Am I a Mom-Shamer Because I Choose a Natural Birth?

Here I am sitting in my midwifes office and she is going thru pain management options with me. I had a completely natural birth last time, didn’t think it was that bad and was ready for more babies in a quick hurry, (Point in case being 13 weeks pregnant by my daughters first birthday) but I figured “anything can happen” and decided to listen and learn. I feel a bit shocked to hear that they offer morphine during labor, (I already knew that but I still feel surprised and reluctant to accept that that is an option). Then she oh so casually mentions that you can take fentanyl to help with pain management. At this point I am sure my mouth is gapping open in absolute shock, as is my husbands. Yes, I am educated in knowing that any medicine that can be abused and very harmful, can also have some very beneficial side affects when used and dosed by a professional, I am not ignorant. Fentanyl really has a bad reputation where I am from and lets be honest I’ve heard a lot more bad and scary things about it than the good healing properties of it. I was just really surprised that anyone would consider it an option.

I made the mistake of posting about my shock on Facebook, and a month later I am still bothered by a comment alluding to the fact that I’m a mom-shamer, so here I am stating my case. Before I continue let me just say that how you birth your babies, how you feed them, or how you parent them, doesn’t bother me one bit. It affects me zero if you have a c section, if you have a completely natural birth, if you take every single type of medicine offered to you, if you have a vbac, or a planned c section, or if you have no children at all. I am not affected by how your children are born. What affects me is my decisions. So go for it! Have whatever birth experience you want. I think we should all be entitled to it and supported in it and happy with how our children are born. That doesn’t mean my choices are right for you, or that your choices are right for me always. We can still support each other and not agree with one another.

For me pain medication is not a good option. I guess I am kind of a prude. I don’t even like taking Tylenol for a headache. I don’t smoke weed, and I rarely drink. No matter what medication I take I always get the full list of side affects, always. I am very sensitive to anything I put into my body, and therefore very cautious to what medicines and even vitamins that I use. I had a great labor last time. Yes I was in pain but it was something that I dealt with and got thru it. I read books and watched videos on childbirth, and prepared myself. I felt ready to birth a baby and I can honestly say that I was never scared. Maybe I am lucky. Maybe my body was made for birthing babies. Maybe I have a high pain tolerance. Or maybe I put in a lot of hard work before hand to prepare myself for what was about to happen.

My exact comment on my status was “I did it drug free last time and intend on doing it the same this time. People can do whatever feels good to them but for me it wasn’t that bad I would rather suck it up and not have to deal with potential side effects.” and quiet frankly I don’t think I deserve to get labelled a mom-shamer for that. Why can’t I be aware of potential side affects to me and my baby? Why can’t I be educated on the cost of my pain management? Why does knowing what could happen to my body and deciding against it make me less supportive of those who go for it? Believe me, I did not birth my child naturally with no pain relief to be superior to anyone else, I did it all for me!
I in no way feel superior to any other woman, but I do sometimes feel judged. I’ve heard the comment many times “I’m no super hero, give me all the drugs.” Is that comment not a bit condescending to all the women who do do it naturally? Isn’t it a bit sarcastic and maybe even a bit rude? If I am not allowed to say that my labor wasn’t that bad and I didn’t need drugs, then maybe all the pain managing women could kindly keep their super hero comments to themselves also? Here’s the thing, there is always going to be something to feel guilty about when growing/raising/parenting babies, ALWAYS. Birth is unpredictable and can be scary and exciting and anything can happen, people manage their experiences differently, no two birth situations are exactly the same, so can we just stop being offended? When I hear comments that don’t sit with me right, I ignore them, I take pride in myself that I made the right decision for me and my family, and I was happy with the experience that I had. The next time you think I am mom-shaming, stop. We don’t have to make the same decisions for me to be supportive. Actually you don’t need me to be supportive at all (tho I am), you made your decisions, be happy with them. You did good Momma.

Millennials

Millennials are defined at those who were born between 1984 and 2004. They are described at permanent children. They are demanding and narcissistic, they are hard to manage. They are the most educated generation, and because of that have the highest amount of debt. According to older generations millennials are spoiled and don’t contribute enough, they are lazy, and entitled.

