Category: Lessons Learned

The last time I ate a meatball sub. To be filed under: I can’t believe we are still dealing with this shit

Next Friday the people of Ireland are voting whether or not say Yes or No on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution which gives the unborn child equal right to life as the mother (as adopted in 1983). That’s putting it in very simple tones. Abortion has been criminalized in Ireland since 1861 and what the 8th Amendment really does is give the unborn child more rights than the mother. The only way a woman is allowed to have an abortion is if she is going to die from having the child and even that isn’t always taken into consideration.

From The Conversation.com:

Instead of stopping abortion, what the 8th actually prevents is doctors intervening to protect the health of their patients if that would jeopardise foetal life. It prevents elected and accountable politicians from making laws to respond to real-life need. It says that as long as a woman is still alive when her child is born the state has done its duty to her and, more importantly, to her child.

There are so many fantastic articles out there right now about it and here are a few:

This one has a great video explaining the whole thing way better than I can

Here are the 170,216 reasons to Repeal the 8th amendment on Friday, May 25

I’m not Irish and I can’t vote but I’ve been following along very closely because it seems unbelievable to me that this is still a freaking issue.

So here is my story:

Oonagh was a planned c-section because I had already had two c-sections in the last four years and the risks were too great. But I went into labour early and while I was lying on the operating table the Obstetrician called everyone over to see how my uterus was being held together by a thin piece of skin that “looks like stretched Saran Wrap.”

“Another 20 minutes and both mom and baby would have died, good thing we got her on the table.”

It turned a happy moment into something traumatizing.

Then the Obstetrician asked if I was planning on having my tubes tied. Since we had already decided that this would be our last baby I said that I was.

“Good.” She replied. “I’m taking out extra because you can never, ever do this again.”

I was later told that should I get pregnant (the chance was small but still a possibility) I would not be allowed to carry that baby to term.

And you know what, the thought still makes me really sad. Not because I have an overwhelming desire for another baby but because I just love my husband so much and my daughters so much and, lets face it, we are really good at this whole baby making thing. But my option was abort or carry to term and most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.

Imagine right? Oh wait, I can easily imagine because two years later I was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

You know who else usually shouldn’t have babies? Terminal cancer patients. An attempt to do so would most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.

Sensing a theme here?

Women in Ireland have been denied abortions even if they are terminally ill. They are denied medical treatment if there is a chance that treatment will harm their baby because doctors hands are tied due to legalities and both doctor and mother can face up to 14 years imprisonment.

 

But here is a different story.

When I was 19 and ridiculously in love with my then-boyfriend we got really drunk one night at a Christmas party after being apart for months. The next morning was a hungover, panicky did we or didn’t we debate (most likely did). We went to a walk-in clinic and got the morning after pill and then went to Subway and got a meatball sub that I ate half of and puked up. I don’t know what the morning after pill is like these days (this was over 20 years ago) but back then it was kind of like taking a whole bunch of birth control at once. The doctor told us that I most likely wasn’t pregnant even if we did because of the time in my cycle but he gave me the choice to do what I felt comfortable with. The pills made me sick and my boyfriend slept in my parents basement that night because he was worried about me but to be honest I have thought more about that disgusting meatball sub over the years than I have about this incident. We dated for six years after that and were always super cautious and never had a scare again. Now we have children with other people and great lives and once in a while we will email each other about kids books (mostly Harry Potter). All because I had a choice.

The woman in both of these stories deserves equal rights to a choice no matter what the reason.

So why is this bothering me so much since I don’t even live in Ireland? Well, what I do live in is a fairly conservative province with a known anti-abortion activist who is the leader of the United Conservative Party and wants to be our next Premier. There are also people who leave anti-abortion propaganda in my mailbox as they troll the neighbourhood. The mailbox that my children excitedly check daily. My front lawn looks like I run a daycare so if these people really cared about children they would not leave their hate literature in the mailbox of a home that is over run with children.

Also, these pamphleteers are usually older women – why? Why you gotta love God more than your own sex ladies? But maybe that is a different conversation.

If you believe that women should have autonomy over their bodies then any reason for an abortion does not matter and is none of your business. It certainly isn’t my business and it really really isn’t the Church’s or politicians business. And let’s be honest, it really isn’t men’s business either. At what point in history has a group of women ever sat around making decisions about men’s reproductive rights?

