Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Friday October 16, 2015

My daughter Franklyn is now 3 ½ months old and this is the first post I have written since I was pregnant. And although I have an archive of blog ideas centred around Frankie, this one is not for her. This one is for Taylor.

Taylor is not doing well. After a weekend of several ‘faint-like’ spells and a weird cough-choke that has started, we took her right to the vet.  At 15 ½, I braced myself for very bad news. Turns out, Taylor has heart failure. She has water in the lungs and her heart is enlarged. The combination of the two causes her to collapse every time she exerts herself. It started a few months ago, a week after Frankie was born actually. It happened after a long day of walking or extreme heat. But now it’s happening all the time. Today was a particularly bad day. She collapsed just from walking down the hall. Or getting excited about dinnertime (yes, amongst all of this, she is still food crazy- a sure-good sign:). Without exaggeration, she collapsed/fainted approximately 8 times today! And to add to her discomfort and my sorrow, she now loses control of her bladder and bowels when she collapses. And each time it happens, my heart breaks a little.

As optimistic as the vet is, I know the truth. My dog is dying.

Most of you know Taylor, and therefore know she is not your ordinary dog. She truly is something special. I knew it immediately when she showed up on my front lawn back in Tennessee. No collar, no ID and no desire to be anywhere else. She literally found me. My mom had just put her dog down due to illness, so this spunky Jack Russell mix was going to become her new best friend.

And she was. Within minutes of meeting mom, she had her wrapped around her little paw! But the feeling was mutual. Taylor adored my mom. She was right by my mom’s side during her long hard fight with cancer. A Jack Russell at 15, let alone in their prime, is hard to keep calm. But every chemo day, Taylor stayed within cuddle-reach of my mom and joined her for her afternoon naps. She toned it down when mom wasn’t well, and hyped it up when she needed a laugh. Taylor was Mom’s medicine. And while my grandmother sat by and watched her daughter go through these hard times, Taylor made sure to save some cuddle time for her too.

Oh don’t get me wrong; Taylor was still a feisty Jack back in the day. She would chase every living creature that was in sight, big or small. Many, unfortunately, falling victim to her embedded instincts. Mice, rats, squirrels, sparrows, a pigeon (a fancy Spanish pet pigeon, might I add) and I’m sorry to say, even a kitten. However not one, but three skunks did defeat her and her crazy ways (that was fun)!

I have had dogs literally ALL my life. But by far, Taylor is the smartest dog I have ever owned. Even at 3 or 4 years old she learned how to roll over, how to give paw, and even how to count (don’t argue with me, she totally could)! Back in the day, Taylor used to get car sick. But mom taught her how to barf in a bag so she wouldn’t make a mess in the car! She was never good at fetch but we could tell her to go get a certain toy and she would retrieve it every time. The last couple of years, her tricks have changed somewhat. Taylor would beg us to go outside even when she didn’t have to go, because she knew treat time was after a walk. She would want us to take her to the dog park, not to play with other dogs but to scout out the dog owners because they always had treats! Taylor is absolutely food crazy and her relentless begging and whining can get quite annoying.  And because she is almost deaf, her consistent barking, especially when Frankie is crying, can totally get the best of me.

But not today.

With Frankie in one arm already, I carried Taylor up and down three flights of stairs three times today. I cleaned up three puddles of pee - one of them happened on the couch. I checked on her periodically throughout the day just to make sure she was still breathing. And I just lay with her during each episode, trying to keep her calm and comfortable. All this is the least I could do.

After all, Taylor has been through it all with me. She has been my constant through the toughest years of my life. She was there when I lost my Dad, both my grandmothers, Frankie, my Mom, Steve’s mom and my three miscarriages. For the last decade and a half, whenever I needed a cuddle (and I’ve needed many) Taylor was right by my side.  Taylor was steady by my side when everything else around was falling apart. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday October 21, 2015

We pushed it as long as we could. The vet was hopeful that once on the heart medication things would turn around. We waited as long as we could. But after watching seizure after seizure and seeing her struggle for each breath so much that her tongue turned blue, we knew we couldn’t put her through this for much longer.

