Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sponsor This!

As I've recently announced, I will be leaving the UK and moving back to Canada. Can I get a woot?! We decided some months ago that all the sadness and misery we have experienced since moving to the UK is just not worth it. Don’t get me wrong: I think Scotland is a beautiful country, but it’s not for me. I need something bigger and more diverse and definitely closer to my loved ones. One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the last few months is that I need my people. My mom, sisters, sista-friends – they are my heart and soul. Of course, Dave has the number one spot in my life, but we both know that he can’t be everything to me, just like he can’t expect me to be everything to him. So we’re moving to the Great White North. Unfortunately, we won’t be living in my beloved Montreal, but we’re going for the consolation prize: Toronto.

Given that I’m a true blue Montréalaise, I have given into the Toronto-Montreal rivalry in the past. It’s just something that is ingrained in you when you’re born. I mean, it even has its own Wiki page. Montrealers are (very generally) sophisticated, laid back, culturally inclined and blasé about sex and drugs, but definitely serious about chilled out parties and great food. The city itself is very European with a lot of French influence as seen in the old buildings, grand churches and cobbled roads in some districts. Torontonians, on the other hand, are more serious about work, a bit uptight but are really tolerant of others. And as for the city... well, quite truthfully, I don’t know much about it. I’ve been to Toronto hundreds of times, but I really don’t know it. And that goes for Torontonians as well. I don’t have any friends who are native Torontonians. I know quite a few people who have jumped ship from the sometimes frustrating place that is Montreal (especially for young Anglophones) to the big pond of the “Big Smoke”, but I don't know a soul who was born and raised there. So while Toronto will be something familiar, it will be something new. And I’m going to totally embrace my new home.

I’ll be moving over in January and I will be going alone. My sweet husband will be staying behind whilst I get our new life started up. I’ll be looking for a job (started that process already) and then finding a flat for us to live in. He’ll move in with his parents, save a few paycheques then come over in a few months time. To get from here to there, we’ve had to put in a lot of time, money and effort in preparing his application for permanent* residency. Part of that application was to supply information that would prove I would be a suitable sponsor. Luckily, since I earn money, have money saved, am not a drain on society and I’m a Canadian citizen, I have been approved to sponsor my beloved. It took about a month to get this approval and this was the relatively easy part. Now we must wait to find out if Immigration believes our relationship is actually genuine. I’ll get into all the hoops we’ve had to jump through (so far) to prove that we are actually in a committed relationship rather than a marriage of convenience. Oy. Cue massive eye-rolling.

*Permanent. I just love that word. Finally, I will have a permanent address again. This will be our final port of call. No more temporary, furnished flats. No more moving countries. This is it!

Sunday, 24 October 2010


It is so sad to be disappointed – by life, by friends and by family. Of course it’s a natural thing, very human, but it’s sad all the same. I just consider it a fact of life. I used to get disappointed quite a lot as a child and after a certain point, I decided to roll with it. Shit happens, right? It stings, but if you apply a little balm (retail therapy, a good cry or moan), it is usually a temporary affliction for me.

The disappointment of losing Isla was crushing, of course, but the thing I didn’t really expect were people’s reactions to us. Let me be clear – a death in a family, especially a death of a child, is an incredibly difficult, awkward, weird thing to be a part of. I’ve lost both a parent and a child and let me tell you, losing a baby is the kind of thing that properly puts the shits up people. And I knew that. But I had no idea how disappointing people could be when you needed support the most.

When some people disappoint you (e.g. colleagues, acquaintances), you kinda just take it with a grain of salt. Sure, it hurts when people that you’re friendly with walk the other way when they see you coming towards them or pretend they don’t see you. And you know they did. Ouch. But you tend to think to yourself “Well, they ain’t shit anyway.”  Then there are those who talked to you nearly every day about your pregnancy but suddenly found the weather much, much more interesting. And you tend to think to yourself “Ouch, but oh well, it’s a hard topic and we’re not that close anyway.” And then there are the others that break your heart in a million different ways when you dare think about how they have disappointed you during the worst time in your life. I’m not going to single anyone out but their faces are there in my brain, as sharp as stiletto knife. And it hurts so much.

I’m not sure if lost baby mamas feel the same as me, but when someone hurts you purposely or passively after your loss, it feels as if they didn’t consider the loss as anything of real importance. With me, the central message is one of two: 1. “Because your baby wasn’t full term and because we didn’t get to meet her, she doesn’t hold the same importance as a “real” baby. So I’m just going to shit on you and/or totally ignore this barely inconsequential event.” And 2: “This is way too hard to deal with and I can see/hear that you’re in a lot of pain, but I’m going to be totally selfish and not going to go there with you even though I know you well enough to know that you would like to.” While this isn’t said or expressed obviously, actions speak louder than words.

