Our story of loss, hope and happiness

I haven’t told the whole story in years. I’ve somehow managed to split the journey in two – the dark period before Margs and the happy period after. There was just so much awful stuff before baby girl that on some level I needed to make that distinction so that I didn’t have to continue facing the details of what exactly happened to us and how ridiculously difficult and unfair our journey to becoming parents to an earthly child was.

I wrote a post about feeling like my family was not complete months ago without really explaining the difficulties I face. I’ve spent weeks analyzing options and scenarios and unfortunately I’m no closer to making a decision than I was before. It did however occur to me that many of you fine folks have only gotten bits and pieces of the story and probably think I’m crazy for being so scared. Again, I’ve intentionally avoided sharing the whole story because it sucks and it hurts and most days I’m perfectly content pretending it didn’t really happen (not the most effective way of dealing with grief – I know).

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So, can I tell you a story? Can I tell you about my babies?

In 2012 I got pregnant- it wasn’t a planned pregnancy because Mer and I were still sorting out our financials in anticipation of starting a family but we were thrilled regardless. At 12 weeks we found out we were expecting twins which left us amazed and terrified. We soon got to work preparing for our babies – 2 cribs, 2 car seats, 2 bouncers – you get the drift. By the time I was 18 weeks pregnant we essentially had everything in order because we were having twins and had been warned that it could be a difficult pregnancy and we should anticipate preparing for them early – if we only knew.

At 20 weeks and 3 days pregnant I woke up to spotting. I called my hospital triage who told me to take a shower and lay down but present to triage if it persisted. I had an appointment for my anatomy scan later that afternoon and figured I’d mention it then if it persisted. Later that morning, the bleeding intensified – we were scared and so we chose to head to the hospital to get checked out. The details of that day are pretty hazy now but I believe they gave me a urine test (which came back negative) and sent me home with orders to rest and that ultimately bleeding “sometimes” happens. They didn’t check my cervix which I’ve learned is standard procedure in twin pregnancies after the 20 week mark.

We headed home where we ate pogos (I haven’t eaten once since) and discussed how thankful we were that the bleeding was “normal” and nothing “significant”. I remember saying to Mer “Phew, I’m so glad they are okay – I cannot imagine losing them now”.

Later that afternoon we headed to my scheduled appointment for our anatomy scan where we were super excited to find out if the twins were girls or boys (our attitude about scans and such has changed so so much since then). Little did we know our life was about to change forever.

I remember things like “the babies looks so good”, “I want to do a vaginal u/s to check but I’d never forgive myself if your water breaks”, “it’s really too too bad”.

We had no idea what was going – we had no idea what was about to happen. We had no idea that this was the beginning of the end.

With orders to head back to the hospital Mer and I loaded ourselves into the car and drove back to the hospital that had sent me home earlier that morning with nothing to worry about. This time, they were waiting for me and put me into a bed immediately.

I spent the next 3 days in trendelenburg position, meaning I was laying head down with my feat well above my head hoping that my membranes would recede.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that part? I was 4cm dilated with bulging membranes the day of our scan.

On the second day at the hospital my doctor came to visit. She sat by my bedside and told me it wasn’t good. She explained that I had 2 choices – 1) I could opt to terminate the pregnancy or 2) agree to be transferred to another hospital facility with a neonatal intensive care unit where I’d stay on bed rest until the babies came.

We opted for a transfer.

After arriving at the new facility I had a team of perintologists examine me and explain my harsh new reality. I was essentially in pre-term labor, my cervix was too weak to hold my babies in and that we could try prolonged bed rest but that decision came with risks of infection and septicemia. There were no other options because at 4cm dilated any of the emergency procedures they could have tried would have either ruptured my membranes or resulted in infection.

We opted to take the risk and have me hospitalized to basically wait out the rest of my pregnancy hanging upside down.

After two days of waiting, praying and waiting some more the twins decided that it was time.

