time. In a week or so (or after T leaves, I did tell you all the T is coming with baby L to visit right? That’s another post, if I didn’t) anyways we are going to focus on Zoey in a couple weeks.

I am almost ready to call Nick’s potty training successful. He has been waiting for his bedtime pull up to poop in though. I think its time to acquire another copy of ‘Everyone Poops’ (the one we had for Alex got lost somewhere through our move) it really worked with Alex, and I’m optimistic Nick would find success with it as well!
*fingers crossed* for continued success!!

Love, hugs and more to come later!

A Sudden Onset of Momma Guilt

I suddenly feel really guilty. I was going through old pictures. Pictures of my pregnancies. Of the kids as Newborns. And I realized that I didn’t get Maternity shots or Newborn shots done of Emma. And I can’t go back and undo that.
I have pictures of my pregnancy, and I have pictures of her as a newborn. But not the same way that I do of the older three kids. I know why. My pregnancy and her birth coincided with a really difficult time in our lives. But I feel bad.
Momma guilt.
Its a beast of a thing. 😦

Love hugs and more to come later

The Impact of One Voice

There is this group on Facebook. It is called Humans of New York (Seriously check it out!) I have been following this page for a while and the stories are very touching. This is the description of the page: (taken straight from the Facebook Page)

Hey there. My name is Brandon and I began Humans of New York in the summer of 2010, shortly after leaving my job in Finance. (OK, I actually got fired.) I started HONY because I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, I’d include quotes and short stories from their lives.

Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. HONY now has over ten million followers on social media, and provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.

So many of the stories are so incredibly touching and give a glimpse of the pain, hurt, happiness, joy etc that are in people’s life stories that we don’t often see. But the other day, there was a story that really touched me. And I want to share it here with you guys.

It started with a photo of a young boy. Brandon asked him who had influenced him the most in his life. This young boy told of his principal. How she tells her students what they are capable of. Instead of suspending them, she explains that each time one of them fails out a new jail cell is built.

A few days later, Brandon was able to meet with this boys principal, Ms. Lopaz. She told him about how the students in her school are expected by society to fail. She calls her students, scholars. Their school color is purple, because it’s the color of royalty. Her scholars know she has high expectations of them. She expects them to succeed.

Brandon, Ms Lopaz and her assistant principal had a brainstorming session. Brandon wanted to know how the HONY (Humans of New York) community could help further the vision of Ms. Lopaz’s school (Mott Hall Bridges Academy) Ms. Lopaz wants every scholar in her school to be able to go anywhere and know they belong. So it led to the creation of a fund. A fund that will allow every incoming grade 6 class to visit somewhere outside of their neighborhood. The place she chose was Harvard University.

This is taken right from the Humans of New York Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork/photos/a.102107073196735.4429.102099916530784/869199409820827/?type=1&permPage=1)


We’ve raised enough money in 24 hours to make the Harvard trip a permanent part of the MHBA curriculum. With two weeks left in the fundraiser, I sat down with Ms. Lopez today to learn the best way that we could continue to help her secure a bright future for her students.

“We have a major need for a summer program,” she explained. “Learning stops during the summer for my scholars. We have what is called a ‘summer slide.’ My scholars can’t even go outside. It’s too dangerous. As an exercise, my teachers broke into small groups and took a walk through the community. We wanted to understand how our students live. We went inside the housing projects. The parks and playgrounds were empty because it’s too dangerous. Even the library isn’t a safe zone. Just last Saturday, one of my scholars had two guns pulled on him while he was walking to the community center. In broad daylight. It’s just too dangerous to be outside, so my scholars stay inside all summer. They aren’t learning to ride horses or drive boats, and they certainly aren’t traveling. They miss out on the enrichment available to children from more affluent neighborhoods. They need a safe place where they can do activities and continue to grow their minds. I tried to put together a program last summer, but I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t really put together any activities, and I could only use teachers-in-training. I need the funds to put together a program with my own teachers so my students have a safe place where they can continue to grow outside of school.”

Ms. Lopez estimates that an effective summer program will cost about $40,000 a year. So every $40,000 beyond the $350,000 we’ve already raised will provide another “safe and productive summer “ for the students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

If you hadn’t already donated, please consider helping us continue to empower this visionary educator in her quest to transform her school and community: http://bit.ly/1JmIB8u

This teacher is amazing. I want so much to help her out with her vision. It took one voice, to have her story and her hopes brought out onto the Facebook world, and I want to use my voice to share it with all of you. I am not asking each of you to donate, although I think it would be awesome if you did. I am asking you to please, please, please, share this wonderful woman with the world.