I heard somewhere that “forgiveness liberates the soul”. I can’t forgive this type of disappointment. Not yet anyway. So I focus on the love we received over the past few months. My friends have been amazing. Truly breathtaking. They have been there for me in the truest sense of the world. In my darkest days, when contemplating suicide was less pie in the sky and more lining up the 5Ws, their being there helped to keep me going. They came through with texts, emails, phone calls, FB messages, SKYPE time and they were amazing, even when they weren’t trying very hard.  I found this pic on and thought it was so accurate.  So, so true.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Homeward Bound

So that’s it.


5 years
3 countries
4 addresses
3 passports
4 jobs
2 weddings
23 flights
2 cell phones
60,783,394 tears

I’m going home. A new home, and a permanent one at that. Goodbye UK, hello T.O. See you on the flipside on January 13th 2011.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

One note

I realize it has been a little one note here lately, as it's reflecting what's going on in my brain. But believe it or not, there are some breaks between the grief.

Dave and I took a lot of walks and a lot of drives and saw and ate many beautiful things.  In some ways, driving around Scotland has been restorative.  It is such a beautiful country.  The weather usually sucks balls, but the landscape is W-O-W.  I especially love all the animals that dot the country side.  As much as I'm a city girl, I do like spending time in the country (but as Dave will attest, not too much time!).

This past summer, we were lucky enough to get a free stay in a posh hotel (all the bells and whistles included) and it was in the very pretty area of Pertshire.  We ate and drank a lot and genuinely enjoyed each other's company.  We sped down winding country roads and walked around in the rain.  The pic at the beginning of this post was taken on one of our jaunts.

The pic to the right is of the grounds of the hotel where we stayed.  There was even a lake the back of the property and it was truly stunning.

In addition to getting close to nature, we kayaked, went hill walking and mountain climbing, did some touristy stuff, ate a lot of great food and talked a lot.  I think we're starting to heal. 

I'm not feeling particularly word today so I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Good ole Edinburgh Castle

My beardy honey in a kayak


I can't remember where we were.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

OPP (Other People's Pregnancies or Other Pregnant People)

Me on the rocks, taken in Dysart by my very talented SIL
  This is a bit hard to express in mere words, but I will try my best. 

When I was released from the hospital and left the building without our baby, we passed a heavily pregnant woman.  I crumpled into a quivering mess of tears and snot and needed Dave to prop me up so that we could make it to the car.  In that moment, I wanted to be someone else rather than who I had become: a DBB*.

From then on, my perception of pregnant women has radically changed. Whereas once I was indifferent (before pregnancy), I became awed and curious (during pregnancy) then finally, anxious, nervous and envious (after pregnancy). When I would see a preggo lady waddling towards me, I would avert my eyes and try to not guess where she might be in her pregnancy and not think of where I would be in mine at that time. I would also get really, really nervous for her. I’d mentally scream out warnings – “Hey you! Be careful! Love that baby every day because you might lose him or her, like I did!” Or, “Did you know that I’m part of the 1% of pregnancies that end in the second trimester?! I didn’t know it could happen but it did, so I hope to goodness it doesn’t happen to you!!” Of course I didn’t yell these things out, but I really, really wanted to.

Inevitably, OPP hit closer to home. As a woman in her early 30’s, it’s just a fact that you would know at least one other woman who is pregnant at the same time as you. I had three. It was all peaches and cream until WHAM! I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And that was hard. One person was a co-worker. She had her baby shortly after I had mine so I haven’t had to see her. Another is a close friend who went into labour I think shortly after I did. When I went home, I decided I couldn’t see her and be near her newly arrived daughter, her first born.  We have just resumed phone calls, though she was reaching out through email over the last few months. And lastly, the other woman is my BFF who was about 8 months pregnant when I went home and saw her. For this visit, we opted to prepare each other for our first meeting in a year when so much had happened. Seriously, it was like getting ready for a middleweight fight. But in the end, meeting my BFF was good. We hugged and I felt her huge belly between us but luckily, that was the only thing that was in the middle. Thank goodness no other "stuff" made it's way between us. I’m grateful that the first pregnant person I had contact with was her. I don’t think I could have reached that milestone with anyone else.

So now, nearly 5 months later, it’s still hard, but I’m trying my best. My friend at work is pregnant and now noticeably so, so it’s in my face at least 5 days a week. Am I happy for her? Of course. She’s been trying for this baby and I’m happy she has this chance to partake in this miracle. Am I sad for myself? Most definitely because we had previously planned on getting pregnant together and spending maternity leave at each other's flats.  But I can’t stop the world from turning.  I only hope I can feel that phenomenon again.

The one type of OPP I can feel thrilled for without reservation is a DBB who becomes pregnant again. There is a woman in our support group who is pregnant again after losing triplets last year. When she told me her news, I burst into tears of joy and hugged her. I barely know her but I can understand where she is mentally. As a purely selfish gesture, I asked if I could feel her belly (very uncharacteristic of me). I just needed to feel that life after so many weeks of the oppressiveness of death. She obliged me and I was transported to when I was at that stage of my pregnancy. And it made me feel warm about OPP and so happy that bitterness and jealously hasn’t enveloped my heart.

