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My milk story by Larissa K.

I am ready to tell my story… I’ve never fully shown or told anyone start to finish… so grab a tissue and here we go! It’s a long tale that started when I was young.

When I was 16 I underwent a breast reduction. Now they told me the risk was I would never be able to breastfeed but as a young teenager you don’t really understand.

Fast forward to August 2015, I’m holding my baby Declan. After 3 days of desperately wishing and hoping I could breastfeed I give up in the middle of the night when the postpartum drop was rearing it’s head. I handed my baby to Steven and begged him to take him away because I was clearly causing him harm. My mom sat and held me in tears as I failed my baby, I failed to feed him.

A small portion of collected donor milk.

Thankfully I had collected some donor breast milk in advance as I really really wanted to exclusively breastfeed. My hopes and dreams dashed away as he lost weight because he wasn’t getting enough nutrition and as a mom I felt guilty. I felt guilty for that 16 year old me that got a breast reduction because I needed to decrease my back pain. Desperately wanting to still give him the benefits of breast milk I dove head first into receiving donor milk. At first I was getting random messages from people saying how I was killing my baby by giving him untested donor milk, but I could not afford $3 an ounce at the milk bank. That was more than our rent, he was drinking 40-50 ounces a day. We (or my mom) drove to Calgary almost weekly, we bought 6 deep freezers. Started making trips all over the province, Saskatchewan and everywhere we could possibly drive. I bought countless boxes of milk bags to give to our donors. I breathed the donor milk page every chance I could get to check if anyone was donating. Posting myself looking for milk as well. I made the most beautiful friendships of moms who donated to Declan, most of which I am still friends with today. Like Amber H, who donated approximately 21 cu ft of breast milk to Declan! I solely fed him for 6 months from her milk alone. My goal was get to 6 months, then 12 months (I sold a couple of freezers because we were nearing the end) then 18 months and I made it.

The week I sold some of our freezers I found out I was pregnant again! SO I kept going. A lot of the donors trickled from Declan to Liam as the milk is good in the deep freezer for 12 months (ish). Every month or so I’d reorganize the freezers again and rotate, marking each bag with which person donated it and when it was pumped. It was a well oiled machine. Liam came and I tried breastfeeding again to no avail. So back to the donor milk it was, then 6 months, then 12 months and finally we made it to 18 months with Liam too! But I was pregnant again… Could I do this again? It’s exhausting. Maybe I can try breastfeeding again, made it to 6 weeks this time before I dried up completely.

So many people have told me this donor milk is the easy way out, that I have it easy because I don’t have to pump or breastfeed. I mean yes it’s great I can give my kids a bottle and Steven can feed them, or my mom but I was back to work 2-4 weeks postpartum with all of them and it sure didn’t feel easy to leave my baby everyday that young. It sure wasn’t easy to not be his food source, to not have that bonding time AND it sure WASN’T easy to drive all over the province every week collecting milk. I remember when Payton was 3 weeks old I planned 21 milk pickups around Edmonton and area. I drove around for 10 hours, I mapped everyone’s houses and circled the city, 3 kids in tow BY MYSELF and prayed they would all behave while I had to get this done. More categorizing and organizing and labelling milk, it seemed like it never ended. Thankfully I didn’t sell any freezers this time but I did have to borrow space from a friend Jenni when a freezer broke once in the middle of the night and I frantically needed to find a home for the milk. Calling Stevens mom and my parents if they had any freezer space. Borrowing (indefinitely) my Dads freezer because we ran out of space and needed more freezers. I think we had almost 9 full at one point. You see I learned something by the 3rd baby. I learned that people didn’t want to donate to an older baby so I needed to obtain all the milk I needed to get them to 18 months by time they were 6 months old. It was a lot of work in a short period of time. 6 months, 12 months and finally 18 months flew by…

BUT I was pregnant AGAIN! Last time Larissa, you can do this…more driving, more milk bags, more collecting, more sleepless nights wondering if I would have enough milk to last. If I would be able to find donors. Then Covid hit and people didn’t want to donate as much, it was hard. Was I going to get enough for Riley? Then Riley was sick, if he survives then it is even more important. Come on Larissa you can do this. Steven, can we buy a bigger freezer, I need this $1200 stand up one that’s 21 cu ft because some of the old freezers aren’t working anymore. Steven, I need a second $1200 21 cu ft freezer. I know we have 3 deep freezers in our basement and my moms stand up freezer is full but we just don’t have enough. If we don’t buy another freezer then we have to throw out all the food, the milk is more important. It’s liquid gold you know. 6 months went by and I thought I had enough.

July passed and I stopped collecting milk for the first time in 6 years. It felt freeing. Today we organized it for the last time, today we have enough to last Riley until 18 months and today we still have 5 deep freezers in our house, 4 of which are full of milk. Today I sat on the living room floor with tears in my eyes and a proud heart. Thank you to all the donors who helped me get here, thank you to my family and friends who collected and stored milk for me. Thank you for not judging me when I fed each of my babies around 30-40 donors each all from different backgrounds and lives. Thank you to my amazing husband for going on this crazy journey with me and all the miles we drove. And yes they have amazing immune systems so it was WORTH EVERY PART the bad and the good. I am so thankful to close this chapter and finally not have 5 freezers soon 😂

Normally I do the blogs in a different format but I felt it important that this one be in Larissa’s words. Thank you for reading and please share with those you feel it may be able to help or with others that will enjoy the read.

It’s Been A While

Hello everyone. I want to apologize for being so inactive. The last few years have been difficult for all of us. On top of all the chaos Covid has dished up I have had some big changes happen on the home front as well.

I am now in a new location with new office and workspace. I am so excited to get a fresh new start and share more stories and support!

I have two posts in the works right now so watch for them coming soon…

What Is That White Pumpkin For?

The White Pumpkin

This is the story
Of a pumpkin of white
What is its place on this autumn night?
Amidst all the orange and colors of fall
It seems out of place; not belonging at all
But oh what a place, and oh what a story
You see, in its face lies the image of glory

Of babies so small, so incredibly tiny
Perfect in purpose, their souls shining brightly
No less a baby, a child just the same
As one who was held and called by their name
Was my baby a he?
Or was she a she?
What would my child have grown up to be?
Yet bigger than questions and what ifs and whys
Is the comfort they feel when they look to the skies
For their hope is the truth that they so tightly cling
“I’ll know all the answers, understand everything
on the day that God hands my child back to me”

This pumpkin is sweet baby boys and girls
Who never opened their eyes to this world
Never cried, never feared
Protected from pain
Touched by their innocence
We’re never the same
Lives perfect and pure
All things lovely and sweet
And we honor them here
‘Till heaven we meet

This pumpkin is all of the sweet little ones
Whose lives although short were covered in love
In kisses and snuggles, rocking and playing
Their parents not knowing they wouldn’t be staying
But the time that they had they would never trade
Even if they could be saved from the pain
Their cribs may be empty, but the promise remains
One day they’ll hold their babies again

This pumpkin is for all these sweet angel friends
Whose parents all know this isn’t the end
And how they are doing
Tonight up in heaven
Is better than anything we could imagine
Though we’re missing our children
And we’re still on this side
Our hearts will continue to swell with pride
At the special, the wondrous, the out of place things
Like this white pumpkin, and the joy that it brings
A reminder that our children are more than alive
They are perfectly whole, all things are made right

Angel parents, I know there’s still tears to be shed
But I hope that this pumpkin brings peace instead
Our babies are promised forever in heaven
And that’s the best gift we could ever be given

Original poster Jennifer Giles

But at least they brought me coffee ☕️!

I’ve known for a while I’d been sick and not feeling well. But I had a family to take care of too, and how often do moms get “time off”…. UMM NEVER OR RARELY.

Piedmont Newnan Hosptal

I decided to share my story and journey through all this once it began because I felt it was important for others to know that the #covi̇d19 virus is no laughing matter.

