Friday, May 13, 2016

7th Annual IWK 5K - In Memory of Jessica

There are some things in life that will stay in my memory forever.  It doesn't matter how much time goes by, I will always remember my complicated Twin-twin transfusion pregnancy, multiple times going into labour and multiple times having it stopped.  The fear I felt everyday and also the hope I held onto.  I will always remember my delivery and the joy I felt knowing Alyssa and Jessica were alive.  I will always remember our long road in the NICU, the ups, the downs, and everything in between.  And of course I remember so distinctly our last day with Jessica.  It is so hard letting go of the people we love.  Especially little people who we really didn't have the chance to know, but the love and support we received from our family and friends will always be remembered.  

When Alyssa was ready to leave the IWK, I left with the feeling of despair, loss and great sadness. We made plans for two babies, but only one was coming home.  But I also left feeling love, hope and gratitude.  Love and gratitude towards the people.  The people who looked after our babies, and the people who looked after us.  I remember a lot of the medical information but I also remember the back rubs, the listening ears, the shoulder to cry on, the birthday cake for my 30th birthday, and the footprints made for our girls.  Besides the life saving duties...these little acts of kindness are so important and go a long way for families who are struggling. 

It is these acts of kindness along with all the care we received at the IWK that ignited the passion for starting the IWK 5K - In Memory of Jessica.  7 years later, $130, 000 donated, that passion is still there, but there is also a strong hope that we are making a real difference to help families like ours, so when they leave the hospital, the only feelings they have are love, hope, gratitude...and relief. 

The IWK 5K - In Memory of Jessica is to remember Jessica of course, but also it is to provide hope for all the survivors like Alyssa, and so many kids who have left the IWK happy and healthy.  

This year the IWK 5K – In Memory of Jessica is very excited to help fund a very special once in a lifetime project. We have committed to raising $50,000 to the redevelopment project in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This donation will be made in memory of Jessica and a patient room in the new space of the NICU will be named in her honour. The NICU was the only home that Jessica ever knew, so it only seems fitting. 

This large donation is a combination of sponsor donations/promotions, registration fees, online donations, door to door canvassing, Westjet ticket sales, Wine Survivor donations etc.  Every dollar helps!

You do not need to be an elite runner to take part in this event, we welcome everyone of all ages and physical abilities.  Because it is for the IWK, we especially love our kids events (500m and 1K) and want it to be a whole family affair.  

Please join us, along with c100 FM and Izzy's Bagels at DeWolf Park on Bedford's beautiful waterfront June 5th at 9:30 for the 7th Annual IWK 5K - In Memory of Jessica!  Walk, run, it for yourself, and for all the kids who need and deserve world class care at the IWK.  

Register online:
Online Fundraising page:
for those who like to win great prizes! 
Follow us on facebook and twitter for updates leading up to the event.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Alyssa's tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

As most of you know, we have have a very strong connection with the IWK because of a complicated twin pregnancy and delivering prematurely.  But it doesn't take 110 days to realize how important and necessary the IWK is for all kids.  My passion for the IWK 5K - In Memory of Jessica grew even more after a simple day surgery experience with Alyssa yesturday for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy for sleep apnea.  

Not just anyone can work there, it really is a specialized group of individuals with the kindest souls who absolutely love their job (or at least do a great job pretending).  From the moment we walked in, Alyssa was entertained.  What I thought would be a long hour and 30 mins waiting before surgery, was not long at all.  She was given an "art kit" to keep her busy, a TV, and a volunteer to show us all around day surgery and recovery room and great explanations of what to expect.  We met with the OR nurse, the surgeon, and the anaesthesiologist before hand with thorough explanations to both Alyssa and Keith and I.  I love how they know all the right things to say to kids.  Alyssa was having so much fun beforehand that she even said to us "this is really fun"

Surgery itself was only 40 mins, and the surgeon was in the waiting room to tell us that surgery was a success and we should notice a huge difference in Alyssa's sleep, mood, concentration and a growth spurt very quickly.  She told us that her tonsils were HUGE, so big that one of the nurses said the surgeon actually wrote in the chart how big the tonsils were followed by !!!!  She told us that Alyssa fell asleep very easily as they played and sang Frozen's "Let it Go" for brilliant is that;)  Apparently the anaesthesiologist is a wonderful singer!  

