I should be sleeping. Everyone else is sleeping. I, however, can’t sleep.

I have a beautiful new baby. His name is Ira, and he looks like baby-Maren, although he’s rapidly chunking up and I suspect will soon be baby-Nate sized.


I birthed him in the kitchen in our house in Saint John, where we landed after I finished midwifery school. I wound up passing the US licensing exam, finishing all that homework, and then working as a staff midwife/faculty member at the school. It was wonderful and horrible and I miss parts of it, and definitely miss a lot of the people, but I am so glad to have this “down” time with my kids. I’m so grateful for Ira. I still miss Sophie. I don’t feel “done”, baby wise.

There has been donor drama. Not directly, I guess. Our donor’s wife and their daughter came for Ira’s birth. It was lovely and I’m so glad they were here. Their daughter banded Ira’s cord after Maren cut it. His wife’s hands were the first to touch Ira on the outside. She asked our donor to tell his parents about his donor-ness, because she thought they should know before one of their children told them. So, he did. I guess his dad made a joke and otherwise took it well, but told him he had to tell his mother himself. So, our donor told his mother. I have no idea how the conversation went, but when his wife and daughter showed up on his parents’ doorstep, as planned, to spend the night on their drive from our house to theirs, they were told that they were not welcome. So, after driving for 10+ hours with a 6 year old, our donor’s wife had to find a hotel. And they haven’t heard from his parents since. Not on his birthday. Not in response to texts or phone calls. Not a word.

So, there’s that. He seems pretty ok, according to his wife, and is processing some stuff related to how his family communicates and deals with “stuff”. I haven’t spoken to him directly yet, but she says this could be a good thing, for him, in the long run. I feel *horrible* about the whole thing. And then, I feel selfish for wondering/worrying if this will affect his/their willingness to do this again. But mostly I just feel really, really awful that his doing this incredible thing for us resulted in such a breakdown in his family of origin. And to think, we were initially worried they might want to be overly involved in my kids’ lives, if/when they knew about their existence. Not so much!


And then there’s the up and down of being 3 weeks post partum. I’m so incredibly in love with this baby. He’s a perfect delight, even though he has reflux and some weird palate/lip tie issues and is, understandably, cranky a lot of the time. Jonathan is loving him too, and we can’t get over how wonderful it is to have a baby in the house again.

My body is sort of coming together again, and that’s happy (goodbye pelvic/hip pain and SPD!). And, my body is completely fallen to bits, and that’s tragic. I don’t regret these babies. I want to have another. I also want a body that isn’t in pieces. There was some tearing with this birth that I didn’t deal with properly, and I will need surgery to correct that. It’s shaping up to be a challenge to get that dealt with because, “If you had been in the hospital like you should have been, you wouldn’t have this problem!”. The prolapse issues are bigger and different right now. My diastasis rectus is bigger than it’s been in the past. While we were in Texas, I developed a weird skin condition where I’m basically allergic to my own skin secretions. It’s fun. And pretty (yeah. not really). And on my face. I somehow got it under control after a good 6 months in Texas, and it has flared up again now in this post partum period. It’s an auto-immune issue, so maybe the hormones are just triggering it right now. So, basically my connective tissue really, really sucks and my immune system is a little wobbly.

This stuff makes me sad under normal circumstances. Makes me angry sometimes. Right now, I feel grief over losing the pre-baby body that was strong and capable, that did what I asked it to. My body did hard things, well, for many years, and I took that for granted. I’ve danced professionally, carried canoes and gear over portages on long trips, I’ve rock climbed and skied and run and been a certified ocean/waterfront lifeguard. I’ve squatted and lifted and coughed and sneezed. I’ve felt beautiful. I’ve not worried about what people will think of my body or my abilities. And, all of those things are gone.

There are still a few weeks of healing in this postpartum period, and I am not without hope. I do believe that there is a way “back” to a different sort of healthy normal, and I hope I can find it. I know I will adapt and adjust, and I will figure out ways to move my body safely again. I think I might find ways to feel attractive again. This won’t always feel overwhelming and oppressive and I won’t always feel this level of grief or loss. I know. I’ve moved through this before. I can do it again. But it’s hard. And it’s harder when everything is heightened in this tender, heart-exploding-with-love period.



The Fog…

We don’t live in a place with fog anymore, but, oh, there is still fog! I feel constantly under it! If you thought having a new baby, or more than one child caused sleep deprivation, I would just like you to know that there is a whole new level of fog out there. If you want to experience it, go to midwifery school while parenting small children. Or don’t. I’m not sure if I recommend it or not. I’m not sure if it was a good decision or not. 

But, we’re here. There’s a lot of sand, a lot of wind, a LOT of heat, and, shockingly, also a lot of freezing cold. Who knew. There’s also a lot of time spent in a birth center, a lot of time spent speaking Spanish, a lot of time spent learning that I’m really quite good at being a midwife, a LOT of time spent wishing there was a way to do this without being away from my children, without compromising on some really important parts of their lives. 


