Happy Mother’s Day, Warrior Mamas

This weekend marks Mother’s Day, a day for cards and flowers, usually. For some, though, this yearly celebration doesn’t do enough to highlight all the ways mums love, all the things mums have seen, and all the ways mums keep it going. 

We can never know another’s story, struggle. For some, Mother’s Day is a day of pampered relaxation, for others, it is a reminder of what may never be, and for many, it is forgotten, replaced by caring for others.

To all you Warrior Mamas, sitting next to your baby learning to breathe in an incubator, to all who have watched their child being wheeled away for surgery or a procedure, to all who have held a hand tightly during stitches or therapy, to all the Mamas who have sat and listened to doctors and specialists, who have googled and researched, who have pumped at 3 AM, who have birthed in tubs, in cars, in surgical suites, Happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mums who do it on their own, those who have divorced or lost, to all mums with partners who feel alone, to all the mums who have yet to hold their baby, to the mums who wipe away their tears in private, the mums who get out of bed every day, to the mums who sit in hospital cafeterias, who keep track of every appointment, every medication, to the mums who cook special meals, who beg their kids to eat. 

To all the Warrior Mamas who face the world, head held high, no matter how hard it is, no matter how different life seems from what was expected. To the mums who battle cancer, illness, anxiety, disability, fear, and loneliness every day. To the mums who raise their swords so their children don’t have to, the ones whose armour is nothing more than skin. To the mums who doubt themselves, who think they are not strong, they are not warriors, I see you, I feel your battle, and you are a Warrior Mama. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the badass Warrior Mamas, may we raise our swords together, knowing we fight in solidarity. May we be brave, strong, thoughtful, and may we recognize our battles, honour our scars, and love hard and deeply so that our kids will also learn to recognize battles in others and will grow to be their own Warriors.

Happy Mother’s Day, Warrior Mamas.

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On top of the hill 

Last week, I ran 5K in preparation for my upcoming 10K in support of the Women and Babies Program at the hospital the girls were born in. Admittedly, I was kinda slow and heading up a hill in the cemetery down the street from me. Breathless, I arrived at the top of the hill.

Slowing my pace, I looked up at my surroundings, which apparently is not something I do very much and I startled at the view. There, on top of the hill, I saw headstones covering rolling hills and behind that, the city; buildings and cranes and trees. Seemingly a world away given how quiet the cemetery was. But, when I turned, from my viewpoint I could then see the girls’ NICU and Ella’s rehab hospital. The irony of standing in a cemetery looking at these two significant locations was not lost on me. How easily the outcome could have differed, how standing in a cemetery could have meant visiting one or both of my girls.

Standing in the cemetery, desperately trying to catch my breath, I remembered how lucky we are, how trivial it all seems sometimes. Yes, there are shitty days, but those are outnumbered by the good ones. And I cannot tell our future; where we will be able to live, if Ella will walk, whether the kids will be happy, but I do know our past, and I know that our present took us on a different path, not the easiest, not the shortest, but one that lead us on top of the hill. 

Thanks for the reminder, asshole.

Here’s the thing about strollers; they can hide a lot of truths, especially if you had no idea that a child had a special need or different ability just by looking at them. Of course, we live in a society where a lot of assumptions are made based on how a person looks.

Recently, the four of us were walking down the street, Ella in her stroller, Braeden and Raegan walking beside me. Raegan tripped and bumped her knee on the sidewalk. No biggie, that girl is CLUMSY. Really nothing remarkable about the situation until afterwards. The guy walking behind us offered her a high five for being so brave then chatted with the kids a bit before turning towards Ella.

“And what’s the matter with you? Do you have two broken legs in there?”

Now, I know he couldn’t know. And I know that he’s lucky that I can stay pretty calm in these situations because there’s a good chance he’d be walking away nursing a broken nose otherwise.

But, in that split second where my breath was sucked in, Braeden and Raegan jumped in;

“No! She can’t walk because she has cerebral palsy.”

So there, asshole. A five and three year old have more tact that you do. The interaction was a reminder for me, but also an eye opener for the kids; people will say hurtful things and make assumptions, especially when someone seems to stand out or be different. I hope, too, that it serves as a reminder to him, to stop and think before saying potentially hurtful things to other humans. We never know what burden others carry with them, what pain they know. And, so, instead of offering high fives with a side of asshole, hopefully in the future, those high fives are met with slightly more understanding and kindness, in the same way that they are accepted. 