As I sat on the bathroom floor with Taylor at 5 am, comforting her after yet another seizure, I asked her to tell me what I should do. Through her cataract-filled eyes, while her body trembled in pain, she looked at me and her answer was very clear. Steve and I decided right after breakfast we would take her to the vet.
As we were both stalling, Taylor collapsed once again, but this time she stopped breathing. Steve & I held her and watched as we thought for sure this was the end. I even told her to go, to stop fighting and to let go. But being the most stubborn dog I have ever met in my entire life, she started breathing again after what felt like a very long time! Any doubt left in us about what we were about to do immediately vanished. Steve scooped her up and we carried her straight to the vet.

Taylor passed away peacefully. Dr. Mark Kinghorn and the staff at Roncy Vet Clinic were fantastic. They made sure it was quick and painless. While waiting for the vet, we took Taylor across the street to one of her favourite neighbourhood spots. Favourite because people bring their stale bread ends here to feed the birds. And on our walks, when Steve & I would turn our back, Taylor would scare away all the birds and have a feast! Well today, as Taylor sat quietly, feeling the grass beneath her feet and taking in what would be her last few breaths of fresh air, an older Polish lady walked up just a few feet from her and dumped a huge pile of bread. Steve & I looked at each other and smiled, then gave Taylor the nod.

With a mouth full of bread and pigeons pecking all around, Taylor got the farewell she deserved.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Miracle of Letting Go

If you have been following my story, you are aware of my fertility journey. 2 years ago, I never ever imagined I would be on this journey - because I never thought it would ever be a journey. Although in my mid thirties, I was healthy, I ate right and was always active. Same for my husband. I've never had any medical concerns and always had a regular cycle. I thought once we decided to start trying to conceive, it would happen easily. I just never imagined being here.
After 3 miscarriages, my biological clock was no longer ticking, but now screaming. I wont lie I was in panic mode. Never had I imagined my life without kids - I couldn't imagine it. But circumstance was forcing me to. But no matter how much I tried I just couldn't. No matter what my reality was I could not imagine my life without kids.
Because this was not going to be my outcome.
So I had to move on. I had to let go.

Life has thrown me some curve balls along the way, but accepting that I would not have children of my own was certainly one of the most challenging. For 35 years I pictured my life a certain way but  now was told to see it differently. I still knew I would be a mom no matter what, but letting go of ever being able to experience being pregnant, ever experiencing the magic of child birth or breastfeeding and all the other breathtaking moments women get to experience when having a baby, I had to accept would most likely never happen. That was hard.

But I learned to get excited about adoption. Adopting a child made me feel like a good person. Like I was doing something great and I was proud. Everything about adoption made sense to me. And once we had our preliminary interview, adoption no longer felt scary. Many think adopting through the Children's Aide Society means you are getting an older, broken child that will just bring a slew of complicated challenges. But what we learned is this is far from the truth. Very healthy, young children are in need of parents too through the CAS. I started to get really excited about adoption. And by the looks of it, we were likely going to have a child as early as the fall of 2015!

But then I found out I was pregnant. Again.

Excuse me for not jumping for joy.  Not the reaction most woman have when they find out they're expecting, I know, but I've been down this road too many times before and knew not to get my hopes up. I couldn't get my hopes up because I could not risk having them stomped and squished to the ground for a fourth time. I was not going to let that happen.

So unlike the other times, I did not call my doctor, I did not tell the fertility clinic (it had been months since I had seen them anyway) and did not want any ultrasounds. I only called my midwife, one I had met for my last pregnancy, and scheduled an appointment like any other woman without any previous history would. I was scheduled to meet with her at 10 weeks. Now all I had to do was forget about it. I'm being serious. Everyday I tried to not even think about being pregnant and just focus on the adoption. Of course, I was taking my prenatals, my folic acid, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and eating well. But other than that, I would try everyday to not think about being pregnant. It was not easy. But every time an excited, hopeful thought came into my mind, I would push it away. Adoption saved me. The only way I could carry on this train of thought was the fact that I, no matter how it happened, would be a mom in 2015. I saw it as a win-win situation.

