Tag Archives: fears

“The New Republic” By Lionel Shriver: A Book Review

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11778910Ever since reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, Lionel Shriver has been on my go-to author whenever I feel like having my ideas and opinions turned upside down.  She has an innate ability to take taboo subjects that people often shy away from and rub their faces in it.  She treats her readers as an etch-a-sketch, imprinted with their experiences and then shakes them with her words, leaving them a blank slate to be re-written on.  “The New Republic” received scathing reviews from a lot of people, but I enjoyed it.  Sure there were some characters I felt could have been left out, but the very idea driving the novel was what kept me turning the pages.  A satire on terrorism, this is not for the faint of heart.  She puts a social commentary on terrorism.  While most people see the act of terrorism itself, Shriver makes you a witness to the dealings in the background.  Dark, politically eye-opening, “The New Republic” will make you question your very trust in elected officials, the media and how it spins world events.  For my full review, click here.

“In comes Edgar Kellogg.  A former fat boy and lawyer turned freelance journalist, looking to escape his second string complex and finally get his big break.  Much to his chagrin, he is charged with finding out was happened to his predecessor, Barrington Sadler, who disappeared while reporting on the SOB (Os Soldado Ousados de Barba) who claim international bombing.  When Kellogg arrives, his complex comes back with full force as he finds that everyone cannot stop talking about the infamous Barrington Sadler.  It isn’t long before Edgar realizes there is more to Saddler than all rumours his fellow Rat Pack spew.  Bombings, international recognition and effect on local policy increase, and soon it isn’t long before things begin to spiral.”

Another First

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I woke up with a gray hair right on the top of my head.  I’m only 27 and thought to myself “I’m too young for this.”  But after this first, I know why.  The Princess was invited to a birthday party today and like all the other parties, parents are welcome to stay.  Not this one.  I was not at all prepared for it.  In all the correspondence I had with the Mom, not once did she mention that parents were not to stay.  So when the Princess and I arrived, she took the Princess’ jacket and informed me pick up time was at 3:30.  I must have had a bizarre look on my face. I choked a little bit and then went and said my goodbye’s to the Princess and informed her I would be back later.  I walked outside and immediately called Hubby.

“They won’t let me stay.  I don’t feel right about this.  She’s only 4,” I stammered, holding back the tears.

He agreed that it was a little weird but said she’d probably be ok.

So like a crazy woman, I went to the coffee shop across the street and watched through the window.  I constantly watched my clock and then made periodical walk-by’s.  In my opinion, 4 years old is not old enough to be left alone.  I’m sure I looked crazy but it’s my job to keep her safe.

At 3:15, I picked her up early and she was just fine.  So despite walking up and down the street, holding back the tears, the Princess survived her first birthday party without me.

All Those Vivid Dreams

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Everyone says that you get less Zz’s while pregnant but the dreams you do have are much more vivid when pregnant.  Many believe that the additional hormones are to blame for the heavier dream load and the constant tossing and turning makes you interrupt the REM cycle therefore remembering more dreams in sometimes more vivid details.  I have been having my fair share of bizarre dreams and here are just a few.

  1. Very early on I had a dream that I gave birth early to a baby boy (psychic maybe?) and he was deformed but my Dad was cuddling him nonetheless.  Apparently these dreams represent an anxiety about the babies health.  It is likely since early on we were worried we would lose it, my subconscious was going into worry overdrive.
  2. This one was truly weird but I dreamt that Hubby and I were camping on a beach and the entire campsite was being attacked by Bigfoot.  We tried to trap it with a dummy made out of carrot (???) but it ended up just throwing carrot sticks at us.  Then somehow the Bigfoot pushed a woman into the water where she was circled by sharks.  Dream decipherers believe that dreams of being attacked by animals, albeit fictitious animals, represents a fear of vulnerability.  Or I ate too many Tums before bed.
  3. Lately I’ve been dreaming about loved ones that have passed on.  My Nan, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and last night dreamt of my family dog I had as a kid, have been a mainstay in my dreams.  Some may not believe this, but I like to believe that people we love will visit us in our dreams to let us know things will be ok.  However, dreams of relatives who have passed away may be the subconscious’ way of connecting the old and new generations.  But it usually leaves me reaching for tissues when I wake up.  Hormones and sad memories equal a whole box of Kleenex used and in the trash.
  4. I have also had very vivid dreams about certain people in popular culture.   I had a dream I was on tour with the Jonas Brother’s, whose music I have never listened to and then the other night I had a very realistic dream about Snooki.  Somehow the cast of Jersey Shore (a show I don’t watch) and I were visiting my sister who was building a house.  I then turned to Snooki and said “It is a sad thing that future generations will look back and realize you would be considered an influential person during that time.”  It’s even more sad when you wake up and realize that is true.