Home is where the heart is

Three years ago today, something wonderful happened. Two healthy newborns came home for the first time. Of course, technically they were already 80 days old and had fought battles most children never have to, but home they went to meet their big brother and furball sister, to sleep in a room decorated with stars and a pleasant quietness that can never exist in a NICU.

Today is certainly very special, but life since then has been complicated and busy, and even I forgot the meaning behind today until I placed my hand on my office door and the realization hit me.

So strange how then time stood still. Feeling as though the world outside kept moving, but us inside the NICU were in a time and place where seconds seemed like hours and days felt like months, but now that time is like a memory that seems faded, like a melted snowflake that sits in your hand as a small drop of water. That time exists in me, in my heart and in my bones, etched deeper than imaginable, but it does not for the kids. The girls live as sunnily as possible, almost unaware of their status as warrior princesses.

I do wish the doors of the NICU had closed and only the brightest days laid ahead; however, we have seen many a clinic, hospital, doctor, specialist, therapist since. We have fitted for equipment and I have filled out countless paperwork. I have told our story so many times to so many people that you would think it was written across my body for the world to see.

Today, I look at three years with my girls, three years as a mum of three all at home, all learning through watchful eyes. Today, my children seemed giant; my son towering over kids a year older than him, my daughters with their curly hair and long limbs. They don’t know how special today is or really, how special life is, how quickly it can slip from us.

Today, I am so proud of all three of my hilarious monkeys and honoured to be their mum. Today, I am thankful to so many who have allowed this moment to happen, but mostly, today I think of those doors closing to the NICU, the first breath my children took outside of a hospital room, the first thing they saw after being alive for 80 days, that first hint of sunshine on their skin. I am simply thankful for today. 

13,000 steps for 80 days

I ran my first ever 5K in September, raising money for Sick Kids Hospital here in Toronto, where all of my kids have found themselves at one time, but where Ella in particular has spent many, many hours. I was proud of myself for finishing and for helping out a hospital that has not only helped my own children, but children from all over the world.

After the girls’ time in the NICU, I wanted to do so much. I had all these ideas of how the NICU experience could be improved for families who find themselves there, but in today’s reality, nothing’s getting done without some big bucks behind it. Sadly, I’m not independently wealthy, and I don’t see myself being able to leave millions to the hospital that literally saved my daughters’ lives. But, I do have my voice, and I have my body.

So, in May, I will run 10k, or roughly 13,000 steps, in hopes of raising money for Sunnybrook’s Women and Babies Program where we spent the majority of my second pregnancy, and 80 days after its abrupt end.

And every step will be meaningful, important, cathartic. With every step, I will run for every ultrasound, for every non-stress test, for every doctor looking at me with sad eyes, for every inch of those tangled umbilical cords, for every second spent living in the hospital, for every tear shed during my C-Section, for every time I had to ask if I could hold my babies, for every phone call thinking the worst, for every pin prick into the girls’ heels, for every head scan, for every time Ella might have been sent to Sick Kids, for every damn time I pumped, for every goodnight to my daughters in the NICU and every have a good day to my son in daycare, for every parent in their rooms, for every cookie that sustained me, for every nurse who took the time, for every first moment, for every friend who didn’t know what to say, for every day spent going through those doors, but most importantly, with every step, I will run for every day since, for every day possible because of Sunnybrook, for every day with my wacky, curly haired, singing children. With every step that I run, I will run for them.

This is a fit of my own strength, my own capabilities. I will have to push through the tireddness, the aches, much like my daughters had to struggle to learn to breathe, to eat. Yet, I cannot do it on my own. I ask that if possible, you consider supporting me in those 13,000 steps. That you give so that other babies can live, so that all babies have a chance. Your support will be with me every step of the way as I run for those babies, my babies, those 80 days.

To sponsor me in my 10K, please visit;

https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3702567&langPref=en-CA

Mama, Ella, and Raegan in Sunnybrook’s NICU


The three musketeers, February 2017


For more information on Sunnybrook’s Women and Babies Program, please visit;

http://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=women-babies-obstetrics-gynaecology

But, seriously, where did those years go?

Yesterday was a beautiful, whirlwind day. Bright and sunny in mid February, and the perfect day to celebrate my bright and sunny bear turning five. Five! It seems like only yesterday I was planning for his first birthday, and now in the blink of an eye, he’s a tall, curly haired kindergartener learning to read and write.

