Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cliches and the future

I have been hearing a lot of cliches lately because at times of grief (or joy, for that matter) they always seem to make an appearance. I understand where they come from because I've often thought them when I've had nothing to say to someone during times of stress. Sometimes they are helpful, but usually not. I'm due to return back to work tomorrow on a very light schedule (basically, a phased return building up my days per week slowly over time) and I'm absolutely dreading meeting up with well meaning people who feel for me but have no idea what to say. I wish they could all relax around me and say something like "I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It must be so difficult for you and I hope you get to a good place again sometime soon." And scene. Yep, that's it for me, particularly if I don't know you well. The worst thing they can do is launch into a bunch of overworked cliches and telling me horror stories I don't want to hear about, even if they result in a happy ending. I'm just not there.

Anyway, I think a slow return will be good for me. I like being home right now but I know I'll have to return one day. I'm grateful that at least it's summery and somewhat warm in the east of Scotland. It makes the days more easy to bear.

Another cliche that has been swimming around my head is one that was uttered in an episode of Sex and the City the other day. It was "life happens while you are making other plans". Normally when I have thought of this saying in the past, I have focused on the "plans" part in the hope that the "life" part could sort itself out. Now I'm flipping that on it's head. I'm hoping life will blossom for us while our new plan works itself out.

The road to Canada is being paved. Yes, we are getting everything together to get Dave his permanent resident visa. My current visa here runs out in April 2011 and I'm not renewing. So we are going to fill out the long and complicated forms, go through the medical and police checks (well Dave is), and pay the insane fees. It's not going to be quick or easy, but we hope to both be out of here before May next year. I will definitely write about this process.

I realize that this may appear that were running away, but I told Dave before we even got serious that Canada is my home and I would settle there. Happily, Dave always thought he'd end of up in North America so everything is gravy. We intended to return home with our baby, but since that didn't work out there's no point in spinning our wheels any longer. Rather than hightailing out of here without care, I'm hoping our remaining time here will be healing. I cross my fingers.

We've also decided not to try for another baby while we're here. This is a total 180 on my part. I felt like I wanted to try right away, but I know deep down that I won't be in a place to put myself through another pregnancy without my mind and heart being in a better place and without my family and friends rallying behind me. I'm comfortable with this decision and am focusing on a return to strength inside and out.

The above picture was taken from a design blog I frequent which originated here. "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy." Ain't that the truth. I hope this also becomes a truism for me:

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Diapers and Blood

Sorry for you, but this post has absolutely nothing to do with Gerberas or strawberries. I have reusable diapers and post-partum bleeding on my mind, and I might get TMI. So for the faint of heart, you've been warned.

Dave and I are trying to decide what to do with the reusable diapers (or nappies, for you Brits) we bought a couple of months ago at the Glasgow baby show. We decided to buy them so early because we were in the so-called "safe stage" (ha!) of the second trimester and because we got a deal, and anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for bargains. We bought 20 odd diapers in a myriad of colours and put them in the back of my closet to be broken out after the birth of our little one in September. We all know that ain't happening anymore, so what should we do with these diapers (they're Bum Genius, if you're wondering)? As of today, I don't think we (ok, I) won't be ready to try again for some time, but then again, we don't know what the fates have in store for us. Also, having them around, albeit in the back of my closet, makes me feel a touch sad when I think about it. Finally, we can get back the £ 250 we spent on the diapers.

Dave, on the other hand, feels differently. He believes that if we return the diapers, we'll be admitting defeat and giving up. I understand where he's coming from but I think having them around is so sad. We can buy new ones for our take home baby. I go back and forth. Any opinions?

On a somewhat similar vein, I'm still bleeding (oh, here's the part that perhaps gets TMI). Wait a second - stay with me here. It's been over 5 weeks since I gave birth to Isla, and I'm physically all kinds of messed up. For about two weeks, I had heavy then moderate bleeding, then it became light for about a week. Last week, all of a sudden, the gates opened and I started what I think was my period. It has been heavy as hell and now it has been 10 days of this. I'm so over it. And to make matters worse (here's that vein I was talking about), I've had to use disposable pads. According to the pros, women who have given birth must use menstrual pads to reduce the risk of infection (which I had when I went into labour). The thing is, I haven't used pads or tampons since January 2007. I've been using a reusable menstrual cup, firstly the Diva Cup and then I switched to the Moon Cup last year. And I love it.

