I would have never imagined myself hosting a podcast. But here I am, asking difficult questions about the deceased with people I admire and respect. Through this journey I have gained some communication skills and the smallest amount of technical knowledge, but my gains are not in learning how to cut out a hundred unnecessary ‘ummmms’ (just me?). It’s more about connection with my peers, exploring grief and sharing my excursion with the world. Interviewing people from all walks is a brilliant experience which continually fosters my heart-space living. I’m grateful for this conversation surrounding death and dying because I know there is healing in acknowledging our bereavement. I also know that listening to others and providing them a space to honor their loved ones is a game changer, for everyone.
Remember when you were little and you had a pink unicorn journal with a cheap lock on it that could be busted open with minimal force. No? Back then, in 1991, we called it a diary and they were considered a top-secret collection of experiences and their corresponding moods. Research has shown that the benefits of journaling are endless and I’m not sure we’re utilizing the healing power of written word as much as we could be. Journaling is the perfect way to unload in a perfectly safe space and create room for new experiences and thoughts to calibrate. I happen to love journaling for its’ ability to allow me to further understand how I feel about the regular happenings of life. I’ll also say that keeping a journal is somehow sentimental and feels romantic. Perhaps I’ve simply watched too many romantic comedies.
Whether your goal is to be stronger, fitter, or just lose a few inches, you want to maximize your time in the gym so you can spend more time with your family doing the real things you enjoy…
“I choose my choice!”
~ Charlotte York
Yes, I had to throw in an erratic Sex and the City quote because, hey, SATC will always be life but also because screaming “I choose my choice!” is not only the topic of this piece, but also the manner in which Charlotte defends herself is both empowering and cringe-worthy. I’ve never been known to turn away from a good clashing dichotomy.
Since you’re a go-getter summertime mama you’ve probably packed a couple of picnics for your afternoon adventures.
Are your egg salad, deli meat, tuna or veggie sandwiches just not cutting it anymore?
But what is a PPAH?
I used to call myself the pre-parent type of a-hole (bonus points if you count how many times I use that phrase in this piece) aka the PPAH (pre-parent-a**-hole). Let’s paint a picture of who this person was, seven years ago. I had an opinion on everything parenting. Vaccines? Circumcision? Organic foods? Yep. But it wasn’t these things that led me to self diagnose myself as an PPAH..it was the fact that I did the following that really pushed me over the edge…
I’m a mom, and I am a walking caffeine stereotype. Even as I’m typing this, my brain is shot because I haven’t slept in since Obama’s first term, and I can’t get anything done without some form of caffeine assistance, much like all parents before me.
Doubling down on motherhood with my New York heritage means coffee was not only a part of my routine, but my identity. Setting aside my own roots, coffee is a huge part of our culture. In a super outdated, but probably still accurate infographic posted by Massive Health in 2012, New Yorkers were consuming 6.7 times the amount of coffee than people anywhere else in the US. And since I’m based in Canada right now, here’s a little fact about Canada: it turns out maple syrup isn’t the only thing this country loves. Statista reports 4.87 million 60kg bags of coffee consumed in 2017/2018, higher than the 2014 figure which showed that 67% of hot drinks in Canada were coffee. So in North America alone, we have a serious coffee crush.
A month passed after our last discharge and we remained at home with the weekly appointments ongoing for Poppy. Our team had determined my strong little babe had a left ureter leak (which allowed bacteria to grow and cause the sepsis) and that she had also developed MSPI, which is a milk/soy allergy. By this point I was no longer nursing; the stress of the first hospital stay paired with the inconsistent meals had led to my milk drying up. I began to eat better, drink more water and was feeling better. Again, not great but better. And then it happened a third time. Poppy was admitted for another sepsis infection (by this point the staff knew us and whisked us right up to peds) and we spent another 5 days there, largely isolated as we couldn’t afford to have my husband miss anymore work. I returned home relieved to be out and with a healthier babe, but the stays had taken their toll. I was terrified of her getting sick, I kept my older one home and cancelled visits. I didn’t go out often and if I did it was only to get the essentials. I planned my routes around the hours of the store. Either first thing or late at night. I never went to anything where there was a crowd and if I did find myself out, I panicked as soon as I got home. The panic attacks were awful. Hours upon hours of fear and worry. I stopped sleeping. I stopped getting help. I had a new counsellor by then and we didn’t mesh well, she kept telling me to breath and I was at the point where breathing did nothing but make me realize I was still alive, which I didn’t want to be.
Fast forward to the summer when two major life changes happened. We were told the apartment was up for sale (we didn’t mind, the neighbourhood had changed and drug deals happened there often) and I quickly became pregnant with our second. Knowing my history I went with a midwife for this second baby. We bought a home in a new town and I thought things couldn’t be better. It was around week 12 of my pregnancy (which had been tough from the start) that I felt the familiar creep of anxiety. For anyone that’s ever dealt with it, I think the best way to describe it for me, is like this little tiny dark cloud that grows, and grows. It feels almost as if this black sheet creeps towards you until your mind matches the colour of it and you can’t see anything positive. It wasn’t always that dramatic, but more often than not, it was. Thankfully after hiding it for another month or two, my midwife noticed what I had been trying to hide. I was isolated again, unable to do anything I used to do. I was sad all of the time and struggled to get out of bed or interact with my eldest. I worried about this baby. We had found out she was a girl and were ecstatic (I had prayed hard for a sister for my Grace as I never had one) but I couldn’t stop the fear from overtaking the joy. What if she was colicky like her sister, what if I can’t nurse her, what if, what if, what if. I began to drown in these thoughts. Often crying whenever I thought about what I had “done” to our family. How I had ruined our trio by wanting a second child. These thoughts overtook me and my midwife quickly referred me to our local mental health unit for prenatal counselling. In this I met the sweetest, most sincere counsellor. She knew exactly what to say, how to empower me and lift me up. She understood my medication fears and tried to work around that angle, using breathing and mantras to try and ease my burden. Did it work? Not often. I think I was too far gone and probably needed an IV of whatever medication they wanted me to take but it did take some of the guilt off. She told me I was a good mom, therefore it couldn’t be all a lie could it?
Seeing this unfold, my husband strongly encouraged me to try again. To find a doctor that seemed to understand me better and so I tried. I saw another doctor, and sobbing, I explained what was happening. How I no longer knew who I was, how I couldn’t be happy anymore, never left my house and had completely given up on being anything of who I was before. She was kind and listened sympathetically but again, encouraged medication. I explained my fears and she said she could start me off low, and generally increase and I made a commitment to her and myself that I would try. Again, I filled the prescription and made my best effort to take it. But googling this new medication won over and I couldn’t do it. You may be asking yourself, seriously why didn’t you just take it? And I did too. Trust me. There was so much guilt within me. Guilt at what my life had become, what my husband had to silently endure and the opportunities my Grace was missing. I went back to the doctor, again sobbing, almost begging forgiveness at not being able to take them. She had ideas. One was that he could hide the medication in my food. That didn’t sit well with me. That wasn’t the path to betterness. Our marriage was a trustful one and this seemed to break that trust. Sure I would have been telling him to do it, but it allowed a new kind of sneakiness in. One that I didn’t want. This doctor had granted me permission to take stress leave, so thankfully I hadn’t had to be around my students during this time (I was an EA, which meant I worked with special needs students within the district) but in doing this, I had to complete several tasks as requested by my employer in order to be paid an EI type of wage while I was off.