Charlotte Rae.

Charlotte was born on November 6th at 12:59pm. As much as I love the tidiness of whole numbers, there’s something I deeply love about the fact that she arrived one minute short of a whole number. She was anxiously awaited for, just like the ticking of a clock about to hit a new hour. The excitement we felt on that day was nothing short of magical. She is an amazing little human, and I am so glad to know her.

This is probably the blog I should have wrote first! But something about our story feels so big, and yet it feels like I can tell it a hundred times over. I hope you feel cozy when you read this, just as I feel when I sit and write it. I imagine us all in the comfort of my living room, telling the story of Charlotte. One that is as ordinary as any baby being born, and one that is so extraordinary in that she is mine – my baby. I’ll try not to make it too long, but it will be what it is! I more so just want to update you all – my support team – as I long to do in this space we have created together.

I was induced on November 5th, my due date, after a visit to my midwife. She discovered that I had high blood pressure and asked me to go to the hospital to get monitored just to be safe. It was the first and only complication I would have during my pregnancy. After meeting my midwife at the hospital and being monitored, it was decided that I would stay and have a baby. What a tremendous sentence to say so casually! I would have a baby! The idea still seemed so far off to me.

The next couple of hours were filled with walking, laughing, family, tears, and excitement. I wish there was another word that could describe the enormity of how I felt but I’m not sure there ever will be. I walked through contractions with Ian, visited with my family that stayed close to our side all night long, tossed and turned per nurses instructions due to Charlie’s fluctuating heart rate, and waited. Mostly waited.

The next morning, my midwife came back to check on me. I had progressed a lot and spent the next couple hours trying to rest as much as I could through my expanding belly working to get my baby out. I was visited by my family, prayed over, reassured, and loved. I will never forget the support that Ian and I received during those last hours. Finally, around midmorning, we decided to have a baby. I pushed for an hour, the hardest and longest hour of my life. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We had medical support near by since Charlotte’s heart rate continued to increase during delivery. And again, as simply as it sounds, she emerged and made the world a little brighter.

Due to the trauma that labor brings to a baby, she was a little purple upon her arrival. Those first few seconds are a blur… a rush of relief and fear. “She doesn’t have good form,” I heard the midwife say as she placed a limp baby onto my chest. And suddenly like it came all at once and was somehow always there, I was her mother. I started saying her name over and over, and in seconds she cried out to me. We spoke in that moment, and she was forever bonded to me. She was mine.

That is the long and short of it, really. There will never be enough words for her story. The days that followed were not what was expected. I injured my pelvis during delivery and discovered that I could not walk. For a week while I healed, I relied on the support of my husband and family. My independence went out the door the second I could not put on my own pants, and I discovered the importance of having support and humility. I needed help, and I am so grateful beyond words for my village of people that held me up that week, and continue to do so.

Charlotte is the light of our lives. Ian and I are blessed with an angel here on earth, and I can’t wait to continue to get to know this little soul that was given to me. It is real and surreal all in the same minute. We are tired, we fight, and we cry. Being a parent is really hard. I miss my independence, my solitude, my sleep, my friends, my work life, and many other things. However in this change, I have received so much more. Laughter, love bigger than life, a miracle of God, a deeper relationship with Ian, the support of my family. And such joy. I am learning new lessons every minute. And I am feeling both joy and sorrow that is watching your baby grow up and knowing that it won’t ever stop. I could say a hundred things about parenting Charlotte, but this blog would grow longer still than it already is.

She is joy. She is love. She is bravery and beauty and grace. She is my sweet baby. I love her. So here’s to Charlotte Rae, our saving grace. May she know peace, and may you as well.

Until next time.

Holding Hands With Grief and Joy.

I remember as a young person often having this feeling of not wanting to get too happy incase something bad happened. It was a feeling of not wanting to settle into joy, lest a wave of grief came crashing over me. This feeling didn’t lurk over me all the time, but I do have memories of this way of thinking. Somewhere along the way I lost that feeling but never really thought about why until the other night when I was scrolling through Instagram of all things.

I came across a post by a writer and artist I follow called Mari Andrew. In her post, she was basically describing how often grief and joy coincide, how it can feel silly to do simple things when parts of the world are literally crumbling and burning. It brought me back to those feelings of never wanting to let myself feel too high incase something came crashing down bringing me to a low. She describes washing her face while a whole country is on fire and how dumb it feels to wash her face, but how dumb it would be not to do something she’s always done. Mari quotes, “The fact that suffering, mundanity, and beauty coincide is unbearable and remarkable.” You can see her post directly below.

Unbearable, and remarkable. The word remarkable means worthy of attention. How do we live in the tension that is unbearable and remarkable? How do we go on doing simply mundane things that living often brings when there is pain and suffering? I think what made me shed my fear of living with too much joy lest it be grabbed from my reach has been working for places such as The Dale. If you’ve read any of my or my colleagues blogs you would be witness to this tension that we often find ourselves in. We are often holding the hands of grief and joy at the very same time, while living in the mundane – cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, writing.

I think I’ve learned that we are resilient. That my friends are so remarkable, that they could live in such unbearable pain and still be capable of showing unconditional love. That life really must go on. That there has to be more than getting stuck in the grief. That I could be painting alongside someone one day, and they could be dead the next. That my friend could be feeding her cats in her apartment one day and be homeless the next. That someone could show explosive and violent anger one day, and tell me they love me the next. Obviously “the next” often takes time. But my point being that I’ve seen what its like to hold joy with someone and have it be ripped away. I’ve also seen those same people get up and keep walking. How remarkable. How worthy of attention.

Today there was a homeless memorial outside the Eaton Centre at the Church of the Holy Trinity, as there is every second Tuesday of the month. Today marked the 1000th name being added to the list of people who have died from homelessness in Toronto. My friends names are on that list. There was a vigil for them while on the other side of a wall people did their shopping… living in the mundane between grief and joy.

My husband gathered with our communities, our co-workers, our city – to hold vigil and remember our friends who died. And I was at home feeding our sweet baby. This is such a prime example of living in the mundane between unbearable and remarkable. How I wish I could have been there. How I wish my friends didn’t die. How I wish I could hold my baby every day of my life, and somehow still be at work with my people doing what I know I was called to do. I miss it and I am cherishing this time at home. How do we learn to live in these tensions? This is a lesson I am learning every day.

How unbearable it feels sometimes to be so close to grief. And how remarkable that we can still hold hands with joy. I challenge you to look for ways you live in tension this week, and be present to that. Peace to you.

These thoughts have been heavy on my heart that past couple days while I’ve tried to figure out how to write them down. I thought a lot about how I wanted to be back in this space for the first time since Charlotte was born sharing my thoughts with you all, and I’m not sure exactly how I wanted it to look. Maybe a little lighter? But this is life. We live in joy and in sorrow. I hope to share with you all soon a little more about our baby and how we are doing. Thank you for being patient with me while I learn how to Mom. I’ve missed you.