CANADA: No More Color Blindness: Why I Talk To My Kids About Race

CANADA: No More Color Blindness: Why I Talk To My Kids About Race

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I used to think that racism didn’t exist any more.

Growing up in the Caribbean, in a cultural mishmash of a class, I learned about the slave trade and the underground railroad as part of history. Our teacher read to us about Harriet Tubman. We saw videos of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. We learned about Rosa Parks.

History. (more…)

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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CANADA: My Husband Doesn’t Help With The Baby. So What?

CANADA: My Husband Doesn’t Help With The Baby. So What?

My husband doesn’t like babies. That’s a problem, because in Canada, men are expected to share parenting duties. Women expect help from their husband when a baby is born, and I wasn’t any different. (more…)

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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BC, CANADA: How To Tell A Depressed Spouse From A Jackass: A Mom’s Guide

BC, CANADA: How To Tell A Depressed Spouse From A Jackass: A Mom’s Guide

100369250_3cd4e5760dOf all of the illnesses that can descend upon a happy family, I consider depression to be among the worst.

Depression kills.

Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in Canada. In my age group, it is the #2 killer, after accidental death. I am more likely to die by suicide than from cancer. I am four times more likely to be killed by myself than by a murderer.

My husband is even higher risk. He has a 20% chance of dying by suicide… that’s a 1/5 chance, worse than a toss of a die.

Shortly after my miscarriage, my husband, who has always been prone to depression, became suicidal. He was committed, he went on short term disability, he got put on a bunch of medications, none of which seemed to help.

For months I spent all day at work worried that I would find a corpse when I came home, and wondering how I would explain his death to our three year old son.

Now he seems to have leveled out a bit, and while he still has suicidal thoughts, the chance of him acting on them is much less. But he’s still unable to work, unable to do much of anything. He’s not himself.

I miss him.

Depression affects the mind and body. Not only is the sufferer often physically unable to function, but they also suffer personality changes. That makes life extremely hard for the spouse, because even though I KNOW it is a disease, even though I KNOW my husband is in pain, even though I KNOW it is out of his control…

I sometimes have to work hard not to get frustrated or angry.

Because, quite honestly… a depressed spouse closely resembles a jackass.

For the past 6 months, I have essentially been acting as a single parent, while my husband lay on the couch.

If I was on the outside of this relationship looking in, and I didn’t know about the depression, I would think my husband was a major ass.

But depression is NOT the same as being an ass, and if you are married to a depressed spouse, there are little things you can look for to assure yourself that, yes, they are, in fact, sick and not actually jackasses or jerks.

How To Tell A Depressed Spouse From A Jackass

  • A jackass sleeps in every morning, while you get up with the kids…. But a depressed spouse physically cannot be woken up at times, and may sleep for 24 hours straight.
  • A jackass doesn’t help around the house…  But a depressed spouse knows that your workload is too heavy and is grateful for any housework you manage to do.
  • A jackass leaves you to do the majority of the childcare… But a depressed spouse still exerts special effort to stay involved every now and then. He will physically collapse after attempting this.
  • A jackass never wants to do your favourite things with you… But a depressed spouse never wants to do his own favourite things any more, either.
  • A jackass snaps at you out of the blue all of the time… But a depressed spouse sometimes cries out of the blue, too.
  • A jackass wants to live… But a depressed spouse may not.

All you can do is be as kind as understanding as you can. I like to ask myself, “Would it be okay for me to expect this of him if he had cancer?” or “What would I say if he had cancer, instead of depression?” and then I do that. Because he has a deadly disease, and I need to remember that.

The best thing to remember when trying to get through life with a depressed spouse is to constantly remind yourself of this:

  • A jackass will always be a jackass… But a depressed spouse used to help with the housework, used to contribute equally to childcare, used to do fun things with you… and will again some day, when he recovers.

Do any of you have loved ones with depression? How do you cope?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Carol.  She can be found blogging at If By Yes and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

Photo credit to Paranoid Monk.  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: We Need To Talk About Miscarriage

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: We Need To Talk About Miscarriage

Sad_Woman

Recently, when I was around 10 weeks pregnant, I went in for a dating ultrasound.

My midwife wanted to confirm my baby’s due date, because we suspected that I was actually 9 weeks along, or maybe 11 weeks.

The radiologist discovered that my baby was dead – had died at 8 weeks and 4 days… whenever that had been.

We all know that miscarriage is always a risk, but it’s still a shock to go in for a routine ultrasound with a seemingly healthy pregnancy… and then leave in tears talking about getting a D&C.

A week later I was sedated and the remains of my baby were scooped out of me.

I was heartbroken. I was grieving.

But I was also very lucky: I had immense amounts of support.

I had friends texting me constantly asking what they could do to help. My house smelled like roses, because the girls at work sent me a big bouquet of flowers. My neighbours invited our son over for dinner so we wouldn’t have to fake cheerfulness with him, and left cookies in our mailbox.

The love and support I received contrasted violently with the experience of a friend, who was fired from work after her miscarriage, who got no flowers, no cookies, and whose grandmother and mother-in-law both hurt her frequently by nagging her to produce a baby.

But it’s not a fair comparison – you see, I told people about my miscarriage.

My friend did not.

The conventional wisdom – in our part of the world at least – says that you shouldn’t even tell people that you are pregnant, lest you miscarry. Better to wait until the second trimester, when your risk of miscarriage drops dramatically.

The implied assumption is that you don’t want to tell people about your miscarriage, so it’s better keep your pregnancy a secret until that danger has passed.

I want to know: Why don’t we want to talk about miscarriage?

For many women, miscarriage isn’t just a matter of, “Oops, never mind, no baby after all!” While some may feel that way, and that’s fine, others can be devastated.

