Monday, November 26, 2018

New Worlds: My Dad is getting married!

With my mom's illness and passing come the immersion into new worlds; and today I am talking about a whole new world, romance and all. A post that I have been looking forward to writing. Honestly. I have. My Dad is getting married. 

My Dad is awesome. He's also human and flawed, as we all are. But also, and more than that, he is awesome. He stood by my mom, he knelt by my mom, he carried my mom, he walked and washed and supported my mom in every way possible through her illness. And he has met someone who has done the same for their spouse. Who loved a spouse through illness. Who cared for daughters while loving a spouse through illness. They both kept their faith, their relationships and their sanity through a lengthy illness and death of a spouse. On the other side, they have found love again. 

It's truly amazing the similarities. They both raised kids in the same small town. They both trained as teachers. They were Christians in the same circles. They loved some of the same friends. They both had swimming pools in their backyards. They both have daughters almost exactly 2 years apart (us 2 years and 2 days, them 2 years and 3 days). My Dad taught her daughters. I met her at the Chiropractors in 2012.  Dad and mom attended a baptism at their pool. She was the receptionist at the chiropractor's my Dad went to, who also happened to be close friends for both of them. In fact, the wife of the chiropractor had thought about introducing them but hadn't gotten that far yet. Hanging out with them is like Jory 1 and Jory 2. Seriously. Plus she can handle the boys (Colin and Paul) and all their teasing and can take the chaos of 7 grandkids in one place. 

We just got back from a night of wedding planning with Dad, Dee, Jenna, and one of Dee's daughters Deana (sadly her other daughter Leanne lives up in FSJ so she couldn't join us but she was very much with us via text). What a fun night of dreaming and planning, and oh so much teasing. Dad and Dee have very similar sense of humour, as do us kids, and it felt natural from the start. Dad and Dee have moved VERY quickly - so we joked that we couldn't do a wedding slideshow because it would just be two pictures. Then I made us take a group picture - their picture count is up to three! Weddings are so fun to plan, but of course the bigger new reality is their marriage and their life together! They are just so excited and ready to get there. It's fun to be a part of. 

I asked a friend this summer how it was for her when her Mom remarried after her Dad's passing. Her mom has now been married 10 years. She said that some of the best advice she got was that, we don't know what our parents were like when they dated and fell in love and got married. That we might see sides of our parents that we haven't seen before. It might be or feel strange, but it doesn't mean it isn't true to them since we weren't there the first time around. Watching my Dad blush and giggle and have all of these feelings...well it's been a new experience. He's head over heels, or as we have been saying, smitten, and it's a delight to see. It's certainly a new side of him.

Blogging about a new relationship is strange. I've been able to blog about my mom....well, because she couldn't read. Plus she made it her life goal not to turn on a computer (she had to once and boy was she sad about that). But it matters to me that people see beyond the cute kid pics and the Christmas card photos in my life (not that I've managed to send out Christmas card photos since Avie was born - how easy I had it then) and yet I want to honor and love and cover my Dad and his new wife. I don't know what it will look like to blog about this new thing. This beautiful thing. This real thing. I know that God is already doing a work in my heart - he is molding and growing and changing things inside of me. He is doing the same for every member our family, hers included. 

I want a mom. My Dad wants a wife who wants to be a mom to us. His fiancee wants to be that. I want a grandma for my kids (though the two they have already are amazing) on my side of the family. My Dad wants to marry someone that empowers him in his role as a grandpa. He has often mourned the fact that he couldn't take my kids for a weekend as a single grandpa. His fiancee wants to be a grandma, to my kids. There is so much that could go right and so much that could go wrong. My Dad's fiancee has kids. She's already a mom. She has grandkids. She's already a grandma. My Dad wants to be a grandpa to her kids. He wants to be a Dad to her girls. Oh, it could be so good, and oh it could be so hard. 

I want to be realistic. I want to be loving. I want to be kind. I want to have realistic expectations and, I'll admit, I want to self-protect. It's scary to have such high hopes. It's scary to love truly and deeply. It's scary to be vulnerable and admit my hopes and dreams. I don't know how this turns out. 