What crazy dreams did you have when you were expecting?

“Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From?”

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228149Oh yes, that bomb dropped last week.  I guess I had it coming now that we are pregnant, but I didn’t think at 4, she would be asking me.  We were getting ready for school and she came up to me with the most curious look on her face.

“Mommy, where do babies come from?” she asked.  I stood there for a good 5 minutes trying to find the most age appropriate answer.

“Umm, where do you think they come from?” I asked using the movie ‘Knocked Up’ as my saving grace.

“I think when you eat food it sits in your stomach until it grows into a baby,” she answered seriously.

“Yup.”  And that was the end of the discussion.  I wish I had something much better to offer at the time, but I was unprepared and needed time to figure out what, if anything I wanted to provide given her age.

I started researching how was the best way, if it was appropriate to tell them at a young age and what repercussions to expect.  From what I gathered, any age is appropriate as long as the material is age appropriate and straightforward.  A study showed that children who were given information from an early age and information that continued on throughout youth and puberty were less likely to have unprotected sex, teen pregnancy and STD’s.  That was enough to convince me to give her the facts.  And besides, I don’t want to be that mother (or grandmother) on Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant.  Nooo thank you.  I ran into my neighbour, who is also the blogger from Mafa’s World, she suggested ‘It’s Not The Stork’ by Robie H. Harris.   So off I went to my local book store and kindly approached the sales rep.

“Um excuse me, do you have any books on sex,” I whispered, “that are appropriate for 4 year olds?”

“Yes, sure, follow me,” she replied and led me to the children’s section.  She said that most parent decide what books they want and how much they edit.  She handed me a book about periods.

“Um, no sorry, for 4 year olds, not 14 year olds.  I need a book about where babies come from.”

She handed me ‘It’s Not The Stork’ as well as ‘A New Baby Is Coming! A Guide For A Big Brother Or Sister’ by Emily Menendez-Aponte.  I paid for the books and went on my way.

I was so nervous picking her up from school that I must have dropped the bag about 6 times.  Flashbacks of my ‘sex talk’ came flooding back.  I was maybe 12 years old and I was in the living room watching the original version of Degrassi Junior High, the episode where Spike announces she’s pregnant.  My mother whom was sitting in the kitchen saw what was on the TV.

“Do you have any questions?” she yelled.

And as quickly as she asked, I quickly replied, “Nope!”

And that was the extent of my sex talk in my preteens.  She always had warned me about boys and their intentions, STD’s and pregnancy but that was definitely the moment that stuck out in my head.

So when the Princess and I got home, I read ‘A New Baby is Coming!’  I really liked this book.  It didn’t give specifics but openly discussed that sometimes children have feelings of sadness, or anger and that it was alright to ask Mommy and Daddy about it.  We then read ‘It’s Not The Stork’ which gives a much more detailed account and cartoon pictures of private parts and how exactly babies are made. S-E-X.  When I said the three-letter word, the Princess just looked at me with this quasi confused and disgusted look on her face.  I didn’t give her the how to’s, but she was pretty much content with what I told her.  But when Daddy came home, she felt the need to inform him also.

After the Princess went to bed, Hubby flipped through the books and just said he was ‘not ready’ for this conversation yet.  I edited some of the information as she’s still only 4, but at least we have these materials available for future questions.  So far, she is content with what she knows.

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Getting Ready for Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy has hit Toronto and while I prepared by making sure we were stocked up with candles, first aid supplies and matches, I didn’t bother telling the Princess as it would just cause unnecessary worry.   I knew that other areas would be hit harder than we would, it wouldn’t hurt to safe.  I picked up the Princess as usual but she was panicked and told me we needed to get home as soon as possible because we would “blow away and the city would be destroyed.” I stooped down and asked her what was wrong.  She explained to me that her teacher had told them about the Frankenstorm that was coming our way and Princess was afraid.  I explained to her that it was going to be no worse than any other storm we had experienced.  I hugged her and took her home as fast as I could.  I knew she was upset and being at home would make her feel much better.  The entire time she kept insisting we were in peril and despite my best efforts to calm her, she was sure that we would be hurt in this storm.