We were escorted down to the specialized birthing unit where moms are giving birth to babies who will die (it sounds harsh but it’s the truth). I believe there were 6 of us there at the same time and by a complete accident I ended up connecting with one of the other moms a year later. The universe is weird that way.

I labored for approximately 4 hours and our precious little girls were born.

Both babies were born alive although by legal standards they are considered a “stillbirth”. Mer held them both as they took their last breaths. I remember this moment vaguely (I was sedated with large amounts of Ativan at the time) although Mer reminds me often that I held both their little hands and sang to them.

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3 weeks later I hemorrhaged and nearly lost my life and had to have an emergency D&C to stop the bleeding.

I got pregnant again 6 months later. A second set of twins. We were optimistic since I’d found a phenomenal new doctor who had an amazing plan to keep me pregnant. I found out that we’d lost the that set of twins at around 7 weeks pregnant and had another D&C because my body wouldn’t miscarry on its own.

The next 18 months were spent having surgery after surgery. I was diagnosed with a septate uterus, ashermans syndrome and the MTHFR gene.

Basically my uterus was misshapen and full of scars which I was told was likely going to leave me infertile because of the D&Cs. I was told not to get my hopes up.

I got pregnant again in the summer of 2014 and miscarried days after finding out.

By 2015 after trying to get pregnant for nearly a year, Mer and I started exploring other options. We either needed to come to terms with being child free or look into adoption aggressively. At our ages and with the wait period involved in an international adoption we knew we needed to figure out what our life path would be.

In the meantime I was working and trying to put all these hardships behind me. Then, in April 2015 I found out I was pregnant with Margs.

The world stopped and I gave up my career, my graduate program and my life in the real world so I could gestate this tiny baby. I did not believe for one minute that we’d get to bring her home and as each day passed I mentally prepared myself for it being the last. The odds were stacked against us but by some form of an enormous miracle she’s here and she’s safe.

It took me 67 days to write this post start to finish. I completely underestimated the power of words – this has been the most difficult piece of writing I’ve written for TTBH and most days I wiped away tears as I typed. Words hurt and are so liberating at the same time.

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That time my kid refused to sleep & some thoughts about digital citizenship

Friday! My gosh, how is it already Friday?

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This last week has been a blur – a sleepless blur. I’m somehow convinced that after boasting to our pediatrician that Margs sleeps through the night (albeit in our bed) karma decided to teach me the very important lesson that bragging isn’t cool by having my kid decide that suddenly she wants to be nocturnal.

She’s been up consistently from midnight to 4 am, 3 nights in a row. I’m surviving on short naps and coffee. Hopefully this “phase” (teething possibly?) will pass soon and we’ll be back to business as usual.

Speaking of Margs, I got an email this week asking me why I don’t post full frontal shots of my little girl . Great question since I don’t think I’ve ever directly broached the subject.

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Profile cuteness.

I thought the question was interesting and it sparked an interesting conversation between Mer and I about our own positions on digital citizenship and where we stand with regards to sharing our lives on the internet – or, how much we’re willing to share with the Internets.

Hey, did I ever tell you I was a teacher? I taught math to a bunch of 10 and 11th graders but also got the privilege to teach a class about digital citizenship when I decided to head back to school and get a graduate degree in education and technology. Basically, I  taught kids about responsible internet use in a society where technology is a fundamental part of day to day life. Fun fact,most 10th graders in this area believe that facebook is for old people! – jaw dropping right? That folks is how quickly technology changes.

With that said, digital citizenship is really an important part of our lives. Mer works in medical technology and since I blog and have an online presence albeit a very small one, we’re very cautious about what we put out there with regards to our little girl because ultimately we both feel like posting photos of her isn’t our right. She has no agency in this situation and until she can make those decisions for herself we’re just not comfortable with sharing photos that are any more revealing than the one above. That photo is probably the closest to seeing a full frontal as it’ll get.