While I’m here in the hospital recovering (which I’m glad about) my families home without me. They’ve been exposed, they’re cleaning the house down even more so than it was already sanitized. They are worried about me and vice versa.

One never thinks, it could happen to them, WRONG! Anything can happen, so never think you’re invincible because no one is.

I did my best to be super mom, to act as life as usual and just rest when I felt I needed to. I didn’t want to worry my family.

Gastroparesis flaring up

I’ve been blessed to have such an amazing group of Drs and nurses taking care of me. They really are amazing! They bring me coffee every time they come in to check on me (yes!!) and they also make sure I’m comfortable and we even chat some and as always, I let them know my gratitude for what it is they do for us with covid. I want them to know what they do means so much to me and my family.

This is why I want to share my story, this journey. Everyone’s experience with this virus has been different, but also similar. These are very uncertain times right now. But we will endure.

An amazing nurse makes all the difference in the care one feels!! Jaleesa has been such a fantastic nurse, and while it was only for a short time, she has left such a beautiful impression on me.
In the middle of the night I was suddenly moved from the room I had been in to a different room. My second covid test came back negative so they moved me from the covid positive part of the hospital to the covid negative.
There are many reasons for why they could’ve done this, but I won’t have all the answers until after left sometime. So I will be sure to keep you all updated! I’m actually sitting here dowsing off as I write this so I’m going to keep this short.
Okay so my biggest point with this post, just like most of mine, is all about the nurses and doctor’s! I’ve been truly blessed to have some of the most fabulous nurses, techs and even doctors. I’ve enjoyed being able to bless them all each with a piece of art work as my way of saying thank you for their service and their phenomenal care! It’s means so so much!
Truly, I feel so blessed.

Repost with permission from @Kentfamilytimes

Through Domestic Abuse & Out The Other Side: Final Chapter

Once she left things quickly started getting hairy again. It was little things. He went back to playing video games all – the – damn – time. Working stupid long hours, and he started going to the gym too. Or at least, he got a membership… but the “gym” ultimately ends up being someone else’s bed! 

We moved to our new place on Nov 31st. Sadly in early January we had to return to Alberta for his grandmother’s funeral. Our plan was  to only be there a few days. By the time we got there, he decided he couldn’t miss that much work. So only hours after the funeral, he left to return home. He had convinced me, that because Little Lady #1’s birthday was just around the corner, the kids and I should stay and enjoy her birthday with Grandma & Grandpa. They were planning to come visit us in BC really soon anyways, so we could travel home with them. I thought this was a great idea and I took the bait, we stayed. A couple days after he had left, and before we had even celebrated her birthday… I got a phone call late at night. He was bawling. Through his sobs, he told me, he didn’t want the kids and I to come home.

Um… excuse me? 

I just spent a month packing our stuff to move 10 hours away from everything and everyone! I gave him the opportunity to leave us behind, I had suggested the kids and I stay in Alberta and live apart until our oldest finished school in June (which he turned down), after we moved all of our worldly possessions to BC…. he was going to leave us in Alberta now? How could he do this?  I was about 20ish weeks pregnant. I was sleeping on a pullout sofa bed in the living room of his parents tiny house, with my 2.5 and 5 year old daughters. I had 2 days worth of clothing for each of us and that was it. I bawled for days. 

Everything I had was in our new home with him. All our clothes, our beds, my children’s toys. My escape fund was hidden in the house… yes after everything I had gone through, I had started stashing cash to escape if things ever got bad again. What good was it to me all the way over there?!  He had EVERYTHING, except my kids. I was so grateful, that at least I had my kids. I tried so hard to smooth things over. To try and understand what had happened and what had changed for him. Why had he just left us here?  I didn’t really get a lot of answers, but I was smart enough to do most of the communication through text. With all the things he had threatened me with before… this time, I would have a paper trail. 

He ultimately told me that he didn’t want the kids. That he thought they were better off with me, and said, “they will thrive more in your care in Alberta, than they would with me here.”  No matter what happened from here forward, at least he had left us here, that he didn’t want them or me there…. he couldn’t pin taking the kids from him on me. I continued to try and work things out with him. It was pretty stupid really. I should have just let everything we had there go.It was just possessions right? However I didn’t. My life was in that house! The kids and I stayed where we were for weeks. Finally  I told him and his mom that I had a doctors appointment in February that I couldn’t miss. I needed to come home for that appointment, and I did. His mom drove the kids and I home to BC. His mom was utterly embarrassed and confused by what her son was doing to me and our kids. She was coming with us not only as a mode of transportation, but also to help me pack to move the kids and I back to Alberta. I should have just stayed in Alberta.

We got back to the  home in BC, he was there and waiting for us. Almost immediately, we needed to have a conversation. I was ready to put my foot down and  to tell him I was back to pack and leave. If you don’t know this already let me tell you an abuser has a way. They have a way of manipulating every situation to suit them. By the end of this conversation, he had apologized, he had sweet talked, he had gotten everything that he wanted mentally and physically, and the kids and I were not moving. He wanted us to stay. He wanted to work this out. Naive me. I still didn’t know what “this” even was. But I was staying. So his mom stayed a couple days. When she went homem my escape plan went with her. I was stuck

My abuser sweet talked me into staying… then when the coast was clear, all the same shit started happening again. He was “working” late nights. He was going to the “gym” every night. He was getting called into “work” on his days off. He would make and break plans with our kids because he would get “called into work.” When he was home, he was playing video games with his sound eliminating headphones on. He didn’t interact with the kids. He would snap at them for the littlest things, and tell them to “grow up” or “act your age.” They were acting their age! They were 3 and 5. When they were sad, scared or hurt they would cry, like any young child does. They started feeling the tension in the house. They started seeing mommy worn out, sad and scared. Him and I fought often now. NEVER in front of the kids. We would fight over him never being home. We fought about where he was going and how come he never had days off work, and how he got called in to work on every single scheduled day off. We fought about money. When we moved I had to quit my job, and become a stay at home mom. He was spending all our money on video games. For real, I found his purchase history on his favourite game platform (STEAM.) In the same month I was asking him to take me to the food bank because the kids and I had run out of groceries, and he refused to take me, because “the food bank is for poor people, we aren’t poor.” I discovered he had spent $900 on video games. He spent our grocery money on f***ing games! He was perfectly ok with his pregnant wife and children going hungry. He was eating at work (he worked in a restaurant). I was making whatever I could for the kids with what I had left in my bare cupboards. Myself and my unborn baby were surviving off of whatever my little ladies didn’t eat from their plates.  I was sustaining myself and a baby off of sandwich crusts, a few bites of this and a few bites of that. Not enough. He had the audacity to tell me I was exaggerating when I said we didn’t have enough food in the house for me to adequately feed myself and our children. 

I told his mom that we had no groceries, and she sent me money. I was so grateful. I remember I got hot dogs and buns so I could bbq for myself and the girls. We were eating outside at the patio table, and I tripped. I fell. I fell hard. I smashed my ribs into the corner of a chair arm, hit my forehead on something and I scraped my hand and knee trying to catch myself. I was very pregnant. Once I caught my breath, because it knocked the wind right out of me, I phoned him. No answer. I phoned again… no answer. I tried and tried…. then, his phone stopped ringing. It went straight to voicemail every time I tried now. I phoned the restaurant to try and get a hold of him. “I’m sorry. He left over an hour ago.” I texted his mom to try and get a hold of him… but she couldn’t either. His phone was off or dead. My baby was still moving, we finished dinner, I cleaned up, I put the kids to bed. He came home and I don’t know when. He lied, he said he was at the restaurant, his phone must have died. I told him he was lying. I told him I phoned the restaurant. He insisted, his staff were wrong, he was there. I was sick of his lying. I was sick of his attitude. I was sick of him mistreating me. Things got bad. Nightly now, he would yell at me after the kids were asleep. He would remind me what an awful mom I was. He reminded me that no one loves me. He told me I should just pack my shit and leave. And again… he would never let me take his kids away from him. He told me he had a lawyer and there’s no way I would get the kids, because I had no job. I had no money. I had no home. I had no family or friends here to help me. The verbal and emotional abuse aside, the abuse yet again came into the bedroom. This time, he would slap me, and choke me during sex. And not in a fun kind of way. I remember him even telling me that this was the only time he could take his frustrations out on me, if anyone asked, he’d just say that I liked it rough. This is when I finally clued in. I FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGED HIM AS MY ABUSER.

