Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Some big beautiful news after the bad

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I feel like I need to start out by telling everyone to take a minute and take a deep breath...

because...

we just found out we're having TWINS!!


Those beautiful sacs..baby A and baby B showed up on my ultrasound on Monday and I just about jumped off of the table with excitement.

I was so nervous walking into that dark ultrasound room early Monday morning. I prayed that they wouldn't tell me that my baby didn't survive the accident. I prayed that they wouldn't tell me that I had to go home and tell my family that another baby was now in Heaven. My palms were sweaty and I tried to control my breathing as I felt that cold jelly roll over my stomach. I arched my sore neck as far as I could to try to see the computer screen as the technician kept a solemn face and continued to click, click, click the keys in front of her. She didn't say a word. She didn't even blink as I continued to try to decipher the little grainy grey images flashing across the screen. My neck hurt, my body was hot, I couldn't catch my breath. I was waiting for the moment when she turned to me and said "I need to go get the doctor"--the worst words that any mother could ever hear while looking at an ultrasound. I had heard those words before, and left bawling.  

Then, just when I knew I couldn't take the silence any longer, she spoke. She spoke the most beautiful words I have ever heard. 

"Everything looks great. No evidence of any injury or impact from the accident. AND...although it's still early, I do see two sacs. You're going to have twins". 

My heart stopped in that moment. Literally stopped. Then the tears immediately drained out of my eyes down my cheeks. 

"This has honestly been my dream my whole life" I told her as I wiped the tears away. "I've always wanted twins. I can't believe you're telling me this right now. I can't even breath I'm so happy".

She smiled at me and chuckled..."I'm so glad that you're so happy about this news", she said. "To be honest, I've never had a mom of 4 be this excited about having twins".  

"No, you have no idea---I'm elated" I told her.  

I couldn't stop crying.

In that moment, I thought about the little Dream Board that I have hung up in my closet at home. A place where I cut out pictures of the dreams that Terry and I have together and goals for our future. A place for visualizing our future together and creating a space for big ideas that barely seem attainable. Right at the top centre has always been a picture of twins snuggled together. 

Our reality truly feels completely unreal right now.



The doors closed behind me as I left the ultrasound building exhausted with excitement and shock. 

I couldn't wait to tell my family. 

Mya had said to me before I left for my ultrasound "Mommy, I really hope we get twins". She loves babies. She loves family. I just kissed her head and told her that we're just going to hope for a healthy pregnancy--knowing full well that the reality of becoming pregnant with twins again was slim to none. 

So when the kids walked in the door and rushed to see the ultrasound picture, the news of twins was greeted with squeals, big hugs, jumping up and down and then Carter grabbed the ultrasound picture and tore out the front door and ran across the front lawn to my sisters house. He couldn't wait to tell his cousins. We then went to pick Sophia up from daycare and when we told her that there were two babies in my belly she immediately screamed and jumped up and down and clapped her hands in excitement. 

Terry was at the hospital with the surgeon while I had the ultrasound since he broke his shoulder the other week (just to add some more excitement to our lives at this point). So I carefully avoided the details when he called just moments after I got home from getting the news. "Baby looks great", I said, "I'll tell you all about it when you get home", and I quickly got off the phone with him before he started asking more questions. I knew I wanted to tell him in person.

So when he walked in the door from work that day, he had four little people tackle him with the news. Flashing the ultrasound picture around in the air, they all jumped around with excitement. He laughed, then looked at me "Are you serious??" he said between kids jumping all around him. I nodded and smiled, then he just laughed and we all laughed and hugged each other.  

So life is moving. Life is changing. My neck and shoulder are beginning to heal, I'm starting to feel better and my hand has already healed completely. Weekly physio and massage therapy is now my reality, but there is so much to look forward to now. So much to be grateful for. So much excitement and hope for the future. Such love for these two babies who are only just beginning to grow into this life of ours. 