I do know that my Dad loves me - and loves all - loyally. He showed this in my mom's life and has shown this in my life over and over again. I know that his fiancee similarly has done the same. I don't know this personally but her daughters have spoken of her, and my Dad has spoken of her - and she is there for the people she loves. I also know that the moms in my life have been such a blessing - the aunts, the grandma's the mothers-in-law, the friends. The women who step up and show up. The women who drop everything and fly or drive to BC to help me. The women who drop everything and take a ferry to help me. The women who take my kids for a weekend so I can get away with Paul. The women who stay longer to do the dishes and fold the laundry and bring the dinners. The women who love my kids with gifts and toys and care; with ice cream cone toys (Avie's current obsession) and movie dates and ballet classes. I have seen women show up and fill the mom gaps in my life, and I feel the freedom to hope that this mom, this new female relationship, will be good news in my life, whatever that looks like. That I could be a blessing in her life as well - to love a new woman in my Dad's life. To enjoy her. To see her bring out another side of my Dad that I have missed, and to get to be a part of honoring and loving that woman. To get to build a new family with her kids - new sisters, deep relationships despite the lack of history. A blended family - where 'blend' is a positive (like Starbucks coffee) and not a negative.

There is much to gain or much to lose, but I will choose to enter this new relationship with faith, with hope, and with joy. Because the mourning has passed, a new day has come, and love is with us. 
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Friday, November 23, 2018


One of the most vulnerable (and valuable) things I do is host moms group. I know, it doesn't sound vulnerable, right? But somehow it is. See mom's group is important in my life for two reasons: 1. I love creating spaces for deep relationship and authenticity. I value hosting women and creating community so people don't feel alone, especially those in the throes of mama life. 2. I go stir crazy if I'm home with just my kids all day. Moms group fills my social need, gives my kids friends to play with, and fills my need to love people. 


The thing is, kids are unpredictable. Sometimes my kids don't cooperate. Sometimes other kids don't cooperate. Sometimes I wish I could cancel. Sometimes so many moms show up. Sometimes it's crazy and sometimes no one shows up. The times it's crazy I worry that other moms aren't enjoying themselves. The times that it's just me, I know I'm drained. The times that other kids don't cooperate I worry about the moms who are worried about how their kids are acting.

October twin mom group

November twin mom group

Most of the time though, it's perfect. Some days it's been me and one mom, so we get deep real conversation - though of course, I worry that she's wishing more moms came. One day it was me, and a pregnant friend and my sister. The pregnant friend stayed all day and it was a delight. One week it was 6 twin moms, 12 babies and while I'm pretty sure not one full conversation or thought was had, it was awesome. Crazy and loud and full of babies, but awesome. 

Visiting with Jess, mom to be (now full on mama to a cutie pie of a boy)

It's a strange mix these weekly meet ups. A blessing but beforehand I'm nervous and excited and insecure. I'm also in need. If no one comes, it's hard to be alone all day with all 4 kids. It's not the work of 4 kids for me (although I won't pretend that's not a thing) but it's the social aspect that I need. Last week none of the moms could come for moms group, though my sister and her son managed to swing by for 45 minutes at 9:15 which made the morning.  Even that 45 minutes helped so much. I can, of course, go without it, but it just makes it easier to be loving and kind and gracious with my kids - when my heart is full. 

Sherri and Avie - so thankful for friends who show up when I call needing support!

That being said, the biggest thing I want from mom's group is for moms to have community. Twin moms, non-twin moms. I want people to mix and find commonalities and differences and a place to belong. The first year of parenting ROCKED ME. I was so thankful to have an amazing community of mom's around me - my friend Leah and sister Jenna hosted a mom's group every second Friday (the original iteration of this moms group) and it was so good to me. I also had friends from prenatal class - we met up consistently for walks and happy hour. There were church moms, stay at home moms, working mom friends, and neighborhood moms - our old neighborhood had the best community ever, it still does. I don't take these different communities for granted - they have helped shape me into the mother I am today. The friends I am today. I want to offer that to others - through moms group, through hosting the twin moms (because while those types can mix, there's something special about the multiples gatherings), and through meeting up with moms one on one. It offers my heart a lot, and I like to think it affects others as well. 

Visiting with Rachel, a mama friend I met at a party two summers ago and we just clicked! 