Before we proceeded with the adoption parenting program (the next step) we told our adoption worker our news. It was bittersweet because we knew this meant closing our application and putting it on the back burner. A policy at the CAS is you can only apply for adoption 18 months after bearing any children. Although I was past 12 weeks, we reluctantly closed our application and now turned our focus to the baby growing in my belly.

I am now almost 16 weeks pregnant and sporting quite the baby bump. I had an ultrasound as well as another midwife appointment that showed a very healthy baby with a very strong heartbeat.

And although I am still a bit afraid to say it, it is looking as though our baby is here to stay this time. Although delayed, the jumps for joy are happening.

Fabulous February - Sleep it Off!

So how did January's Marvelous Me Challenge go? I bet it was much more challenging than you originally thought. I've already done this challenge before and I still found it difficult. I would say I achieved my goal of 2-2.5L/day most days, however there were a few days I was short. I found one way to help me with my goal was to limit my intake of anything dehydrating (coffee, alcohol). Being that its the middle of winter, the worst month for my skin, I was constantly reminded to drink more water because my skin was so dry and itchy. The days that I drank sufficient amounts of water, my skin looked smoother and fuller. My sinuses were clearer and I even felt less hungry. What were some of the changes you experienced with this months challenge?

So its not February and we are on to our next challenge - more sleep. This was probably my most difficult challenge last year, yet my most rewarding. Everything improved when I had more sleep. We are aiming for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep/night. Yikes, I know. But I promise that you plan to get done tonight, will still be there tomorrow. So with that, I am packing it in and calling it a night. I need my zzzzz's!!!

Here is an interesting article on the importance of quality of sleep, not just quantity.

Sleep: Not only How Much, but When?

I was chatting with my client the other day about his sleep patterns. He claimed he gets enough , between 7-8 hours per night, but couldn’t understand why he often felt unrested.  So I asked him at what time did he sleep. He is a real night hawk, and often likes to work at night. He claimed it was quite common for him to be up until 4am and sleep until about 11. 
Aha!! That is why he felt unrested!!

Much of the focus is on the amount of sleep one gets and not on the time of day/night that they are sleeping. The time of day is actually a very important factor when it comes to the quality of sleep one gets.  As soon as we open ours eyes in the morning, light stimulates our serotonin production by suppressing the production of melatonin, the neurotransmitter needed for sleep. The best thing one can do when one wakes is go to a sunny window and get a full face of natural sunlight. No need for your cup of Joe after that!! However, this can be counterproductive when you are trying to sleep.

The best hours for sleep are from 8pm-7am, because those are the darkest hours. Even if asleep, exposure to light can inhibit your melatonin production, affecting your sleep. If one sleeps much while the sun is up and has thin window coverings, light is seeping in inhibiting one to experience that deep sleep that is ideal. It is said that even the light from an alarm clock can affect one’s melatonin production by stimulating serotonin. This is what was happening with my client. Although he was sleeping enough, half the hours he slept (7am-11am) the sunlight was coming through his thin drapes preventing his from experiencing a deep, healthy sleep.

Many of you following ‘The Marvelous Me Project’ have claimed that getting 8 hours of sleep has been a real challenge this month. Although, it may be a work in progress as we move into our next month’s challenge, focus on getting to bed at a decent time. Investing in some thick, dark drapes or one of those eye masks is also well worth it.  Even if you’re up at the crack of dawn and only able to achieve 6 hours of zzz’s, just make sure they’re good ones!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Three Times...Not A Charm:(

I fantasized a long time about writing this post.  For months actually. You know when you have big news, like really BIG news? How much deep thought is put into how you want to announce this big news. You recite how you will say it. Strategically placing your words to where they will make the most impact. Maybe even including some visuals just to increase the drama. But most importantly, you think about the reaction. The messages and phone calls from your loved ones congratulating you on your big news. Big news you want so badly to share with the world. 
That post will once again have to wait.