Conversations with Alex – Where babies come from

Alex and I were talking about our family. We had just finished talking about how we have a Momma, a Daddy, 2 brothers and 2 sisters. Then we had this talk:
A: Oh no!
M: what’s wrong?
A: I have one brother and two sisters!
M: yes….
A: I need two brothers and two sisters, Mom you have to have another baby! Can we get another one from your tummy?
M: No, sorry bud, there’s no more babies in my tummy.
A: Let’s go to Walmart!
M: Why?
A: Because we can buy a small tiny baby and when you are sleeping he can climb in your mouth and go all the way down down down to your belly. And then you can eat and sleep and eat and sleep and eat and sleep and the baby will grow into a brother and then the Dr can take him out and then I can have two brothers and two sisters.
M: um… I’m not sure that’s quite how it works…
A: Well we can try!
M: um.. Well… Ill tell you what, next time we’re at Walmart if they are selling little brothers Ill think about it. But I don’t think they sell people at Walmart sweetie.
A: I’ll keep trying Mom.
M: okay bud.

And there you have it… The real truth of where babies come from.

Love, hugs and more to come later

A Step Towards Healing

The last year has been really hard on Hubs. I have seen him slowly spiral downhill into a place I can’t always reach him. I have watched him change from the man I married into someone else. Someone who was a shadow of the person he used to be.

Over the last year, Hubs has seen no shortage of health care professionals. While we were still in NB, and he was still in the military, he was seeing a Nurse Practitioner. He had been seeing the same NP for years. She was also noticing the change in him. She acknowledged she thought he may be depressed about a year before he was released (which was about the time the release process started) She did not send him to see anyone at this time. It wasn’t until about 2 months before his release that she decided to send him to anyone. Well. He needed to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. But those have waiting times. So she sent him to a counselor. The counselor acknowledged he had depression and anxiety ‘tendencies’ and gave him breathing techniques. They didn’t help him.

Through all this, I knew that something was off. He needed more help. But the military isn’t really open to spouses advocating for the health care of their serving members. I tried. But there wasn’t anyone listening to me. I was just the spouse.

Around the time he was being released we started meeting with Veterans Affairs Canada. VAC disappointed me over and over and over when it came to Hubs. Hubs should have all his medications and treatments covered in relation to his ankle injuries. His right ankle was injured as a direct result of the military and we have documented proof of his left ankle being injured due to his right ankle. We have documented proof that he grinds his teeth due to the pain and the stress surrounding everything. We had 2 medical professionals stating that Hubs was, on some level, depressed and needed help. VAC acknowledged that his right ankle was the military’s fault and is covering all his treatments. They acknowledge that his left ankle injury was caused from compensating for his right ankle, but they are refusing to cover treatment for it. We can’t find anyone willing to treat the right ankle and not the left ankle. As soon as the right ankle is treated, the fear is the left will get worse if it’s not receiving some care too.  And if the left gets worse, the right will to, because Hubs will likely compensate for the added pain in his left ankle by over using the right ankle. But I am kind of digressing here.

Every time VAC denies something, I can see  Hubs getting more and more discouraged that he isn’t being listened to. (this problem isn’t unique to us, a lot of people have this issue with VAC) No one was helping him with those emotions. Finally we were assigned a VAC caseworker here in Winnipeg. Finally we had someone we could sit down with and talk to. Someone who’s job was to oversee Hubs file. He can’t make the decisions on our claims, but we had someone who was going to advocate for us. Someone who wanted to see Hubs get the help he needed. Someone who was going to educate us on what our entitlements are. Someone who would tell us how to appeal the decisions we felt were unfair. Someone who could HEAR us.

We met with the caseworker for the first time in late August. He came to our home and observed. Finally I had someone ask me about Hubs mental health and how I felt he was coping. What I felt he might need. Imagine that. Someone asking me, his wife, his spouse, his support, the only one who sees him on a day to day basis. I felt heard. I told our caseworker about our day to day lives. I told him about how some days Hubs isn’t here. He’s here in body. But that’s about it. I told him that I KNOW my husband needs to talk to someone. I can see him going downhill. He told me about a clinic that sees veterans that Hubs qualified for that would enable him to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation and see someone on a regular basis if he needed it. And it wouldn’t cost us anything. I could have hugged him.