According to my birth date in 1989 I am one of these supposed spoiled millennial, though I have to admit that I don’t feel as tho I relate to much of the millennial typical experiences. It could just be my geography. Living in the middle of rural Manitoba, so far north that we get the shit end of the stick on things like healthcare, but not far enough north to be considered “north”, really limits things like the speed of our internet. Back in the 90’s not everyone here had a computer, the kids who had one were so lucky, but I never grew up with a computer. Which is a take away from my experience as a millennial.

I am scrolling thru my Facebook feed when all of a sudden there it is, some hilarious meme that says “Dear Millennials, welcome to life. That participation medal you got as a kid doesn’t work here.” A few weeks later Dr Phil has a 20 something year old still living at home on his show, and he’s complaining about millennials. I am over it.

I agree. There are a few people my age who are closing in on thirty still living at home, my alcoholic uncle also moves home every couple years or so too, and he’s almost fifty, I would say both are equal losers, but only one of them are reliable and have a good full time job. Just saying. There are always lazy people. There are always people whose parents hand them everything. There are always the ones who take more than their fair share. Yes, I have a problem with these people, and yes, I believe anyone could change and make their life better at any point. As millennials we can only blame bad parenting and bad economy for so long, before it become obvious that we are just being lazy, self entitled mooches.

However, my problem lies with the generation complaining about us. Again I don’t identify with the millennial experience at all, but as a mother and an aunt I can also see it from their side. The generation of middle aged to senior adults complaining about the youth is what really grinds my gears. Complaining about the fact that we got medals for participation (something I never got by the way). Complaining that we are entitled, and complaining that don’t work hard enough.

SLOW DOWN. We are YOUR handy work. I know I didn’t raise myself, and I am assuming neither did most of the rest of my generation. If you are more than fifteen years older than me, then you were part of my upbringing. The millennials all had moms and dads and grandparents. We all had teachers and babysitters, and aunts and uncles and mentors. You all raised us and now you bitching and complaining that we turned out exactly how you brought us up. Sounds a lot like the woman who orders the chicken burger and gets it to realize that its breaded, which it clearly states in the menu, and then insists that I fucked up the order and this isn’t what she wanted because she’s dieting. As far as I know, eight year olds are not giving participation medals to themselves. Parents were the ones who told their children they could be anything they wanted, and then scoffed when your kid grew up to believe you. I don’t personally know any child that would rather get a job and pay for their own things, if the other option involves asking for it and it being bought for them.

Every adult that I know is standing around complaining about participation medals, but why didn’t you say anything to the coach when they were handing them out? Grandparents, this involves you too. Did you not watch little Johnny’s soccer game? You are equally responsible for the health and well being of this child as anyone else. I’m not trying to fault an entire generation here, I’m sure you raised us the best you knew how, as we are also trying to do with our kids, all I’m saying is quit complaining.

You want us to quit being so entitled? Start saying no. You want us to get jobs and move out of your basements? Quit making it so easy for us to stay there. You’re sick of us getting participation medals? Quit giving them to us. We ended up exactly like the rest of the generations in front of us and how the rest of the generations behind us will end up, exactly how we are raised? You want better generations leading your country in 25 years? Start raising better kids!

So to sum up using a tweet from @kashanacauley  “A Millennial is any young person you don’t like.”

 

On My Way to Minimalism

I am on my way to becoming a minimalist. Spring of 2015 we started looking for a new house, a bigger house. As part of preparing to move I started to pack up boxes of things we didn’t need and put them in the trailer. I went thru every nook and cranny of that little house. Marking some boxes, garage sale, and some kitchen and some living room. Let me just say that I spent 5 years living in that small house, surrounded by things. I felt crowded and unhappy. Everything was always a mess, and now looking back I realize that my life would have been a lot more simple if I had got rid of more stuff. As I moved more and more things out of our house I started to enjoy my space more and more. The house never got any bigger but it started to feel less cluttered, which in turn resulted in more inner peace.

As we moved I decided I wanted to use our increase in square footage to live more and live better as apposed to store more things. I wanted space. I started marking anything that was a duplicate as garage sale. I had boxes and boxes of pots that were brand new and had never been used. I took the best pots for myself and sold everything else. I threw a lot of things away, shirts with holes, anyone? I started to reevaluate every single thing that I stored, kept, and let into my house.