I’m just not comfortable with sharing more than that folks and I hope you understand.  I’m just a believer that she’s entitled to a certain level of personal privacy and that as her mum it is my job to protect her privacy until she’s able to tell me “mom I want to be on the blog”. That day may or may not come and I’m cool with that.

So there you have it. The internet can be a beautiful place where you can share ideas and interact with awesome people who have so many brilliant things to share but it can also be a scary place especially when there are children involved and for the time being we’re opting to keep our little off of it as much as possible.

Where do you stand on sharing kiddo pictures? I’m interested to hear different opinions!

 

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That time my kid needed an epi-pen & a few thoughts on parenting

Parenting is like putting together a giant puzzle. Once you’ve got the puzzle all neatly put together suddenly the pieces come apart and you’re left starting over. Am I right?

I had plans to write a post about saving money for today but then we had an incident and I felt like updating you on Margs instead.

Margs had an allergic reaction to what we suspect are blueberries this weekend.

Scariest moment of my parenting life so far.

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In hindsight, this is likely not the first time we’ve seen a blueberry reaction. If you follow me on Instagram I posted about Margs getting sick two weekends ago – after eating blueberries. At the time, I chalked it up to an upset tummy and didn’t think that there was a food allergy reaction to blame.

You see, my kid doesn’t react to blueberries the same way a kid with a peanut allergy reacts to peanuts. Instead, Margs gets really red in the face, vomits and then appears to be perfectly fine again.

This weekend after licking a blueberry, she got red in the face and projectile vomited and that’s when I realized that all those time she’d been “sick” were similar. Similar in the fact that she’d eaten blueberries right before the incident occurred.

Thankfully we had a routine pedi appointment yesterday where we discussed what happened with her doctor. Apparently, allergies can present with facial redness and vomiting. Who would have known.

We’re now armed with 2 epi-pens and a referral to see an allergist to get to the bottom of this.

There is  chance that  this was all a fluke but to be safe we’re having her tested. She’s fine with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries which is what raised a few question marks with her doctor.

Now,  back to the whole parenting is a puzzle thing.

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Apparently everything we’re doing with Margs is wrong. According to her pedi our sleep situation, feeding situation and play situation isn’t “ideal”.

I’m going to be brutally honest here- I was absolutely raging when I left the office yesterday. Despite her being super helpful with getting to the bottom of the allergy issue I felt like my doctor was criticizing my parenting choices.

On the drive home I rambled to Mer about how I feel like our doctor should be looking out for Margsy’s health rather than focusing on our parenting decisions.

In a nutshell her doctor says that we:

  • allow her to drink too much milk (she’s drinking approximately 24 oz of whole cows milk daily)
  • should stop allowing her to drink from bottles and start using sippy cups exclusively
  • stop using a pacifier altogether
  • let her cry it out and force her to sleep in her crib
  • force her to play independently for 180 minutes per day.

In a perfect world, my kid would sleep in her crib. Although I’m 100% on board with the idea that crib sleeping is the best – it’s just not our reality. Margs will scream for hours (we’ve tried), bang her head into the crib rails, try to climb out of her crib and eventually she’ll get so upset she’ll vomit. That is not ideal to us.

Have we missed the boat? Can you sleep train a 14 month old?

The rest of her suggestions seem crazy to me. I just feel like Margsy is just so so young. I cannot imagine taking her bottles away completely. She really enjoys her evening bottle – it’s part of her bed time routine.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this because I felt like an enormous failure when I walked out of that office yesterday.

My goals are simple: I want to have a happy and healthy kid which she is right now. She’s content (most of the time), eats well (most of the time), plays well (most of the time) and sleeps well (most of the time).

Perhaps our parenting choices don’t align perfectly with the “ideal” parenting methods suggested by our pedi but not all children fit the “mold” so to speak and I’m not sure how comfortable I am completely overthrowing Margs sense of normal right now.