Last week I miscarried for my third time.

If you read my last blog, ‘My Last Hours of 34’, you are some what updated on my journey to parenthood – or lack thereof.  And what a journey it has been thus far. I wrote about the options I am left with, IVF or adoption, because doctors claim I have a 5% chance of getting pregnant on my own. Not very promising. Well shortly after my post, Steve and I decided to go through with IVF. A very hard decision to make. This meant borrowing up to $15,000 from Steve’s father. And although Bernie is happy to help out, I’ ve always had issues with accepting money from others, especially for something that is no guarantee. But this seemed to be the best chance to get our baby we have been longing for for so long. We told our fertility doctor our decision and were waiting for my cycle to start so we could begin fertility drugs.
We waited, but my period never came.
I was pregnant!
Steve and I couldn’t believe it! When the faint pink stripe appeared on the stick, both of us had to look again. I mean literally - I did a second test a few days later because we really couldn’t believe it. But yup, the second test confirmed I was pregnant!
Can you believe this story? After trying for 1.5 years, 2 miscarriages and finally giving into the reality that we needed help, weeks away from handing over $15,000, our baby finally comes. And the craziest thing – I was due February 14, the exact same due date as my first pregnancy! Another story I fantasized about telling to the world!
However, we were cautiously optomistic. We had to be. We only told immediate family and close friends, and fought to focus only on the present. Because of my history, I was put on progestorone suppositories and closely monitored. At just 6.5 weeks I was given my first ultrasound. The techinician did her thing quietly while I stared at the ceiling and Steve checked his email. But then she did something I had never experienced before. She turned the screen towards us and showed us our baby’s heart beating right through its tiny translucent chest! It was growing exactly how it should and the heart beat was strong. Tears flowed and cautious optimism flew out the window. Our baby was finally here. This was it!
I spent my evenings looking at baby room décor on Pinterest and Steve and I would fall asleep discussing baby names. My ultrasound at 7.5 weeks just heightened everything even more. But this time she was actually starting to look like a baby. Everything was right on track and looking exactly how it should. I met with my mid-wife at the same clinic I registerd with twice before. But even this visit felt different. I started to take belly shots because I actually had a slight bump. Although my baby was the size of a blueberry, my uterus had doubled in size. Never before had I looked at my protruding tummy with such excitement and admiration. I couldn’t wait for it to get bigger and bigger!
On the morning of my 3rd ultrasound at the fertility clinic, my doctor said this would be my last as they would then pass me off permanently to my mid-wife from there on. How exciting! Steve & I practically skipped into the room. As the tech did her thing, I anxioulsly waited for her to tell us when we could look at the screen and see how much bigger she was. Instead my doctor unexpectedly came into the room. This was new. Her and the tech whispered amongst themselves and my doc examined the print out under the light.  The tech removed the ultrasound rod and I knew something was up. I hesitated but finally asked if everything was ok.
‘Unfortunately not’ was the last thing I heard.

I remember it like the back of my hand how I felt when mom told me the shocking news of my fathers death. Or the feeling I had when I was told about Frankie’s suicide. I don’t think I could ever forget. And many of you may not believe me but this feeling was similar.
A million thoughts run through your mind in the seconds following the devasting news of a loved ones passing. But the feeling that lingers is the feeling of fear. Utter and complete fear of not being able to carry on. In each experience, I honestly thought for a short while that I was done. I could not carry on.  And even though Mom’s death was expected, this same thought lingered just the same. How do you suddenly live your life without someone who has been there since the day you were born?
Although I had not yet met my baby, I already could not picture my life without her. So how do I carry on? How do I carry on living my life without him in it when Ive already made so much room in my heart for him? How do I get through this once again?
And the fun didn’t stop there. I once again needed a D&C since I did not miscarry naturally. But because I could not get the procedure done before Monday I had to carry on with my dead baby inside for 3 days. Incase I did end up miscarrying on my own before Monday, I was given a plastic cup to try to ‘catch’ the reminisce and bring it in for testing. Thankfully that did not happen.

