Monday, January 31, 2011

My Husband.

I have spoken at length about my children and the pride I feel in knowing them, raising them, loving them, but there is another person in my life who is also just as special to me in a much different but equally important way. I could speak in similes, colloquialisms and romantic, foreign words to describe our love affair, but the truth is much simpler...he's my best friend. 

Scott and I have a respect for each other that time has not diminished over the four years we have been together. We rarely speak a cross word to one another and the fights we do have are usually spurned on by the exhaustion of having three kids in three years. The truth is I still miss him when he leaves for work, I still worry about him if he's late from work, and I'm just as ecstatic as my kids ("DAD'S HOME!) when he finally walks through the door!

Not many people know who Scott is. I would say I'm truly the only individual (besides our own children) who has been allowed into his inner world. At first Scott may come off as a shy, quiet individual, but in reality he's a good listener and enjoys observing for a while before participating. Unfortunately for Scott, his ability to listen without interruption can  be misinterpreted as a disinterest in what you have to say. I myself have been caught asking him to repeat the last thing I just said (convinced he wasn't paying attention) only to have him tell me verbatim our entire conversation.

Scott is also very genuine. He says what he means and he means what he says. You won't meet another individual quite as beautifully, simple as Scott. There isn't any hidden meanings behind his words, if he compliments you he means it, and if he criticizes you, you deserve it. He doesn't mince words, he doesn't beat around the bush and to his credit he's never rude. It's difficult to be a person who speaks their mind while still keeping peoples feelings intact. But I think it's because he takes to heart the saying "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all". Sometimes Scott's silence can say more than words ever could.

And best of all he is a great father.  He is the kids best playmate and he can get them to laugh and scream wildly more than any other person. He finds amusement in their antics and his booming laugh can be heard frequently throughout the day. Of course he also enjoys a good cuddle and will hold Puck for hours, or snuggle Edie for as long as she'll allow, and although Gabe is much too active to sit still for any length of time, there are occasions when he'll let his daddy put him to bed; and if you were allowed to peak you would see a father stroking his son's head until his eyes slowly closed and he drifted off to sleep. I like to think that I'm the glue that holds us all together, that without me the house would fall apart, but in reality Scott is the foundation we have all grown upon, and it is his strength that has seen this family blossom.

Love you babe!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

To Gabriel

Dear "Big Boy",

You are becoming quite the little person. I always knew you had unique visions about our world but until recently you weren't able to express it to me. Your speech delay made it so I had to make a lot of guesses about what you were thinking, what you wanted, what you needed and I think I did an alright job translating the language you tried so desperately to communicate with. Now that your vocabulary is at an acceptable level the only problem we have is your pronunciation. Sometimes it takes me asking you to point out what it is you are requesting before I understand the jumbled words you are attempting to speak with.

In April you will be attending some speech classes and I look forward to taking you to them. I feel it is one of the last hurdles of your prematurity and it should be my job to help you vault it. I suppose I still have some guilt about my body betraying us when my water broke early. But ultimately I can't change what happened, I can only accept what is and work with the opportunities we have been given.

I can't believe that in a little over a month you are going to be three years old! It's astounding to me that three years have passed since giving birth to you. It's amazes me even more that you have two siblings that are following right on your heels. You are such a great big brother. I couldn't have asked for a better child to be the first born. You are a great role model and take your big brother role to heart. You absolutely love playing with your little sister and keeping her out of trouble. When you aren't chasing her around the house and making her laugh hysterically you can be heard saying " No Sis! No touch" or something similar. You do your best to keep her safe and and become so upset when she is hurt.

I worried that with the arrival of Preston you would finally develop the jealousy that so many people speak of. But instead you call your brother "My Baby Puck" and insist on holding him or helping me change his diapers. Your favorite thing to tell Puck is "You're home Puck" and I'm not sure where you picked that up or why you tell him this constantly. I can also find you gently stroking his head when he is "crying, mom!" and telling him "it's Okay Puck". Recently you have started to rub your face gently against his as though you were a cat in your last life, and it really just highlights how sweet you are. Your love for your siblings is so obvious. Not to say you don't fight with your sister but the majority of the time you can be found playing cooperatively next to her or even wrestling with her (while occasionally allowing her to pin you)!

Your manners also catch people off guard. You have your "please" and "thank you" down to a fine science which is amazing to your father and I because we really haven't been consistent with correcting you. However, your father and I always use our manners with each other so we figure our good modelling has rubbed off on you! Or so we like to believe ;)

You do have your own little quirks though that can be overwhelming for us as parents. You are so kind and caring but can also become upset quite easily. You truly wear your heart on your sleeve and although I don't always know what you are saying I ALWAYS know how you are feeling. I have developed quite a few tricks to help calm your nuclear, emotional explosions and now you look for me if you are feeling overwhelmed. Your father gets more frustrated with your antics than I do because he can't diffuse you as easily. But even with the unique challenges you present us I look forward to my days with you. There is something new everyday that makes me feel so proud to be your mother.