And although this wouldn't have been the way that we would have planned to tell the world--our pregnancy secret would still be our secret if this accident hadn't happened. The strangers on the street, the paramedics, my family, then my school all had to find out under the most unfortunate circumstances and way earlier than we would have ever planned. But here we are regardless, now thrilled and excited and also terrified and worried at the reality of losing twin babies like before

But for now we'll just take this time and enjoy it. Because our reality right now is all of a sudden looking a lot brighter. 

Erica xo      





Tuesday, 11 December 2018

An SUV hit me head-on...and this is what I know for sure

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I still can't shake it. My breath is heavy even as I begin to type. This space of mine--this blog space that I have left empty for months now feels like a safe retreat. A space where I can release the fear, the anxiety, the what-if's...the trauma from Friday.



I can feel my chest tightening and tears are burning my eyes as I type, trying to process the reality of life right now. Being forced to feel the feelings with every hit of the keys that I have been trying to push down and manage in the midst of day to day life now.

It was chilly, with a cold wind hitting my face as I left school on Friday. I was on my way to pick up my babies from daycare--Chloe and Sophia, who were waiting for me, and my other two were going to be home soon from school. I drove quietly in an empty van full of car seats.

I wasn't even two minutes from my school when I pulled up to that intersection, as I do each and every day on my way home. The normalcy and routine of that moment waiting at the light brought about a sense of security that always comes from knowing what will happen next. But Friday was all of a sudden drastically different.

All of a sudden my normal, secure moment turned from routine to chaos, in only seconds.

I remember the sounds, the smells, the fear that I felt as if it happened only moments ago. The feeling of my body being thrown, my head banging the back of the headrest, burning on my hand, a huge gunshot sound, smoke, the sound of crushing metal...a huge hit, then spinning, spinning, spinning...wondering if it would stop and how. Then the second huge crash, head on into another car. Cracked windshield, burning, smoke in my lungs, panic, silence.

I remember the absolute terror of feeling like my van was about to start on fire and I needed to get out and away as fast as possible. The smell of smoke and chemicals surrounded me from the airbags going off and I reached for the door handle, body shaking, trying to get out.

I remember the feeling of the cold air down my back and my hand burning. I looked down to find blood on my hand and my neck and back were throbbing. I looked down to find liquid pouring from my van all over the road. The sloshing sounds that my boots made in the gas and oil as I tried to escape from what I thought was going to be a van exploding right in front of me. The world stopped in that moment. No one moved. Cars around me were frozen in time. The moment was shaken as I heard people start screaming--"Call 911!" "I can't get through!" "911 is busy! Just keep calling!" People started running towards me--women holding phones, screaming, panicked.



I walked straight towards the white car that was in front of my van, front bumper crushed, as two women emerged from their car.

"Are you okay?!" I screamed at them. My heart was pounding, the world was spinning, I didn't know where I was, I didn't know which direction to move. Absolute panic had come over me, with a sense of complete shock protecting my body.

The women came towards me "We're fine. Are you okay?!" they screamed back at me.

"I don't know", I remember saying. I remember feeling like I couldn't breathe. My body was shivering, but full of heat. I didn't know how to get out of the middle of where I was--cars surrounded me and as I tried to gain some composure to figure out where the sidewalk was I felt an arm grab me and lead me away.

"It's going to be okay", she said to me in a panicked, but controlled voice. "He ran the red light and hit you hard, head-on".

I looked over to see a silver SUV, the front completely crushed and a young man kneeling down talking to an elderly man sitting in the front seat.

My heart stopped.

Was he okay? Was he dying? I saw him struggling to breathe. I rushed over to him.
"Are you okay?" I gently said as I watched the younger man looking at his stomach.
The older gentleman didn't answer. The young man said "I think he'll be okay--he's in shock and needs an ambulance. I'm an ER doctor--I was in that car over there when I saw the accident happen. I think he'll be just fine".