I then sat her down and explained that I had endured the Ice Storm of 1998.  I told her that for almost 20 days, we were without power and I had 17 relatives living in my home.  She sat there in front of me enthralled by the thought of my surroundings covered in inches of ice, telephone poles collapsing like match sticks and no television.  I also explained that while it was very dangerous to be outside, it was also on of the best times I’ve ever had.  It was like living in the pioneer days.  We heated water on the wood stove, played games with my sisters and cousins and my dad only even cooked my sister’s birthday cake on the barbecue.  I told her that this storm would be nothing like that and while it may be scary, it was very unlikely anything bad would happen.  After that she seemed more at ease and even felt comfortable looking out the window to watch the wind blow in the trees.

This is not an image from my home back then, but just an idea of the amount of ice that hit Ontario, Quebec, some of the Eastern Provinces and some States.

She is now sleeping peacefully just as the wind outside is getting stronger.  Hubby and I are watching TV, checking the news periodically but knowing that we will be fine.  I understand that the teacher was probably just trying to inform the students about the storm that is happening, but somehow the Princess turned it into some sort of Perfect Storm-esque situation.

Just One of Those Days

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Today has been one of those days where I am doubting my parenting choices.   Every little choice, decision, point, etc has been called into question but probably none more so than our decision to put Princess into Junior Kindergarten.  To put it bluntly, our Princess is not adjusting very well and we have seen backward steps in almost all areas of her development; behaviour, sleeping, eating as well as using the potty.   We had been under the assumption that these issues were contained to home as her teacher and ECE said nothing to alarm us of the contrary.  I had spoken to them prior to orientation night and everything was jovial.  “She is so popular, she is such a character, oh she plays with everyone” and so on and so forth was what we were told at Orientation night.  However, literally the next day, I picked our Princess up from the Principal’s office.  Never in a million years did I think that would happen.  Upon talking to her teacher, she’s been having behavioural problems at school since the very beginning.  The teacher thinks the behaviour is out of jealousy but we have until the end of October to correct it our they will be removing her from school.

I listened attentively, taking in all that was said and pondering how this had been happening and nothing was said to us.  We asked our daughter everyday how she was liking school and everyday it was the same “I like it, my day was good.”  Hubby was upset for two reasons; 1)that Princess was getting into trouble and 2) that over the numerous times that we spoke to her teacher, nothing was said until that Friday.  If something was a consistent, ongoing problem, why not bring it to us sooner so that we could have nipped it in the bud earlier?  Now we are seeing the repercussions of her actions.  Hubby and I do not condone poor behaviour so Princess had to accept and deal with the consequences of her actions.  She was grounded from TV, all her toys were taken away, she is going to be earlier and no special treats.  We had a big conversation about respecting personal boundaries.  We also set up a reward system for good behaviour.  For each day she behaved, she would get to pick one of her toys back.  So far, we have only had good days and her teacher telling me that she has been improving.  But while she has been having good days, I have noticed a change in her and I’m not liking it.  Her confidence and out-going personality has taken a back burner and I now have a very subdued and insecure little girl.

I know that I am her mother and of course I think she is truly amazing, but many other people have said how much they adore her too.  She will talk with anyone, regardless of religion, colour or creed, loves to play with all children regardless of age or sex, and loves to help people.  Her teachers at daycare cried when she left and her friends there had their parents call us to set up playdates because their children missed her too much.  A friend of mine hates children, but she adores the Princess for her outgoing personality.  She is a good girl, I swear, but school has changed her.  Today I witnessed how alone she really is.  Today we were waiting in line to go into school when another little girl came up behind her.  The Princess said good morning and politely asked her mother if said little girl could come over to our home to play.  Perhaps it was because I was standing back that the mother felt compelled to say what she really thought, thinking I was not in earshot.  The mother matter-of-factly said “No, she doesn’t like you.”  I gasped.  I couldn’t believe it.  A simple “maybe another day” would have sufficed, but was it necessary to point out to a 3-year-old that your daughter doesn’t like her?  As more children lined up, my Princess sat quietly in the corner and spoke to no one, her hands holding up her sad face.  I cried all the way home.  My little girl has gone from having lots of friends to none.  She has gone from being vivacious and witty, to sullen and withdrawn.  I have seen her apologize to her family that calls to speak with her and having her ask me over and over again “Mommy, am I going to be kicked out of school?”