All this happened at night…. but during the day, he would suddenly forget what he had said to me the night before. I wasn’t allowed to be grumpy. I wasn’t allowed to let my feelings and depression show. He would invite friends over, usually to play games. He went so far as to invite his girlfriend over one evening. Yup… you read that right. “She’s a friend” but her demeanour told me otherwise. She had no interest in meeting his wife. She sat and played with my kids. She only interacted with them or him. I felt like a piece of furniture inconveniently placed in the room. She didn’t stay long. I could see she was uncomfortable. I would be uncomfortable too if I was “the other woman” meeting my boyfriend’s wife and kids. He said he simply thought she was someone I could make friends with. (Guess who he’s engaged to now.) Still, the tension was rising. The air always felt thick now. My kids would scold their daddy for being rude to mommy. Rude is the only word they knew to describe how daddy was treating me. He would blame me, saying I was turning my children into man haters. I NEVER, not even to this day have I ever spoken ill of their father to them, or in front of them. NEVER! 

My final straw... One night after he had his nightly go at me, I walked away. I was going to bed. But as I walked toward my room, I heard two little voices sitting in the dark. My girl’s had been staying up late at night, holding each other in their bed, waiting, listening, to see if daddy would yell at mommy again. To sit and listen to see if we would fight. Something inside me grew. A spark lit a fire that wasn’t there before. I was done and I started looking for a new place for me and the kids. Until now, I still had a good relationship with his parents. I suggested my husband find somewhere else to sleep, and most nights he did. My due date was nearing, and I still let his parents come and visit when they wanted. This next visit was a huge turning point… 

His mom and dad were here for a visit, they were staying for about a week. During the week, my husband let his guard down and let his behaviour slip. He let his true colours show. He would get easily frustrated and mad at me over nothing. He was sleeping on the couch, when he wasn’t sleeping elsewhere. I’m going to assume he was at his girlfriends place most nights. He would yell at me, when he thought no one would hear him. He yelled at me that I am the reason he wants to kill himself. That was his reaction to me suggesting he move out, instead of me trying to find a different place that I could afford, big enough for me and 3 kids, and moving the kids again. He did this in front of his parents. They were starting to see what I was seeing. I asked him something I had been wondering ever since I fell and couldn’t get a hold of him. “Will you be here for me when I go into labor?” I made it clear, he was welcome in the room when I gave birth if he wanted, but I didn’t care if he was there. If he wasn’t with me, then he needed to be there to care for our girls while I was giving birth. I looked me dead in the eye, and said, “I won’t promise you that I will.” His mom was even in shock. She even asked him to confirm that what he was saying was that, when I went into labor, he won’t make an effort to be there for the birth nor to care for his children while I’m in hospital. He confirmed. That night, she gave me the option of coming back to Alberta with them in the morning. She would be my support system if her son refused to be. I wasn’t sure. At first I said no to leaving. The next morning as she was packing the van to leave… I told her to wait. I grabbed a big plastic tote, and started filling it with clothes for me and my kids. I grabbed my hospital bag and my unborn baby’s car seat. My children grabbed their favourite stuffies, their night light, I packed my tent and air mattresses, (his mom had a family reunion camping trip planned) we loaded the van, and the kids and I left. The night before, we told him what could happen. He told me he thought I should go. Yet when I went, he was mad. I left while he was at work. I sent him a text telling him, I changed my mind. I was with his parents, and if I went into labour while I was gone, I would let him know. He could try and make it for the birth if he wanted. I told him I was coming back, to live in this house, for him to  find a place and move out. 

The kids and I had a great visit with his parents in Alberta. We went to parks, and camping, and for ice cream…. we could breathe. I was overdue when we went camping, and I didn’t even care. I was comfortable, I had this weight lifted off my shoulders. We had a plan in the event I went into labour. We were within an hour of a hospital. We had 2 vehicles and grandpa would stay with my girls and grandma would go to the hospital with me. Happily we never had to execute the plan. I had a few contractions here and there, but we made it through our camping trip. So many people I didn’t know were rubbing my belly that weekend lol. We made it back to grandma and grandpa’s house, we packed up all our stuff, and on July 4th we made the 10 hour drive home. Yes it was a long drive, but I tend to labour long. I knew that if I went into labour we would keep going toward home if we were more than half way, and we would turn around if we hadn’t made it halfway yet. We made it home around dinner time on the 4th. Shortly after arriving  we went to bed. Good thing…. cuz I woke up at 5 am on the 5th to contractions! They weren’t bad yet, I had a doctors appointment later that afternoon, so I decided I was going to enjoy my morning while I waited for contractions to intensify. I woke everyone up around 8. I insisted I wanted to go to Denny’s for breakfast with both of my girls. I had gone into labour in the wee hours of the morning and was starving. I had a good breakfast, then went grocery shopping and got my mall walk on. My mother in law / ex mother in law… whatever you want to call her at this point, asked if I was feeling ok, and if I’d like to go for a pedicure. Um… hells yeah i do. So we did. Then finally I went to my doctors appointment. 

Ooooh, my doctor was mad. Lol. I had missed a lot of appointments because I was in Alberta. She was not happy I traveled that far, being so far along. She was not happy to hear we had driven back just the day before. But good news, I was having a baby! My waters had a slow leak, so they moved me straight from my appointment over to labor & delivery. I was contracting, I was dilating just not enough yet. We just had to wait. Aside from my labor being long as hell, it went pretty smoothly. I finally got the natural mostly unmediated birth I had always wanted, and always let my jackass husband talk me out of. 26.5 hours of labor, the best bedside nurse I could have asked for (multiple times she asked if I wanted her to kick my husband out, because she knew we weren’t together and without details she knew he was abusive.) a few funny moments, and finally 1 push later, my son was born! I was given laughing gas at the very end, because the nurses didn’t believe me I needed to push. They thought it was just the pain of my back labor. Like I had with my girls, I went from like 5cm to 10 and ready to push in like 20 minutes. All of a sudden my ex was like “Uhhhh!” (I was crowning) and I couldn’t stop my body from pushing. He was here. I did not find out the sex of my baby before birth, so I cried tears of joy when grandma announced its a boy. I whipped off his blanket to check for myself. I laughed with tears in my eyes and announced he had a penis! I wanted a boy so bad. 

A Boy!

A couple days later, I got to take my son home with me. We were the talk of the nurses station (which was right outside my room) “yeah… 1 push!”  “26 hours of labour… 6 seconds of pushing!” 

When we got home… my damn ex was still there. He hadn’t found a place to live yet, honestly he wasn’t trying and I  was getting fed up. I lived like this for far too long. I just had a baby and I did not have the energy to fight. I gave him more time to find a place and get out. I took the kids to visit a family friend for a week. The week turned into 3. My ex phoned me and told me there was a gas leak in our place, he was waiting on the landlord to get it fixed. Keep the kids and stay at this friend’s place if we can. 

Finally I got to go home. He had been partying, it was a mess.  Soon after the kids and I left again back to Alberta for a visit. His mom was in it for the long haul. She loved being with us because of her grandbabies. She also felt responsible to help because of her son. When we came back from this visit, he still hadn’t found a place, so his dad came back to BC with us this time. He got online and on the phone. He found a new place for his son within 3 days. By now it was September. I told me ex he has until September 31st to come pick up all of his stuff otherwise he could pick it up from the driveway. He had a home to move it to. He refused. saying he needed longer. I was done I told him we have been separated since the 3rd week of January, with no effort on his part to resolve anything. I was starting October 1st free of him. Guess what he did. HE PICKED UP HIS DAMN STUFF FROM MY DRIVEWAY! Because I grew some damn balls and stuck to my guns…. finally! I hauled a sectional sofa, a king size bed, and all his belongings outside. I’m in charge now. 