I remember saying out loud "God, please protect him. Please please just protect him" and the lady who had my arm pulled me off of the road onto the sidewalk.

She put her arms around me as I shook, and then all of a sudden people were everywhere. I just remember women and men were hugging me, asking me if I needed blankets, asking me where it hurt and telling me the exact sequence of events that they saw.



The woman holding my arm started quickly explaining what she saw. "I saw it was your right of way and then all of a sudden I watched terrified as the SUV gunned it and accelerated right through the red light". Her eyes were huge and filling up with tears as she held me. She continued to tell me "I started screaming NO! NO! NO! as I sat in my car watching what I knew would be a terrible accident. I couldn't stop it. I'm so sorry.". I squeezed her, this stranger. Hugging her to ease her pain and mine.

"It all happened in slow motion", she continued. "I watched as your body was thrown around and you kept spinning and spinning.." then she stopped. I could tell she was going through her own trauma just re-living it in that moment herself. "I'm going to stay to tell the police what I saw".

The sirens were loud and the lights were bright as firetrucks, ambulances and police cars pulled up to the scene. More people came up and hugged me, telling me they were going to stay to tell the police what they saw. I was just worried about the man. Paramedics started putting the elderly man onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. My heart sank for him.

My fingers were frozen as I tried to get a grip of my phone to call Terry and my parents and sister. I could barely type in the numbers my hands were shaking so violently.

"Terry--I was in a horrible car accident. It's really awful" I heard myself say. I remember hearing him say "I'll leave work right now, I'll be right there". And I repeated those same horrible words that no parent ever wants to hear to my dad as he picked up the phone.

"Dad.."...I could barely get the words out.

"I'll be right there honey" is all I remember.

I remember the paramedics assessing me. Asking me a million questions. But all I kept saying was "I just found out last night that I'm pregnant"...and sobbing. Was my baby okay? That's all that I was worried about.

Tears flooded my face as this lovely paramedic tried to reassure me. Then just as quickly as I called him, my dad was beside me hugging me, holding me as the sirens and flashing lights surrounded us.

I cried tears of relief, comfort and fear all rolled into one as I sunk into him. He couldn't get through the rows and rows of stopped traffic, so my mom had dropped him off at the side of the road and he had run up the street to me.

"Sir, I just need to ask her a few more questions", the paramedic interrupted, "especially due to the pregnancy now".

I looked at my dad. She looked at him. I looked at her.

"Surprise, dad", I said, with a bit of a laugh. "We just found out last night".

He hugged me and the paramedic's eyes filled with tears " Oh now you're all just going to make me cry too..I'm sorry I didn't know that he didn't know". I didn't care. All I cared about was whether my baby survived.

I looked up to see Terry running through the flashing lights towards me. He looked pale, panicked and wide-eyed. He grabbed me and hugged me as I tried to reassure him.

The events of the evening became a bit of a blur after that. I remember a kind tow-truck driver helping me into his truck so that I could have a warm space to fill out all of my paper work. His kindness was something that I'll never forget.

I remember people coming up to me, strangers hugging me, telling me that they were going to stand in the cold with me for as long as it took so that they could tell the police their version of the SUV running the red light. They held my hands, these strangers, as I told them I was pregnant and so worried. They told me to trust God, they told me that everything would be okay. They told me that I would be okay. They wrapped me in their hope and warmth and kindness and I know that that is something that I will never forget. The kind paramedic who first got to me, her sweet, calm voice that left me feeling like I would be okay, like our baby would be okay. I'll never forget it. The way that those strangers held me, telling me that they couldn't believe I survived such a huge crash, will be forever in my memory as I try to process how I actually survived (how we all survived) such a tragic incident. 

I look at these pictures now--of my van staring at the white car. I was originally facing the opposite direction when I was hit. And that gray SUV at the bottom of the picture. I hope that poor man is okay. 