I don’t know how, but that feeling of complete and utter defeat does pass. It has tried to make cameos along the way but luckily without much success.  Yes, I have seen death. Far too many times actually. But it was never me who died. Sometimes I felt a part of me did but I pick up those pieces, as shattered as they may be, because that’s what you do. Not just me, everyone. Whether you like it or not, life does not stop. But there is beauty in this.  As scary as not knowing what lies ahead, its also exciting if you remember that there is still plenty of beauty and happiness left in this world.

Life without kids for Steve and I is not an option. And because I know deep down in side I will one day, some way, some how, be a mom, the sun still manages to shine through those dark clouds.

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Last Hours of 34

In less than an hour I will be 35 years old.
The last few years, birthday's have been less and less about the celebration and more about reflection. And with all that has happened this week, I can't help but to ask myself, 'Is this where I thought I'd be?'
To clarify, I have no regrets. I don't even like that word existing in my vocabulary. I really have none. That doesn't mean I am proud of every decision I have made in my life or would make the same choice if given a second chance. What it means is that I would not change a thing, for every decision I have made, good or bad, has made me the person I am today. I have fully accepted that with every decision, good or bad, I have come out of it a better person, even if having had to learn the hard way. I am a strong believer that every thing happens for a reason. Yes, maybe its a cop-out to better accept all the things that are unexplainable. But the alternative, to be bitter and resentful about how things turned out, is just unacceptable.
I love my life.
Although small, I have the most supportive family anyone could ask for. I have friends that make me laugh so hard it hurts. I am the proud aunty of the cutest little 2 year old in the whole world. And most of all, I am one of the lucky few that has found my soul mate. A man who loves me unconditionally.
I love my life.
So the week leading up to my 35th birthday started with a visit to the fertility clinic. After a year and a half of trying and 2 miscarriages this was our second fertility clinic visit as we were seeking a second opinion. In November, I was told my chances to conceive naturally are unlikely. IVF is our most hopeful option. Was I hoping this second opinion would tell me something different? Of course. But they didn't. However, they did in the kindest most professional, compassionate way possible explain why this was the case. And I guess most importantly, they helped me accept the fact that getting pregnant will come at a great cost - emotionally and financially.

Today, on the last day as a 34 year old, I inquired about adoption.  I have always been pro-adoption. Maybe so much so I sometimes think I wished a little too hard. Because International adoption ranges from $20,000- $60,000, we have not considered this (yet). Although free, through domestic adoption we must be willing to adopt an older child (+3yrs) and having either a slight-severe disability, physical or mental. And the process could take up to 2 years.

So, as of today, minutes before I turn 35, if I am to become a mother I am presented with 2 options:
IVF - cost: $10,000-$15,000 with a 50-60% success rate. However, it is quite a speedy process.
Domestic Adoption -  I miss out on ever experiencing being pregnant, giving birth, breast feeding, seeing our child blossom from birth. But it is free and we are guaranteed a child. A child in desperate need of a loving home.

I have no regrets.
For the first time in my life, the conclusions that I have come to this past year challenges the statement above.
I waited too long to have children. I missed my chance.

But like anything in life, there is no turning back the clock. I have hit this wall for a reason. I will be a mother. I just have to work a little harder at it. I never chose the easy route thus far. Why would I start now?

So back to my original question: 'Is this where I thought I'd be?'
It doesn't matter. It is where I am. Exactly where I should be.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cindy is Smiling

Today, my best friend Cindy went to her first chemo treatment, with war paint on her face, her daughter's lucky unicorn in hand and a smile that never faded. 
After 30 years of friendship, she is teaching me more today then ever before.