In case you're too lazy to read the links, the cup is a reusable hold all made of high grade silicone that you fold easily and is inserted into the bajingo. It shouldn't hurt or be uncomfortable and it shouldn't fall out or leak. There's no risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and it can be used for 8 hours at a time (though some days I stretch it to 12 hours). And, no, it doesn't stink! Also, since it's a product that last for years and years, it's environmentally and financially advantageous. I've had loads of women ask me about the cup and admittedly, most people are straight up disgusted by the thought, but I'm determined to spread the word. Hopefully, one person will be converted (I'm looking at you, Stacy). Anyway, if you're curious, ask away. Obviously, I'm not shy!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


I returned home to Dave on Tuesday and it felt so good to be back in his arms. My time in Montreal was great on so many levels, but it was so hard to be away from Dave, especially during this trying time in our life. Like I told my BFF, I don't just love my husband, but I really like him as well. I have such a strong affection for him and I just love being around him. Everything is just so easy with him and he always makes me laugh. It's so important to have someone who can really make you laugh. This gift is one of the things that attracted me to him. After nearly 5 years together, he still has it.

I spent most of yesterday getting myself sorted. I washed and put away all my clothes, I cleaned up the spare room and stowed away all the beauty products I bought in Montreal (stuff I can't get here). I cooked for the first time in weeks and started on my Blurb blog book (I'm publishing my previous blog and will post a review once I receive it). I also started my pilates programme (DVD at home) to slowly get back into exercising. I took my measurements and hope to see a noticeable difference by Christmas.

I also talked to my boss today about returning to work. I'm thinking of going back on a sort of graduated system, like start with 3 days a week and progress from there. He's totally fine with it (truly, he's a good guy), but the thought of going back scares me and brings me to tears. In fact, after I hung up with him, I noisely sobbed my face off. Just the thought of sitting at my desk, where I rubbed my belly so many times, and seeing so many people who knew about my pregnancy upsets me so much. But I know I need to go back to work soon. Just so I have something to do, you know? Any tips on how I can make this easier?

I know I haven't blogged too much about my trip home, but to all those I saw who actually read this thing, thank you so much for letting me lean on you. Having moments of normalcy in between the grief helped so much. I am so fortunate to know so many amazing, funny, intelligent, down-to-earth women and I truly love you. I want to especially shout out Dahlia (and her family) for suggesting I come home in the first place. I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but Dahlia is 8 months pregnant and we were writing back and forth about our respective pregnancies. We were both worried about seeing each other after what happened, but she really took care of me. I enjoyed spending time with her funny husband Steven and her delightful daughter, Berlynn. One of the highlights of my trip was when Berlynn climbed into my lap and started sucking her thumb while watching TV. Dal said she did that because she was truly comfotable with me. That alone was a major factor in healing my heart. Thank you so much, Rampersinghs. I love you all.

The picture I posted at the beginning of this blog is of a painting I received from my best pal here in Scotland. Signe, from Denmark, is a fellow expat and we work in the same office. In fact, we got hired the same day. We bitch and moan our way through the day and we became more than work colleagues - we're friends. I thank the heavens for her and I know I'm lucky to have a kindred spirit here in Edinburgh. Anyway, while I was in the hospital, she came by and gave me my birthday present which was a painting she did of Dave and I. Let me tell you - it was the day after we lost Isla and receiving her painting lifted our spirits immensely. We put it up in our hospital for the rest of our stay, then brought it to Dave's parents' house and put it in our bedroom. It's now in a good spot in our living room and we love it. I think anyone who knows us will attest that it is a true likeness of us. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm blessed with some truly wonderful friends.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Empty belly

I've never had a belly before.

Don't hate me.

I went through a brief chunky period in high school, then I shot up a few inches and the weight got distributed a bit better. Still, I don't remember having an actual belly. All throughout my adult years, my stomach has been flat. Then when I started working out, I had definition in my abdominal area. I really, really liked it.

When I got pregnant, it took some time for my belly to pop and I loved it's fullness. In fact, I really adored my pregnant shape.

Now that I'm not pregnant anymore, I have a really sad, soft, empty belly. When I wear jeans, I actually have a muffin top. On top of everything else I've had to go through, this is a total punch in the gut (pun). I miss my baby and I miss my bump, but this has gots to go. I hope one day it will be full and hard again, it's occupancy filled with a delightful, healthy, take home baby. But until that day, my physical self cannot reflect my mental state. I can't hurry up through this mourning period, but I can take care of myself. That means yes to copious amounts of water, B-complex vitamins and folic acid, long walks and light jogging that will turn into serious jogging, smaller portions and loads of fruits and vegetables. Several months ago, my body was in peak condition and a welcome place for a baby. I don't know when we'll start trying for a baby again, but the least I can do for myself and that future baby is get my body right. Hopefully, my head and heart won't be too far behind.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Heart. Beat.