I have watched my friends, with garages full of “toys” struggle to keep inventory and organize their things, and pay their credit cards. I’ve seen family members have whole levels of their house given up to storage. I’ve seen new moms who have a hard time keeping picking up all their child’s toys at the end of the day. I’ve watched women struggle with piles and piles of laundry, and I decided that I did not want to burden of things holding me down. I didn’t want to have to forfit experiences because I was busy paying for things. I didn’t want to be so swamped by tidying and maintenance of my things that I had to give up time with my baby. I didn’t want the mess and the hassel. But mostly what I did want was the inner peace of being thankful and content with what I had. I wanted that more than anything.

Now I’m not sitting here saying I am perfect. I still have a lot of stuff. I still have duplicates of things. (I have 5 black skirts) I still accept hand me downs sometimes, even when my kid doesn’t need a single thing. It’s hard to say no, sometimes, I mean a lot of the time. You think you are doing well, only to realize that your closet, at the end of the hall, is an overflowing mess, again. I am however, a work in progress. This spring I made $475 on my garage sale, and I donated everything else that didn’t sell. I have at least 100 less items of clothes. My kitchen cupboards are not over flowing with unnecessary things. My kid doesn’t have a mountain of toys, and I am perfectly okay with that.

Minimalism isn’t easy. People don’t always understand or agree with your choices to have less. Its hard to part with the things that you have spent a lifetime collecting. It’s hard justifying get rid of things that are “perfectly fine”. For me tho, the burden of keeping things was far greater than the inconvenience of giving them away. Minimalism was the right choice for me and my family. For me to decide not to try to keep up with the Jones was so freeing, and in all honesty I’ve never been happier in my life. Clutterfree is the way to be.
Really this post is just scratching the surface of the minimalism lifestyle,if you are interest in more information you should all head over to http://www.becomingminimalist.com/clutter-stats/ He has some really interesting information that really puts how we spend our money and more importantly, our time, into perspective. There is no sense in me repeating what he has already said, but it really did open my eyes. I could also direct you over to mytinytribe on instagram, as well as the hashtags #my_minimal_mondays

Vaccinations Give Me Anxiety

Vaccinations give me anxiety. I know, bold opening line. Before you roll your eyes and click away give me at least a paragraph or two to explain myself. I know my nurse and teacher friends are going to think “This stupid hippie is gonna get my kid deathly sick.” You haven’t read the rest of the story yet.

My sisters are about 13 years older than me, it’s safe to say that I am closer in age to their kids than I am to them. I don’t think any of my sisters vaccinated any of my nieces or nephews. I remember my sister telling me she had read a book about some Doctor who had found a link to SIDS and immunizations and had started writing a book or something and then he was murdered. I really don’t remember much about it except that it scared the living shit out of my 16 year old self.

Fast forward 10 years. Here I am with this teeny tiny brand new baby and somehow it’s my responsibility not to fuck this thing up. There are rumors about links to autism and vaccinations. (I said rumors, not studies) There are confirmed cases of whooping cough at the hospital where I delivered, and there are a lot of scary choices to make.

I have never been the type of person to do as I was told. I have never been the type of person who believed what I was told, or who just followed blindly. NEVER. I grew up religious. My parents tried to raise me religious. Do you know how many loop holes I’ve found in religion? How many unanswered questions I had? And got answers like “ask God he will help you understand his word” (Helpful). I WISH I could be the person who doesn’t question people’s intentions, I WISH I could just believe what I’m told, whether it be information about God or about vaccinations. BUT. I. CAN’T.

My husband and I had about a billion discussions about immunizations. Seriously it was like beating a dead horse. The internet is a mean place. There is so much information out there, too much actually. I read and read and read and read and googled and googled and googled, and I talked to my doctor and my local health nurse and I discussed with my friends, and there WAS SO MUCH INFORMATION.

“What if I vaccinate and she gets autism? What if my kid gets her needle and then dies from SIDS? What if I don’t vaccinate and she dies from some preventable disease? What if I vaccinate and she gets sick anyways? What if I don’t vaccinate and she still gets autism? What if SIDS happens without an immunization? What if I do vaccinate and absolutely nothing happens?”