So I care what is happening in Ireland because I care about what is happening to women all over the world. A Yes vote doesn’t just effect women in Ireland – it effects women every where because every time a woman is given more power over her own body the scales balance out just a little more for all women.

 

 

Best moments of 2017 – a small sampling

How does one sum up a year? Especially how does one sum up a year in nine photographs? I did the “best nine” on Instagram but that is based on the number of likes each photo gets so it was mostly me and my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I have great hair – now that it has grown back – but it doesn’t represent moments.

So here is a brief summary of the year that was.

 

 

1. Mum and I in Iceland. It was a wonderful, magical trip. Not only did I get to learn more about writing and meet some truly fabulous writers at the Iceland Writer’s Retreat (both giving the workshops and attending them) I also got to go on vacation with my mom – I think the last time we did that was when I lived with my parents in Scotland in 2000. I feel pretty blessed to have the mom I have – we are great travel companions and always have a good time no matter where we go. I truly hope we can do another trip together again soon.

2. Taking Moira out to our favourite vegetarian restaurant (The Coup). It isn’t so much that single moment that sticks out but it was a good one and illustrates how much our girl has grown and matured over the last year. This photo also represents playing PokemonGo together. The broken arm sucked but didn’t hold her back at all.

3. Family road trip to Salt Spring Island, BC. We loved it so much in 2016 we went back for a longer stay. I really love it there and friends from Victoria came and stayed with us over the long weekend which made it extra special.

4. Kelowna, BC. Mister’s brother and his wife live within spitting distance of Knox Mountain and we try to visit them once a year.I was feeling so good at that time that I was hiking and running up the mountain. The weather was beautiful (although the lake was flooding and we did end up coming home a bit early). One of the things I love to do on vacations is take lots of photos of snails and moss – which were in abundance in Salt Spring and Kelowna. Our road trip this year was shorter than in 2016 but it is still great that we can pull the kids out of school and just take off for a while. I’m pretty sure they learn more on these trips than they do at school.

5. Moira and I visiting Kerry Clare and family in Toronto. Initially I had thought it would be fun to travel to Toronto by myself and have a couple days break from my children but then when I stopped to think about it I realized that I didn’t want to travel by myself when I could travel with sidekick #1. Moira and I took the bus from Kingston (we were visiting my parents), the two younger girls stayed with my parents, and we had a great time. Moira was a wonderful traveling companion and was up for anything and was fine when I wasn’t up for anything. We walked and walked and walked instead of me trying to figure out transit and consequently really got to see pockets of the city. Moira and Kerry’s daughter Harriet have been pen pals since before they could write and it was fun for them to get together. Harriet passed on her love of Archie comics to Moira.  We also got to have lunch with Teva Harrision and see my friend Chris in his studio and it was a couple days of pure artist inspiration.

6. Family. My sister, her husband and youngest son Thomas moved to Ottawa shortly before we arrived in Ontario and so for the first time in a while we were (mostly) all able to get together. Her middle son Sam came down from Toronto and the girls got to have some cousin time (and the boys got to experience what life is like with a bunch of little girls around – my sister only had sons – I’m pretty sure they were exhausted afterwards). The girls loooooooved seeing their Uncle Mano and Auntie Amanda but mostly wanted to spend all their time with their cousins.

7. Fionnuala. This is my favourite photo of Fionnuala from this year. She is such a funny kid. She’s playing PokemonGo here which she would do all day long if we let her. The other photo that didn’t make the cut was of Fionnuala in her soccer uniform after getting herself put on the team after we told her she wasn’t playing soccer this year. Fionnuala is many things and is definitely my most challenging child but one thing we always say about her is that she Gets Things Done!

8. Oonagh and her violin. Oonagh fell in love with music this year. She asked to learn to play the violin and while I think she likes the idea of playing the violin more than actually playing it she is only four and it is early days yet. This summer we listened to the Hamilton musical Non Stop (that’s a Hamilton joke for those who are in the know). Every morning in Ontario Oonagh would put on her headphones and listening to all of disk one before doing anything else. I have great memories of driving around this summer (and Fall and Winter) listening to Hamilton and singing along.