I'm so tired when my alarm goes off, why did I go to bed so late?
Cindy is smiling.
I missed my streetcar and I now I have to stand in the rain,
Cindy is smiling.
There are no seats left so I have to stand the whole way to work,
Cindy is smiling.
There's so much bloody traffic and now I'm going to be late,
Cindy is smiling.
It's so busy today I have no time to take a break,
Cindy is smiling.
It took me over an hour to get home,
Cindy is smiling.
There's so many dishes in the sink and I still have laundry to do,
Cindy is smiling.
My hockey team lost the game,
Cindy is smiling.
There's nothing on tv,
Cindy is smiling.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Healthy Halloween Alternatives

I LOVE Halloween!! It's one of my favourite holidays. Being once a costume maker for Cirque du Soleil may have something to do with my love for dressing up in outrageous costumes. I also love getting spooked by all the ghosts, goblins and zombies however, there is one thing that scares me more than any of these and that is watching the kiddies gorge on all those sugar, chemical-filled 'treats'.

I know Halloween goes way back, and I do apologize, but I do not have the time to research how this crazed candy-giving tradition all started. However, what I did research are the effects sugar has on our bodies, especially little growing bodies.

 I have been reading many chat boards about candy giving on Halloween and unfortunately for most the 'well, it's only once a year' attitude is the opinion most parents share. But is that really so? Do parents really throw away all the candy the following day while their kids sit by and watch? I highly doubt it. And if that is so, then we can't ignore the enormous waste this holiday must carry. Really though, to avoid an argument, and because it 'really is once a year', kids snack on their candy stash for days, even weeks following. This is where the fun becomes a problem.

Ever wonder why flu season always coincides with this spooky holiday? Coincidence? Maybe. But I happen to think not. Research has shown that just 1 teaspoon of refined sugar can inhibit white blood cell production for up to 4 hours. In other words, your immune system takes a mini vacay every time you have a cookie. How many teaspoons of this sweet poison do you suppose your little ones consume on this 'kid-friendly' holiday and the days that follow? Now that's scary!!

I am not even a parent yet and I am already perplexed on how to handle this holiday once I have a little fairy princess or ninja turtle running around. I guess what it comes down to is not making these sweets a sought after item in the first place. If they don't have it in the home, mommy and daddy don't eat it and they have learned that this food is not good for them, the desire may seize to exist. That doesn't mean kids can't take part in Halloween though. It just means to shift the focus.

Here are a 5 healthy alternatives that make this holiday a little less scary.

1. Hand out toys: For the last few years, I have refused to hand out candy. Instead I buy stickers, hair elastics, bracelets, fake tattoos, colorful pencils and erasers. Despite my husbands' fear of us being egged by all the kids in the neighbourhood, this truly went over well. Kids were excited to actually see something different going into their pillow sacks. Plus, these items last way longer then any candy. Encourage your neighbours to do the same!

2. Hand out healthy treats: Unfortunately handing out baked goods and fresh fruit are a no go and we can thank a few psycho's for that one. But how about juice boxes, water bottles (keep those kids hydrated on their Halloween trek), pretzels, crackers, dried fruit or popcorn. All of these are far better options then what is usually found in the stash your kids bring home.

3. Have a visit from the Switch-Witch: This is a game I learned about from fellow parents. Once the child has had their fun and collected all those treats,  leave the bag out for the Switch-Witch to retrieve and in exchange she'll leave a gift or healthy treat to enjoy. Now what does the Switch-Witch (aka parents) do with all that candy? Although I don't think anyone should be consuming these sugar-loaded goods, a homeless shelter would be happy to take it off your hands.

4. The Halloween Candy Buy Back: Did you know that there are certain dentists that will buy your candy from you? They pay by the pound and often there are gifts for the kids rewarding them for supporting a healthy lifestyle. Some dentists will send the candy to our troops over seas or make a donation to a local charity. Check with your local dentist to see if they have a program as such in place.

5. Be the office hero: Again, I emphasize that I do not think candy is fit for anyone to eat. However, I have less of a problem when it comes to mature adults capable of making logical decisions for themselves. So after you play the Switch-Witch game, or with older kids you worked out some bribe with cash or not having to do chores, bring the candy to work. Whether I want to admit it or not, that candy will get eaten. And all your co-workers will love you for it. Everyone wins.

I'll be making these in my kids cooking class today!