Three years old baby big boy...I just can't believe it. It seems like yesterday that your four pound 17 inch frame was placed into my arms. But you will always feel that way to me, even when your telling me "I big boy mom, I big boy".

Love you!

Saturday, January 29, 2011



I have to wonder if they truly exist. Why would I question the power of an omniscient being creating such things when I myself, by all accounts, just experienced one? I guess I question the validity of miracles because I don't understand the selection process. If God is up there, watching over each of us, why does he say "Put Bob on the miracle list but leave Stacey off of it"? Isn't Stacy just as deserving as Bob? Did she not pray enough, long enough, call in enough Godly favours?  Why does Stacy lose a person she loves while Bob gets to keep his...

"Because God works in mysterious ways" seems like a bullshit answer if I ever heard one. Tragedy and pain is supposed to teach us some sort of lesson or so the theory goes. Anytime you allow yourself to love a person with your whole heart, with your whole being, you are placing yourself on the line. I forced myself to bond with Preston despite my fear I might lose him. I forced myself to study his face, and the color of his eyes, and the sound of his cry. I forced myself to love him with such veracity that the loss of him would have devastated me. But I couldn't let myself waste one moment with him. And so I have learned to do the same with my other kids. A lesson can be found when your child is ill, when there is still hope...but what about when a mother is forced to endure the most terrible thing imaginable...where is the lesson in death?

When Preston was at his sickest. When the doctors referred to him as "extremely frail", a "failure to thrive", and told me he was in "congestive heart failure" I nearly broke from the fear of losing him. When he was weighed at three weeks of age and it was discovered he weighed less than he did the day he was born I cried harder than I have my entire life. It became real that day. My step mom was taking care of my kids that fated appointment and when I walked through the door and she asked me how it went... all I could say was "not good" before bursting into tears and sobbing on her shoulders. And then my family began making plans to visit and to take care of Gabe and Edie, and I knew they were thinking the same thing...that I was going to lose him. That was almost harder...knowing I wasn't overreacting...knowing that the other people I loved were preparing to catch me as I fell. But then one small "miracle" after another began to occur, and slowly Preston began to gain weight, he began to thrive, and at his two month cardiology appointment the biggest miracle of all was bestowed upon us and I was so grateful, and I still am.

The truth is I feel lucky because I am lucky. But I also feel sad. I feel sad because I know so many women who over the years have lost their children. And I have to ask where are their miracles? Where is their hope? Where are their Preston's?

Why was I on the miracle list? And why aren't they?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Measuring Stick

Why is it as mother's we feel the need to compare our children to each other? Is it really a huge accomplishment if your infant rolls over before "the norm"? Will it really affect a child's future accomplishments if their first word is uttered at an early age, or if the first steps are taken before the child next door? When your baby grows up and goes for a job interview and they are asked to describe the characteristics which will make them a good fit, will they answer "because I walked at nine months and have been excelling ever since"?

Barring learning problems or medical issues (Gabe's speech delay, or Puck's weight gain) isn't the "quantifiable" measurements of our children kinda useless? After having three kids, which have all hit their "milestones" at different times, I can assure is.

I just find it ridiculous that our generation has been inundated with "learning products", and "flash cards", "percentiles", and "milestones". Kids don't develop at the same pace, not really, and trying to squeeze them all into a little box seems ludicrous. Don't get me wrong I'm not innocent when it comes to the comparisons I made either as a young mother, but the more children you have the more you realize...milestones are hit when your child is ready to hit them and they will be just as exciting hit late as they are if hit early.

So are set milestones ever useful? Can the box the experts put our children in ever be helpful? Of course. They helped to determine Gabe was behind in speech and labelled Puck as failure to thrive which proved he was in heart failure; but most parents don't use the milestone data as a means of ensuring their own children are healthy and thriving and to seek help when an issue or problem develops; but instead many parents use it as a measuring stick against other people's kids or even to push their children to be better, do better, compete, compete, compete.

If someone were to ask me to describe my children I would say..

Gabriel is my oldest child and the most empathetic two year old you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. He takes his roll as big brother very seriously and you can find him hugging, kissing and chatting with his siblings at various times throughout the day. He has always been a kid who wore his heart on his sleeve and I know he always will. He's sensitive and caring and always quick to laugh or to cry depending on the situation. He loves a person with his whole being and doesn't hold back. I know he will be a great man as he is a wonderful child.