I wasn’t just mourning the 8 week jellybean inside me. I was weeping for the baby I had been expecting, my Christmas baby, and as I wept, I clutched the little newborn sized Christmas pajamas that I had already bought.

And sometimes these women suffer side by side.

I had two friends who miscarried close to each other. Both told me, neither told the other. They each thought they were alone. Neither knew what the other was going through. Neither knew that they had something in common.

When I announced my loss at work, every woman over 35  had a miscarriage story to share.

Just think – of the ten women at my work, four have had miscarriages. And none of them talked about it… until I announced mine.

They shared their grief with me, and we hugged each other, and listened to each other’s stories.

And I wondered… why aren’t we supposed to do this?

Why do so many women keep miscarriage a secret, often not even telling friends or family members? Why do some women keep their pregnancies a dark secret, just out of fear that the pregnancy might end?

There’s an element of shame that hovers around miscarriage.

People think that talking about their miscarriage somehow addresses a failure, as if they had made a mistake.

It’s natural to blame yourself for your miscarriage. My first thought was, “What did I do wrong?”

The first thing my midwife said to me was, “You did nothing wrong.”

When I spoke to the nurse at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Centre, she told me that 97% of the time, miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and have nothing to do with the mother’s actions.

When I went on to worry that something I was exposed to at work might have killed my baby – x-rays, or pesticides – she told me, “We see a LOT of women in here who are pregnant, but don’t want to be. You wouldn’t believe the crazy stuff they have tried to end the pregnancy at home. It never works. Trust me – there is nothing you could have done to bring this on yourself.”

My miscarriage was not my fault. 

I didn’t fail, and the women who have told me about their miscarriages didn’t fail either. So why do we treat it like a failure?

But even the term “miscarriage” implies some fault on the woman, as if I had dropped the baby in a moment of thoughtlessness. In fact, some women have even been prosecuted for their miscarriages.

So we don’t tell people about it.

In a culture where you aren’t supposed to talk about your miscarriage – or even your first trimester pregnancy lest it end in miscarriage – families grieve for their lost babies in a vacuum of shame and secrecy.

There is no funeral. No compassionate leave. No Hallmark cards. But that doesn’t make it less real of a loss.

Even women who aren’t grieving their miscarriage – perhaps they didn’t even want the baby – feel the need to hide it due to the stigma around it.

And that’s never going to change unless people start talking.

Until we bring miscarriage into the light, it will remain a dark, hidden secret.

Until people start talking about it, people won’t know how to respond to it appropriately. Until we remove the stigma, the shame will continue.

Until we talk about it, people will continue to suffer in silence.

Because if you don’t tell anyone unless they have had a miscarriage too, how does anyone who has miscarried find each other?

It just takes one person to speak out, to announce their loss like it is any other loss, and the stories and support come pouring in.

So we need to speak up.

We need to tell people when we suffer a loss. We owe them that, and we owe ourselves that, because for all we know, they need someone to talk to, too. Don’t assume that they don’t know what you’re going through, because chances are, they do. 

I’m asking all of you to be brave.

Talk about it on Facebook.

Tweet it, #talkaboutmiscarriage.

Tell people you don’t know very well.

Tell them if you’re grieving. Tell them if you aren’t.

There’s no reason to hide what has happened, or how you feel about it. Chances are neither the experience, nor your emotions, are unique to you.

Only by opening those doors can we find the support we need, and join together the women who have been suffering in silence for all this time.

Have you or has someone close to you had a miscarriage? How did cultural attitudes toward it affect the grieving process?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Carol.  She can be found blogging at If By Yes and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets.    

Photo credit to Jiri Hordan.  This photo has been released into the public domain by its author, Jiri Hordan.

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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CANADA: Stompin’ A National Identity Into Our Children

CANADA: Stompin’ A National Identity Into Our Children

BEzalJTCcAA8kbV (1)On March 6, 2013, Canada lost a musical icon:  Stompin’ Tom Connors.

Stompin’ Tom was a folk singer, known for his habit of tapping his foot while playing the guitar and singing. He damaged so many floors that he took to using a “stomping board” under his boot. Every now and then he’d auction one off for charity – one in 2011 went for $11,000!

Stompin’ Tom was only famous in Canada. If you’ve heard his music at all, you’d probably recognize his Hockey Song.

Even in Canada, Stompin’ Tom is only really part of the cultural identity in rural areas. The gleaming sky scrapers and bustling freeways of Toronto and Vancouver don’t have much in common with Stompin’ Tom’s folksy tunes these days.

So when Stompin’ Tom passed away, I didn’t have many fellow mourners with me in hip, urban Vancouver. The 65 year old kennel lady at my work and I exchanged a hug, while everyone else looked at us strangely. (more…)

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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CANADA: Beginning Again

CANADA: Beginning Again

It seems apt that as a new year dawns, my husband and I preparing to start a new chapter by bringing a second child into our family.

I’m scared as hell.

Our son burst into our quiet life like a bomb.…A really cute, completely beloved bomb who sprayed screams for shrapnel. Owl was not what some people would call an “easy baby”, if indeed such a mythical creature does exist.

He had a bad latch and caused me a lot of pain when he nursed. Once he got the hang of it, he never let go. In fact, over two years later, he still nurses like he thinks it will be the last drink he will ever receive.

My baby books said that newborns slept most of the time, but he didn’t sleep. From early afternoon until nearly midnight, he would be awake and screaming, often for six or even eight hours in a row with no naps.

He only began sleeping through the night reliably in the last six months or so.

My husband doesn’t remember much of that first year. All he can recall is a haze of frustration and sleep deprivation. (more…)

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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