So a few questions for you fine folks today if you don’t mind

Do you/did you take parenting advice from your doctor?

When did you wean your child/children from their bottles?

 

A day trip to Montreal & a few cheap date night options

Over the weekend Mer and I were treated to a day off so we could head out on an adventure just the two of us. We’re really strange when it comes to spending time away from Margs. We often complain that we need a break but when a break is so generously offered to us all we can think about is rushing through our “free” time so we can be reunited with Margs.

One weekend a few months back we literally drove around aimlessly because we had no idea what to do with ourselves while Margs spent the afternoon with her grandparents. She adores being there because she gets spoiled rotten so we have absolutely no excuse for not relaxing and enjoying our time away. I’m embarrassed to admit that we ended up doing our weekly grocery and running a few errands that day- exciting stuff hunh?

Mer surprised me this weekend by organizing babysitting with his parents so we could do something together. He knew I’d had a rough week and that my anxiety was running pretty high so he decided we’d take a break and do something fun.

He came up with a plan to drive a few hours to Montreal so that we’d be forced to enjoy our time away from Margs and not pull our usual stunt and rush back to pick her up.

It was so so nice to spend the day exploring the city despite the freezing cold.

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Our first stop was Misoya Ramen on Bishop street. Mer had a visa gift card that he’d received from work for his birthday that we never got around to using so he decided we’d go out for lunch. We’d been wanting to try Ramen for the first time and figured Sunday was a perfect opportunity to do so since there were so many great Ramen shops around. We also rarely eat out so it was an extra special treat. We really scaled back on eating restaurant food way back when we were tackling our debt problem and we’ve gotten so used to eating at home that we rarely order in or eat out – we’ve sort of eliminated it from  our lifestyle. So, this was an extra fun opportunity to eat delicious food and catch up on non-parenting things.

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It was delicious!

We purposely ordered different bowls so we could share. I went with a Komemiso broth (savoury) while Mer opted for a Momemiso (full bodied flavor). They were both quite good although my Komemiso was a tad saltier than I would have liked so if we had to repeat this meal I’d opt for the Momemiso instead. I plan to try and recreate this meal at home in the near future – I’m researching how to put together the broth because there’s got to be a way to recreate this meal without paying restaurant prices.<—– frugal mindset folks.

Why date nights saved my marriage

During the time we were trying to conceive, Mer and I really struggled. We love each other dearly but grieving and the heartache of losing 3 pregnancies really took its toll on our relationship. Mer often felt like he couldn’t grieve because he needed to support me in my grief (disclosed to me in therapy). There were times that we felt like our lives were consumed with trying to conceive and we really forgot to nurture our relationship and focus on rebuilding and rekindling the “us” which felt lost in this world of medical intervention and timed intercourse. It was really hard and at some points I questioned if our relationship would survive. Our day to day life just felt so incredibly scheduled and forced.

It survived, thanks to our therapist who suggested we go on date nights to help refocus our energy on rebuilding the parts of our relationship that were broken down from years of heartache and loss. She suggested we schedule time to get to know each other again (because life experiences shaped and changed us along the way) and focus on strengthening our relationship by having fun which sadly really wasn’t part of our lives for such a long long time.

Thankfully, we stuck to it and we really enjoy our special time together whether that be once per week or once per month (now, we aim for once per month). We shut off our phones, we don’t check facebook, instagram or twitter and just spend time catching up on things that we might not get the time to discuss on a day to day basis. It’s really quite amazing how much goes unsaid when you’re busy tending to a house, a job, a kid and other adult responsibilities so it was so so nice to catch up.

Date nights are expensive though or at least initially they were. When we scaled back our monthly budget we feared that we’d have to eliminate our date nights altogether because spending 50$+ at a restaurant just wouldn’t work for us anymore. We came up with a few budget friendly date nights that we not only really enjoy but work well with our budget and frugal lifestyle.