Eden is my middle child and forever the trouble maker. She pushes her boundaries and is always testing the people around her. Her personality is huge and you won't find another kid with a more genuine laugh. She always wakes with a smile and always looks forward to the day. And she's a tomboy through and through. If she had the choice to play dolls or make mud pies she would choose the mud every time. Her favourite person is her brother and I hope Gabe and Edie will always have the close friendship they have nurtured since the day she was born. Eden is as beautiful as her name would suggest and I know she will always remain so.

And finally Preston. My baby. The kid who has had to fight just to remain healthy is the sweetest little infant this world has had the pleasure of knowing. He's laid back and so calm. He has a patience for life already that astounds me. He sleeps through the crazy noise that is the very nature of our house and doesn't mind being cuddled a little too hard by his older siblings. He's just as content to hang out in his bouncy chair as he is sleeping beside me. He's a cute little boy and will be just as wonderful and beautiful as his siblings.

These are my children and wouldn't you say similar things about yours?

Measurements aren't who your children are. So relax, enjoy, and remind yourself "it's about the moments...not the milestones".

Sunday, January 23, 2011


"Every life has a story".

My story happens to be deeply intertwined with three other living, breathing human beings. My life is so knitted with theirs that my children's success' and failures are felt just as intimately as if they were my own. I think every parent feels like this in one way or another. And it's every parents struggle not to take the reigns and lead their children through the winding challenges of life. It would be so easy to make their choices for them. It would be so simple to give them the life we are so eager for them to have. But rebellion is neatly sewn within each of us. And eventually our advice, our wisdom, our own life experiences fall on deaf ears. We become their inner groan, the embarassment they wish to hide from their friends. It's inevitable. For a while, a short while, we are their heroes, we know everything...but eventually they realize we come from a world different than their own.

Our world was one of pens, and pencils, paper and books. A world where the internet is younger than ourselves, and where the memory of cassette tapes and the new fangled world of CD's still ring true. And now suddenly grade schoolers carry around cell phones, computer labs exist in every classroom, and E readers have taken the place of paperbacks. Our advice and wisdom now seems arcaic even in our own eyes.

I suppose my own parent's felt this way. I remember viewing them as enigmas..."how could candy be bought for a penny", "did they really walk up hill both ways to school and home", and "was imagination truly favoured over TV?". But even with so much difference between the eras one thing rings as true today as it did 50 years ago...

After having children...everything changes; and the person you thought you were no longer exists. And that seemingly lame excuse your parent spouted everytime no other explanation seemed satisfactory, bursts forth from your lips like a curse chanted over every generation since the dawn of time...

"You'll understand when you have kids"...

And I do...I finally do.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Motherly Musings

As my youngest son was breastfeeding tonight he gagged and spat up on my nipple (no blow to the ego there) and I realized that as mothers we learn to accept and ignore a lot of previously disgusting things. Four years ago if someone had barfed on my nipple it would not have been a pleasant experience to say the least... now as I'm wiping baby vomit off my breast I'm thinking "his face was priceless...I wish Scott could have seen that".... why in God's name would Scott want to see Puck barf on my boob? Clearly as parents we see past the grossness right to the ironic, amusing, or cute when it comes to one of our children.

Four years ago I would not have found it ironic if someone had peed on my Christmas tree, but when my daughter does it on a Christmas that was very difficult for us (because of Puck's Congenital Heart Defect) then I see the irony immediately and even appreciate it. Four years ago I would not have found it amusing to watch someone trek poo all over my hardwood floors, but when my oldest child steps in his sisters diaper on accident (Scott was in the middle of changing her), and then gets the tab of said diaper attached to his blanket, and runs from the shouts of  "No, NO Gabe STOP" then suddenly I'm chuckling while mopping the poo off the floor. And four years ago I definitely would not have found it cute if someone I knew farted so loud it sounded as though they had a ripped a hole in the space time continuum...but when my newborn does it, suddenly its flippin adorable.

I'm not entirely sure when gross turned into the story I tell at dinner parties...but I can assure you that this is why parents are friends with other parents...because only they will laugh at the disgusting antics of your kids...the rest of your friends will just look at you as though you have lost your mind. And truth be told you probably have...if you remained sane then getting through a day filled with pee, poo and barf would just not be possible.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reprieve: GRANTED.

January 6th, 2011

Puck's third echo cardiogram within the span of his two, short months of life was scheduled for a Thursday. A day which had crept up quicker than I had expected but which didn't hold the promise I had wished for, or the dread I had come to live with. I suppose I had turned myself off, as much as possible, in order to receive the news I was expecting...the all dreaded surgery date. I didn't hold out much hope that his holes would have grown over enough to warrant truly happy news. The last echo had revealed that there was literally too many holes in his heart to count...If even half of them closed over there would still be enough to cause him problems, my mind knew this, my heart wished it wasn't true, but logically speaking, that kind of luck, that kind of miracle doesn't happen often.