We’re here though, so, we’re here. Canada just, like, literally *just* announced that I will no longer be eligible for the licensing program I was planning to being in September. So, we’re here longer. Or home without a license. Or somewhere else in the US where I can catch 30 more babies (anyone want to hire/sponsor my midwife-self?). A little more pressure to pass the US midwifery exam. A little more crazy on top of the the big crazy. There’s a mountain of homework. I am crushed under it. There’s a little bit of magic in my hands, and there are a lot of little people still in bellies who I get to touch every day. 

There’s also still a Sophie-shaped hole in my heart. And an enormous gratitude that I get to be Mama to two incredible little people. On we go…


13 Days

It’s been thirteen days since we lost little Sophie. Thirteen days. It feels like a year, like being pregnant at all was a dream. And, it feels like yesterday. My heart still breaks and my mind can think of nothing except begging for that life back, and I still feel that gut grief and panic and complete failure.

Lots has been going wrong, lately. Aside from missing a piece of my heart, we’re in a hole. Jonathan being unemployed, and then moving to take a job that pays less in a higher cost of living area, well, we’re in a hole like we’ve never been before.

We have a plan to get out. I have a few part-time hours to get us there faster without dealing with childcare. I’m going back to school. I was going to go back to school in Sept 2014, when our baby was going to be just over one, and I thought I would be ok, to leave her with her Papa and brother and sister for a year of moderate academics and another year of crazy clinical. But, no baby. Plans change. Either we accept no baby, or we try again and hope and pray and wish and school waits another year or two.

But, we’re in the hole. Big time. And, Jonathan’s union is going on strike in February. And today, the oil company that cancelled our account (because the landlord wouldn’t put a whistle on the oil tank), delivered 500$ worth of oil, for no apparent reason. And strike pay, well, it sucks. As in, it could keep us fed. If we’re really, really careful, we might also have a little bit of gas. But, no electricity, no oil, no phone, definitely no rent. Shitty. Shitty is my new word. I don’t swear, normally.

So, we face moving. Again. Or, rather, we face the reality that we can’t afford to move, so Jonathan will hope to get his old job in Yellowknife back, and the kids and I will stay here while he goes and lives with friends until the summer, when we can reassess. Shitty.

We’re due for some good. I’m tired. I’m tired of not being able to have babies normally. I’m tired of having to plan and pray and hope and juggle and then compromise again to have the plain, normal, simple life we want. I’m tired of being laid off, of job insecurity, of always having not quite enough. I’m tired of grief. I’m tired of a husband who is paralyzed by scary situations. I’m just tired of shitty.

I am thankful for the roof over our heads. I am thankful for our health, and that we currently have food to eat, and that our children sleep in beds and that our house is warm during the day (but not at night, when we turn off the furnace to try to get through the winter without buying more oil). I’m thankful for friends and neighbours and all the incredible people in our lives. I’m thankful for the awesome piece of earth in our backyard, and kids who like to squish in mud and slide down icy hills and read animal tracks. I am thankful, and I know how easily we could be homeless. But I’m scared and tired and shitty is the best word.  And, mostly, I just want my baby back, or, barring that, I want *a* baby. Oh, my heart.

I have a new daughter. Her name is Sophie. She is perfection, and she never drew a breath.

The kids and I spent some time with our donor and his kids in early November. It was a good visit, even if our donor’s wife was super busy and Maren was a beast some of the time. We stacked firewood and our donor shot a deer, we went for a hike and I got very, very lost on the way home. Our donor and I paddled a canoe and cooked and drank tea, and dealt with four little people. It was good. And, the sperm bit was good too, apparently, because ten days after I got home, the stick had two lines. “Go team!” was the reply I got from my friend. Go, team, indeed.

Everything was normal. The pregnancy mimicked Maren’s so much that, even had I not had a gut feeling, I had to be convinced that she was a girl. Thanks to the two previous pregnancies and my destroyed abs (hello, diastasis!), people I barely knew were commenting on the pregnancy at 6 weeks. By 8 weeks, there was simply no hiding it. I never came out on facebook, because I was a little afraid my parents would be disappointed that we were having another baby. I was reassured by being knocked on my butt by fatigue, and by the “morning” sickness that assailed me every night, as well as by my burgeoning belly.

And then, I got the stomach flu. Initially, I thought it was the hell week of morning sickness I had with Maren at 11 weeks, just come a little early. But, then Maren and eventually Jonathan joined me in the puke fest, and I knew it was viral. I worried a little, but figured the babe was safe in there.