And now the question that is wracking my brain is “Did I make the right decision by putting her in school?   I have been weighing the pro’s and con’s to said decision and whether or not pulling her out is a good idea either.

KEEPING HER IN SCHOOL

PRO’S

  • She will learn that even if something is hard and tough, she has the inner strength to stick it out and flourish
  • Her education is very important
  • Even though she isn’t making friends right now, she will make them soon enough

CON’S

  • Low self-esteem and self-worth are a possibility
  • She’s unhappy
  • She is lonely

PULLING HER OUT OF SCHOOL

PRO’S

  • She will be able to start fresh in one more year
  • She will be more mature and better prepared
  • She will get one more year at home with me

CON’S

  • She will think that quitting will solve her problems
  • They will expect more from her next year and the pressure will be greater
  • She will miss out on all the things she will get to experience this year

 

I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for putting her in school in the first place.  I really thought she was ready.  She is potty trained, had 2 1/2 years of socialization with children her age and teachers, she met all her milestones and was ecstatic about going.  I tell her every night how beautiful, special, kind and nice person she is and that even though things are tough right now, they won’t always be this way, and that things will get better.  Right now, I just have to figure out what is best for my Princess.

The Death of Play

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Princess is entering her third week of kindergarten and we have had some mishaps along the way that were brought up at orientation night last Thursday.  Like all parents, I received a booklet of the ABC’s of Kindergarten, examples of kindergarten homework, handwriting tips and a poem called “Just Playing.”  I quickly flipped through it there, and then spoke with the teacher of how we can help ease the Princess’ adjustment to kindergarten.  After all was said and done, we went home and I read the booklet more thoroughly.  After everything, all I can say is that I feel bad for the generation in which my daughter was born, for it is the generation that could be easily labelled “The Death of Play.”

This is the first year of all-day kindergarten in Toronto and it is clear that most teachers, parents and students are having some trouble adjusting.  The teacher openly admitted that come 2:30, it becomes “The Twilight Hour” with a portion of the children in full on meltdown mode.  Princess even fell asleep on her desk last week.  The children are tired and from 12 pm to 3:22, they are inside a classroom for “play based learning.”  Granted I’m not a teacher or  an Early Childhood Educator, but perhaps it would be good for the children to have a short outside break in the afternoon.  Most children have the attention span of a gnat and being cooped up may be the cause of the “Twilight Hour”.

But the main point of my argument is that in this booklet, the poem that was included to represent the “play based learning” curriculum.  In it, when a child is at the kitchen centre, we’re not supposed to say “they are just playing” but instead say “they are learning to be mother’s and father’s someday.”  When a child is painting, we’re not supposed to say “they are just playing” but instead say “they are learning to be an artist.”  While I am in complete agreement that children certainly excel developmentally and socially through play, let’s leave it at that, play.  I feel that if play no longer is just play, and it becomes muddled and adds more stress and pressure onto children.  Instead of correcting children and  saying “No you aren’t playing, you are learning” maybe just say “go enjoy yourself.”  Maybe the Princess doesn’t want to be a Mother when she’s older, maybe she doesn’t want to be an artist.  She just enjoys playing.

I remember what play felt like as a child.  I didn’t have special toys that encouraged learning, I found a million different uses for a skipping rope.  I wasn’t “learning” how to use my muscles, I was playing cow girl, or the skipping rope turned into a circular force field against the alien menace that was after us.  When I climbed trees, I wasn’t “learning” about ecology, I was building a fort or hiding from my friends.  I enjoyed being a kid for the sheer fact that play was simple, pure and innocent.  I didn’t feel pressure to “learn” and I think I turned out ok.  I am a confident, well spoken,  contributing member of society.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to wish that for my daughter too.