Yesterday morning I woke up with some peace. I’m grateful for this because Friday did not start out well at all.

I took my mother to a hospital appointment at the hospital I was born in. They have a new annex and my mom was to meet her doctor in the Women’s Clinic. Ok, that really doesn’t mean anything, but I was still relieved to find just a few children in the office with their moms. I’ve been hanging out with kids since Tuesday, so I was solid about kids. Unfortunately, I was totally blindsided, not by a sight, but by a sound.

A heartbeat. A baby’s heartbeat.

Background: While I was pregnant, I absolutely loved hearing Isla’s hearbeat. I initially saw it during ultrasounds, then heard it during latter appointments. When I was admitted to the hospital, I would hear it about every four hours when my blood pressure and temperature were checked. It kept me strong and hopeful. It kills me that I’ll never hear hers again.

So yeah, hearing the sound of a heartbeat filling this small office sucked the air out of my lungs. At first, I was livid at my mother. “Why didn’t you tell me there’d be pregnant women here?” And I got up to leave and dissolved into sobs. I did not care who was looking at me or who was in my path, but I knew I couldn’t listen to that distinctive “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” anymore. I stood crying in the stairwell while my poor mother kept telling met that she didn’t know, she didn’t know. I was crying so hard that she started crying too. I left to get some air and gain some perspective. Every breakdown that I have is one tiny step to a better place. Embrace it, feel it, and let it go. And that’s what I needed to get in front of the hospital while people went about their business.

I returned to the clinic after some time to keep my mom company and then I left to meet up with one of my BFFs. She took me out for a delicious lunch, we picked up one of her sons from daycare and ran errands. I also picked up my developed and retouched photos of Isla. And we talked about insignificant things and big things.

When my mother got home from work, we stayed up until 1:30a.m. talking about my feelings and how much I hate it when she tells me not to cry and that I’ll have another baby. We then talked about the future and out of that conversation, I felt a new idea forming. I slept on it and woke up feeling good about it.

Things have gradually started to become clearer over the last few days. Coming home has been good for me. I've had a lot of help over the last week, particulary from my mom, sister and my oldest friend. I'm definitely in a more positive place right now (for now). I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog and comments and talks to me about what I’ve written. It comforts me more than I can say.

Monday, 7 June 2010


I feel like such a loser.

I'm 32. I don't have a permanent address anymore. My stuff sits in boxes in three separate homes in two countries. My driver's license expired 4 years ago (!) and I had no idea. I don't have a plan for the future. My baby died and I have no freaking idea which way is up. Seriously, I don't.

My sweetheart Steph called me a survivor the other night. I told her I don't want to just survive anymore. FUCK surviving. I want to live.

But I feel like I can't right now.

The other night a family friend asked if I'm pregnant. Scratch that. He told me I was pregnant. He was sure because of how my belly looked. I couldn't tell him what had happened. So instead I left and I cried for over an hour. I woke up the next morning with the puffiest eyes I've ever had in my life and a resolution not to meet anyone else who is not on my list.

I've come to realize that even if I wanted to, I probably couldn't move back to Montreal. I've been away too long. At once, things are too familiar and totally strange to me. I don't remember how to get to certain places and I don't know how to use the public transport system anymore. After everything I've seen and everywhere I've lived, and going through everything I have over the past 5 years, I'm a foreigner in my own home town. Like the border agent and passport officer told me, I don't live here anymore. Ouch.

It hasn't been all bad, coming back. I'm connecting with my mom on a level I've never had before. I'm really talking to my little sis. I'm laughing with my friends and hugging some pain away. I'm crying when I want to. I have a crazy uneven tan. I have more friends that I'll be seeing, the ones who have known me since before I got my period and know all my secrets. I have two more weeks left.

I miss Dave. I can't wait to be in his arms again. But, this is important. I know I need help. This is one remedy. The hope is I'll get some of me back, get some of the light back, and return to Dave a bit stronger so we can get stronger together. And maybe, we can feel a little less scared of the future.

Are you there, faith? It's me, Kaki. I really, really, really need you back right now. Please, help a sister out.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Coming home/Going home

I am returning to Montreal today. I'm scared about going home. I'm scared about seeing my friends and family for the first time in a year, and for some, the first time in 2-3 years. A lot has happened, most notably I had a baby who died. I'm afraid that I'll have difficulty seeing some people and I'm afraid of being judged. I'm sad to leave Dave. But I know for sure that those who love me and understand me will be there for me. I look forward to their hugs and kisses.

