Quite the Year for Our Family

Quite the Year for Our Family

We know that we haven’t been around lately, and while we’ve missed everyone, life has dealt us some tough blows that we’ve needed to deal with as a family.

2017 has been one heck of a year. It seems that life just gets harder as time wears on, and while we never expected it to get any easier (we have three young kids after all!), we did expect it to level off some since our year from hell back in 2015. What you’re about to read is deeply personal and probably not what you were expecting from our blog. In all honesty, however, I’m hoping that by writing this, it will help the healing process if nothing else.

Some Background

When I was pregnant with our third, I swore that this was going to be our last child. Pregnancy and the births of our children got harder and scarier with each one. I wanted to quit while we were ahead. We loved having babies, but we decided it was time to move on to another stage of life.

Getting the Itch

Gaby started to get the itch for another when Hunter was about 5 months old. Four children had been our plan from the beginning, and it felt like our family still wasn’t complete. We were just starting to plan our move to Manitoba and I knew that we were going to have a stress filled and busy second half of 2016. Just the thought of being pregnant again threw me into a state of anxiety. It was a definite no.  I was happy where we were. I was starting to get my life back, everyone was sleeping through the night, and we were in a good place together in our marriage.

When Gaby came home for good last November, things started to change. With him home, life together with our kids was fantastic. I was putting some of Hunter’s baby clothes away just before Christmas, and it dawned on me. Was this really it, was Hunter really our last child? Could I put these clothes away and know that they would never again be worn by another of our children?

The conversation we had that night was quick. We were excited at the prospect of adding another to our brood, and a month later I was pregnant with baby number 4. True to form, the illness, depression and anxiety kicked in at 5 ½ weeks, and it was the worst it had ever been. It was all I could do to just keep living day by day, knowing that this wouldn’t last forever and that the 12-week mark was just around the corner.

Confirming Our Worst Fears

My first OBGYN appointment came, and it was then that I heard the words that I’d been dreading. In my heart of hearts, I knew all along that something wasn’t quite right, but just chalked it up to anxiety and this being my first pregnancy in Manitoba, where the health system was quite different than what I was used to back in Calgary. “I’m so sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” Those words were burned into my brain that day. After an emergency ultrasound to confirm the doctor’s suspicions, we found out that our little angel had stopped growing at 11 ½ weeks.

Decisions to Make

As previously mentioned, our birth experiences tended to be scary, so knowing that we opted to do surgery instead of waiting for the miscarriage to happen naturally. At the hospital the next morning we learned that if we so chose, our baby’s remains could be cremated and laid to rest with all of the other lost little ones at the hospital’s memorial. We attended the ceremony last May, and it was such a lovely way to be able to say goodbye to our little angel.

Our Family’s Healing

Before we found out that our little one was gone, we had already sworn that this would absolutely be the last pregnancy. We would not put our family through this again. However, after my body had healed, and our hearts, some time to grieve, we began to feel that we had been cheated. We had made plans, there was supposed to be a baby. So, I started to do some research, and learned that for most women who have had a miscarriage, it’s a one-time experience. Fertility is up after a miscarriage, and though the chances of a loss are still there, chances are greater that the next pregnancy will result in a healthy baby.

So, with those statistics in mind, we thought, let’s give it one more go. I didn’t want to be having babies after 37, so it had to be now. Amazingly, we got pregnant again right away. This was the first time that I was going through a first trimester in the late spring/early summer, and I found that the depression and anxiety stayed away with all the extra warmth and sunshine I was able to take in. With those gone, I found that the sickness was a lot easier to deal with. 9 weeks came along, and my OBGYN sent me for an early ultrasound. Our little rainbow baby had a heartbeat! We were so exited – the chance of a miscarriage goes down significantly if there’s a heartbeat at 9 weeks.

Getting to the Second Trimester

Everything was going according to plan. My pregnancy symptoms hadn’t diminished, so that meant that the hormones keeping our little one alive were still going strong. 12 weeks came, and two days later, I had another ultrasound to check up on how baby was doing. I knew that something was wrong as soon as I looked at the picture on the monitor. There was no flickering where the heart should be. I closed my eyes and waited for the bad news from the technician. A couple of minutes later I heard the words that I never thought I’d have to hear again. “I’m so sorry, but it looks like the baby has died.” It measured 11 weeks, 5 days.

Reliving a Bad Dream

The staff at the hospital who took care of our first little angel were the same to work with us with our second loss. We opted for surgery again, and said good bye to our little baby on July 29, 2017. The ceremony and funeral through the hospital is scheduled for September.

Feeling Lost

Our life has not turned out like we had planned. I don’t think anyone’s ever really does, but I never imagined that our plan would fall apart twice in so short a time. We’re grieving, and I’m feeling lost. All I’ve ever wanted to be is a mother, and I feel like that purpose is gone. (I do realize how ridiculous that sounds. With three kids ranging in ages from 1 to 5 years, my job as a mother is far from over.) God has answered our question as to whether our family should be expanded. As much as I pray that God will have other plans, it just doesn’t seem to be a possibility.