Children today are more medicated, have higher stress levels, are more likely to become depressed and suicide rates are getting higher for younger children, some as young as the age of 9.  I believe the insane amount of pressure that is put on children to be the very best is leading to this.  Honestly, at the age of nine, what stresses should you really have?  Whether to play tag or hide and seek?   I want my daughter to do well in school academically and apply herself and develop a great work ethic, but I also want her to be able to say “well now that school and homework are done, I am going to go have fun and not worry what I should be learning while running away from the big bad Monster Poo Poo Pants.”  Children and childhood are pure and innocent and should be left that way.

Faces of Loss

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As many of you know, I lost my angel baby Emery on March 25th, 2011.  It has been 16 months since I lost her, but I still cry myself to sleep.  I was never prepared for what came after.  The doctors never gave me any pamphlets on bereavement and I didn’t have much of a support group.  Most people didn’t know what to say, or never mentioned it again.  For a long time, it seemed like everyone else had moved on, but I was stuck.  The doctors had sent me home to pass her despite my requests for a D&C and on the 25th, I held my lifeless little girl in the palm of my hand.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.  That was one of the most devastating moments of my life.  But it seemed that only I was really affected.  No one else was grieving like I was.  I didn’t know anyone who had suffered a miscarriage and I kept getting told “just get over it, move on.”

Now most people know that if you mix baking soda and vinegar in a bottle then put the cap on, eventually the pressure would cause the top to blow.  I was that bottle for quite some time.  Everyone kept giving me the “stop being negative, it was only a miscarriage, at least you have a child.”  And for a long time I kept how I was feeling to myself.  Everyone else was over it, maybe so should I.  But I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t crazy, that maybe I was supposed to be this upset.  That was my daughter, I had carried her throughout her entire life.  From the moment of the positive pregnancy test, everything was about her.  My body was her safe vessel and I was the captain.  She breathed through me, was fed through me, lived in me.  Every thought I had, was in regards to her safety and well-being just as I did with my Princess.  And when she left us, I mourned her like I would anyone I loved.  But despite the short time we had together, I loved her whole-heartedly.  So every time someone would tell me how I was to feel, I would blow my top like my insides were baking soda and their comments were the vinegar and have a full on meltdown.  And then I was told I was the crazy one.  Had I lost a living child, would my grief been justified?  Was Emery a second-class citizen because she died before she left my womb?  And because of that, did she deserve a second-class mourning?  I grieved alone because no one else would mourn her.

It wasn’t until her angelversary that I knew I had to do something about this.  I was growing more and more angry with people.  Why didn’t they understand?  Who were they to tell me to let go of my daughter?  You let go of someone who love and tell me how it feels when someone says to get over it.  I knew I needed to find something or someone who understood.  I began searching the internet for groups and people telling their stories and I found Faces of Loss.  I was looking through its Groups page and I was able to find one in Toronto.   I messaged the group leader and last night I went to my very first meeting.  I have never felt more accepted.  These women understand my heartache and my grief and all those crazy thoughts that went through my mind.  They gave me ideas as to how to communicate with Hubby, how to grieve and ways that I could commemorate Emery’s life.  I am so grateful for this group and wanted to write about it so that if there are any other women out there looking for support, it IS out there.

Learning to “Grin and Bear it”

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Since learning that I am infertile, one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with is learning to ‘grin and bear it’.  I will admit it is not one of my strongest personality traits as I am one of those people who whatever I am feeling is almost guaranteed to show on my face.  If it’s annoyance, anger, disbelief, happiness, or sadness, the expression is there on my face.  I don’t like to hide, I don’t like to lie, but at the same time, sometimes the time and place for such conversations are not appropriate.  My Princess is almost 4 years old now and many of our friends and family are having children.  And with that, the question Hubby and I dread is being asked at every turn.

“So,” they cheerfully ask, poking me in the abdomen.  “When is she getting a brother or a sister.”

Cue the awkward smile and shift in my stance.  Most of the time they corner Hubby and I alone so we are unable to lean on each other for support or help with the answer.  I know they don’t do it out of spite or malice, but I cringe when I am asked it.