Like I said before never once in my life have I been this person to just believe what people say. Did you know there is an entire website about parents who think their kids died from SIDS because of vaccinations? (I do not recommend reading that the night before your kid goes for their needles) (and also is that in the states? are vaccinations different in the states? What information is true in the states but not in Canada?) I still believe in a conspiracy (MAYBE?) that people label deaths as SIDS instead of saying it was from the vaccinations to protect the pharmaceutical companies and the “greater good”. (I can believe what I want) But as I scoured the internet and talked to people and gathered information, I came to the realization that vaccinations have done a lot of wonderful things, like got rid of polio (still my skeptical self says “if it’s gone why do we need to be vaccinated for it?” apparently it can just COME BACK)

I got to the point where I knew what I had to do. But anxiety is a bully, remember? At one point I made an appointment to get A vaccinated and then Matt and I got in a fight, and I spent the entire night before looking at mean things on the internet and crying, I didn’t even cancel the appointment (I knew I was going to hear a judgmental voice on the phone and couldn’t even deal with that) I just didn’t show up.

I did eventually make another appointment and I went and I made Matt come too and the baby got her needles (all but one, because of procrastination) and you know what? NOTHING HAPPENED! I know, everyone is saying to themselves, “I read all this for THAT? Of course that was what was going to happen.” But that wasn’t how I felt about it, and it’s still not how I feel about it. Vaccinations give me anxiety. Putting weird stuff into my kids body freaks me out. The thought of my kid getting sick, scares the shit out of me. The thought of making a bad choice for my kid scares the shit out of me. And I can’t help it, I’ve never been one of those people who sees things the way every one else does.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the short term anxiety of getting the needle and watching and worrying for a week or two or three was far less than the anxiety of trying to protect my kid from all of the sicknesses. My health nurse was amazing too. She knew I was worried about it and she talked me through it, several times, made my concerns seem valid and even called the next day to ask how things were going. My kid is fine, and I am fine and I sleep better at night, but you know that I am still going to have anxiety about it next time and the time after that and the time after that, but thank god that it gets easier. I write this all to be relatable. You hardly ever read about a cautious vaccinator, and as always my aim is to be relatable.

Mamas Hug Your Babies

Today I celebrated the life of someone who was taken from us too soon. Not just that she died too young, but her life was literally ripped right out of her hands. It feels gut wretching. The kind of sad that leaves you breathless. Not just sad because her life was stolen from her, not just sad because she was young, not just sad about the circumstances that lead up to her death, but terribly tragic for the people left to pick up the pieces and ask themselves all the questions that survivors can’t help but ask.

I can’t help but to take death personally, always, but I also can’t help but to put myself into the victims mothers shoes. This for me has been especially hard to accept, and anxiety doesn’t seem to make that any easier. I guess that’s the wonderful, scary, exciting, exotic, heartbreaking, thing about being a mother, always, is that you now have every ounce of pride, love, and joy wandering around outside of you, making its own decisions and choosing their own beliefs.

I guess that’s the thing about being a mom, you love your kids no matter what. Earlier this week, I had a night where I was up every hour, baby was sick, and screaming. I was tired, and almost to the point of hysterics. I somehow managed thru the night into a morning of cries and tears from both parties, ending in an afternoon baby being carried around, while STILL crying. As evening crept up, dread of what night would bring started to creep in, exhaustion hit, and then I found a little tooth. I was so amazed and proud. I put the baby to sleep, and she slept all night and the next day she was as happy as could be. And I had completely forgotten about how bad yesterday was, because I was too busy being proud and thankful about how good today was going. I assume that is how it is regardless of how old your child is.

Today I hugged my baby a little tighter than usual. I held her a little bit longer. I kissed her more. I thanked her for letting me be her Mama. Suddenly my sleep deprived troubles didn’t seem so bad. I would do them over and over again if it would keep her from making decisions that would get her into trouble. Mama’s hug your babies.

Writing For the Sake of Writing, I guess.

Here’s the thing: I have anxiety, and it really sucks. I’ve always had anxiety, it’s always been a thing for me, unfortunately. But in the past years I’ve learned how to control it. I’ve learned how to make it go the fuck away. But lately there it is. Always right there. I can just feel it in the pit of my stomach, and it really sucks. Like a lot.