*DBB is Dead Baby Mama, shorthand in the parental bereavement community. I will not let it define me.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Here I am, back again. And I’m ready to purge.

I am so, so happy September is finally over. The last few months have been the darkest, saddest, most challenging period of my life, but September was particularly bad because it was my due month. I don’t really believe in due dates, but mine was September 12th. The whole month was rough because I was back at work when I shouldn’t have been, doing insignificant tasks when I should have been home basking in the wonderment of my baby. That hurt a lot. All I wanted was for September 2010 to finish so that I would never have to go through it again.

Over the last month, I did a lot of thinking, a lot of navel gazing. I looked within my heart, listened to myself, and grieved for our little girl. I’ve become better at hiding my true feelings at work, but wearing a mask all day is taxing. I’d cry on the train ride home, relieved that I didn’t have to pretend anymore, alone with my thoughts. But something toxic was gurgling within me and either in reaction to this or independent of it, Dave felt it too. And something toxic entered our marriage. We grew short with each other, cold with each other, wanting to turn away from each other when we had been so good at leaning on each other. All my mask-wearing in the day gave way to annoyance and anger at night. Sometimes, I could hardly stand the sight of my husband and he felt the same way about me. We separately wanted to be alone and away from each other. I’ve repeatedly heard that people divorce after the death of the child. I saw all too clearly why. We’re the only ones with such intimate knowledge of what happened leading up to, including and after Isla died, and that created a lot of pressure. I’m the only one Dave can really talk to about what happened. He’s the one I talk to most about what happened. That meant we were talking about it ALL THE TIME. And why wouldn’t we? It’s the defining thing in our lives RIGHT NOW, and maybe FOREVER. It was big, it IS big. It was consuming us as individuals and our life as family.

On our due date, I decided that I wanted to move on. I told Dave, which made it more real. I’m not saying I want to forget because you really can’t; every time I touch my stomach I remember, for goodness sake. But I want to get over the depression and the sense of loss. I know that it’s a hard process, but I felt ready to attempt it. I think it was a positive first step and I’ve given myself allowances (example, get really, really sad when I feel a cloud coming and tell everyone to stay the f*ck out of my way), however, it wasn't all sunshine and roses. There was something else sticking in the craw. I didn’t know what it was, but it was there and it was starting to suffocate our relationship.

I didn’t want to go to the SANDS support meeting last Friday, but Dave gently pushed me to. The group is so good because it lets you be you and the old-timers (the ones who have had losses several years ago) are so helpful and knowledgeable. I felt comfortable asking them about what their relationship with their partner looked like after their loss and mentioned that Dave and I were having problems (yes, he was right beside me). We (including Dave) talked about our recent backbiting and he gave me a new nickname right there – “The Escalator”, meaning when we argue, I tend to step it up a notch, which is quite apt. I acknowledged that I did indeed do this, often in reaction to Dave’s grumpiness. I mentioned that Dave said we talk about what happened a whopping 98% of the time and Jenny, a befriender and a woman I have been spending a lot of time with lately, said the most profound thing:

“You talk about it so much and it has become the centre of your lives because there was supposed to be a person here who was to be the centre of your lives.”

I sat on this for a second, but I knew that it was so accurate, so right, that I immediately began to cry. A lot. And loudly. And I couldn’t stop. Because it was so, so true.

We left the room to go outside to get some fresh air, me crying every step of the way. Isla was supposed to be here but she isn’t and we talk about the trauma so much because we don’t have her. In the recent past, when Dave said he felt I focused on it too much, I would blow up and tell him that I have nothing else! Hardly no friends, no life, nothing to look forward to or distract myself with. This was all I had – a baby gone too soon and broken hopes and dreams! So when I started crying, I knew in my heart what Jenny said was true. And I cried for a solid 15 minutes and I felt like I was back at day one.

Eventually the tears became more gradual and then finally stopped and a peace settled, the kind you get from a breakthrough and a deep acknowledgement. As we drove home, Dave said “we didn’t have a baby, so our grief has become our child” and it’s too true. We’ve nurtured that sucker like there’s no tomorrow. And now it’s time to let go. I want to let go. He wants to let go. It’s time.

I know every person’s grief pattern and schedule is different and I’m not trying to come off like it was some miracle because it ain’t. It’s not over, but now I’m working towards when it will be, whenever that is.

I hope this makes sense. I feel a bit rusty in regards to writing right now, but I’ve been spilling all over my diary and feel ready to put it out there again.

So I’m ready to climb that mountain again, this time better prepared. I’m allowed to stop and rest, take in the view, go backwards and then march on. I muddle through the tricky bits, navigating my own path, noting that whatever route I take will be right for me. I don’t know what will be at the top, but I now feel better prepared to embark on that journey.