That was August. Hubs FINALLY had his evaluation yesterday. He was diagnosed with depression and chronic pain. The psychiatrist is sending in a referral to a psychologist, a referral to a pain management clinic and a referral to our family Dr to have Hubs put on anti depressants. Finally. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. I feel like we are finally, finally moving in a direction towards something positive for him. I feel like maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to struggle a little less and feel a little more like himself. I hope he can finally feel like he is being listened to and heard. That someone out there is taking him seriously and wants to see him heal. I want so desperately to have my husband back. I want so much for him to find a way to cope and not stress and obsess so much about everything going on. I know it might take awhile but I am still holding that hope that there is a better tomorrow out there for us.

Love, hugs and more to come later

Conversations with my Boys… Birthday Gift Shopping Edition

Today the boys and I went out to buy a birthday gift for my friends little girl, C, who just turned 2. So while walking through the toy section in Target (who just announced they were closing ALL 133 of their Canadian stores leaving almost 18,000 people without jobs, my prayers go out to those people who are about to lose their jobs!) Anyways, we were walking and had this conversation:

Me: So guys, what do you think C would like for her birthday?
Alex: A truck?Nick: Man! (spiderman)
M: um.. well.. maybe, but I think those are things you guys would like….
A: Oh yea… what does C like?
M: hmm. Well, if you think Zoey would like it, C probably will too
N: A HORSE! (we were walking by a rather expensive almost big enough for Zoey to sit on plastic horse that I think was meant for dolls)
M: uh… well… that’s kind of expensive dude… how about a Minnie Mouse toy?
N: No! A horse! C like Horse!
A: I think C would like a horse too Mom.
M: *scanning the toys* How about this smaller one? (it was a My Little Pony one)
A: Mom… that’s a pony.. not a horse
N: A biiiiig horse
M: ….. okay…. let’s keep looking….
A: Hey mom! Check out those Spiderman toys! They have the sale sticker on them! Can we have one? (yes, I know… my kid recognizes clearance stickers on toys… I’m cheap 😉 )
M: I thought we were here to buy C something?
A: Oh yeah. After we find C something?
M: maybe. I’ll think about it. (they each got a spiderman toy. And Zoey got a princess toy for her castle… I’m a pushover)
M: What?
N: LOOK! A HORSE!! (he was literally yelling this to me from a foot away)
A: Nick! You found the perfect horse! It’s not a pony. *slight pause*  Mom.

This is what we ended up with:


It’s a good thing my kids know what to buy for 2 year old girls. And know the difference between a pony and a horse. Where would I be without them?

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lessons from my kids

Today has been a rough day. Emma is teething and only happy when Momma is holding her, otherwise she screams. She is fighting her naps and is miserable. Zoey is also teething and having a jolly time irritating her brothers. Alex and Nick needed naps today and wouldn’t take them. They are easily instigated. I didn’t get enough sleep. I am short on patience and Hubs isn’t here.
So I was rocking Emma and finally got her to sleep. I tried to put her down, no sooner did I get her put down and settled, Zoey grabbed a toy from Nick, Nick screeched, knocked over Alex’s toy in his tantrum and Alex screamed in anger and decided to push Zoey. Who started crying. Which woke Emma up. Again.
I sighed. I hung my head almost in tears and muttered to myself ‘that’s it. I quit. I’m not cut out for this. I can’t do it. I’m done. There is a beach somewhere. With alcohol. Ill go there. Ill sleep. Ill embrace the quiet.’
Alex came over and said ‘but mom, we would miss you. Please don’t leave’
Me: I wouldn’t really leave baby. Momma’s just frustrated’
A: cause we woke Emma up again?
M: sort of, don’t worry about bud, Mom’s got this. Okay?’
A: okay Mom, I love you.
M: I love you too baby.

Then almost the exact same scenario played out. Only this time Alex hit Nick (I’m not sure why) and Nick kicked Zoey who bit him back. Again, all 4 were screaming and crying.
Me muttering: I’m so done. I quit.
Nick: mooooooooom oooowwwww
Me: yes I know. Zoey bit you, it hurts.
N: oooooooowwwwww
M: come here I’ll kiss it better
N: no
M: fine
Nick comes over, ‘mom, kiss me?’ I kiss him better, he says thanks and says ‘I love me mom’ (which is his way of saying I love you’ I tell him I love him too and he goes to play.
A few minutes later Emma is asleep again. I’m about to put her down, but Zoey has a doll in her chair. I figure Ill put her in the swing, doll there too. I know that the second I put her in her bed she’ll wake up. So I ask Zoey to move her doll. ‘Be seep’ (baby sleeping)
M: I know but I need to Emma down
Z: Ma seep?
M: yes, Emma is asleep
Z: night night Ma

I put Emma down, and the kids are still quiet. Soon Alex comes over to snuggle. While he’s in my lap he says ‘Mom… Don’t quit. We need you too much. Dad does it wrong’ right after he says this he hops down and goes to play with his brother and sister. Helping Nick build his tower and reminding Zoey ‘shh, Emma’s having a nap’

Oh my sweet boy. I would never quit. These kids teach me more everyday about love. And patience. And how the tough moments never last long.