I say all this not to highlight my need or even these specific moms groups - but for those who are stuck home with little babies, for those who don't have community and feel alone in their parenting, for those who have a community but are open to more, or for those who have friends alongside in them - a reminder to search out community, to value relationships. To see the parts of ourselves that exist outside of our kids and nourish those - whatever that looks like. For me, it's social times (among other things) but for each of us it's something different - and so often a community of women, of moms, can be a part of meeting those needs. 

My friend Shakira (newly moved back to Vancouver, thank goodness) came immediately when I called for reinforcements with baby bjorn bouncer in tow - plus she has kids that my kids love. This is a friend I met in the hot tub at the pool when our oldest girls were just babies!

What value there is in hearing that others feel the same you do. To hear that others struggle with the same struggles. To hear that others get annoyed or sharp with their kids. To enjoy your kids together as they interact. To sit side by side in the chaos, shoulder to shoulder without many words. To talk over stroller walks, or playing kids. To engage your heart and your mind with friendships. What a gift to be honest and real - it's a gift to ourselves (freedom) but its a gift to others (connection). 

A twin mom friend, from California. I sure do love me an American! Plus she has twin babies of her own and is holding Charlotte here <3

Every Friday, it is worth it to me to sit here, hoping moms come, knowing that this space is good news to my heart and it is good news to those that make it - whether there are 2 of us or 6 of us. Whether its just my kids and me or my kids plus 10 others - it is 100% worth it. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Into the new world without my Mom

In the past I've said that the slow grief and the waiting through illness was like living in the woods between the worlds - not fully in any place, waiting. I didn't realize quite how apt that was as I feel like we have emerged into a new world. A new reality. Mom is gone. We are a core family of 3; Dad, me and Jenna. Our world with a living Mom is now a past world; not forgotten but no longer in existence. Our world with a sick mom is now a past world; not long gone but so thankful to be done. We are in a new world, one with just Dad. It feels a bit like the sick-mom-world just without the sadness, guilt, and heavy responsibility. It feels like I can breathe again. It feels like I can enjoy my Dad without all the feelings that come up with my Mom. I can see him again for him. I can enjoy him for him. I spend time with him because I want to and not because I can't bear to have him handle the illness on his own. 

Often in my life people have told me how I will feel about something in the future. If you do this, you'll feel this. When your mom dies, you'll Insert the feeling. I've often felt that they aren't correct but I mean you never know until it happens. I feel about how I expected to feel. Relieved. I mean, I miss my Mom, don't get me wrong but I was already missing my Mom. I have been missing my Mom since this disease took her down; since it changed her. I miss MY mom so often. The mom who would have LOVED being a grandma to my kids. The mom who would have enjoyed getting to know me as an adult and enjoy me; who I would have enjoyed getting to know as an adult myself! We were just about to hit our stride, I know it. We always knew that the adult years would be our best - we just didn't know we wouldn't get them. I wish I could call her and have her come help me decorate my Christmas Tree - she loved decorating. I wish I could prepare dinner for her and make all the fancy little things she would have been amazed to see me make and would have loved to eat. So here is the emotion I wasn't expecting, and that no one warned me about, her passing makes me miss the past mom so much. When she was sick I couldn't face that side of her, I couldn't think of it. It was too terrible. But now with the memorial services as a reminder, the spark of who she was has been rekindled in my heart and I miss her. I miss who she would have been in my life. The memories of the past are there and cherished - and we all have our childhood memories. I miss the mom she would have been. I didn't see that coming. I thought I had already mourned that loss; already grieved it. Turns out I just hid from it, and it doesn't remain hidden. 

These feelings bubble up and I experience the loss of her, but I still experience the relief that the illness is over. I am thankful for the time to say goodbye to her - that she wasn't snatched quickly, from health to death in an instant. But the time was too long, we said goodbye, and then goodbye, and then you just don't know what to say anymore. So mostly, I am relieved that it is over. That we get to build our new now; our new world. And more than anything I am thankful it is over because I don't know how I would have survived this #4kids3andunder life with the obligations of hospital visits. It was hard at times before but this would have been just too much. My weekly morning visits with my Dad take place here now - I don't need to pack up my kids and drive into Yaletown each week. I don't need to figure out how to factor one more responsibility into my life. I can ask my Dad to come here, to help. Now we push two strollers when we walk, instead of me having to be in charge of all my littles, while he cared for mom. He can support and love me, which feels pretty excellent. I mean I've watched him support and love me, but it's different when you have to care for someone in it. He can be fully present in my world and at this time of life I need that. I need ALL of him in those moments. 