I think of him constantly. How is he doing? I hope he doesn't feel the obligation to live with this the rest of his life. He was 85yrs old. Maybe he panicked and hit the gas instead of the brake. Maybe he had a medical issue which left him slamming on the gas. We'll never know. But I do know that I plan to write him a letter to let him know that all will be well. I would never want him to feel the burden of such an accident. We'll all be okay eventually. The nights won't always be full of panic, anxiety and flashbacks, as they are right now. I won't always cry at the drop of a hat when I start thinking of it. My hand, neck and back will heal. We'll get a new van. New car seats. We'll keep monitoring baby to make sure that he/she is growing as intended and I'll pray that this pregnancy wasn't affected by this cold Friday afternoon.

The waiting is the torture. But we'll get there and trust that everything will work out exactly as it's supposed to. So as my days begin to fill up with ultrasounds, blood work, massage therapy, physio appointments, phone calls from insurance companies and visits to car dealerships, I'll just remind myself to breathe. And I'll believe what others have said--that the two baby angels that we have in Heaven were there with me on that fateful day, looking down on their mom--because walking away from an accident like this was nothing short of a miracle.

Erica xo


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Baby cake for the baby obsessed girl

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There just wasn't any other type of cake that I could have made for this girl.


This birthday girl, who just turned 3, is absolutely obsessed with babies.



So a baby doll birthday cake is exactly what she ordered.



And a baby doll birthday cake is exactly what her mama made her.



So I searched high and low for the perfectly sized doll to fit into this little "bathtub" and finally walked out of the store with the cutest little baby, tiniest little rubber ducky and all of the visions of a baby in a bathtub rushing through my mind.  


 Because Sophia is a little mama in the making (and an excellent one, at that). And she loves every minute of it.


So we watch as she gently tucks her babies into bed, shushing them ever so quietly as she gently wraps the blankets around them. She sings them lullabies, reads them stories, tells them that she loves them, kisses their little heads and tiptoes out of the room. Playing out what she lives herself as she is tucked into bed each night.


And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have to unclip baby dolls from Chloe's carseat before putting her in--because the reality is that having a real baby in our house means that Sophia's dolls all of a sudden get real-life experiences.



So baby dolls get baths in our bathroom sink...


and get carried around in carriers....



and get loved on day in and day out by the girl who tells me all of the time that she wants to be a real mommy.  


So we celebrated this little girl last weekend, as she turned three. We celebrated the three years that we have had with our little Sophia. Three years full of great times and hard times--great times when we would sit back and stare at this beautiful little soul who is so loving and kind. And hard times when we would remind ourselves that two and three year olds are so incredibly tiring in so many ways and that the hard parts are only passing phases that we'll all get through, we promise. Because that's just the reality of parenting.

So we celebrated these past three years with family all around her, handing her gifts, opening cards and watching her beam as we sang Happy Birthday to her over and over again. We watched as Mya and Carter handed her their picture that they made for her together, explaining every detail to her with pride. And we watched as she tore into gifts, ate her cake and basked in the glory of this day finally arriving.




And that morning? Well, she woke up to balloons at her chair, a pink tablecloth draped over the table, party plates and cups set out, party napkins and a Happy Birthday banner hung above her 
head--because what I've learned about kids (or people in general) is that it takes such little effort (a few dollar store items that I always keep stocked in my basement) to make someone feel like this day is something absolutely special. So everyone always wakes up to decorations on their birthday--because isn't this just what life is all about? 

So with a big sister who told us she wanted to make her breakfast that morning, I guided her through every moment--teaching her each step of the way and watching as she carefully created a breakfast especially for her little sister... 





...which was quite delicious, I might add.


So happy birthday to our big 3yr old. The girl who I will always remember as being a mini-mommy, loving on her dolls as if they were her own--and loving on her own baby sister as if she was actually her real mama.



And just remember, when it gets tiring that those dolls sometimes just won't respond to all of your love the way that you want--you can always put your baby sister in a doll stroller and that's kinda hilariously entertaining too.