“Oh, umm, you know, hmm, when it happens.  We’ll see how it goes.”  I divert my eyes anywhere but in theirs.  I don’t want to have to see their expression when I don’t give them a straight forward answer.  How do I say, “Well my prolactin levels are extremely high and have drained my estrogen levels so my body is incapable of maintaining any pregnancy and my ovaries are not releasing any eggs.  My body is essentially going into early menopause and I’m only 26. Oh and my ovaries are covered in cysts.”  That doesn’t really make for a great conversation.  It is one thing for me to be uncomfortable, but I really wouldn’t want to be the cause of someone else’s discomfort.  I’ve had strangers on the bus ask me, teachers at my daughter’s daycare, coworkers, friends, family and everyone else in between.  I haven’t yet found a suitable answer.

So many people I know are having babies.  My sister is pregnant and so is a close family member.  My cousin just had a baby and her sister is due any day.  My hubby’s brother had a beautiful blue-eyed baby girl 6 months ago and my friend is having a baby as well.  I am all very happy for them, I really am.  I rub their tummy’s, ask them how they are feeling, celebrate the life the life that is about to be brought into this world.  But as I smile there is a dull ache that lies inside.  It’s not cramps from bad food or from menstruation or ovulation, it’s a dull ache from a fear that I may never get to feel another kick, hear the whooshing of the ultrasound, crave pickles, have heartburn radiating through my body or be hunched over a toilet praying to the porcelain gods again.

I’ve received so many comments from people who I know mean well, but they come off so inconsiderate and back-handed.

“You just need to go back and enjoy sex again.  Then you’ll get pregnant.”

I really wish it were that simple.  Out of 28-35 days, depending on your cycle length, you only have about 25 – 30% chance of becoming pregnant.  You have to determine when you ovulate, how long your luteal phase is, how soft and where your cervix is.  I took Siberian Ginseng, Prenatal Vitamins, Evening Primrose Oil, Dong Quai and Green Tea for their ‘fertility’ aid. I was charting my entire cycle.  I charted my basal temperature, my cervical mucus, how tender my breasts were, lower back pain, how heavy my flow, how long it lasted, basically acting as an ovulatory detective searching for clues when my ovaries will release an egg and when to approach Hubby and give a very small timeline to when we have to “enjoy sex”.   Nothing says ‘sexy’ like “We have to have sex right now and tomorrow and I have to elevate my hips for 30 minutes.”

“Just chill out, you are way to stressed.”

Unfortunately stress and infertility often go hand in hand.  Stress can lead to infertility and infertility only increases stress.  It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation.

“You should be grateful you have one child.  Some people don’t have any.”

I would have to say this is the most inconsiderate and cruel comment I’ve ever received.  I am very grateful for my beautiful brown-eyed, blonde curly-haired little Princess.  She is my entire world.  I look at her and thank every lucky star in the universe for giving her to me.  We almost lost her at 3 months, and the cord wrapped around her neck during labour and she was born via c-section.  I hug her and kiss her and tell her how much she means to me every single day.  Most of my happy moments are the ones where I am with her.  But I also dreamt of giving her siblings.  A house full of siblings.  I always wanted to be a mom to many children.  I took care of my sisters and babysat many children.  I love kids.  Their laughs, smiles, their attitudes, everything about them makes me smile.  They are so innocent and happy that it always boggles my brain when people say they annoy them.  The old adage “Barefoot and Pregnant” was my mantra growing up and I couldn’t think of a better dream for me.  I’m not talking about pulling a Dugger, but I wanted at least 4 kids, if not more.  Just a house full of children running around, me ragged and tired, but overjoyed.  The doctor says I’ll be lucky if I am able to have one more.

“There’s always adoption and surrogates.”

Generally it’s these people who know nothing about costs and legal matters.  These options are not always available to everyone.

I think what hurts the most is that I have to look at my little girl when she asks me where the ‘baby’ went and why she doesn’t have a sister and try to come up with some sort of child-friendly response and then look at my Husband, who wanted a house full of kids and try to articulate ‘I’m sorry’ that I let him down.  I am 26, at the supposed height of my fertile years and have to say “I’m infertile”.   I never thought that phrase would ever come from me.  I’m not embarrassed or ashamed.  I have come to know many people who are infertile and are suffering from what I am suffering from.  It’s just an overwhelming sadness, guilt and grief that is so very hard to explain, comprehend and come to terms with.