My sister and I have been grieving differently. We both see counselors. We both talk with our friends. We both see our Dad often. But we experience it differently. Thankfully we have found the grace to walk through those differences with love and I am so thankful to have her by my side. We are more fragile versions of ourselves currently - I'm surprised that that is true for me. We were prepared, we saw this coming, we grieved and grew and still, we're not whole. The winter we were pregnant with Bailey and Harrison we had lunch with our Nana (mom's step mom) and our Auntie Lesley (mom's sister) and it felt so wrong that mom was alive but not with us, though if she were with us she wouldn't actually have been with us. This past weekend we had dinner with our Nana and Auntie Lesley and it didn't feel like she was a ghost at the table - we could talk about her and remember her without it feeling as heartbreaking. I don't know why, but I am thankful. Before I didn't know how to honour her or remember her without it hurting because she was still her; she was just locked away inside of her. Now she is gone, but who she was still remains, and it remains much more accessibly to me. It doesn't hurt to remember her now. 

Sometimes it comes up in conversation with random people; "my mom died 6 months ago". "Oh, I am so sorry," they say. I hastily add, "it's ok she was sick for a long time". It was easier to receive condolences for her illness than it is for her death. I feel slightly guilty when they respond graciously because I am mostly relieved. Then I remember how fragile I can be now, how grief can still appear in strange moments, and I chose to accept care and well wishes. Because death sucks, even if it comes partnered with relief. 

I've known my Mom my whole life. Right? Obviously. But I didn't really. First I was a baby (obviously very unaware), then a kid (only seeing certain realities) and then a teenager/college student (woefully selfish) and so while I knew her I didn't always GET her. I learned things about her at both the memorial services. I was reminded of things about her at both services. I learned things about myself that I thought I came up with, that it turns out come from her! I am notorious for leaving my favorite coffee/tea/drink/sweetener at my friends' places so I can always have what I want when I visit - I was so sure I came up with this genius idea. Then her friend Diane mentioned that mom always left her favorite coffee at Diane's house so she could have it when they visited. I'm so glad I didn't come up with it on my own. A lineage of mild imposition for beverage perfection. I didn't know how her friends saw her; how her colleagues saw her. To hear how they experienced her, how they enjoyed her; it solidified so much of who she was. It filled in the parts I couldn't see. You know, both our husbands (her sons in law) said something a bit sobering after the funerals - that Jenna and I had painted a bit of a worse picture of her than others - that we often pointed out the flaws more than the strengths. While we talked this through we realized that the things that drive you the most nuts about your parents are often the things that others admire or love the most about them! My mom was SO EMBARRASSING. She would do whatever she wanted - singing loudly in hallways, picking through to find the cheapest piece of meat, asking huge favors of people that were probably a bit presumptuous. But person after person commented that my mom had a gift of getting people to do things that they wouldn't normally do, and this benefited our churches and communities greatly. I heard people say they loved that she would burst into song randomly. My childhood embarrassment was their happy memory! I'm curious and scared to think of my how my children will someday describe me.

One of my mom's best friends just also became a twin-grandma (our babies are just months apart) and I was surprised to find that it shook me - I was so sad because she would have LOVED to have that in common with her dear friend. She would have loved bonding about it. There's a picture in my baby book of my mom and this friend with their oldest daughters as babies, and now here we are with twins the same ages! She would have delighted in this. 

And with that segway to the twins, family life is going well. Avie started dance class two weeks ago and is LOVING it. She's full on little girl and I love it. Bailey is going from baby-toddler to little girl and it's fun to watch. The babies are becoming bigger babies and it's so fun to get to know them. I just got a weekend away with girlfriends this past week, Paul and his mom looked after our 4 kids. I slept for 12 hours the first night. I came back refreshed emotionally, the deep hole of exhaustion was somewhat filled. I am now tired again, but oh man was that time away delightful. 