Just don't take your hand off of her, or her real mama will have a heart attack, okay?



Love you sweet Sophia. Love you forever. 

Love your mama xo





Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dear Single Mom with the help sign at Walmart

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Dear Single Mom who was holding a "please help" sign outside of Walmart last night,

I saw you when I first pulled up late last night. It was dark outside, cold and close to 8pm. I was exhausted after a long, busy weekend, but I needed a few things, so grocery shopping was supposed to be a quick in and out experience for me.

But then I saw you. Holding that sign. Standing outside of the store alone. Your sign said "Single Mom with 3 kids. Please help. No money for food or rent".

And of course my heart sank.

My heart sank because I felt your stress. I felt your despair. I felt your desperation.

We might not all have the same struggles, but we all need to take care of each other regardless.

So I quickly went into to the store to finish my shopping and as the wind hit my face as I opened the doors to outside, I saw you there. I walked over to you and we locked eyes.

"Hi", I said to you. "My name is Erica. Is there anything I can do to help you? I'm a mom too. I'm sorry you're going through a hard time right now".

And we talked for a moment, as I asked you about your children and you told me that you had a four year old boy and two girls, ages eight and ten.

You had tears in your eyes. You looked so sad. You were shy and uncomfortable. I felt it.

You said that your mom was looking after your children right now and that you needed to take the bus home to get to them tonight.

I told you to wait and I went back inside the store, looking at my watch realizing that it was almost 9pm. My body ached, the exhaustion from the day had set in, but I walked down each aisle picking out food for you that I thought you would like. Food that I thought you could put in your children's lunch pails tomorrow. Cereal for the next morning, fruit, bread and bagels along with many other items that my own fridge is regularly stocked with.

I went to the till and the man at the cash register scanned each and every one of those items for me, and I handed over my bank card. It didn't matter to me how much it cost. You needed it. I could help.

Because we all need to help each other.

So I pushed my cart out of the store and handed you several grocery bags full of food.

Your eyes filled with tears yet again. You thanked me over and over again. I smiled at you and told you to take care. I then pulled my hood up over my head as the cold wind blew down my back, and I left quickly for my car.

I noticed that you watched as I pulled away.

As I headed for the exit, I had a curious feeling. I wondered what you'd do next. I wondered where you'd go. Would you be okay?

So I did a quick u-turn and pulled my car around so I could see you.

In the dark of the night, I noticed another woman who approached you. You knew her. She was with you. But she wasn't at the door with you when you were there with your sign only moments before.

She had been at the other door, on the other side of the store.

That other lady tucked her body behind the large garbage bins sitting at the doors and pulled out several bags of groceries of her own. You had hidden my groceries behind those same garbage bins.

My heart started beating quickly.

You collected your bags, said something to her that I couldn't hear, and then walked off together with your arms full of groceries.

I realized that both of you were doing the same thing that night. Both of you were together. Both of you were on a mission together.

As I began to realize the reality of the situation, I could feel my breath getting shallow. I could feel my heart start to race.

And I turned into a flippin' ninja spy.

I all of a sudden started ducking into empty parking spots, following both of you as you made your way through the parking lot. Slowly inching my way, zig-zagging through the parking lot, making sure that you didn't see me, but following your every move.

You walked far away from the store, through several parking lots, making your way up to another row of cars where I could see you both stop and look around, searching for something.

Then, just as I inched my way over to where you had stopped, I saw a van blink it's lights a few times at you, and you both quickly opened the doors and climbed in.

I pulled up closer and peered inside the van to see two men sitting in the front seat.

NO FREAKIN' WAY.

In a matter of minutes, seeing those two men with you, realizing that you were likely not a single mom at all, realizing that you were clearly not needing to get on a bus to get home to your children, I felt completely defeated.

Defeated because I believed you. Defeated because my faith in humanity was shaken. Defeated because a moment of trying to help out a fellow mama turned into a spy game which left me feeling sick to my stomach and exhausted.