That was the day I started getting my life back. 

Since then, I found my feet, I found my voice. I advocated for my children and myself. I decided to stay in BC, because to this day I believe in putting my kids first. No matter how much my ex doesn’t deserve my help. No matter how much he doesn’t deserve these 3 amazing children… my children deserve to know and have a relationship with their dad. If ever comes a day, that he chooses to step out of their lives, I want to know in my heart, I did everything right. I put my kids first. I made every attempt to facilitate a good relationship with their dad. I have done that. It’s not always easy. There were weeks that he bailed on every visit. There are still times that him and I disagree. But it never affects his ability to see his children. I was the single mom of 3 gig for 3 years. In those 3 years, I proudly provided for my children. I give credit where credit is due. Their father does pay child support. We settled on a balance that helps me, and doesn’t drown him. He has only ever been late paying support once. I am so grateful that he is on top of that. I have never needed financial assistance, I have never needed to ask family for money. I am so proud of myself for that.  I am prouder yet, that I’ve been able to continue being a stay at home mom through all of this. I earn an income from home selling makeup & skincare products. I’m not trying to promote my company here, but I do want to say that the confidence I found in myself, the friends that I’ve made, and the support system I have built through my company is noteworthy. I finally felt like I was me again. I had a purpose and a name aside from “Mommy.” 

For 3 years I focused on me and my kids. I dated for fun, but not too seriously. I wasn’t looking for a fast and easy relationship. I wanted to focus on me. I wanted to love myself. Value myself. I wanted to be a woman worthy of being my children’s hero. And I have worked every single day to be that woman. This past summer I reconnected with an old friend, and we hit it off immediately. He is now an amazing step dad to my 3 even more amazing tiny humans. 

I may have been abused. I may have been broken. But I took the time I needed to put myself back together. I am whole now. My pieces may fit back together a little differently now. And a little more light shines through my cracks than before. But the extra light helps me see and weed out the bullshit. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor of domestic abuse & domestic violence. 

…. and so are my kids.

This is my why… this is why I do everything I do. This is why I push to move our lives forward. This is me, recollecting the hardest part of my life. This is me remembering every detail of my abusive relationship, of all the chances I had to escape, the ones I didn’t take. This is me diving deep into those days to share my story with others. This is me remembering and writing about all the hurt and the fear I felt then. But I am not those things now.

Because I’m not the hurt and the fear any longer…. I am stronger, I am wiser, and I am free.

Through Domestic Abuse & Out The Other Side Part 3..

Hey all. It’s me again with more of my story, 

So, things were rocky, and he wouldn’t let me leave. He had told me that there was no way I would keep my babies if I left him. That he would never let that happen. Now through all of this, I had always been insistent, that if I were to leave, I would NEVER keep his kids from him. I wasn’t taking his kids away from him. I have always believed that my children deserved a relationship with their father. Quite honestly, they deserved a lot more of a relationship than they were getting, but his half assed parenting was better than nothing…. right?


But there we were. He was doing whatever he wanted, while I was home raising our babies. By this point I was working part time as well! He insisted that I needed to work, while he only parented when he absolutely had to. To be totally honest his parents watched our children most of the time while I worked. Even my working wasn’t enough for him. You see, I was working as a nanny and babysitting on the side, but because I wasn’t working a typical 9-5 job he didn’t think what I was doing was real work. He didn’t like how I was earning money. There were many months that I earned more money than him. I was good at what I did. 

Fast forward… Little Lady #2 was now a few months shy of 3 years old. The oil recession hit, and Alberta and our family was hit hard. He lost his job. It was not too long though and he received a job offer in BC. We would be 10 hours away from our friends and family in Alberta. It was decided (by him)…we were packing up and moving, “Our family was getting a fresh start.” The plan was to move in just a couple short months. While he went ahead to complete training and find us our new home, I was to stay behind and pack our lives into boxes and care for our 2 children.

Only days after he left for BC, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant… again. I wanted to be happy. I really wished I could have been happy about it.  Sadly the only thing I felt was FEAR. My last pregnancy had been so hard. I was down right miserable because of him. After my pregnancy with Little Lady #2 I had decided birth control was no longer for me. It gave us a false sense of security Considering I had gotten pregnant using it already, I didn’t feel like the side effects and mood swing was worth it for me to continue using it. We had agreed that we would use condoms. We were trying to “be safe” but, we found ourselves in need of Plan B. HE purchased the Plan B pill. HE opened the packaging. HE placed the pill in my hand. HE watched and ensured I placed it in my mouth, and HE ensured I swallowed it. Seems a little overkill to you? Yeah, to me too. Whatever, we went on our way, expecting this little pill to do what it was supposed to do. Without another thought, he left for BC, and I went on with packing.

 But, alas… let’s throw another wrench in this already complicated story.  

 It was now Halloween, and I was late. I bought a pregnancy test, and after I tucked my little trick or treaters into bed, I took the test. Yup… almost instantly those two little pink lines were there, screaming at me, that I was in fact pregnant. I didn’t phone my husband. I didn’t phone my family. I didn’t phone his family. I picked up my phone, took a picture of the test, and sent it to a friend, the same one who had tried before to help me figure out how to leave him. WHAT DO I DO NOW? HE’S GOING TO BE SO MAD AT ME!!! Is the text I added to the picture.  I’m pretty sure, she reminded me that I had options. I already knew in my heart that I was having this baby. I also knew I had to tell him, and before I saw him next. I needed to give him the opportunity to just leave us behind. I prayed he would just leave us behind.

Yup thats VERY posative

I didn’t tell him right away. I kept it a secret from everyone except that one friend, for weeks. Luckily it was November, so I was easily able to cover my bump wearing sweaters or hoodies.Yes I had a bump almost instantly body memory they say. The morning sickness was a little harder to hide, but the exhaustion was the hardest. I often dozed off on the couch watching cartoons or movies with my little ladies. Now keep in mind my husband’s parents lived in this house with us, so they saw me falling asleep. At one point his mom suspected I may be pregnant. She tried to confirm her suspicion and asked me to taste her cooler, she said wasn’t sure if she liked it and wanted my opinion. Now don’t go ape shit on me, but I took the teeniest sip. I let the flavour barely touch my lips. This thankfully was enough that she backed off. She figured her suspicions were wrong. I wasn’t ready to tell her. I wasn’t even ready to tell my husband.  How freaking terrible is that?! I couldn’t even tell my husband. I continued to pack everything into boxes. Soon he would be coming home to help pack the last few things, and load everything into the U-Haul. I HAD to tell him. I had to give him the opportunity to just leave us behind.

I decided to call him via video call. I felt I needed to see his face. I started the conversation off with

“I have something to tell you, and the way you respond will dictate where this goes next.” 

I told him that the Plan B pill had failed. I told him I was sorry. He responded so much better than I had expected. He told me he had been thinking while he was gone. He said he was thinking that once we had moved and got settled that he was going to ask me if I wanted to try for a 3rd and final baby. -mind blown-  He asked me if I was ok telling anyone who asked, that we had been trying, that we planned this baby. To me it made no difference so I said sure. He came home as planned to help with the last minute things for the move. We decided to tell his parents that we were expecting together. They were sad that they wouldn’t be there to watch this baby grow, but they were happy for us.

They helped us load the truck, and his mom came with us to help get us settled in our new place. Everything was great.

Until his mom went back home.

Just one more wait till you get to hear the end of my journey. I thank you for your patience while I sift through the emotions this has made me come to terms with.

I Am A Mother, A Bereaved Mother.

These are not my words. I came across them on a facebook group for loss moms. It says so much and I felt it impotent to share.

“I am a mother. I am a bereaved mother.