Twin nap cuddles

Delivery from Amazon

Big sisters helping feed twins

This twin photo just gets me - it's very real

Avie's first day of dance class

Bailey at play gym while Avie dances

And that is that. The grief, exhaustion, fragility mixed with the relief, sweetness and joy of all of this. The high high's and the low low's. It's all very human up in here right now. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The long and short of it - a series of thoughts #4kids3andunder

They say the days are long, but the years are short. I have definitely found that to be the case. I am pretty sure I just had my first baby and yet, here I am with 4 kids! At the same time, the minutia of the every-day-ness of the diapers and toddlers meals and repeated bottles can feel endless. I truly love being a mom, and at the same time, I am just as bugged as I expected by parts of this early kid stage. I find it reassuring to know that you can be honest about what you don't love, that there can be huge parts of this that you aren't a fan of, but that you can still love being a parent, still find joy in this all.

Life has settled into a wonderful routine. I work Tuesdays & Thursdays and am home with the kids Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Knowing myself, I made sure to make plans for the days I'm home with all the kids. I am social and get more tired when just home with all the kids alone but if people are around both of those things go away! Mondays my Dad comes to visit, Wednesdays there's a church group at my house and Fridays I host mom's groups. It's wonderful. Then each of those afternoons I've hired my cousin as a Mothers Helper - she does everything from babies to toddlers, to dishes and laundry. It's amazing. Some days I nap, some days I work a bit, some days I take the toddlers out to the park with a friend and leave the babies with her, other days I take the babies out to visit twin moms or for appointments and leave her with the toddlers. It's a perfect scenario. It helps that Naomy is amazing. The days I work I leave the kids home with our Nanny, an amazing woman named Leanne who used to be my Mom's companion and now engages my kids in amazing ways. When I left this morning they were having a dance party in the living room, twins and all.

Grandpa Jory and the girls reading books

Our wonderful mothers-helper (my cousin Nay) 'working' with Bailey

Bailey enjoyed pushing our Nanny, Leanne's, dog Sadie around in the doll stroller

The quad stroller!

Parenting 4 kids is better than I feared and much better than we were warned. When people would hear that we were having twins as babies 3 & 4, mostly they would say something about how hard it would be or 'better you than me" type comments (so uplifting). So far, it's pretty great. Now, ask me again when the twins are crawling or running in opposite directions but for now, it's not worse. It's certainly not worse than just having a 3. It's true that it brings its own limitations that wouldn't be there with 3 kids (ie I can not go to Costco alone with 4 kids since I can't fit all 4 in a stroller AND get groceries, but with 3 I could wear one and put the toddlers in the kart - but honestly who wants to go on their own to Costco with 4 kids?), but the level of insanity or crazy really isn't that bad.

That being said there are some laughable (or tear-inducing) moments - where everything goes wrong. The days where everyone poops through an outfit (except for hopefully Paul and I), where naps are shorts and night wakings are long, and everyone is irritable. But then the perfect moments happen where kids nap wonderfully and wake up snuggly and sweet, where babies coo and giggle at their siblings and toddlers thrive in the role of entertainer, and us parents are in love and happy and rocking the systems in our home. There are also a thousand in between days


Our house is divided into pairs - the parents, the toddlers, the twins. Some people make sure never to refer to their twins as "the twins" to give them an individual identity, but in our home, that's not really a thing. They are a pair, as much as Avie and Bailey are a pair, as much as Paul and I are a pair. To me, it's a blessing, another place to belong, always a buddy. We, of course, try for individual time with each of the kids (and each other) - Charlotte and I have cuddles each morning since she wakes earlier than Colton and the others, Avie often gets to stay up late with us or run an errand with one of us ending in a date someplace, Bailey wakes up from naps earlier than Avie so we get some good snuggles in with her and often run a quick errand with her and Colton is the best to get giggling - we often have to stop and laugh with him, and lastly, Paul and I are prioritizing times together after the kids are in bed (and housework and work prep are done) to talk and watch a favorite show - to connect. We are a unit of 6 made up of pairs and groupings; 4 girls, 2 boys. 2 adults, 4 kids. 3 pairs.

Gigi with all 4 kids!