The day surgery nurses were wonderful.  They called us as soon as she woke up, and provided her with lots of popsicles, juice and explained in great kid terms what the IV was doing in her's a special drinking straw of course.   We never felt rushed to leave, we left when Alyssa was ready to go home and then she was rewarded with a "Star Patient Award" presented by the IWK Day Surgery Staff, with a bucket full of stickers and other cool little stuff.  Great way for every kid to feel special.  
And then one of her favorite parts of the day was getting to sit in a wheelchair and transported down to the front doors:)  Great day at the IWK.   What could have been a scary day, was a fun, enjoyable experience for the most part...can't help the sore throat fully.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

6 years ago I used to write on this blog weekly.  Sometimes daily updating everyone on the status of my pregnancy...and then today I come back to it and notice it has been exactly one year and one day since I last wrote on this blog.

I used to find comfort in writing randomly to whoever would listen, ranting about my challenges and glorifying our leaps.   I've moved on since then.  And although sometimes it feels really good to cleanse my mind of my super stimulating thoughts ;) I've become a little more private and keep most of those feeling to myself.  But yet, here I am June 12th... back to my comfort area of writing on my blog.  Still not sure of what I am going to talk about...yet.  but I am here, because I feel like I need to be.  I have some things to say. 

First off I wanted to talk about my day.  This afternoon at 3pm I met with many of my nursing coworkers from 7.1 to celebrate the life of another nurse coworker Laura Lee LeBrun who passed away May 19th at the age of 38.  It absolutely breaks my heart that I am actually writing this.  I didn't know her as well as the other nurses on my floor did, but I knew her well enough to know that I really liked her.  She was our charge nurse, so someone I chatted with regularly about the patients on the floor.  She was a very social person, so we chatted about other non related work things probably more then we should have.  She was so kind, so genuine, so beautiful with an amazing personality.  I remember her talking about her love of sailing, her bootcamps, her mom, and the many short relationships she had.  I knew a great guy who was attractive, loved to sail, and did well for himself who was a part of my family through my I set them up, and they married...but they sadly did not live happily ever after because Laura Lee found out she had cancer shortly after their honeymoon. 

I feel very mixed emotions...part of me is so happy that they found true love with each other, and that Stefan and his family were so supportive for her during her battle with cancer, and part of me feels guilty in the pain that he is feeling right now after losing the love of his life.  I feel like that is my fault.   I feel like if I didn't set them up, he wouldn't be feeling the incredible loss that he is feeling right now.  I don't know what it is like to lose a spouse, and I hope that I never feel that loss for a very long time.   But I know what it feels like to lose someone you love.  And the thoughtful man that he is...says to me today " I know today is the day Jessica passed away" and I cut him short and said...right now is about Laura Lee....

Over 30 nurses stood together while poems were read and memories of Laura Lee were shared.   We released our balloons into the air for our friend, and she was a large rainbow made it's presence in the sky that showed no signs of rain.  It was a sign to show she approved...and that she was there with us all today.  

Days like today remind me how precious our lives are.  How precious our loved ones really are.  We often take for granted so much in our lives and blame our busy schedules and lack of time for the reasons we don't call our family or friends often enough, or why we don't make the effort to visit more often.  Sometimes we work to hard, we spend so much time on the things that really don't matter in the big picture.  When you lose someone important to you, all you wish is that you had more time to spend with them.  I only knew Jessica for one month, I never had the chance to really get to know her, even though I see her face everyday in Alyssa. 

It sounds silly, but I still feel the need to be a mother to my daughter in heaven.  It is a challenge...and there is only so much that I can do, but I need to.  That's the best way to explain it.  I need to do this.  I send up balloons to her on her birthday and anniversary of her death.  I light a candle in her memory.  And I organize the IWK 5K - In Memory of Jessica, because it is my way to be a Mom to my Jessica who passed away six years ago today.  I celebrate her short life, and hope to help other families so that they won't experience this loss.   And for anyone who knows me...for the last couple of years my life has been pretty routine, I spend 6 months organizing the IWK event to keep me busy during a really hard time of the year, and then then next 6 months focused on myself training on a marathon to keep me busy.  This is how I cope.  And it is really the only way I know how. 

Tonight my girls came home after soccer with Keith with me crying typing out this blog.  They started to cry as they saw me cry.  They asked me why I was so sad and then I told them about today.  I told them about our celebration and I told them about Jessica's anniversary.  Tonight was one of those nights where we question when the right time to tell the girls about their sister really is/was.  Emily remembered right away and immediately started crying, and then right after Alyssa joined in.  And the four of us sat on a single sofa chair hugging each other crying...Alyssa always seemed too young to really understand and not really as emotional as Emily, but tonight as we held her in our arms, she cried and said "Jessica is my twin"...she really understood.  So we put down two very tired, emotional girls, with extra long cuddles and more kisses then normal....

It is ok to cry.  It is ok to be sad.  It is ok to love someone that is no longer here.  But remember to love those that are still here...and always make time for each other now, because tomorrow you may not have that chance