Thank you to our family and friends who have supported us on this rough ride. I am hopeful that the second half of the year will be one of healing, that we can move past this sorrowful time in our lives, and that we can find peace in our family as we are.

Until then, and on a bit of a lighter note… maybe it’s time we get a puppy?

Check back for weekly posts on a wide variety of topics, including country living, gardening, sustainability, homesteading, family, recipes, and more. We can’t wait to share our lives with you, hear your stories, and gain friends along the way.

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Making the Choice Between Preschool and Kindergarten

Making the Choice Between Preschool and Kindergarten

Ah, the plight of a parent with a child born just before the kindergarten age cut-off date. To kindergarten or not to kindergarten, that is the question. I, for one, am for keeping a child home until they are five, but Gaby is of the other mindset, as he started kindergarten himself at four years old (his birthday being at the end of October), and turned out just fine. So, how do you decide? What’s the basis of that decision? Are there long reaching consequences or benefits of putting a child in school before their fifth birthday? Read on to see how we came to our decision, what research we did, and some links to help get you started with your own investigation.


Options, Options, Options

Our children’s heritage is three quarters French, so it was an easy choice to make when we decided that they would go into in a French or French Immersion program. I started considering the various options when our oldest, Katrina (who’s birthday is at the end of November) was just two and a half years old. At this time, I was looking to start her at French preschool at the age of three, that way, we had another year to discuss and decide if she was mature enough to attend kindergarten at age four, or if we should put her through a second year of preschool. This would also give her the benefit of learning the language beyond what she was hearing at home from a very early age.

To my surprise, the costs for a French preschool program in south Calgary were astronomical! I’m talking over $300/month for only three mornings a week! I couldn’t believe it. I’ll admit, I was quite disheartened. There was just no way that I could justify the cost of what would be equal to almost a year of university for my preschooler. Gaby was adamant that she attend some sort of school program at age four, and with preschool being so cost-prohibitive, we were now looking at putting her in kindergarten, much to my chagrin.

The Layoff and the Move

Soon after we decided to move forward with kindergarten, Gaby was laid off. It was then that we began thinking about how and where we wanted to raise our family, and concluded that we needed to move ourselves back home to our roots in South Eastern Manitoba. With this decision made, school options came to the forefront of our minds once again, as the cost for preschool in the town we were moving to was a mere $350 for the entire year.

The Basis for Our Final Decision for Preschool

Katrina was four and a half years old when we moved into our new home and community last July, and a lot happened that spring that helped us make our final decision. The first and largest factor turned out to be the move itself.

We began packing up the house in April/May of that year, and it was about this time that Katrina began suffering from anxiety. She was terrified that we were going to move to Manitoba without her. There was absolutely no basis for her fear, but there was nothing we could do to convince her otherwise. Every time we would move a box into the garage, or go out there to get more supplies, she would panic, and start screaming for us because she didn’t know where we were. She began refusing to play in our backyard or basement playroom without one of us right by her side. It came to the point that we needed to hang our keys on her doorknob at night so that if she woke up, she would know that we hadn’t taken our vehicle and left without her. We found that we just didn’t want to put her through any more outside pressure, such as starting school, before she had a chance to adjust to our new situation.

First Day of PreschoolOther factors that helped us make our decision included her maturity level (at four and a half, she still seemed quite a bit younger than her five year old peers), as well as the fact that there would be little time for integration into our new community before school was set to begin (the preschool program only started at the beginning of October, as opposed to kindergarten at the beginning of September). A year of preschool would give her the opportunity to mature, and the time to make new friends and learn with less pressure and more play.

As our first year in Manitoba comes to a close, and preschool graduation just around the corner, I have to say that Gaby and I are in agreement that we made the best decision for Katrina. The amount that she has grown up in the last year is astounding, and how much she’s learned in language, motor skills, and behavior is remarkable. I can’t say enough good things about her preschool and the teachers there. Oh, and the anxiety? Disappeared completely once we were on the road to our new home.

Research It for Yourself

There is a lot of reading material out there, papers and studies done by professionals, and many varying opinions from teachers, parents, friends and family. Ask yourselves the hard questions, such as: Is my child mature enough for school? Are they able to sit still for an extended period? How are their social skills? Will they thrive in an environment away from home, or benefit from a program with a little less pressure and fewer hours? How independent are they?

Doing your own research is key. Below are few links that I found interesting to help get you started, with both pros and cons to each side of the coin.

In the end, you need to do what works for your child and your family. In our case, Katrina’s anxiety and maturity level played integral part in our choice to send her to preschool this past year.

Our youngest child’s birthday falls in the middle of October, and right now he’s only 18 months old. Already I’m finding that his language and maturity levels are below that of our older two at the same age, and I want to hold him back from kindergarten until he’s five. Gaby thinks he’ll catch up quickly, and wants to wait to make the decision until we’re closer to registration time. I think that’s a pretty good compromise.

Check back for weekly posts on a wide variety of topics, including country living, gardening, sustainability, homesteading, family, recipes, and more. We can’t wait to share our lives with you, hear your stories, and gain friends along the way.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to hear about weekly updates! Have questions or comments? Leave us a message in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to get back to you. We can’t wait to hear what you think! And as always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by clicking the links on the right.