Auntie Jenna and Bailey

Nana and Papa with the twins

The twins are doing so well - They started sleeping through the night by about 9 weeks. Charlotte usually would wake up around 5 but would happily go back to sleep in my arms until 8. From 12 weeks on they have been consistently in bed by 9pm, and sleeping roughly till 7 or 8. We do the morning feed at 8am (earlier if they need it, but they are usually set for 8). As of the last 2 weeks though Charlotte has started sleeping a bit longer on her own, often making it to 7 or 8 in the crib with Colty! Woot. I still enjoy the days she ends up in bed with me, and the days she doesn't. They eat usually 5 times a day, 7 ounces each feed. They are 5 and a half months old. They just moved into 3-6 month clothes. Char can sit well in a Bumbo seat (which Bailey LOVES cause then she gets to sit in front of her and play with her, it's so sweet), but Colty is too floppy. When you pick him up he is relaxed in your arms, like a sack of flour or something. Char is always engaged, holding herself up. We feed them together in the Twin Z pillow, with bottles propped up. Usually one of us is right there with them for when they flail their bottles out but with 4 kids and a house to run, I'm often prepping food or doing dishes while they eat. They are finally big enough to sit in real stroller seats, though more often than not they are still in their bucket seats since it's so easy to transfer them in and out of the car that way! 

I couldn't be more thankful to have twins as my last pregnancy, to round out the family. Having two babies (when you already have a bunch) is SO FUN. I think twins are way harder when it's your first kid/kids but when it's already crazy I would say it's a delight. Now they don't move much yet, so talk to me when they can crawl, but in the meantime it's such a lot of fun and I thank God regularly for the gift of these two sweet babes.

And there we have it - my stream of consciousness of kid/family thoughts and a big dump of photos; a little glimpse into our crazy and awesome world.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

C & C's Twin Birth Story

Ah. My last birth story. I am sad to think of that, and yet pleased to not have any more postpartum times. They are exhausting on the body and the mind. Labour though, I am sad that this was my last. As painful as parts of labour are, and as crazy as the recovery and healing always are, boy do I find the experience to be pretty amazing. Anyways, lets dig into it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mixed Emotions - on my Mom's passing

I've written a lot about my mom and her journey with Alzheimer's, and the slow progression towards the end. As of May 27th, she has passed away. In the week leading up to her passing, we were told it was probably the end. It didn't feel very real though - over the past 4 years, we've been told that at least once a year. I made sure we went in another time to see her though - we'd gone in the week before to introduce her to the twins. I went in with just my Dad and the twins this time and we had a nice peaceful visit - I got some sweet pics of my Mom with the twins. Then Paul and the girls came by for 10 minutes, we grabbed a final family photo and the girls got to have a goodbye moment with her. Well really, we got to have a goodbye moment, they didn't really understand but we got to see them together for a final time. I'm so glad we got to have that visit, and capture it to remember. Before introducing the twins to mom the week before, I hadn't seen my mom since late February before I went on modified bedrest. I'm so glad I was able to visit her before that and have a Mothers Day moment the week before also with her. While we had our final visit a few different staff members came by to see the twins and say goodbye to mom - some of them burst into tears and then were so apologetic about it. But honestly, we didn't mind comforting them - it was sweet to see how much they'd cared about her and how much of an impact she'd made despite being so out of it with her illness. 

Anyways, it was a strange space - thinking she may pass but also not feeling like it was real since we'd been told that before. But as the week went on it began to feel more real. Family and friends stopped by to see her. Finally Saturday the nursing staff said there were some physical developments that indicated she wouldn't last more than a day. My Dad spent the night her last night with her, as he'd always anticipated. Just the two of them and the long last night. The staff had found a chair that turned into a bed so he got a bit of sleep, waking regularly to check in on her. At 6am he was hungry and was going to pop out to get breakfast - before he left he said to her, "don't go anywhere until I get back." He returned at 6:30am and she was still there, though her breathing had changed. At 7:25am she took her last breath with her husband by her side and went to her Father in heaven. My Dad called me to share the news, then my sister. We made plans to head into her residence to all be together after I picked my aunt (my mom's sister) up from the ferry. 

The night was strange for me - the twins slept in hour increments and if they slept longer than that then, one of their older sisters would invariably wake up. When the phone rang with the news, Paul was asleep in the twins room since he'd taken a previous shift with the babies and let me sleep for a couple hours. I missed the call because I was in with the older two getting them dressed. I called Dad back immediately, heard the news, woke up Paul and prepared for the day. We were weary with tiredness but also calm and relieved that mom's suffering was over. As soon as I had a moment I emailed our night nanny and called for reinforcements for that night. I don't think I could have stood the emotions of the day without knowing that that night I would sleep. 