My child died, and this is my reluctant path. It is not a path of my choice, but it is a path I must walk mindfully and with intention. It is a journey through the darkest night of my soul and it will take time to wind through the places that scare me.

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Every cell in my body aches and longs to be with my beloved child. On days when grief is loud, I may be impatient, distracted, frustrated, and unfocused. I may get angry more easily, or I may seem hopeless. I will shed many, many, many tears. I won’t smile as often as my old self. Smiling hurts now. Most everything hurts some days, even breathing.

But please, just sit beside me. Say nothing. Do not offer a cure. Or a pill, or a word, or a potion. Witness my suffering and don’t turn away from me. Please be gentle with me. And I will try to be gentle with me too.

I will not ever “get over” my child’s death so please don’t urge me down that path.
Even on days when grief is quiescent, when it isn’t standing loudly in the foreground, even on days when I am even able to smile again, the pain is just beneath the surface. There are days when I still feel paralyzed. My chest feels the sinking weight of my child’s absence and, sometimes, I feel as if I will explode from the grief.

Losing my child affects me in so many ways: as a woman, a mother, a human being. It affects every aspect of me: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are days when I barely recognize myself in the mirror anymore.

Grief is as personal to me as my fingerprint. Don’t tell me how I should or shouldn’t be grieving or that I should or shouldn’t “feel better by now.” Don’t tell me what’s right or wrong. I’m doing it my way, in my time. If I am to survive this, I must do what is best for me.

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My understanding of life will change and a different meaning of life will slowly evolve. What I knew to be true or absolute or real or fair about the world has been challenged so I’m finding my way, moment-to-moment in this new place. Things that once seemed important to me are barely thoughts any longer. I notice life’s suffering more- hungry children, the homeless and the destitute, a mother’s harsh voice toward her young child- or an elderly person struggling with the door.

There are so many things about the world which I now struggle to understand: Why do children die? There are some questions, I’ve learned, which are simply unanswerable. So please don’t tell me that “ God has a plan ” for me. This, my friend, is between me and my God. Those platitudes slip far too easily from the mouths of those who tuck their own child into a safe, warm bed at night: Can you begin to imagine your own child, flesh of your flesh, lying lifeless in a casket, when “goodbye” means you’ll never see them on this Earth again? Grieving mothers- and fathers- and grandparents- and siblings won’t wake up one day with everything ’okay’ and life back to normal. I have a new normal now.

As time passes, I may gain gifts, and treasures, and insights but anything gained was too high a cost when compared to what was lost. Perhaps, one day, when I am very, very old, I will say that time has truly helped to heal my broken heart. But always remember that not a second of any minute of any hour of any day passes when I am not aware of the presence of my child’s absence, no matter how many years lurk over my shoulder, don’t forget that I have another one, another child, whose absence, like the sky, is spread over everything as C.S. Lewis said.

My child may have died; but my love – and my motherhood – never will. “
– Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

If you know someone who has to go through this, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an amazing program “Providing the gift of remembrance portraits to parents experiencing the death of a baby.”

Through Domestics Abuse & Out The Other Side Part 2

Hey all, it’s me again, to continue the telling of my story; 

Through domestics abuse and out the other side.Part 2

Hey all, it’s me again, to continue the telling of my story; 

To pick up where we left off: I have taken you through my traumatic birth story as my oldest daughter entered the world. Now I do give warning, the next part of my story does include some details of domestic and sexual abuse.

Over the first year of my daughters life things went relatively smoothly. There were bumps in the road of course, I thought to myself, “We just had a baby, everyone goes through rough patches.” I really didn’t realize that these things weren’t normal. That these ‘little’ rough patches, maybe weren’t so little. 

It started with my husband making whispered phone calls, a password added to his cell phone, working every single day. I have always been a person to appreciate personal privacy. I was not one to check my spouses phone, but he had never put a password on his phone before. Before this, he would ask me from time to time to check “who just texted me” for him if he was busy. Now, his phone never left his pocket. “Oh the guys at work have been ****ing with my phone.” That was the excuse he gave me as to why he added a password.  The whispered phone calls, oh those, “I do it cuz I know it gets a rise outta you.” FIRST OFF… before I get any further into this, TRUST YOUR GUT if you feel like something is wrong, then there probably is. SECONDLY… you should never be the butt end of a joke. You deserve so much more than to be a punchline. Years down the road, I will realize, this was when the abuse started. My first child with him was only a few months old. 

The hiding, the whispered calls, and the hidden text messages continued, for months. But aside from those, things were getting better. -insert super dramatic eye roll here- I was so naive. I felt like things were getting better, because we started going out together again. We started having fun again. We started going out on double dates with his long time best friend and her boyfriend. We spent a lot of time with this other couple. Any time my husband asked if I wanted to go out, he always included that they would be there too. I was just happy that he wanted to take me out to do fun things again. But one night, my his dreams and his terrible habit of talking in his sleep gave it all away. He started talking in his sleep, thinking I was this other woman. The long time best friend that we were spending so much time with. I put two and two together quite easily at that point. I confronted him about it in the morning. It had been her that he was secretly texting and having whispered conversations with.  It was all my fault he said. He was blaming ME! I was always too tired, I was always dealing with the baby… He was cheating on me with this other woman. Yet, he wanted life, and our relationship to continue as normal. We had a child together, and it would be unfair to split up her family. He was “sorry, and nothing really happened anyways.” 

I had a lot of thinking to do. At this point, I had stopped sleeping with my husband. I cared for our daughter mostly on my own, he worked all day, he played video games all night, he would come to bed once I was already sleeping. Somewhere around this time, the sexual abuse started. I didn’t want to have sex with my him, I didn’t even want him touching me. I had felt so betrayed. Aside from when he wanted sex, he had otherwise pulled away and withdrawn into his games and his phone. But, regardless of what I wanted, or didn’t want at this time, I would wake up with my PJ’s around my knees and him on top of me. I said no. I pushed him off of me. But night after night, my NO remained unheard. My NO was worthless to him. My words meant nothing, my feelings meant even less. He felt like I owed it to him, who was I to say no to my spouse, who was I to deny him sex. Well, I guess I was nobody. I couldn’t deny him, he was physically bigger and stronger than I was, and what he wanted, he took. I could do nothing to stop him. 

**Did you know, laws regarding marital rape are often over looked. They exist. Marital rape is criminalized. But, there are so many loopholes that work in favour of the perpetrator, that more often than not, being raped by a spouse goes unreported to authorities?** This includes me. I didn’t report it. I didn’t tell anyone for a very long time. I lived silently feeling this shame. After all, How was I to prove that although I gave consent so many times before, that this time was different and I had not. How do you prove to a complete stranger, in the face of the law, that sex with my husband was not consensual. It wasn’t a fight I thought I had any chance of winning. So I neglected to even try. I had become a play thing, my needs, wants and desires were now meaningless. All that mattered was that he was happy. But I did confront him. He obviously knew what he had done. But I felt like I needed to name it. I needed to hear my voice say the words to him. “You, raped me! I said no, I pushed you off, and you still… you raped me!”