9. Moira. This was a great night. During the last hazy, and extremely hot, days of summer we had a family potluck with all the cousins (Mister’s side of the family) over. Because this was such a great night I was inspired to volunteer for us to host Christmas dinner this year (also a potluck). That night was so much fun I had one of the worst “fun hangovers” I’ve ever had the next day. (We call them fun hangovers because I don’t actually drink alcohol but still suffer when I stay up too late or socialize too much.) It was worth it. I picked this photo because I look at it and I am in awe that I helped create someone so beautiful.

 

2016 was a year full of fun and travel – at least according to this small sample of photos. Of course there are things that can’t be seen. At the beginning of the year I was feeling quite sick and tired and sore a lot. I hurt my back in June and spent months in pain – some days being unable to walk properly. Even though my cancer is stable it is still Stage IV and still very much present in our lives. Some of my fondest memories of the year were never captured in photos. Date nights with the Mister where we would just walk around the city playing PokemonGo and laughing and talking are probably my favourite part of the past year. I feel so extremely grateful to be married to my best friend that we don’t need to go out for a fancy dinner or even spend money to be together (except for a babysitter). We often joke that even time spent in the Emergency Room (which seems to happen at least once or twice a year) is also a date night for us. Any child-free time together is a date! If there is one thing this cancer has made me focus on it is finding ways to spend quality time with my family. I hope when my time with them is up they have fond memories of me: nature walks, playing PokemonGo, reading stories, driving them crazy with my singing, passing on a love of musicals (or maybe instilling a hatred of musical in them), and just being present. I think I can work harder on being present for them in 2018 (can’t we all?) but I think I did a pretty good job of it in 2017.

 

 

 

 

Breaking up is hard to do

You wouldn’t think, after all I have been through in the past couple years, that the thought of turning my phone off for a while would terrify me – but it does. I think this goes to show just how addicted to my phone I am. I’ve known for a while that I have social media burn out, that my attention span is at an all time low, and that I scroll and scroll these days and retain nothing – but it is getting worse. I’m tried of people trying to constantly sell things to me, or coach me into living my most authentic life. I’m tried of all the great outfits I covet on a daily basis or all the beautiful spreads of books that I can’t afford to buy.

I’m tired.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will admit to some things I am not proud of: I can’t read a book without checking my phone every couple of minutes. I use an obscene amount of tags on my Instagram photos just so other people will come along and see what I am doing and maybe even “like” them. But while I spend this time “maintaining my feed” or whatever you want to call it I’m getting nothing done.

I mean that – nothing is getting done.

I had already decided a week ago that I was going to bite the bullet and take a break from my phone but then this article came out today: 6 Reasons to Unplug Your Phone This Summer.

The average adult in the UK spends nearly 9 hours on digital devices each day. That’s more time than we spend sleeping! In the US, 84% of cell phone users claim they couldn’t go a day without their device, with some of them checking their devices every 6.5 minutes.

I believe this to be true for myself. And while I have made some amazing friendships through the world of social media I’ve also lost a big part of myself. There used to be a time when we would wake up in the mornings and turn to the person next to us – now we wake up and turn to our phones.

And I am honestly nervous. Like, what if my children do something really cute and adorable or smart and I don’t photograph it and immediately post it online to show the world? How will I get my validation if I make a fantastic meal and only my family knows about it? Yes, I’m joking – but the sad truth is that I am only half joking. Because that is reality these days, our whole lives are played out on social media and it is EXHAUSTING.

I keep thinking of all the things I can do this summer if I’m not checking my phone every 6.5 minutes but then I immediately think about how I am going to want to post about all those amazing things I am going to be doing. Sad fact: no amazing things, or even non-amazing things get done when I am busy hanging out with my phone.

So for the next month I am going to have my husband physically remove my phone from me. Maybe he will take it to his office? Maybe he will hide it somewhere in the house? I don’t know. I don’t need to know. I’m going to have to revisit this when the girls and I travel to Ontario at the end of July and I – hopefully – take a couple days break from them and head to Toronto to visit some friends.

Also, you would be surprised how much work goes into trying to get rid of your phone for a while. Some people only communicate via texting these days and I have had to let them know that I have a home phone and an email (we are old fashioned like that). I’ve had to write down a ton of phone numbers, but I’ve also asked for addresses so I can send some letters. If I didn’t ask for your address feel free to send it to me – I’ve also been heavily medicated this week due to back pain so I’m sure there are a billion things I’m forgetting. Either way, the phone gets turned off at midnight tonight and I don’t want to see it again for a while.