It’s just this THING. I guess if you’ve never experienced it, it’s hard to explain, but I’m going to try anyways. An example. I just wrote an entire paragraph and got interrupted half way through writing it. The whole entire time my husband was talking to me I had to work very hard at being nice and not annoyed and grouchy, then when I came back to typing the rest of the paragraph, it was gone. Every thought inside my head just vanished. All I could think about was how mad I was and how annoyed I was and this feeling of not being able to breathe. It’s not his fault, but I still felt it none the less. This feeling is here too frequently.

After you have a really nice coffee date with a new friend, who is by the way a gorgeous woman, who has her make up done and her hair done, anxiety is that thing in the back of your mind that makes you wonder if she really likes you because all you did was shower and comb your hair and you don’t look like anything to crawl under a barb wire fence for. Anxiety is the thing that makes you wonder if you really belong in a group of women, who invited you out, and more than once, because your engagement ring is smaller than theres. Anxiety is that thing that makes you second guess the parent and tot swim class, that you were excited for, because maybe you are one of those weird crazy over the top moms who irrationally thinks their child is a genius.

Logically, I know none of it makes sense, but perhaps that makes it worse. If I really believed it, or didn’t know any different, I wouldn’t know any different. But knowing better just makes me feel that much more stupid for thinking it in the first place. Of course my new friend doesn’t give two shits about what my hair or make up looks like. And logically I know that if she did, she wouldn’t be the friend for me, but the thought is still there. Logically I know that the size of my engagement ring doesn’t matter to anyone else, why should it? A bigger diamond doesn’t mean my husband loves me more, it doesn’t make a better marriage, it’s simply just a bigger rock. But somehow it still makes me wonder if I am out of my league, it shouldn’t but it does. I am excited about swimming lessons with A and since when did I ever care what anyone else thought about the things that I loved and wanted to do? I EARNED the right to be braggy about my kid, to take too many photos, and to think my kid is the best, but anxiety tells me that it’s stupid to be excited to do mom and baby things.

Seriously were does all these feelings come from? The thing about anxiety is that it is exhausting. It’s a lot of work to talk myself into positivity sometimes. There are thoughts in your head all day and sometimes all night. On and on and on they go. To daily have to convince yourself that things aren’t the way that your mind tells you, to have to correct yourself, and set yourself straight is hard, it’s time consuming, and not energy efficient at all.

I’m not really sure where I am going with this, except that I had to write something. I needed to write something, and this seems to be the only message that is coming in loud and clear right now. Maybe next time I compare soothers but I guess I just needed to be brutally honest with myself. Sometimes putting things down in writing makes it easier to let go of.

How I Feel About My Post Baby Body

Ten months ago I found out I was growing a child and almost six weeks ago I birthed that real live human child. To say that my body has went through some changes is a bit of an understatement, anyone who has been through this experience can back me up on this, men you will just have to take our word, luckily.

I’ve been wanting to put my thoughts, about this experience, into words for a while, but I have been finding it hard to coordinate the sleeping baby, me being awake also (but not in the shower or doing the dishes, or folding the laundry.) So I have managed to make the baby sleep, and ignore the rest of my to-do list (for now), just so I could get this specifically done. Cheers!! (but quietly, the baby is sleeping!)

Now if you have read this title and thought to yourself that this would be the typical sentiments women have about their body after birth you are wrong, sorry. You might not agree with what I have to say. That’s okay, feel free to click away.

Let me just start at the beginning. Somehow I got pregnant in the first place. My body pumped hormones into itself that made it sick, to grow a baby. I GREW a baby. I didn’t have to tell my body “okay it’s time for you to nourish the baby.” or “okay, it’s time to give the baby this hormone.” or “this week we are going to really focus on developing the brain of the baby”. Nope. My body just knew what to do, and then just did it. That’s kind of amazing, right?

My body created an extra organ. Like on it’s own. My body stretched and grew and changed on the inside. My existing organs (not the brand new one, the other old ones) moved and squished and made room for this tiny baby, that isn’t SO tiny when you think about it being a parasite that takes up room in your body, and somehow has to come out. My body went into labour and knew just what to do, to get this baby out, and it did that all on it’s own without the guidance of anyone else.