My auntie Lesley and I arrived at Yaletown house at 10:00am. My Mom's body was there in the bed, just as it's been so many other times, but her spirit was gone. Did it feel different than sitting with her any other time? Not really. She had been gone to me for so long that her actually being gone didn't feel any different. I thought it might but, there you have it. The four of us sat around my Mom's bed and talked. We laughed, we told stories. I pumped. It was the full circle of life - the passing of life, the producing of milk for new babies, the relationship between husband, sister, daughters. Both of my mom's companions came to say goodbye - the gathering of things left to entertain her and the saying of goodbye. The tears shed by her friends there were beautiful and that is when we shed our tears - as we watched these women say goodbye to my mom. To this version of my Mom. It was so moving. 

I found this photo of Avelynn's first christmas amongst Mom's things.

At a Celebration of Life in Yaletown House for Mom and one other

Dad sharing

Jenna and I laboured over how to post to facebook about Mom's passing. At first, it seemed silly to care so much about this. Then it hit us that the Facebook post is our generations obituaries. We learn about our news from Social Media, more than the newspapers and this was our way of documenting her passing so that others could grieve, could mourn and could plan to celebrate her with us. We picked our pictures, we chose our words, and in tandem, we made our posts. 

After her room was cleaned we went our separate ways before church - home to deal with toddlers and babies, to pump and feed and dress kids for church. I was so flustered leaving for church that I forgot the twins diaper bags, complete with fresh pumped milk and bottles. Thankfully I had pumped on the drive to church so I was able to run to the nearby Rexall grabbing diapers, wipes, and bottles and was only 10 minutes late with enough food pumped for both babies. After church, we left the toddlers at home for bedtime with our wonderful student Xiao, and we joined our family for a dessert tea honouring my Mom at my Aunt's. It was elegant and special. And then we headed home, where the night nanny was cleaning the house and our kids were asleep. We handed over the twins and slept, hard. As I slept my heart was healing, and that night especially it was worth every penny for our night nanny. 

I'm working on pulling together the details of my mom's two Celebrations of Life - it's not sad because it is closure. I'm thankful for the opportunity to honor my mom this way and to love my Dad by being in charge of the details. I am also overwhelmed at times and frustrated at the timing of it all. Why all this extra work and emotion right now? Newborn twins and toddlers at home. A possible house move with no new home in mind yet. Postpartum emotions and grief, mingled. The desperate need to nap, and the timeline that death brings. At times it's all a bit much. At other times my heart is so full from the love and support that so many have offered. We're happy and healthy and I get to spend every day with my family - I love that Paul is home with us until September. I'm so aware of the balance of these two extremes - grief and death in contrast with new life and little kids. Planning a memorial service with two sweet babies curled up at my feet. Talking over gravestones and last wishes while toddlers tear around laughing and giggling and fighting. There's another tension too - one moment the house is calm with just the newborns asleep on me, calm and happy. The next, newborn crying times two.

Edited to Add, after the Celebrations

I’m headed home on the ferry after the second of Moms Celebrations of Life’s (which was the third memorial type service for her). It’s been such an interesting past 5 weeks. Really its been an interesting past 2 months. I was induced with the twins on April 30th - the same day we received an eviction notice! I gave birth on May 1st (our 8 year wedding anniversary) thinking that we had 2 months to move (our family of 6, with newborn twins, and 3 students!). It was laughably ridiculous. We spent that first postpartum week filling in forms and timelines to dispute our eviction since we believed that the landlords were not acting in good faith and were trying to skirt the law. We gained an extra month by disputing, and we really believed we were to fight for justice since we are pretty sure the rental agency has acted this way in the past. I wanted to nap (after being up all night with Paul feeding the twins, and then participating in family life in the day) but instead, we were doing paperwork and attending house viewings (with the twins in tow). So that was ‘special’. My body felt slow to recover as we trekked from house to house. I needed sleep and rest and those felt hard to come by. Somehow in all of that having two toddlers and then newborn twins seemed like the least of my concerns. Which is ludicrous in itself.

I recall one crazy morning in the first week - we were trying to get out the door for a viewing. The house wasn’t in an area I wanted and would have been tight but its the Vancouver rental market and we didn’t feel like we could rule anything out until we saw it. My body was in so much pain and I was feeling all the postpartum weight feels. The kids were shriekier than normal and the twins needed to eat and so did I. I was starving and had eggs in front of me but every time I started to eat something or someone needed me. I couldn’t help but cry - attempting to eat my eggs with tears streaming down my face. Thankfully my husband is sweet, and my mother in law was kind, but it was quite a low moment.