Now, he didn’t say much, he didn’t do much. He just became very distant. I didn’t know what was going on in his head, and honestly, I’m not sure that I cared. Not anymore. Why did he deserve my compassion?  Things were quiet and uneventful for a while, that was until they weren’t. I do not want to try and portray like I played no negative role at all in this relationship. Because there were times that I thought of only myself. I don’t think I ever did anything detrimental that led to this demise. But maybe I did. I’ve kind of adapted through the years to stop questioning my role, because a lot of what I remember, is his version of things. The way he saw it or the way he would let me see it. Because he heavily influenced what things looked like and sounded like at home. But one thing that apparently led to some heavy stuff was, because I was finally feeling like our relationship was getting better. There had been a period of calm… I wanted another baby. Our oldest was just over 1 now, I was on birth control at the time, and I wanted to actually discuss coming off of birth control and trying for a second baby. Little had I known, He had started hurting himself. But I didn’t know it yet. He was coming home from work with deep cuts, he burned himself really really badly more than once. He cut his neck… he always had an excuse. He “accidentally hit his arm on a hot exhaust” “he fell into the car net at work” I should have known. But I didn’t. I didn’t see what was happening. Until the night I had asked about having another baby. It escalated quickly, we had a big fight, we were both yelling. I honestly don’t remember how it got to that point, but I do know I played a big role in it. Things started to calm, the fight was over. He left the room. His parents were well aware of what we were fighting about. His mom started texting me from upstairs asking if I really wanted more babies, and if he didn’t, was this a “deal breaker?” Was this something I would be willing to leave him over. I was very honest at that point, and said Yes. I was prepared to leave him, if I wasn’t going to get out of this relationship what I wanted. She wasn’t aware of everything else that had been going on. I felt like I had put so much into the relationship, I had given up so much, I had entirely lost who I was, to give him everything he wanted. We had previously agreed on having 3 children, before we even had our first. Family and having kids was super important to me. At this point in time, I was pretty much completely withdrawn from my parents and siblings. My husband didn’t want me associating with them much, because they didn’t like him. I NEVER talked about our problems with anybody, but especially not with my family. I never wanted to hear my mom say “I told you so.” So I boasted often about how great he was, and what a great dad he was. 

 What I didn’t know was that while his mom and I were texting, my husband was in another room, reading my conversation. He had set up my phone to carbon copy all messages to his phone. I had no idea, but he had been spying on my messages for I don’t know how long. At this point he stormed off into the bathroom. I could hear him sobbing through the door. I cared. I didn’t like hearing him cry. But I was hurting too, and I was mad. I had always been there for him. I was treated so poorly, yet I stayed, I just shoved ‘the skeletons in our closet.’ I shoved them so far in there, no one would have ever guessed what was going on behind closed doors. No one knew we were struggling, no one knew, he had cheated, no one knew any of it. Then suddenly, his sobbing stopped, and I had the worst feeling in my gut. Remember how I said to trust your gut, yeah, it’s pretty damn smart if you listen to it. I banged on the bathroom door, he had locked it, I banged and banged… I looked for something to unlock the door from the outside, I couldn’t find anything. Then I heard the click of the lock, he unlocked it. I opened the door to find him sitting on the floor, blood dripping from him, and a huge hunting knife sitting there. What the actual Hell!? I screamed for his mom, who was upstairs with my daughter. And she hurried him to the hospital with a tea towel wrapped around his arm. I was in shock, I was crying, I was holding my daughter, watching as they hurried out the door, and the last thing his mother said to me was, “This is about him. Don’t freak out, this isn’t about you.”

I don’t know what his reasons were for harming himself at that particular time, and I don’t presume to know what others struggle with personally when it comes to mental health. I do not presume to know what “they are looking for” through self harm, the following part of my story is based off of my personal experience in this abusive relationship. I am 100% for supporting mental health, and getting help for mental health. I just hoped that whatever had truly led him to this point, could be helped, by doctors, by family, by me. But he was reluctant to get any kind of help. And he blamed me for this. I swallowed the blame. Maybe it was me. Had me wanting a new baby really been that bad? Had I missed something that I wasn’t seeing? (The answer is yes, I did miss something, and to this day a decade later, I still don’t know what it was.)

Something in that experience though, something clicked for him. He may not have found what he was looking for, but he did find a new method of control. And he will use it again and again, to regain control when I start finding my own feet. The worst part, a couple weeks later, I wasn’t feeling so good. I was with a friend, and she stupidly suggested that maybe I was pregnant. I laughed it off, I probably told her she was an idiot… because I was on birth control, I couldn’t be pregnant. A few more days had gone by, and I still wasn’t feeling so good. Again, this friend pointed out that she thought I was pregnant. Once again, I looked at her like she had suddenly sprouted a horn… I’m on birth control, I can’t be pregnant. I took a test to appease her, and it was negative. -sigh of relief- After all, given the events of only a couple weeks prior, THIS WAS NOT THE TIME TO GET PREGNANT! But after 9 more days, and now a missed period… Regardless of my birth control, I was in fact pregnant, and TERRIFIED to tell my husband. Of all people on this earth, the last person you should fear, is your spouse. I told his mom first, I guess I hoped she could help me find a softer way to tell him. Sadly she was of no help, she cried, I cried… and she told me to not tell him.  Um… excuse me? Not tell him? Don’t you think he would notice as I got rounder, and you know, looked pregnant. I went against her wishes, I told him. I really didn’t have another choice. I had to just tell him, get it over with and deal with whatever nasty things he was going to say. At first he was just mad. Calm, but mad. He cried, I cried… I felt like that’s all I did anymore, was cry. He ignored me after that for a couple hours, but he came around a bit I guess. He gave me a hug and reassured me we would get through this. (His parents were in the next room) I note this, because he was a totally different person when other people were around. As days went by, weeks and months. He questioned me, he insulted me, he blamed me. Obviously I had tricked him. Obviously I hadn’t been using my birth control. I was on the birth control ring. I used it and I used it correctly. But somehow I fell into the 2% of users who may get pregnant while using this form of birth control. And it would happen at the worst possible time. For 9 months, I lived through my pregnancy, catching all the blame he was throwing at me. I was miserable. Online he would boast himself as my hero. He posted pictures of me on an online forum, claiming he was husband of the year for buying me a video game for my Nintendo DS so that I could distract myself from my depression. He was my depression. Here I had wanted another baby,  and now that I got what I wanted, even though not in the way I had planned, and I was still miserable. This was not the life I deserved, and now I had brought 2 children into it. 

In all of the gloomy darkness, came my beautiful baby. On January 11, 2014 I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I swore I was going to have a boy. I was 110% sure, I was having a boy. I even laughed and asked the delivery team if they were sure, when it was announced, “it’s a GIRL!” I was so sure I was having a boy. But nonetheless, I was ecstatic to have my baby in my arms. The world felt safe again, in that room, in that moment. My birth had gone so smoothly. Nothing like my prior trauma. I mean… my epidural didn’t work, like at all. But everything else was picture perfect. My baby was healthy, she took straight to the breast like a pro, she never left my side, we were happy.  We were released from the hospital and home in less than 18 hours. I was home with both of my little girls, and life was good. My spouse and I had our spats, but things were strangely good again for a while. (I will much later learn about the cycle of abuse. And I very much suggest that everyone should know the cycle too. It was only once I actually learned about it, that I started recognizing it in my life.) But for me, at this time, things were calm, and forgiveness was spreading into all the deep dark corners of my being. I was letting go of the hurt, and letting my guard down. 

-insert another eye roll- I let my guard down. How foolish of me. Again, with now two babies at home, my husband started pulling away again. He was leaving me and the kids at home, so that he could go out with “the guys”, He was in fact  going out on dates with women, whom he insists were just friends. They were friends I had never heard of before, and typically he hung out in a group if he was going out with friends, so who knows what was really going on. I was once again feeling broken. Once again, he was working every day, (he later admitted to telling me he was going to work, but would go out with friends instead.) I had never stopped him from seeing friends before, so I feel like “friends” was a cover. But whatever, he was always “at work” or hiding away playing video games, again avoiding me, and all responsibility. This went on for almost 2 years.