Sick to my stomach because of course not everyone is truthful in this world, but I would like to think that MOST human beings are.

So I drove home, turning down the street as the street lights paved my way through the dark. I pulled into my driveway, and started pulling my grocery bags out of the car.

And of course as my heart was a wee big broken by what had just happened, I turned to walk up the driveway and my grocery bag broke and apples fell to the ground and started rolling down the dark driveway all over the place. So I ran to get them, bending over to grab speeding apples flying away from me, like a real life cartoon clip. It was ridiculous.

I gave up.

This day needed to be done.

"Your heart was in the right place" my husband told me as I re-told the entire story from start to finish.

But here is the thing, lady with the sign, you may have shaken my faith in humanity for a moment.

But it hasn't shaken it completely.

I wondered as I lay in bed last night what your life was really like at home. I bet you do have children. I don't doubt that. I bet you are struggling in some way--because isn't everyone? An elaborate act like this, that was clearly planned out, screams desperation to me--in some way or another. Maybe you really did need that food. Maybe you needed someone to show you a bit of love that day. Maybe those men in the van were your husbands and maybe they aren't treating you well. Maybe they forced you both to do what you did last night.

Or maybe not.

I'll never know.

But as I told my own children this story about you this morning before they went to school, I wanted to thank you. Because you see, I always always tell my kids that if you see someone in need, you help them. You think of others. You put yourself in others shoes. You care for people. You be the one that steps up and runs to grab the hand of the child being bullied. You be the one who picks up the friend or sibling who fell and scraped their knee. You be one who puts yourself out there to care for those around you.

So I'll keep telling them this. It won't stop me from that.





But I'll also now remind them that sometimes they might get burnt. Sometimes they might fall into a situation where people are not honest, like you. But then you know what? I'll also remind them that even a lady like you is a human, and let's not villainize people for the poor choices they make. Because we're all human and we're all just trying our best to make sense of this life that we're given and turn it into something amazing.

So you're welcome for the groceries, lady from Walmart. I hope you enjoy them and I hope that life in the weeks and months ahead brings you to better things. I really do.



Sincerely, 
Erica xo



















Saturday, 31 March 2018

When the Easter bunny comes early...

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This is what my living room floor looked like on a dark cold night last week when all of the kids were fast asleep. 


Sorting and organizing almost 30 piles of treats for our neighbourhood kids...making sure that everyone ended up with the exact same items and the exact same amount.


Because today was the day when our neighbourhood friends arrived family-by-family to our court, and the kids searched high and low through everyone's yard until they found all of their treats.



I had prepared all of the candy into a scavenger hunt for the kids and we spent the morning furiously running around hiding hundreds of treats all over everyone's yards.


Then as the clock hit 10am this morning, crowds of people starting walking up our court...and the fun began.




So after collecting the kids to explain how the scavenger hunt was going to work, I handed each of  them their papers and everyone was off.
 



Our court was all of a sudden a buzz of little people and older kids too running around desperately trying to find every single item on their page--searching in bushes, behind rocks, under trees, in planter boxes and all over the grass.





Searching until every single box on their sheet was checked off. Then proudly showing everyone their stash.





And as the buzz died down and the treats were finally all found, the kids sat to explore their baskets and nibble on treats and food from our snack tables...




because a basket full of treats on Easter weekend is exactly what the Easter bunny had in mind.


And Terry and I are now off to hide more eggs since the real Easter bunny arrives tonight and our house will all of a sudden be a buzz all over again tomorrow morning as Mini Eggs, foil wrappers and plastic eggs will be scattered about--and 4 little kids will be racing all over the house with excitement. 

Thank you to our wonderful neighbour friends for a great morning and for all of your contributions and help! Childhood memories are in the making.

Happy Easter weekend everyone.
Enjoy the chaos. Eat the chocolate.

Erica xo


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