Number 5! February 19, 2017


Braeden has evolved into his own little man; loving all things superheroes and newly discovered Pokemon. His love of school sometimes giving way to his nerves of dealing with the other kids, who are not all sunshine and lollipops. His seemingly fearless attitude being challenged when learning to skate. 

Braeden and Mama and an Avengers cake!


But, throughout it all, he has always been easy going, quick to talk to almost anybody with a smile and flash of one adorable dimple. He always accepted big brother status and despite often scuffling with his sister, he is genuinely helpful and loving with the girls. He invents games and is desperate to become a Firefighter, with constant visits to the Station. 

Lego Batman!

I’m lucky to have such a hilarious, whacky, and kind kid who is empathetic and loving. Who is just as interested in books as trucks and arts and crafts as dinosaurs. I’m excited to see what’s in store for this kid, but, seriously time can slow down any time now.

What Disney Princesses have taught me about love 

The girls are starting to discover the magic of Disney, and in particular, the princesses. They are loving Belle and Rapunzel especially. Belle was always one of my favourites growing up and I’ve taken to watching it with the girls again, seemingly a lifetime ago the last time I saw Belle first lay eyes on that library.

But, now, I see the women and stories with a different lens, and our conversations about the Princesses delve much further than just how pretty their dresses are. In fact, I think they’ve taught me a couple things about love.

Always be true to yourself.

Let’s look at Rapunzel. That girl meets Flynn and literally runs around with no shoes, a frying pan, and a chameleon as her bestie, but she owns it. And you know what? Flynn falls for her, just as she is. Even when she starts rocking a new ‘do. And really, what guy wouldn’t want a lady who is just naturally her-flaws and all as opposed to someone who exhausts themselves putting on airs. There was a time I used to try and be what someone else wanted but was more of a character of myself. Now, I’m more like, here I am, sometimes I’m super awesome, sometimes I obsess over dumb shit, take it or leave it, but know that you’ll miss out on something fabulous if you can’t handle it.

Sometimes, the line between good and bad isn’t as clear as it seems. 

It would seem to some that the obvious bad guy in Beauty and the Beast would be the Beast, but let’s be real, Gaston is the biggest asshole ever. And those girls fawning all over him like him because, he’s supposedly good looking? Is that all that matters now? As I’ve explained to the kids, he’s mean to his friends, tries to control Belle, hurts the Beast, and all because he thinks some chick is hot? Like, grow up. At least the Beast owns his crazy until he’s a total baby after being attacked by wolves. He also shows us that love can come in the unlikeliest of places. When we’re looking left, someone comes from the right.

We all have baggage.

Dating in your thirties pretty much predicts that there’s some kind of back story there, and if there isn’t, how weird is THAT?! Flynn was pretty much a typical criminal jackass until he opens up. The Beast seems like a rageaholic until we realize he grew up feeling like a monster. Even Kristoff’s comments to Anna about her “true love” comes from being raised by actual love experts. If we’re coming into love with our own baggage then we have to give others a chance too. Even those seemingly unworthy, for who knows their story?

Sometimes we don’t know what love is until we know what love isn’t.

Let’s take Anna and Hans. He seems like everything she’s ever wanted, like true love. Except, in her time of need, he’s a giant douche and it takes a snowman to talk some sense into her. Pretty sure snowmen don’t even have brains, but once she realizes, she gets it. Love was there, but not the way she thought, and not with the person she thought. My kids always say how Hans is the bad guy, not because he tries to destroy Elsa and take over the kingdom like a real jerk face, but because he lies to Anna about loving her, the ultimate betrayal. 

I can’t protect the kids from having their hearts broken or making some poor dating choices, but I can talk to them about love and show them that the Princesses do more than just look pretty. They’re smart, resourceful, and refuse to be anyone but themselves, even in the face of adversity. And that’s a powerful message for anyone.

Parenting in the new world

The last several months have been rife with controversy and political differences, but the last week seems to have taken us back in time and it’s left me wondering how the hell I’m supposed to parent. One of my friends often says that the only thing we really need to be worried about is making sure we don’t raise assholes, but that seems harder and harder in a world seemingly full of them.

Many have compared Trump’s first week as President to the experiences of so many before and during the Holocaust. And, just like the Holocaust, there are those peering down from their ivory towers, believing, foolishly, that they will never lose their privilege, that they will never find themselves there, amongst the persecuted and the broken. Yet, history has taught us that any of us can be sent to the guillotine at any time, and our privilege can only take us so far before our skin colour, gender, country of birth, religion, or physical ability places us in target range.