Labour is not the most glamorous thing that I have ever experienced. It hurts, but no more than some of the emotional pain I have endured. The pain wasn’t that bad, honestly. The pain is just bad enough that you don’t mind a room full of people looking at your privates. Birth on the other hand is the most amazing high you could ever experience. And again, my body did this all on it’s own, without any outside help telling it to make a contraction or to push or to stretch.

It could be that after having a room of people, come and go, watching me birth a child, that I no longer care what people think, or it could be that this whole experience has given me a new sense of confidence.

Throughout my pregnancy I was prepared for my body to look different and be bigger afterwards. I figured it was just part of my mom badge. My body HAS changed. It doesn’t look the same as it once did. Regardless, I feel grateful for my body.I feel blessed to have a body that is so good at knowing what to do, and then doing it. I feel confident in my body’s abilities. I have never felt more like a woman, than I do as a mother, and that makes me feel sexy.
It really isn’t about how my body looks, it’s about it’s “talents”, “skills”, and abilities. Pre-baby my brain knew that I had a desirable body, but I didn’t always feel that confidence. Post-baby my brain knows that I should be ashamed of my body, working out, and trying to lose weight, but I feel confident anyways. My clothes don’t fit the way they used to, but it’s not my clothes that make me feel good, it’s my body. It’s my naked body. As i experienced these new feelings of confidence I realized that you aren’t supposed to feel that way. In fact I feel embarrassed by my confidence sometimes. Maybe I am not like other women. I am not sure why I don’t buy into the lie that we should be embarrassed by our stretch marks, or that our squishy tummies should be covered up. My body did that FOR ME. My tummy is jiggly because my body grew me the baby that I prayed for. My breasts have stretch marks because of the milk my body made for my baby. Why shouldn’t I be proud of my body’s accomplishments?

Ode to My First Home

So we moved. We moved out of a teeny tiny spider infested sardine can, into a house with separate rooms, and closets and the opportunity for me and my husband to poop at the same time. It was thrilling and exciting (and exhausting) all at the same time, until I realized I didn’t hate that teeny tiny spider box.

Let me just give you a quick run down of all the times I have moved in the last 12 years. Including this last move I have moved 11 times since I was 14 years old. 14. Started out at home with my mom, got kicked out, (Move #1) moved in with my sister, where I kept my things in the laundry room and slept on the hide a bed couch, which I put away every day, for 6 months. I am appreciative, but it was shitty conditions and we started fighting, so I figured I may as well be at home fighting with my mom (Move #2) and at least I would have a bedroom and a bed that I didn’t have to put away every day. That didn’t work out long and I got kicked out again (Move #3) and that was when I moved in with my other sister. This was a much better situation than living with the first situation, until I met a boy my sister didn’t like and I got sick of her telling me what to do all the time. (Move #4) I moved into this really gross apartment with a friend of mine. Used all my savings to pay for rent, until I had no more money, couldn’t find a job (because I was only 16 years old) and my friend broke up with her boyfriend, so we both moved. (Move #5) So back into my moms house it was. This time I managed to keep my head down and my mouth shut long enough to find a good job, and save some money. It worked out for about a year. I could tell things were headed downhill. I was about to turn 18, and so I started looking for my own place, and left again, before I could be kicked out(Move #6). I had a basement suite, which wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t take long for me to realize the landlord was a ridiculous lady. (Move #7) Into an apartment. With a VERY DIRTY roommate. 3 months was all that I lasted. (Move #8) Into my current boyfriends parents house, temporarily, until we moved (Move #9) to Winnipeg. This was probably the worst move of all. I was lonely and vulnerable. I didn’t have a license, and I was terrified of taking the bus. My boyfriend spend most of his time avoiding me at the gym and I spend most of my time sitting alone in my walk in closet crying. Fun times. He lied to me, drove me home, and dumped me, and I was left homeless. Stayed with my mom for a week (tho I don’t count that as a move) and found my own apartment(Move #10). This was a great little place, I loved it. I was alone, no one bossing me around, the heat was free, and so I got to wear shorts all winter long, it was amazing. But I met a real nice guy, who bought a house, and who bought me a dog, and I figured I was wasting my money by paying for rent at the apartment, plus he shouldn’t have to raise the puppy by himself. And so. (Move #11)(into spider box central)