And, she was. Sort of. The next day, I had blood streaked mucous, but wasn’t too worried. The day after that, it was more than just streaks, although still not very much. I was concerned enough that I tried to get in to see the midwives two days before my scheduled appointment. They wouldn’t see me because they hadn’t yet seen me (twisted logic, if I’ve ever heard it), so I went to the ER. They were very kind, and everything looked good. My cervix was closed up tight, my betas were through the roof, and although we couldn’t find a heartbeat with the doppler, ultrasound showed a perfectly growing baby with no apparent problems and a delightful, fast heartbeat. I was told odds were 50/50, given the bleeding, but I left feeling fairly hopeful.

But, by the time I got home, the bleeding had increased and the cramping had ramped up. That night, I checked myself and sobbed. My cervix was open, and once that happens, there’s really no going back. I pretty much cried all night, and in the morning, after writing to two friends, I stood up to a torrent of blood and a perfect baby in the palm of my hand. If my heart had broken with my dilated cervix, it completely shattered when I held this tiny little soul in my hand.

She had her index finger in her mouth. She had tiny toes, a surprisingly large umbilical cord, and, well, she was just perfect. I just kept sobbing, “I’m so sorry, baby! I’m so sorry.” It breaks me that she was alive as her world fell apart around her. I pray she only felt peace, and the love that will always overflow in me for her.

Sophie means wisdom. I pray for wisdom for myself. I don’t understand. This all feels like a massive waste. Why would God make a person, let me grow and fall in love with a person, let us all anticipate and make space and plans for a person, only to have that person ended when she was still small enough to fit in the palm of my hand?!

I pray for wisdom for her little self. I pray that she knew the depth of the love I have for her, that she knew she was going to a great place. I pray, desperately, that she was not afraid or in pain.

There have been complications, afterwards. I spent the day in the ER again yesterday, where they were surprised to see me because everything looked so good two days before. I negotiated monitoring and testing until Monday in place of a d&c and blood transfusion. I have this fear that, even if we do manage to come up with the money to try again, that a d&c will compromise my fertility. My nurse was awesome, but the doctors have been lacking in common sense and any sort of compassion. One doctor came in suddenly while I was getting my stuff together to leave and said, “Are you STILL crying!?”, while I had managed to hold it together fairly well, all things considered. My only response was, “Well, my baby died. It’s pretty sad.” I think he remembered he had a heart at that point because he spoke a little more kindly afterwards.

“My baby died” are not exactly words I ever thought I’d say, and they’re certainly not words I ever want to have to speak again. I am broken and brittle and so unspeakably sad, and Sophie lies on some beautiful wool roving in a box, waiting for the spring thaw that will let us place her in the earth. And there will always be an empty spot in our family.

I always pictured her as a spunky, independent little soul. A girl with her own internal song and no self-consciousness as she followed that music. I think I’ll keep that picture of her, ’cause somewhere out there, I’m pretty sure she is exactly those things.

We May Need to Build an Ark


It’s raining. Still. Again. Buckets. Sheets. The little creek in our backyard has gone from a clear, 1m wide, 12″ deep affair to a raging torrent of muddy water a good 3m across and deeper than my rubber boots only inches from the edge. It has overtaken the trail that usually runs alongside it, and daily creeps closer to the little clearing that is our access point. I took the kids up to see it during a brief lull in the downpour today. Maren was chattering the whole way about taking her clothes off, and Nate was going, “Keek! Wim! Wa-er!” (that would be “creek! swim! water!” for those of you not fluent in Nate-speak).

They were a little dismayed at the transformation. Their little creek has gone from playmate to slightly scary. I thought it was a neat lesson though, in the way that nature can so quickly transform, how it is always in the midst of changes. Sometimes things get too big, and then they get a little ugly, a lot more powerful, and when they slow down again, even when things go “back to normal”, there are always a few little bits that don’t quite get back to the way they were. It’s like life.

I think I’m still in the whole receding waters bit of the flood. Things are sort of strewn all around, and I still can’t quite see where everything is going to settle. In the past year or so, I’ve dealt with a bit of post-partum depression, a culmination of a long-percolating Faith upheaval, and the near-end of my marriage. The depression is in the past, but the rest sort of recedes, slowly and leaves me feeling no less sure of the path ahead.

Feeling sort of adrift is new for me. I like to make decisions. I like to take action. I like to move forward and make things happen. I actually prefer to be moving in the wrong direction than to not be moving at all. At least it’s movement, you know? Currently, I feel like I’m moving in no direction at all. I’ve exhausted my resources, and while I am slowly rebuilding, there just isn’t much there to help me get moving.