During those 2 years though, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. He was only one part of my life, I still had two beautiful little girls, who were the light of my life. So let’s take a break from the gloom, and focus on the light. As I had mentioned before, Little Lady #2 was a complete natural when it came to breastfeeding. We never had any difficulties with latch or anything. It was heavenly in comparison to the struggles I went through with Little Lady #1. After having #1, and battling the nightmare that was mastitis and abscesses, and drainage… I ended up with excess scar tissue in my right breast due to the abscesses and drainage. This made producing milk in my right breast difficult. We tried for a long time to nurse from both sides, but ultimately my supply in my right breast diminished and I lost it all together. But!!! I was able to keep up my supply on my left side!!! I actually had an overproduction on my left side, which was a godsend, because I had none in my right. So here I was exclusively nursing my baby from one breast only, I was pumping between feedings, because honestly I was terrified to lose my supply, and wanted to have a freezer stash just in case. So that I did. I built up a stash of over 300 ounces of breastmilk, which isn’t a lot, but it’s not a little either. So, it came a time when I was going out, without my babies. Grandma and grandpa were babysitting, I left a bottle of breast milk in the fridge for my wee one and I went out. I think to a movie. When I returned home, my baby was hungry and the bottle sat seemingly untouched. She wouldn’t drink it. Like most moms I thought, oh we need to try a different bottle. We tried so many and she still wouldn’t drink from it. Soon I would be returning to work, and panic was setting in, what am I going to do. She looks at this bottle like I’m trying to feed her something nasty. So I tried it. Oh my gosh, it tasted like soap! Yuck! I knew what breast milk tasted like fresh, and this wasn’t it. So off to google I went, and found out, I had high Lipase in my milk. Lipase is the enzyme that breaks down the fat in the milk. Normally lipase doesn’t cause any issues, however, too much and it breaks it down to fast, and it tastes funny. High lipase milk is still perfectly healthy for babies to drink, and not all babies will have a problem with the taste at all. I learned how to combat high lipase, by scalding my milk before I put it in the fridge or freezer. **i will include instructions at the bottom, on how to determine if you have a high lipase, and how to scald your milk.** 

Once I started scalding my milk, my daughter would take it by bottle without a problem. Success! but this left me with approximately 300 oz of high lipase milk in my freezer. I put out an ad on Human Milk for Human Babies, and found a NICU mom in need of breast milk. Her baby needed it, she wasn’t producing, or wasn’t producing enough, and had turned to donation. I happily offered her my milk stash, some of it included colostrum, which was packed full of antibodies her baby could benefit from. She was so grateful to receive this gift of milk. From that point forward, I continued to pump between nursing sessions. As my baby started nursing less and less nearing and then beyond her first birthday, my supply remained high. I would pump when she had her fill, I would pump an hour after nursing sessions, I would pump while on my break at work.(honestly it hurt so bad if I didn’t) I scalded and stored all of this milk. I had donated a little bit here and there as I had enough to. But then I connected/reconnected with a mama I knew. She needed breastmilk for her little boy. So I saved it for her. As my stash accumulated in my freezer, she would pop by from time to time to take what I had extra. I donated over 1000 ounces of breastmilk. I helped feed 5 babies in addition to my own. All from one milk producing breast. I continued to nurse Little Lady #2 until the day she turned 2 years old. I pumped and donated until she was about 18 months old. This is a part of my life that I am very proud of. Finally, I did that. My body did that. I still felt like my body had failed me and Little Lady #1, but we were making up for it in a way with #2. It didn’t matter what else was going on in my life, this was something I did, and I love that I was able to.

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Life kinda plateaued here for a while. We had found a new normal. Unfortunately, this should never have been normal. I should never have allowed myself to feel normal about my relationship. For a period of time, I’m really not sure how long, but he remained distant, he remained secretive, and I tried not to care. Instead I had used this time to really connect with an old friend. Her and I had kinda re-stumbled upon each other shortly before I found out I was pregnant with Little Lady #2. She was one of, if not the first person I told, because I was so scared. She had become one of my best friends, and I was able to tell her almost everything. I still didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, or at least the extent of it. Just that I was unhappy. She knew that he had blamed me for getting pregnant again. She knew that I was depressed, and she knew that I had had enough and wanted out. By conversing with her, both being busy moms, it was typically via text or online messages. She was trying to help me figure out how to leave him. Trying to help me muster the courage to do so. I was so not smart sometimes. I was oblivious. I had left my iPad at home on the charger while I was at work one evening, and he took it upon himself to check in on who I had been messaging with. He read my conversations with my friend about leaving him. I was in for it. I got home from work late that night, and he was ready and waiting. How dare I even consider taking his kids away from him! How dare I even begin to believe that I could even take care of them on my own. After all that he did for me. After him taking care of me. If I left with these kids, he would have them taken away from me. His family had the financial ability to pay for the best lawyers and there is no way that I would be able to take custody of these kids. I had already been beat down after years of emotional abuse… I had no fight left in me. At this point I backed away and flinched if he stepped toward me. I was scared that he would hit me. I ended up pushing my way past him at some point, as he was blocking the door and I had to push passed to get out of the room. After that… for days, weeks, truthfully years. He told people I physically assaulted him, all because I pushed my way past him. This won’t be the last time he falsely tells people that I physically harm him. For now, he won. He used my children against me. I stayed. I stayed in fear that if I left, I would lose the only things I had left in this world that gave my life meaning. The only things that gave me a shred of happiness. My children.

I will once again pause here. I promise we will come full circle next time, and come out the other side of domestic abuse. 


As promised, below I will share with you how I combated high lipase milk.

Testing if you have high Lipase milk is super easy. Pump a small amount of milk, and freeze it completely, then thaw. Taste it. Normally milk will taste pretty much the same fresh and after it’s been thawed. But a high lipase will cause the milk to taste soapy after it’s been thawed. 

If you have high lipase milk:

(How I scalded my milk)

This needs to be done before your breast milk is chilled or frozen. 

• Pump

• Pour your fresh breastmilk into a small pot

• On the stove top, turn your burner on high


• As soon as you see the first bubbles start to rise, turn off the stove & remove from heat. YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BOIL

• Allow your pot of milk to rest and cool to room temperature.

• Your milk may look like it’s separated, swirl the pot to mix it back together 

• Bottle or bag and put in the fridge or freezer. 

Now your milk should not change in taste. You have deactivated the lipase.

Elliot’s Birth Story

March 25th 2020

I crafted this memorial bead for Kasey to honour her son Elliot. Here is their story…

Elliot’s finished bead.

Around the time of my 31st birthday, I was feeling very strongly that I wanted to have a third child. I knew my husband had only planned on two children, but I brought it up anyway. To my surprise, he was really open to it, and we quickly decided to begin trying for a baby. We conceived the first month, as we had with our first two children. I had the perfect name picked out immediately.

From almost the moment we conceived, I was so sick. I was nauseous and tired, as well as very anxious. I noticed on Saturday, March 23, that I felt much better and was so excited! After going to the zoo with friends, we did a little shopping and I purchased a set of sleepers for our precious baby. We had lovingly nicknamed the baby, Peppercorn, and we were in love.

The next night, I noticed some brown spotting, and my heart sunk. I told my husband, and he tried to assure me everything was fine, reminding me that I had spotted brown with our first child, and she was perfectly healthy. I tried to believe him, but just felt to my core that something was wrong. Later, the brown became pink, and my concern grew. Somehow, I was still able to sleep that night. When I woke up, my fears intensified, as I was now bleeding bright red. I told my husband my fears, and he tried to reassure me, but again, I just knew. I wanted so badly to be wrong, but I knew. I begged and pleaded with God to spare my baby. This baby was so loved, so wanted. I couldn’t lose my child. I just couldn’t.

On Monday, March 25, 2019, around 10:00 am, I gave birth to my third child during the first trimester. Because of my bereavement doula training, I immediately recognized the tiny baby, and couldn’t fathom flushing my child. Instead, I held my peppercorn-sized baby in my hand and wailed. Thankfully, my mom had come right over after hearing that I thought I was losing our baby, and she held me tight. I told my husband that we lost our precious little one, and what seemed like minutes later, he walked into the bathroom, having left work. He held me as I wept, and I remember feeling a tear drop from his face to mine. Our baby was dead, and a part of me died with him.

I was a shell of myself the rest of the day. My mom tended to our children after my husband went back to work, as I barely functioned. My kids had no idea what was going on, but our daughter knew something was really wrong and was doing anything she could think of to comfort me. I went through the motions and had bloodwork to confirm the loss, which quickly came. Our baby really was dead. My body had failed me. My God had forsaken me. My heart had broken. All I could do was hold on to anyone who would hug me, and cry. Telling our children that their sibling that they didn’t even know existed had died was so hard. Our son had so many questions, and our daughter was very stoic – later we learned that she had pushed all of her feelings about it down to be released months later.