Then there were other mornings, where the twins were sleeping blissfully on me and I had nothing to do but enjoy this last period of newborn bliss. The toddlers were being occupied by their wonderful GiGi (Pauls mom) and the sun was shining. We ate healthy food that was cooked just for us and the world felt pretty ok. This period has been such a crazy pendulum of crazy hard and crazy wonderful.

The twins turned two weeks and it was Mother’s Day. Trying to navigate the emotions of that Holiday - who is it for? Me as the young mom in the trenches? Or my Mom, as the legacy mom? Ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable bringing the twins to the nursing home until they were at least 2 weeks old (they were a few days shy) so I decided we would celebrate her that coming Thursday on our weekly visit and that the gift would be resuming the visits sooner than I really felt up for. It’s a lot of work to get the whole crew downtown to see her and life was a big hectic. Getting to this decision though was a real whirlwind of emotions and tears - guilt and grace battled. People kept telling me as a mom with new babies to give myself grace and make sure to rest. But people also wanted me to see my sick mom on Mother’s Day, which always had the potential to be her last (and in retrospect, we know now that it was). Who do I listen to? It can't just be about me, but it can't just be about her. It felt like too much. I was trying to get out the door for a birthday dinner for my sister but Paul and I were talking about this and it was super emotional - finally later than I needed to leave I hoped in a taxi with the issue somewhat resolved between us. As the taxi made its way across town, I pumped. I was emotionally drained but really excited to get out for dinner with a bunch of girlfriends at a favourite restaurant (Bier Craft on Cambie) to celebrate my sister...all without any kids! Not even the twins! I loved being out and feeling like a full free adult. I also had a bottle of breast milk in my pockets and the least flattering undergarments on complete with hospital undies and pads. Again, such extremes. I was so thankful that my babies were able to take bottles so I could have moments like that for my sanity - at that point, I was still trying to breastfeed also but it wasn’t very successful.

Days later we ventured downtown to see my Mom - we spent an hour or so with her and Dad, the two older girls, the twins, and me and Paul. The twins were a big hit - so many staff members came over to meet them. Yaletown house is like an extended family for us - between Jenna and I, we have had 4 pregnancies since Mom has been in, with 5 babies being born during that time. The twins were great, and Avie was so proud to show off her babies. I couldn’t tell you if Mom knew what was happening - but I know it meant a lot to Dad and I felt good about being there.

One of the staff members there had had twins and gave me great advice, that it was worth it to spend money on help for the twins. She said that this was the time to use any savings - that you could earn money later but you couldn’t regain your sanity. I loved it. So when the twins were two weeks old we planned for a night nanny to being 3 nights a week. We had help until they were 12 days old and on the 14th day Diana came - and boy, was she worth every single spendy penny. She took care of the twins from 9pm to 5am - and I slept hard. I got up once the first and second nights to pump but the third night I accidentally slept through and continued that after then. We had planned to have her for 3 weeks. I credit her with a great portion of what sanity I had. By the third night each week you would begin to wonder if you needed her - we felt great. Then the first night without her would happen and oh my, we knew we needed her! Not only did she take care of the twins but she would tidy the whole main part of the house, do laundry, wash dishes, etc. If you have young kids you know how messy they can make a house and it was such a blessing, almost equal to the sleep. We also started having a mothers helper 3 mornings a week - a college-aged girl from church. This was a huge help! This meant that we could either get stuff done or nap. So so so helpful. Plus she is just lovely to be around and the girls love her.

I should probably note that we've found a home! Details to come soon but as we move in 11 days and are packing and dealing with kids, so its a little bit per always. Though the relief is palpable to no longer be worried about where we will live - we have a house, the Celebrations of Life are over, and the arbitration with our current landlords in their illegal eviction of us is settled. We feel thankful and at peace, if slightly overwhelmed with the move! I feel this post is disjointed but currently so is life. I've written this over three weeks - with babies in arms, alone with a glass of wine, on a busy ferry, as toddlers bounced around - the moments to write have been disjointed and therefore, it stands to reason, that so would be the post. Bear with me - it helps to write, even if I don't have the time or heart to edit


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