Love, hugs and more to come later

I am either losing my mind or I am a genius…

Tonight Hubs and I put the 3 older kids to bed at 7 like we always do. (the three of them are currently sharing a room since we are in a two bedroom house and are locked into a lease, if you remember when we made our big move out to Manitoba we didn’t have much for options and took the first house we got, which came though mere days before we left New Brunswick. Thankfully, they are big bedrooms.) Most nights they lie in their beds, talk and play and are asleep by 730-800. I can deal with it. They aren’t too loud, I don’t need to go in there three hundred times. We are all happy. BUT. The last few nights… gah… they yell, they scream, they jump around, they fight, they dance… they in general just go crazy. Hubs and I take turns going in there… Starting with gentle reminders to lie in bed, go to sleep… then escalating to raising our voices and yelling. Which we are trying really hard not to do. And for the most part we are doing great with our quest to not yell. But bedtimes were getting absurd. So tonight I decided to do something different.

Tonight when they started getting absurd we tried the gentle reminders. I could see us both getting really frustrated by 730 sensing we were in for another long night. So I went into their room. I turned their light on. I said ‘it’s not bedtime anymore. You guys are obviously not going to go to bed like I asked. Please get up and go play with your toys.’

They looked at me like I lost my mind. So did Hubs. He whispered to me that I was either really smart, or really crazy. The kids weren’t sure what to think. ‘Let’s go’ I prompted and ushered them out to the living room where I pulled out some cars and started playing. They looked scared. I was trying not to laugh.

At 800 Alex said ‘Mom, I think it’s bedtime. It’s dark and the clock is pointing at the 8’ I replied ‘Yep. The clock says it’s bedtime. But Mom says it’s not’ ‘You mean we don’t get bedtime tonight?’ ‘Nope. You guys can stay up all through the night’ Him and Nick looked devastated.

At 815 I turned off all the lights except a lamp. I sat on the couch with a couple books and started reading. Zoey came over and snuggled up to me to listen. Soon Alex and Nick came over too. After a couple stories Nick asked if he could go read them in his bed. Alex looked afraid of my answer. I told them yes. They could each bring two books into their beds. I brought them back to bed and tucked them in (it was about 840) I heard from them once since then.

I don’t think 700 is going to work as a bedtime anymore. I am going to push them to 730 tomorrow and see what happens. Maybe I’ll even get lucky and they will start consistently sleeping later then 7am. Then I can really call myself a genius. Right?

Love, hugs and more to come later

Love and the Postpartum Body

I love my stretch marks. I am not kidding around. I do. I love them. In fact, I would even go as far as saying I love yours too. I love stretch marks. I love the beauty in them, and it makes me sad that more people don’t see the beauty in them as well.
It makes me sad to hear you say that you wish you could get rid of them. It makes me sad to hear you say that you will never be able to show your tummy in public again. It makes me sad to see you so self conscious of them. It makes me sad that society tells us that stretch marks are imperfections. Blemishes. Seriously? How is the evidence of something so amazing a blemish?


My belly right now, 4 months after giving birth to our fourth baby

It makes me sad when women are comparing their stretch marks and its a competition to see who has the ‘worst’ marks. Using words like bad, horrible, disgusting to describe stretch marks makes me see red. We should admire each others stretch marks the way we admire each others hairstyles. Everyone’s marks are as unique to them as their hair is.
Stretch marks are beautiful. Every single one of those lines on your body is beautiful. The ones on your arms, your boobs, your belly, hips, thighs, calves… Each and every one of them.

Stop fretting about getting your ‘pre baby body’ back. You won’t. You can’t. Your body, like your heart, will never ever be the same. You can lose the weight, you can tone the muscles, but your body will forever be changed. Forever. Embrace it. Accept it.

Those stretch marks are like laugh lines. They tell your story. They tell of the love that grew within you. Look at them and remember. Remember the wiggles, the kicks. The first time you heard that sweet sound of your babies heartbeat. Remember the first time you seen that little alien looking thing on the ultrasound screen.

Those marks tell of your body growing and accommodating a little human. They tell of the amazing thing your body created.
I beg you, please stop looking at your stretch marks in disgust. Stop viewing them as something to be hidden or modified. Stop searching the internet for ways to get rid of them. Stop viewing other women’s stretch marks enviously or in pity. Embrace the beauty. Please.

Love, hugs, and more to come later