A few tips to enjoy your date night without spending a fortune

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Change your date night mind set. Date nights don’t have to cost money. This is where we struggled in the beginning – what are 2 people supposed to do without spending cash? Well, we got creative and we found a bunch of fun, entertaining and otherwise awesome activities to do on date nights without spending much money. Walks, hikes, skating, swimming, free music festivals, free comedy shows, free firework displays, free cooking lessons – there are so many options out there that don’t require you spend a ton of money – often you can even find free options. We researched a ton and explored what was available to us in our area. Since moving, we’ve actually made a bunch of new friends by attending various free activities offered by our township. We love finding new things to do and often Mer will send me an email letting me know that he found something super cool for us to do together. Just yesterday he let me know that there’s a free tour of a local museum – we’ve penciled that in for our next date night.

Get moving – We were stuck in a very conservative mindset that date nights had to include dinner and a movie because that’s what we used to do when we dated before getting married. As much as I like to dine out and catch a movie, these activities get pricey and catching a movie actually prevents us from connecting and chatting which is the point of “dating” anyway. So,we’ve made a conscious effort to try things like walking, hiking, swimming and biking together. I can’t tell you how much fun we have biking through small rural towns about an hour away from where we live. We drive down dirt roads and revel at the beauty of the country side. Mer actually installed a large wicker basket on my bike so I can haul a small picnic with us – it’s such a fun and inexpensive way to spend some quality time together.

Enjoy each other – we tend to focus on picking dates that maximize the amount of quality time we spend together without distraction. Our daily lives are quite busy and leave little time to just sit and “be” so we tend to opt to do things that offer us an opportunity to talk and communicate. For us, enjoying each other can come in the form of sitting by a bonfire, sipping a beer and just chatting or taking a long walk through the forest behind our home. Thankfully we’ve been able to create a separation between the belief that spending money on elaborate evenings out is the only way to date thus focusing on quality time instead which often costs no money at all.

Plan & Budget ahead – we do spend money on dates occasionally. Although we’d much prefer to have a free date that’s just not always possible. Last summer for example there was a new restaurant opening up in our town and we decided that we’d love to attend the opening. So, we budgeted ahead and set aside a small amount of cash to allow for this luxury. More often than not, every third date costs us a little cash. By budgeting ahead and planning for it we’re far more conscious of how much we spend when out and enjoy this extra luxury so much more.

What some of our date nights have looked like

  • Walks through the forest with steaming cups of homemade hot chocolate
  • Drives to our favorite spot in gorgeous St-Donat to walk the lakefront beach
  • Watching free fireworks competitions while munching on homemade appetizers
  • Staying in and cooking an awesome meal together with no phones, t.v or other distractions (the last time we did this we experimented with different types of curry)
  • Skating on a frozen pond (I’m clumsy and can’t really skate but Mer holds my hand and we have a few good laughs)
  • Free outdoor music festivals in the warm summer months
  • Sipping wine by our homemade fire pit in the backyard
  • Renting a pedal boat at a local beach and spending hours floating and chatting (approx 5$)
  • Thrifting without actually buying anything. Mer and I are both history buffs so we love visiting thrift shops and antique shops to discuss the treasures we come across.
  • Pick your own produce in the summer. We love to spend days at a local farm supplementing our garden goods. We once spent an entire day picking broccoli rab to freeze for the winter.

Do you make time for dates with your partner?

What’s the most recent “date” you’ve been on?

Any cheap and budget friendly date ideas you’d like to add to the list?

 

 

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My tiny piece of internet real estate

Aaaand another week starts. Happy Monday folks! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

When I started this blog just over 2 months ago I wasn’t really sure if it would be something I’d stick to long-term. I know that I felt like I needed a place to write and that I wanted to connect with other like-minded individuals but above and beyond that I had no idea where my blogging journey would take me and whether it would even be something I’d enjoy doing.