Somehow, the next day, even in my still intense grief, some hope came. My mother-in-law had assured me several times that my body did not cause this loss – I did not cause this loss. I was able to think a little more clearly and began to believe her. I also felt this overwhelming assurance that while our third child was in Heaven, that God was going to bless us with a rainbow. I was grieving hard, but felt such peace that God would give us another child, a healthy child.

In the weeks following, I bled, which was an awful reminder of what I had lost every time I used the bathroom. I also grew more and more anxious, and chose to contact my therapist and do EMDR therapy for the trauma of the loss. My husband and I talked about when to try to conceive again, and decided to wait for a little while so I could feel physically and emotionally.

This time last year I was weeping on my bathroom floor, holding my tiny baby in my hand. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year. I remember it all so vividly it could’ve been yesterday.

I still love you, little one. I’ll never stop.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Elliot.

Planting seeds in memory of my lost baby, while nursing my rainbow baby has to be the definition of bittersweet 💔❤️

I had big plans of scattering wildflower seeds for your birthday, but the pandemic situation squashed my ability to get seeds on time. Your big sis volunteered her sunflower seed stash instead 🌻

We love you, our little Peppercorn! Hopefully next year we can scatter seeds in your honor 🌱

Kasey collecting soil from the base of Elliot,s tree for me to use in his memorial bead
Elliot’s soil

Breastfeeding Straight From The Tap

My journey started in 2010. I was only seventeen when I gave birth to my first baby, a boy. I hadn’t exactly done my research per say, but I am smart enough to know breastfeeding was the best option. I gave it a try and it was going well so I thought. Two weeks in and I had been having latch issues. I started hand expressing into his mouth during the day but then I couldn’t get him to latch back on.

My first child

I called the lady from our health department that ran a program called hugs and had come to see me bi weekly for health tips etc. throughout my pregnancy. She came to my house to watch me nurse. She told me that he had what was called a “lazy latch” and decided he wasn’t going to latch for feeding. I decided that I’d exclusively pump so that he was still getting my breastmilk. I was able to do so for two months before I felt it was too much on me and I switched to formula.

My second child and my first ever latch!

In 2013 I gave birth to a daughter. I again tried breastfeeding and it was going great. Three weeks into our journey she got thrush then I got thrush. We passed it back and forth and back and forth. I chose to switch to formula just to get out of the cycle. When we were finally clear I attempted to restart breastfeeding. Sadly she too would no longer latch. I was young, uneducated and had no family support other than my husband. I had no knowledge of lactation consultants so I kept her on formula as well. I think I did really good being seventeen then nineteen. I also had never been around or seen anyone breastfeed.

3rd child and first succesful breastfeeding attempt

Fast forward to 2015 I was pregnant with our third child (another daughter) I was older and determined to successfully breastfeed. I researched throughout my entire pregnancy. I learned so many things I had never even thought of with my prior babies. I gave birth October 13th 2014. She immediately latched and not once gave me a problem. I thought boy this is too easy. About three weeks in I felt like I was having supply issues. I was able to use my new vast knowledge. I knew what I could do to increase my supply! By following tips and tricks I had learned I was able to regain my milk. We had no other issues after that. It was a lot of work and it was tiring but I did it!

In the fall of 2015 I found out I was expecting our fourth child and third girl. I was a little sad thinking I’d have to stop breastfeeding my third. Thankfully my supply only dipped. I did not dry up until my third trimester when it still only turned to colostrum. I was glad that I didn’t fully “dry up” as my daughter was 16 months and she was still nursing at nap and bedtimes. I gave birth to my fourth on may 6th 2016 and my third who was 18 months had nursed just the night before!

Baby 4 and 2nd succesfuly breastfed

My fourth like my third immediately latched and gave me no issues. I was so happy and so relieved. When I went home from the hospital I had not intended for my third to nurse as I never even thought about tandem feeding nor have any knowledge of it. Not surprisingly she wanted to continue nursing so I just let her on the opposite breast.

It would help me relieve milk as I was not pumping and had a very heavy supply. I truly enjoyed tandem feeding, my third child would hold the new babies hand while they nursed it was the cutest thing. She decided to self wean one day out of nowhere about two months into tandem nursing. She was twenty months old.

I had no idea I’d make it that long breastfeeding! I was sad that our journey had ended but at the same time was very satisfied in knowing I had nourished her with the very best for not only the first year of her life but almost two! I had initially set the goal for just 6 months and then 12 months. I mean I only had gone weeks with my previous two children. As I mentioned earlier I had no family that had ever breastfed and my husband’s family didn’t breastfeed either. Not a single one. So you can imagine the comments I got once my third had hit a year. I was told multiple times it was time to stop. I would be asked all the time “you’re STILL breastfeeding her? It’s time to stop”. I am glad I didn’t listen to them and that I followed my heart. I’m happy we shared that bond for 20 months.

My 5ths first latch

My fourth was supposed to be our last. As she was the baby I set a goal of two years this time. So when she was two and still nursing and was showing no signs of wanting to wean I kept going. Why not right? We were 27 months in when she finally weaned… BUT I was pregnant SURPRISE! I had had no intentions on having a fifth child and we were expecting our FOURTH daughter! The thought of starting another breastfeeding journey made me a little emotional. I had been breastfeeding for what felt like forever already and thought that my journey was almost over. My fourth child weaned in August 2018. At this time I still produced quite a bit of colostrum so I did not consider that much of a break when I gave birth to our fifth just three months later on November 16th, 2018.

I was clearly not new to the game and was able to get her to latch immediately. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. She instead went into respiratory distress and was rushed to the NICU.

Skin to skin in NICU

We spent five long days there where she was tube fed. I feared for sure we would be unable to continue our breastfeeding journey. She was finally taken off oxygen on day four. When I brought her to my breast she immediately latched as if the four days away had never occurred. I was so overwhelmed with joy and praise. Breastfeeding was such a big deal to me by now and I did not want to stop . We went home and things were going well.

One day she started to fight at every feeding. I found that she would only nurse straight on top of me while I laid back yet she would still arch and scream sometimes. We discovered she had reflux. It was exhausting and frustrating for both of us but I was not going to let obstacles get in our way. I had done my research and read that it can sometimes just go away on it’s own around three months. So I pushed through being strong for both of us. I told myself one more month, just one more month, then sure enough like a snap of fingers at three months it was just gone and she was latching and feeding with no issues. I was not letting anything stop me from giving her the best I possibly could. October 13th 2019 made it 5 years of breastfeeding for me with a span of three children and not a single bottle and no pumping. 5 years of exclusively breastfeeding straight from the tap. Sometimes I ask myself how I managed? Sometimes I asked myself if this was all I’ll ever do?

My youngest is 16 months old now and still going strong. In fact she LOVES her “chi chi’s” and I have no clue when she’ll wean! This is 100% our last child as my husband had a vasectomy. I soak in every day as I know that when it’s over it’s over! It has been a beautiful, emotional, and exhausting bonding experience that I will forever cherish.

It will definitely be bittersweet when the day comes that my little no longer asks for her “chi chi’s”. I am happy and at peace with it though. I have had a long and successful journey and as I look back at the beginning and wonder what I could have done differently I see myself now and see how far I came from the young woman with no support to someone who has become the support! I have helped a young mom make it to three months of successfully breastfeeding her son. She said to me, if it weren’t for me she wouldn’t have even made it three days. I wish I could go back and help myself, I truly do. I know can’t but what I can do is continue to tell my story, help other mothers young and older that are struggling in hopes that they can overcome obstacles if they just persevere.

As of today I have breastfed for 5 years 5 months and 12 days! Thats an Opal, and almost a silver Boobie Award! I also earned a blue diamond Boobie Award for Tandem Breastfeeding!

All of us together