I knew what to expect walking into the cardiologists office and my body finally began to betray the calm veneer I had tried so diligently to portray. I almost passed out after Puck's echo. The room began to spin and I stumbled to a chair ...I did my best not to do a swan dive and I succeeded in staying upright, and keeping my face from bouncing off the cold hard floor. We waited almost an hour for the meeting with his cardiologist after the 'routine' tests had been performed. Every minute which ticked by added to our anxiety. Neither one of us truly expected that the news would be good.

Finally Preston's name was called and Scott and I entered a small conference room. The doctor did a quick exam, listening to his heart, feeling his chest, watching his breaths. All the while I was shaking ever so slightly and praying I wouldn't vomit all over the pediatric cardiologist. He began to talk, asking questions about Puck's status. What the other doctor's had discovered, what his weight gain had been, whether he was thriving or not, and it took all my will power not to scream "Shouldn't YOU know this"? "Didn't you read his flipping chart"? But before I could take his head off he smiled and said, "just by listening to his heart and hearing about his growth, I can tell you that he will probably never need surgery". I'm sure I looked as stunned as I felt. He then swung around in his chair, turned on the computer and said "let's take a look at the echo". He then walked us through the new findings.

Puck went from too many holes in his heart to count to only two holes left! Only two holes are left. Let me say that again...two holes...TWO. Both have shrunk in size and although the bottom one, which is the larger of the two, will never fully grow over, the cardiologist doesn't see it ever causing Preston any problems. The next cardiology appointment is in four months time, and by then the doctor said it will be definitive; he'll either get a clean bill of health, or a surgery date will be set. But the doctor reiterated that he felt that Preston would be one of the lucky ones, and he will never need to have open heart surgery.

Our reprieve has been granted.

I now hold Preston with a new confidence. His body no longer feels fragile, and broken; and the cuddles I give him no longer are forced by a time limit that circumstance had so cruelly created.  Everything feels lighter. My voice no longer sounds strained, my shoulders no longer carry a burden almost to heavy to bear, and my own smiles now meet my eyes. Preston has once more given us the joy we had felt November 4th, 2010 when he made his way into this world. Thursday, January 6th, 2011, an unassuming mid week day, he was born again. As Scott so eloquently put it "he just feels different". Yes he does, he feels alive.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


When my world becomes quiet; when the day has drawn to a close, a new noise starts. It isn't born from my children's giggles while they play, or their screams when they fight. It is spawned from the rogue thoughts ,which can only be heard clearly when sleep steals my children's presence and when nothing can be heard at all.

Fear. It's jagged teeth rips into my chest so that it's putrid breath can stain my soul.  It begins as a slow creep; a butterfly in my stomach. I try to ignore it's ever looming presence but this week the whisper, the doubts, they have become deafening. The minutes count down to my son's next appointment, one which will likely define the need for surgery or not, and this fear I carry around deep in my gut, day after day, is slowly bubbling to the surface. I've managed a pretty convincing facade up until now, but the closer we get to his appointment the more the facade begins to crack. I try to continue on as I always have, and yet I know it's not the same. I don't have that feeling of contentment anymore. I no longer feel safe in this life I have created. My son's heart holds my little family hostage. And when the quiet comes, when the silence of night settles on my house, it is only broken by my sobs which are now no longer easily suppressed.

I'm exhausted. I'm scared. And the only thing I want in this world is for my child to heal. If my will alone could fix him, his heart would have healed the day the holes in his heart were discovered. I'm just so sick of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I wonder if Scott feels the same way. We are suffering the same circumstances but I wonder if we are suffering the same inner turmoil. We rarely discuss it, both too afraid to set the other one on edge. Too afraid to speak our inner most fears out loud in case the utterance of them somehow brings them to life.

We need a reprieve. We need a stay of execution. This life we have so neatly made for ourselves can only be continued if our son heals. If the worst comes to pass, if the very worst occurs, then this life we have created will end. It may be reborn, in one fashion or another, but the innocence of it... the innocence will have been slaughtered and the laughter will forever be a little emptier because it will be an echo of things that should have been.

While pregnant with Puck, while filled with promise and joy, and wonderment, Scott and I pledged "for better or worse"...we just never thought the worse would come to pass so quickly. And now we hope the better will be upon us just as fast...because truthfully I don't know how much longer we can cling to one another while ignoring the white elephant which shits on our souls, and pisses on our life.