Now as you can see my history of people in my life isn’t exactly glamorous. I got rejected a lot, discarded a lot, I wasn’t very tolerable, or very tolerated. It was a shitty 4 years. And to be honest I don’t really miss living in any of those places. (Apartment #10 is missed sometimes)

Let me tell you about house #11. This place is a disaster. We have boxes piled in the corner, and way to much furniture crowding the living room. We have two tables in the kitchen (I don’t even remember why the hell we thought THAT was a good idea). We don’t have enough room for another dresser, so my clothes are piled in milk crates, on top of the dresser (and for years it was like that). My husband (boyfriend at the time) started renovating the upstairs, so essentially half of our house was completely useless.

I complained a lot about that house. As time went on things got better. For one, we got rid of the second table in the kitchen (took us long enough). We got rid of the access, ripping and gross furniture in the living room. We rearranged boxes. We rid ourselves of non-essentials. We hung shelves. The renovations got finished and we moved upstairs, giving me the opportunity to hang my clothes up, and giving us “so much extra space in our room to do activities”.

And then we bought a new house.(Move #12) A house with closets, big closets, and a basement, and a garage, and a shed, and room to breath, and room for an extra bed! We spend months searching for the perfect new house. We spent months dreaming about what our new home would be like, and we finally found it. As time neared to moving day, I had this horrible realization, I liked this little house. After all, we did live there for 5 years (Which it did not seem like 5 years either, by the way).

Our puppy became a dog there, an old dog. I had this beautiful newly renovated master bedroom, and a closet, especially designed to my liking (Which I still miss, by the way). Maybe it was just the master bedroom that made it so hard to move, but when you know someone especially build something for you, it makes it one hundred times more special. I knew all the blood, sweat, and tears that had gone into it, all the tedious hours Matt spend, and all the eff bombs dropped in frustration.

We got engaged in that little spider hut. We had belly laughs, and alligator tears. We battled thru some of my greatest losses. But here is the main thing, no one ever left. No one put my clothes into garbage bags and told me to get out (even tho there was a few times I probably would have deserved it). We figured out solutions to our real problems, and we made it thru.

Before I moved into our little house, on 9th, I moved 11 times in 7 years. If you do the math on it (Unless I’m mistaken, that’s happened a time or two) that is one move every 7.6 months. That is just too much.

Now I know house #12 is going to be epic. I know that it’s not the place you live but the people who live WITH you, that make a home. I always tell Matt that wherever he is, that is where my home is. So far, most of our memories together take place in that teeny tiny cozy little house, and it feels a little difficult for me to just let it go. I am so thankful for my new house, my space, my closets, and a chance at new adventures, but its just not quite the same yet. You all understand don’t you? For most people their first home is where they grew up with their parents, but for me, 425 9th Ave N, feels like my first home.

For the Inspiration, Out of Heartbreak, I Thank You

WARNING: If you intend on reading The Days That Are Given Us, do so before reading this blog post. I like to give spoilers, I tell you the ending, so don’t be mad at me for ruining it for you, I warned you. I even put it in all capitol letters, this isn’t my fault.

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Dear Kelsi and Terrance,
Hello. First allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lesha Leslie but you may (or may not ) know me as Lesha Braun. I have been following your story since the beginning. Terrance you may remember me from the S.T.OP. program many years ago. I was on the same team as your brother, Dustin, and if I am correct I was also on the same team as Kelsi’s sister, Raina. That was many years ago.

I remember the moment when I heard the unfortunate news of Lucian’s diagnosis. I was at work, in the basement, doing some filing, and I was checking Facebook because I was bored out of my tree. I was listening to Ed Sheeran on the radio, and I remember tearing up down there all by myself. Lucian was diagnosed with cancer in the same month my mom died from cancer, so this story hit close to home for me.