After 2 years of trying to get pregnant, I have found an online community that has truly helped me realize I’m not alone and one blogger in particular, Practical Katie and her post “When One Isn’t Enough” really did help me understand this.  And to my readers, your kind words have really helped pick me up when I have been feeling down.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugliness of Daycare

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My Princess has been in daycare since she was 18 months old.  I went back to work on weekend and nights when she was about 10 months old but didn’t go back fulltime until she was 16 months.  I moved from Ottawa to Toronto when I was 7 months pregnant and decided that when I went back to work, I wasn’t getting a transfer.  I knew I needed a job that paid the bills, left a little in the bank and would still cover the cost of daycare.  I searched all over Toronto but most were either inflexible hours, too little pay or ridiculously far away from where we lived.  So I found a job where I worked nights on the weekend.  Despite hating it, it put money in the bank and I didn’t need a sitter.  But eventually it just wasn’t enough, I really didn’t want it to be my career, let alone my job.  So I started looking again for another job.

Finally I found the job where I work now.  I am a food writer for a catering company in Toronto and I’m also the Head Catering Coordinator.  The hours are great, so are my coworkers and it is only a 35 – 45 minute commute each way.  Not bad for Toronto.  I began my search for childcare.  We found one woman who ran her own daycare out of her home who lived near us.  She was relatively priced, had children of her own, so it seemed like a great fit.  We went away the weekend before I was supposed to start and when we came home that Sunday I had a message on my machine.

“I’m really sorry to do this to you so last-minute, but I’ve changed my mind.  I’m closing down my home daycare.”

Are you serious?!  Thank goodness for my in-laws who helped us out extraordinarily with our search for childcare.  They watched her until we found someone else.  While I was searching for the first place, I had come across a Nanny (or so she called herself) that was fresh out of college.  She was currently working at a daycare, but wished to go into business herself.  She was willing to come to our home and watch her.  She was all up to date with her CPR and First Aid.  She graduated from the Early Childhood Education program at a Toronto College.  She had references from daycare, families and other related jobs and all the references came back stellar.  I even had a police background check done and it was clean.  I did my research and was thorough, she was the person.  It wasn’t long until we learned our lesson.

It started off fairly early that she was not showing up to work, or calling in sick.  Once she told me she couldn’t work on Monday because she “thought” her cousin was getting married.  Then we started to hear from our neighbours that there were people waiting outside for her throughout the day.  We had a discussion with her and told her that under NO circumstances was she to have anyone in our home.  She said she understood.  Next thing we noticed, food from our fridge was missing.  Not a little bit at a time, like cans of soup, tube of cookie dough, you name it, it started to go missing.  We started looking for daycare, because it was getting to be too much.  Then this (insert expletive) did something so atrocious that she will rot in a special place for what she did.  Hubby and I keep all our twoonies to put in the Princess’ piggy bank.  It goes towards her college fund and the Wednesday prior to this day, we had counted it and there was $100 in it.  Hubby suggested that we roll it and put it in the bank.  The next Monday, I came home from work and found numerous Tim Horton cups in our trash.  I remember she brought one when she arrived that morning, but there were three in the garbage and Hubby said he didn’t have any.  Then I went to the sink and found three bowls of Alphaghetti in there.  And none were of my daughter’s special children’s bowls.  Hubby said when he got home, there was someone waiting outside.  Hmm.  My spider senses were beginning to tingle.  I was going to call her that night to ask if she had anyone over.  But first, I had twoonies in my purse that I was going to put in her piggy bank.  Now I kept our laundry money, spare change jar and the Princess’ piggy bank in our bedroom with the door closed.  She was aware that our bedroom was off-limits and she was never to go in there.  So that night, when I went to put the change in the piggy bank, I lifted it up and much to my surprise, it was EMPTY!!!!  Oh I have never been so angry in my life!  I began frantically searching around my home for 50 twoonies.  Asked Hubby if he had taken them to the bank and he said ‘no’.  So I called her.  And this is how the conversation went.

“Hi (insert name).  Did you have someone over today?” I asked calmly.

“No.”

“Well Hubby said he saw your friend outside.”

“Yeah, they were waiting for me.”

“Well I found coffee cups in the garbage.”

“Oh, well they came up to use the bathroom.”

“Did they eat my food too?  I found bowls in the sink.” Rule number one for criminals, get rid of the evidence.