So, how do you raise kids in a world so full of hatred? You do the best you can. You teach them how to be empathetic by showing empathy. You teach them how to be respectful by using respectful language. We don’t deny what is happening in the world, for that would be to raise them in a fairytale. Instead, we limit what they see and hear from other sources, and we explain to them in ways they can understand. Because something happens to kids and their openness, somewhere along the line they pick up our insecurities, our judgments. Our basic job as parents is to keep them alive, our goal should be to keep their hearts open; to teach them to learn from and love others not despite our differences but because of them. We need to teach them that there is hatred in the world, but that we abhor it. That there are those who hurt, but that we will not stand by and allow it. That there are freedoms that others will try to deny, but that we will fight for them. That it doesn’t matter if they go after my children or my neighbour’s children or children a world away, that I will show my kids that we cannot and will not let anyone, no matter how powerful, take away the basic rights we have fought so long for. 
I could not claim to be a good mother, or even a decent human, if I raised my kids in this world, and didn’t say it’s wrong, didn’t shout from the rooftops how disgusted I am, how heartbroken it makes me. Instead, I will raise empathetic feminists, because I refuse to be a bystander or to raise them. Let us remember that voices together are so much clearer and so much stronger. And that is what our children need from us-strength. 

Ella and Raegan turn three!

Ok, so, technically it’s been almost a week since the girls turned three, but it’s been a busy week, with little sleep. And so, here we are.

Ella and Raegan turn 3! January 7, 2017


Every day I am truly amazed by these two. They’ve grown up in the blink of an eye. Two pounds to thirty pounds. Tiny itty bitties to sassy pants preschoolers. They talk SO much. To think Ella was once diagnosed as universally delayed due to speech is so crazy to me – the girl tells stories paragraphs long. Just seems to have so much to say. Raegan is a chatty lady too and the two of them talk constantly to each other and to Braeden. They tell me about their day and their friends at school, but they also lay in bed and call out to each other as they’re falling asleep or waking up, always needing to be near each other.

All dressed up for their party!


The girls got to invite friends to their party; Raegan chose one friend from school and Ella chose two. It’s so amazing to see them with friends that they’ve made on their own, to hear them talk so excitedly about them. When they were in the NICU, imagining “normal” things like making friends seemed so far fetched, so far away, and now that it’s happening I’m wondering what happened to my babies.

The cake!


So, with so many things for the girls, we celebrate, because there is much to celebrate. And when you have twins, sometimes they don’t always see eye to eye, so when one wants a Frozen party and the other wants Bubble Guppies, you throw a mashup party of both and have the girls’ two favourite things come together for my two favourite girls.

Ella adjusting her tiara


So, we got together and wore tutus (or at least, the birthday girls did), ate food, saw friends, and celebrated. Because every year, every day, every moment is worth celebrating.

Bear bum

New year, old me 

I’ve never been one for resolutions, or even New Year’s, really. But, I do believe in goals and as 2016 started to come to a close, I began to reflect a lot on the year, and myself.

As I thought back on the year, I realized that it felt as though a dark cloud was constantly hanging above me, one that seeped through to my soul. I acknowledged to myself that my mental health has suffered, that I’ve felt more than a little blue, and in turn, some of the things I loved quickly vanished, replaced by emotional eating and lack of sleep. Workouts became nonexistent, running stopped, my jeans got tighter, and my exhausted mind, body, and soul could barely form the words it needed to in order to write. I didn’t feel like me- I didn’t feel much like anyone; more like the faceless mum à la Charlie Brown, doing everything for the kids and nothing for myself, rendering me like a character.

So, a resolution was made, in a sense. Though not the drop 20 pounds in two months kind, but the find myself-again- kind. The feel better kind. The smile more kind. I need to work on becoming me, a task that may take years to accomplish, so I may as well start now. Back to where it all started with the 21 Day Fix, building my physical strength for toting around children, but my emotional strength as well, for toting around all the baggage that comes with, almost, 33 years of living. 

More writing, more laughter, more listening, and yes, more talking. Talking about what I need to talk about, asking for help, admitting exhaustion. This year is about finding myself again, as not a mum, but the woman underneath. Reminding myself that I deserve love and laughter and adventure, and most of all, an identity. Because finding oneself truly is the most important resolution of all.