Generally, I believe that there are multiple “good” directions. Maybe there’s one that’s better than all the rest, but if that singular direction isn’t apparent to you within a reasonable period of time, I really do think you should just pick a good one and go with it. If it’s wrong, well, you’ve learned something and you can change course, but in the meantime you’ve been living your life, cultivating relationships, adding to you stock of experiences. So, my current position is a little mind-blowing. Here I sit. I’d be happy to enter an Ark for a bit, and come out to a world settled and ready for me to jump out into, full of possibility. But first, a rest. Rocked on the water, cozy, surrounded by a few wonderful people and just enough crazy that the stillness isn’t quite overwhelming. I’m working on it.

The Toy Explosion

Our kids have always pretty minimal toys. I tend to get them something every Christmas, but I try to make it an open-ended, quality toy. One year I asked Grampy to make a set of blocks, last year Nate got some little wooden cars and a little wooden garage, and Maren got the innards for a doll house. I had actually purchased said items before Jonathan got layed off in November, and we had planned to get Maren a doll house for her birthday, but we didn’t have the money with the whole lack of job thing, so she’s just enjoyed the innards on her bedroom floor instead.

Our toys fit into two red bins in the bottom two slots of our living room bookshelf. But then I look around. It’s two red bins. And a dress up bin. And a basket of blocks. And a basket of musical instruments, and Maren’s basket of doll house stuff. And, a box in the basement, of Nate’s cars, because it turns out he compulsively eats the wheels off and they no longer roll properly, so we hid them in the hopes that he’ll grow out of this particular phase of oral fixation. And then there’s the bag of beach toys, and the run bike and the tricycle. There are also the random balls hanging out all over the place. The swings in the basement, and the doll and the bunny they each have in their beds… It’s way more than two red bins!

Sometimes my living room looks like this

and then I wonder how on Earth we have enough stuff to cover that much ground! My gut reaction is: Too much stuff! Get rid of it! But, really, that isn’t that much stuff, it’s just a basket of blocks that sort of exploded because it’s being used. Used is good. I have some “mess” issues. Might need to work on that a bit.

Of all their toys, they mostly play with their blocks, the playsilks, the dress up shoes, a few of the little wooden animals, and then random things they pick up. They like the metal steamer, pebbles and odd rocks, feathers, sticks (oh, the sticks!), and, of course, books and art supplies.

I feel like books and art supplies are in their own separate category, so I’m going to go ahead and exclude them from the litany. But, I’ve often been tempted to just donate all of our toys. I’ve never quite gotten to the execution, but I’ve definitely seriously thought about it.

Recently a friend posted this article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2194425/What-happened-I-swapped-childrens-toys-beads-cardboard–Answer-minor-miracle–wailing-stopped.html?ito=feeds-newsxml (someday I will learn how to make those fancy pants linky word things), about a woman who puts away all of her kids’ toys for a whole week and replaces them with this “pocket playground”. The pocket playground is listed in the article, but is basically some beads, play dough, two little figurines and random other bits, like string and boxes. I think I might try it.

Has anyone ever done something like this? How did it go?


Heaps has happened since I last posted on here. Too much to catch up on really. I spent 3.5 months in Africa with my kids at my parents’ house over the winter, after Jonathan lost his job and our relationship was at a particularly low point. It was good, and bad, and boring, and inspiring. The kids turned into little nut-brown hares and I’m pretty sure they thought they were in heaven.

Jonathan got a job offer at a university in a teeny little town in rural Nova Scotia after 8 months of unemployment, so we packed up our little blue and green house and off we went. Really, really sad to leave the wonderful friends we had made and the community we were finally established in, but a job is a job! A stable job in a sweet little town is even better.

(how are little people so stinkin’ flexible!?)


It *is* a sweet little town, and despite thinking we were potentially going to be living in a box on the street, we found a nice little rental just 5km from the campus. We have acres and acres of space, a quirky little duplex, and wandering chickens. And, the bike ride in to town is do-able with the Chariot and it’s 70lbs of kid, even in 35C weather. The humidity is killing me, but I think by the time October rolls around, I’ll be able to get to the library without looking like I took a shower on the way over. A little embarrassing to be the new girl in a town of 4000. At one point I had a black eye from running into the wall, I feel like I’m constantly sweaty, and then we were homeless… but, it is what it is, and we are who we are, and somehow, the awesome people still manage to find us.

I’m still in a quandary over The Future. I love being a mom, I love being home with my kids, but I also know that I am a better person when I also have another outlet. Not a huge, time-sucking outlet, but a meaningful, challenging, inspiring outlet. In Africa, I worked at a midwifery clinic, and remembered that despite convincing myself otherwise, I *need* to do this work.

So, trying to figure out how that might work. Nursing school now and midwifery later? Simply midwifery later? Midwifery sooner (in two years, in the US)? !!! It’s harder to navigate now that there are these important little people in my life.

Onward we go though, hey? There’s value in picking blackberries with the kids and watching Nate figure out that the red ones are *not* raspberries. Or in painting, for the millionth time with Maren. There is.

view from our front yard. you can be jealous now.