Dave and I returned to our flat on Tuesday evening. It was the first time of sleeping there since I went into the hospital nearly 3 weeks ago. We had returned to pick up some clothes since then, and we also took the opportunity to hide away all the baby books I had bought and received. But some reminders were still lurking around. The bathtub had been stained purple by the heather that had been in the bath when I tried to find relief from what I now believe were contractions. On the couch, there was a wedge pillow I had borrowed to use to put under my bump while I slept. And there were my maternity clothes.

All these things have now been cleaned and put away. I also cleaned up my Amazon wish list, purging it of the millions of titles and things I had hoped to buy one day in order to escape those damned recommendations on my homepage. I have cleared my browser history of all the blogs and information sites I had looked at every day of my pregnancy. The reusable diapers we had bought at a discount and the new hand-me-down baby items I had received from my co-worker are safely enconssed in the back of my closet while we figure out what to do with them. The only reminder I can bear looking at right now is the remembrance box we received from the hospital after Isla died. I look in it every day. I look at her picture and I smell her hat.

Her hat. So small and it still smells like her. We just got it on Monday after we secured a new one for her so we could have the one she wore. I'm so happy I realized I wanted this. One more thing to remember her by.

Well, that's all to say that I am home and now I'm going home. Home is such an interesting concept to me. Montreal is my home, but now, Kirkcaldy is also my home. The former is home because my mom, sister, and sister-friends are still there, but the latter is home because my heart is here. A long time ago, Dave told me people can be home. Such a wise sentiment.

I'll be away for a couple of weeks and might write late at night when sleep is elusive. However, I hope my days are so full of talking, laughing, crying and food that dreams come quite easily. À bientôt.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Saying Goodbye

On Monday, David, his family and I said goodbye to Isla. It had been two weeks since she died and Dave and I were waiting for this day. Our daughter's spirit had left us shortly after she entered the world and we knew we'd have to say goodbye to her physical body before we could begin to properly heal. We went back and forth between a burial and a cremation and it was excruciating trying to decide which would be better. In the end, two things swayed us. Firstly, the gardens of the crematorium are breathtaking. Everything is manicured professionally, there are beautiful trees and flowers everywhere, including cherry blossom trees, and there are even bunnies hopping around. When Dave and I walked around the grounds, we felt at peace. It would be a fitting place to go and sit and think about the beauty of our daughter's life.

Secondly, we know we'll settle in Canada someday soon. We knew that we couldn't leave Isla behind in a place that would be so far away from us. When we leave, we don't want to leave anything behind, especially Isla's body. So we decided on cremating her. We also plan on having her name engraved on a memorial that is especially for babies. When we finally settle down somewhere permanently, we plan on planting a cherry blossom tree in her honour. However, all these things are incidental to the feeling I had in my heart after Isla was finally gone.

Her service was short, like we wanted it to be, but as lovely as Isla herself. Ian, the chaplain who blessed her in the hospital gave the service and he comforted me with his warm words and tranquil demeanour. It was not easy - seeing her tiny coffin and walking her down the aisle of the crematorium, but I felt steady, especially since Dave and I had a few moments alone to tell our baby how much we love her and how we'll see her again one day. I felt like we were letting go and I know that's one step closer in accepting what happened. But even though we were letting her go, I felt close to her and I believe I'll always feel that way. For me, the parting blessing confirms this:

"When you are weary and in need of strength,
when you are lost and sick of heart,
remember her, Isla.

When you have a joy to share
or difficult decisions to make,
remember her, Isla."

I plan on doing just that, for the rest of my days.

After the service, we all walked around the grounds. It was a stunning day, with the sun shining so brightly. It lifted my heart. We even went for a drive later. After the tears in the morning, I felt peace.

I know it's early days and Dave and I have a long way to go before we feel like ourselves again, but I feel like my faith is returning. I know I have a choice. I can let Isla's death weigh me down and I could give in to the despair of losing her. I could stop smiling and I could stay in bed for a year while my heart grieves. It would be so easy. I've had these thoughts and others that are too dark to share.

On the other hand, I could remember the joy Isla brought to our lives. Those 23 weeks were beautiful. Every single one. The week I got the positive test. The week we told our parents that they were going to be grandparents. The week we saw her on the ultrasound for the first time. The week when I felt really sad and lonely and felt her kick for the first time and understood the enormity of what I was doing. I was so in love with my daughter. We both were. We both are. I want to grieve for her properly, but I also want to heal so that I can fully love my husband and we can grow our family again.

I know there are going to be ups and downs and I will never be the same person again, but I'm so thankful and so grateful that I am Isla's mother.