There was fear because I’m really an open book (too much so sometimes) and I worried about oversharing. There was apprehension because I’m really just a run of the mill stay at home mom with nothing extraordinary or exciting to share since most days are fairly predictable and mundane. Yet, every time I open my dashboard to write a new post I feel myself drawn to writing about our debt-repayment journey, our struggles to bring Margs into the world, saving money and how living a simple and minimalist life continues to bring me happiness and reduce my anxiety.

If you’re subscribed to my blog – thank you. If you take the time to comment, like and email me – thank you. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough but please know that I read every email, every comment and am beyond grateful for every like and subscription here on This Tiny Blue House.

I reached 1000 followers on Friday and I’m still in disbelief because I never imagined anyone would really want to read what this stay at home mum had to say. I’m beyond grateful that each and every one of you has given me prime real estate in your reader and take the time to read my posts! Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

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My 2 month blog anniversary is literally a nano-second in the great big world of blogging. Some bloggers have years, even decades under their belt and my tiny little piece of blogging real estate is still very much in its pre-infancy.

As my blog grows a little and starts to take shape, I’m beginning to realize that I really enjoy sharing my ideas with you fine folks. I enjoy reading other blogs, commenting and building a sense of community in this vast space we call the internets.

But what I couldn’t figure out these last couple of months was what compelled me to blog in the first place; what pushed me to register This Tiny Blue House on that fateful day in November? So, today I want to share the 5 reasons I’ve discovered fuel my desire to share my life with you lovely people.

1. I want to give my loss history a voice. I hope to share the message that although devastating a happy life after child loss is possible. I’ve grown a ton emotionally since we first lost our twins and I know that I want to spread awareness about baby loss. Lost pregnancies happen more often than we’d like to acknowledge and I’m hoping that other loss moms who find their way here will see that after the raw devastation subsides a little – putting the pieces back together is possible. It just takes time to adopt a “new normal”.

2. I want to share my imperfect experiences with motherhood. I’m still figuring out this parenting thing. Raising Margs is proving to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’d like to continue blogging transparently about how difficult it is to parent a child when you suffer from anxiety. I’d like to continue sharing my struggles with my parenting decisions and choices. I’ll never claim to have all the parenting answers because I just don’t. I’m figuring out this motherhood thing as I go and trying to be the best version of myself I can throughout the process.

3. I want to talk about how we live a frugal lifestyle and how we manage our day to day life on less than 1000$ per month. I’ve already discussed how we’ve gotten ourselves out of  hefty credit card debt but haven’t really touched on how we spend our money on a monthly basis. I’d love to show you fine folks that it is possible to live well, eat well and enjoy life on a 1000$ a month budget. We’re by no means experts but we’ve found a way to save money and live what we consider a relatively comfortable lifestyle for about 1000$ per month. I look forward to sharing more about that part of our lives with you.

4. I want to discuss how simplicity has changed our lives. We were once the “worst” type of consumers, living a life of gross gross excess. Scaling back our spending to pay off our debt taught us so many valuable lessons about what truly makes us happy. I’d love to share how we overcame the need to “keep up with the Joneses” and accept that we’re the happiest versions of ourselves when we have less stuff.

5. I want to give you a peak into the life of our run of the mill imperfect family, living on a lower-middle class income. I’d love to share my experiences with marriage (Mer and I argue), finances (we still worry about money), parenting (I’m just terrible at it some days) and cooking (I make a few good go-to meals on a budget). In a nutshell, I’d like to share our very ordinary life with you without creating the illusion that we’ve got it all together which we just don’t – probably never will.

So thank you thank you thank you for reading, communicating and exchanging ideas with me. I look forward to continuing on this journey and I hope that you decide to come along!

If you’d like to keep in touch outside the blog feel free to follow me on twitter, instagram & pinterest.

Why do you blog? I’d love to hear what pushed you to create your blog and why you keep at it!