You may wonder what the purpose of my writing this is. Well I have just finished reading The Days That Are Given Us and I have some things I would like to say, and I feel as tho I have too many things to say in a Facebook post. The words seem to overwhelm me and I want to be as candid as I can. I want you guys to know that Lucian’s story and your perseverance have been apart of my life. I want you to know you are not alone in your grief. I want you to know that Lucian is very blessed to have his story known, he is not just another person. And mostly I want to thank you for sharing your story.

Terrance you are an exceptional writer! You painted a very vivid picture for your readers and you were vulnerable. Thank you for being vulnerable. You were relatable. Anyone who has had a brush with cancer, directly, indirectly, childhood or adult, fatal or not, could understand what you were going threw, and be reminded of their own experience. It was nice to feel as if we are not alone, in our struggles, in the things that keep us up at night. There were many parts of the book that really hit home for me, and I wish now that I would have high lighted them as I read the book, so I could go back, easily, and quote them. There were several parts of the book that had me in tears. But most importantly, because of your book, Terrance, I was able to meet your son, let me explain.

As I stated above Lucian became sick around the time my mother passed away. I have also lost my grandpa, my step dad and my dad, all within the last 7 years. It has been a very hard time for me and my family, but in the midst of all my pain is discovered that I have this “gift”. I am able to have these very vivid dreams about the people that I love, that I can no longer visit with in the physical manner. At first I found this upsetting but after awhile I started to view it as my way of “visiting” my deceased loved ones. Well I had one of those dreams about Lucian.

I got to meet him, and what a wonderful time we had. He was as sweet as I have ever imagined. I got to hold his hands, and kiss his cheeks, and hug and cuddle him. We played together and he laughed and smiled. He was happy as could be. I felt very honored to be able to meet Lucian that way. The experience of “meeting” him and reading your book, only increased my affection for your lovely son.

When Lucian was fighting against cancer, I often found him and your family in my thoughts. Since the good old days of S.T.OP. I don’t pray often, and when I do, usually all I do is give thanks, but I often felt compelled to pray for your family “God, Hi. I know we don’t talk much, I know that you know that I don’t like to ask you for things. If you were ever going to answer any of my prayers, please be with Lucian. Let him live. He deserves to be healthy. He is a precious boy. His parents are good people. They don’t deserve this hardship. Please God, heal Lucian.”

I want to commend you, Kelsi and Terrance, on your relationship. (That sounds cheesy) The stress of fighting the disease, and then the stress of losing your child, could have been a breaking point for you. It could have been something that shattered your foundation. Instead you pulled together. You focused on each others strengths, rather than weaknesses. You were graceful enough to allow the other to have hard days, and still be there for them. That is a rare gift now-a-days. It is rare to find someone to love you threw the shitty times, it is rare find the strength to love when you, yourself, feel completely broken and empty. I am so happy you have each other as teammates.

Kelsi and Terrance, and Lucian too, you have all been an inspiration to many. When you have cried so have we, and when you were happy, we have also smiled. Your laughter has been shared, and so now your grief has been shared. You are simply brave. Instead of keeping you heartbreak to yourself, you shared your story, hoping to inspire others, hoping to give hope to others in the same hopeless situation, and I hope that in return we have been able to heal.

The grief process is hard. Losing a parent is hard, losing both parents is almost unbearable at times, still I imagine not comparable to losing a child. When my mom passed away, it was very similar to how you explain Lucian leaving, in the book. That moment never leaves you. The pain of grief never quite goes away, it often feels like a dull ache, that shows it face at unexpected times. As I am a little further down the road I can say it does get easier, slowly. The good thing is, that our brains have a way of forgetting the hardships, eventually, and focusing on the great and wonderful times, at least it did for me.

I leave you now with a very powerful excerpt from the book The Days That Are Given Us.

“It was time for Lucian to go, so I wrapped and covered Lucian in his blankee that never left his side. I picked him up, and as I crossed through the door of our house, I made sure to stand tall as the tears fell from my eyes.”

Sincerely a friend, a stranger, someone who loved your son, someone whose life you affected,
Lesha Leslie

 

If you are interested in owning and reading Terrance’s book, The Days That Are Given Us, you should buy it! It’s totally worth the money and the wonderful news is that 100% of the proceeds are going to the new Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. DO IT!

http://www.blurb.ca/b/5990328-the-days-that-are-given-us

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