“Ummm.”

“Listen, the Princess’ piggy bank is empty.”

“I never went into your bedroom.”  Caught you!

“That’s funny, because I never told you that’s where the money was.”

Dead silence.

“Listen, you are fired and I’m calling the cops.  You stole money from a baby!  You are low.”

I called the cops and they came and took our statement.  I was assigned a detective and they tried numerous times to call her and go to her place of residence, however, because she lived in an apartment building, and she didn’t answer the buzzer, they couldn’t go in the building.  Robbed a baby and got away with it.  But I was offered this little tidbit of information.  Apparently, in Canada, if you have been arrested but never charged formally, these offenses never show up on your record and our dear sweet thief had been arrested TWICE for shoplifting and theft and ONCE for domestic abuse, but all charges were dropped.  So my background check did absolutely nothing to protect my child.  I did however, call her references and informed them of what she did and they were absolutely wrong to give such stellar ones when she was nothing but a thief.  I felt so guilty after that.  I left my child in the care of someone who robbed her.  Stole money that was to be for her education.  I felt like I made the worst decision of my life.

Soon after that, we found the daycare where we are at now.  It was close to home, reasonably priced and was professionally run.  That is not to say we were not without bumps in the road.  Three days after going into daycare, our Princess contracted Norwalk Virus, and had vicious diarrhea for 3 weeks.  She lost so much weight and her poor bum was so blistered that we had to put a steroid cream just to keep them from bleeding.   She was so miserable it was devastating.  The daycare fortunately refunded us 2 weeks of the cost, however, Hubby and I had to alternatively take days off work just to care for her.  I had literally just started a new job and was missing days out of the week.  I thought for sure I was going to be fired.  But I had no one else.  The daycare wouldn’t take her.  After she finally got over that, it was maybe a week before she got an ear infection that spread to her eyes, throat, sinus and lymph nodes and sent her into a fever that was so high I had to put her in bath of cold water.  She screamed bloody murder.  I put her on the couch naked to try to cool her down when she started to have a seizure.  Her eyes rolled back in her head, she started to shake uncontrollably and was gasping for breath.  I was frantic.  I have epilepsy, but to see it happening to your child is frightening.  She had 12 seizures that day.  She was rushed to the local Children’s Hospital where she spent days in and out of it for close to six months.  Any virus or germ or bacteria that was going around her daycare, she got it.  I never believed it when people told me that once you put them in daycare they get sick all the time, but they were right.  Her drastic change in health put a lot of strain on us emotionally, physically and financially.  I was starting to wonder if going back to work was the right thing to do.

She had lost so much weight and became so weak that she had troubling walking.  She would collapse for no reason, continued to have seizures any time she had a fever and we went for countless tests.  Seeing her hooked up to an EEG machine, with wires running off of her head was so heart breaking.  She went to visit a pediatric neurologist who gave us good news.  She wasn’t epileptic, although her chances of developing it later in life are increased.  He gave us pills that were to crush in her cheek if she had another one and to monitor all her fever’s closely.  Thank GOD she hasn’t had another one after that.  It took about a year in daycare before she was able to ward off any viruses.  But despite her not getting them, she brought them home to us.  Hubby never got tonsilitis until we put her in daycare.  But as soon as she went in, he was getting it every 2 months.  He could even tell before it hit that he was getting it.  Finally in January, after going to the doctors, he had his tonsils removed because the doctor said that his tonsils were basically working against him.   The surgeon said they were the size of meatballs they were so infected.

Now despite a tumultuous year and a half, there were great things about the daycare.  My Princess is a social butterfly and has so many friends.  We would have parents come up to us and say how much their children talk about her.  Kids would fight just to sit next to her.  Her daycare also had fashion shows, plays, puppet shows and field trips that has greatly enriched her life.  Just this week she was able to go to the African Lion Safari which is where you drive through a park of African animals and get to see them close up.  She got to see monkey’s and lions and loved how the monkey’s climbed on the car.  They provided her with life experiences and friends that she may not have gotten if I had stayed home.  I am not worried about her going to Kindergarten now because of how well she flourished in daycare.  I also know now that her immune system is stronger, she won’t be missing that much time at school.  I would recommend our daycare to anyone and if we have another child and I go back to work, we will definitely be using that one again.