Coffee society

As though it has been all planned out: Drink coffee. Get the kids prepped for school. Run to work. Get coffee. Work work work. Get coffee. Work some more. Run to get the kids. Homework. Supper. Bedtime routine. Housework. Sleep not enough. Wake up. Drink coffee. 

We have managed to build a society that runs on false stimulation. Most people need to work. They wouldn’t be able to survive otherwise; unless they were self-sufficient. Maybe little self-managed farms could do the trick, but then income levels would go low, consumption would reduce, and GDP would drop. Traditional economists would not like that.

So we work most of the hours of our lives on jobs that do not necessarily inspire us all. If we could, we rather be spending more time with our family, with our children. There is something to be said about the fact that as of the age of 4 or 5, and to most, even as of 1, children spend most of their time with strangers. They are strangers to us, but definitely not to our kids any longer.

Yet, we expect our kids to listen to us, their parents. We expect them to behave in ways we are not around enough to show them. Instead, we work to get them to live in good standards, study in good schools and grow up in good neighbourhoods. We tire ourselves and they get tired out until the end of the day, when we meet again, and have close to no energy left to be patient, creative, or inspiring. And to survive it all, we drink coffee.

We perform better at work because of it, find more patience with our kids because of it, and get the energy to finally do the things we enjoy doing because of it, even though our body is dead tired after all the work we have completed and all the sleep we are lacking. A society run on coffee – that’s what we have managed to build.





Time passes and change stays

The last time I wrote on this blog was when I was about to give birth to my second child, my son. I remember that my focus was my children’s joy and wellbeing, as I was drowned in dark times, depressing times that sunk me very deep.

Today, close to 5 years later, I am a single mom, proudly working hard to raise my kids the best I possibly can, and provide them with the best environment I can find.

Between then and now, I have been through very intense moments, including a divorce, 4 court appearances because of the tedious divorce, harsh memorable and painful moments, that have not yet washed away from my skin. This is just to name a few…

There is something to be said about divorces that go wrong. We somehow always knew they were coming… as though preparing for them since we are young. I have been so resilient, strong, and courageous. I have faced close to impossible moments of tension and pressure. But today, I feel tired, I feel 10 years older than I am, I feel drained out.

To think that we escape one problem to make life easier is partly foolish because the problem stays, we just decide to move away from it.

Facing the fact that I will not be able to offer my kids everything I would like to because I have to negotiate everything with their dad; I will not be able to teach them all I would like them to learn from a young age because the custody schedule just does not allow it and their father won’t cooperate, are all things that are gradually slowing me down.

Thinking I was a warrior, that could not be ‘crushed down’ as my ex would say, or a super single mom, that would not let anything stop me because it seems ‘difficult’ as my ex would say, I gave myself challenges that I might not be able to accomplish.

I am tired. Really tired.

Darkness of marriage

I can’t even begin explaining the complexity of emotions embodied in me about this failing marriage. It is so overwhelmingly complicated that it stops me from expressing myself about it. I never know where or how to start.

There is so much regret, pain, anger, shame, and disbelief. The constant thought is: how did I allow myself to be in this mess and what have I done to deserve such pain?

From very early on, the signs were loud and clear. From his anger management issues, to our cultural differences, to his communication disability. I will just let out whatever comes out. Maybe it is a good way to start. From the beginning, I feel that I am being emotionally and verbally abused. His constant swearing, even when he is talking to himself. Hearing his non-stop negative, aggressive, and bad-mouth complaining all the time. I remember that while I was breastfeeding our youngest, 2 years ago, and would hear him in the house complaining out loud this way, I would literally feel my body being hammered down into the ground, and something pushing on my shoulders downward, while I sink deeper into something so heavy and sticky. I will never forget that image.

So many nights I would cry, alone, after having put the kids to sleep, because that day, he had yelled uncontrollably in front of the kids or swore badly in their presence. I would imagine their innocent minds and hearts becoming corrupt and broken. When I was breastfeeding our youngest, he actually once told me that I do nothing. I still had the eldest at home. She was two.

His disrespect to motherhood, lack of appreciation to what motherhood is, represents, and means… disgusted me, angered me, and made me feel so cheap and invaluable. Me, who is such a good mother. I give my all to my children. How could I have ended up with a man who can’t see the value in that?

He would say that I was asking too much of him. I would tell him that he needed to be present at home, and that he needed to participate in house chores. For him, working and getting the groceries was more than plenty and that I should be so thankful just for that.

Once, after he had acted in impatience and anger in the presence of the kids, I told him that he needed to act by example, that he needed to bring out the best of himself and improve the bad, for their sake, to show them how we one should be. Do you know what he said? “I’m not a druggy or an alcoholic, what more do they need?”

…. What to say to that? I remember what I had said. I told him that I was going to be superwoman for them… There is so much. So many horrible moments like this, that made me realize I was up against the impossible. That there was nothing I could do to make my children’s father a better person, a better model, a better father.

It kills me everyday to know that I gave my children such a man for a father. The only responsibility that lies on me alone, is the choice of father to my children, and I failed them. What is worst, is that they will love him and want his appreciation and attention, and he will never be good enough for them. He will never give them what they need from him. My children will always suffer internally because of his lack of so many things.

What’s hard and overwhelming is that I try to compensate for everything they are missing from him. I play rough with them, I do all the physical activities that are usually done by two. I adapt my way of talking, of being, so to make sure I compensate for his negativity.

I remember when the eldest was one and I would play with her at home, he would get so angry when we make noise because he insists on working from home. He wouldn’t let them be kids!

I always feel I need to control every moment so that he doesn’t blow or lose patience or swear. I tried for so long. Only to realize that I didn’t have that capacity. I couldn’t have such control. I only stayed with him this long because I wanted to do damage control. I wanted to be around when he did wrong  so that I could repair the damage caused to them and be able to understand their behaviour afterwards. Imagine, staying with someone just so I can minimize the damage done to my children.

I would ask him to give me just one day when I could sleep in the morning because he would never get up at night for them or in the morning when they wake up, and it was not doable. He would even go out every Friday night with his friends, get pissed drunk and sleep most of Saturday, hung over and sometimes even sick. He would tell me that Saturday is a work day anyway and that I shouldn’t count on his presence anyway on that day. How can I not go crazy with that logic? I don’t know how to reason with that. I just don’t know how.

Well, of course, it only made things worst. Tension went up, hatred grew more than ever, and when he did the unthinkable (actually, I have to say that I predicted it would happen one day), then I wasn’t able to handle it anymore. I told him that it was over. He had called me a whore in front of the kids (yelling of course) and said he was going to step on me and crush me.

It went from worst to hell. He has only been punishing me since then. Making me feel like leaving him will make my life impossible and being with the kids alone will be too hard. He would punish me by leaving when he knew I had started Yoga on Tuesday evenings, so that I don’t get to go, and he would say “oh I don’t care about your schedule anymore”. He would leave at night when the baby would be sick.

When both kids were 6 months old, those were the first clues, he would yell at them for crying so long. He even told them to shut up a few times.

What is crazy is that my biggest fears of being with this man became true. And what is scary is to wonder if it is because they are my fears that they became true. Did I bring all of this onto myself? Did I cause all this unconsciously? Did I act in such a way in my life, thinking I was making sure I would never be in this situation, that I guaranteed myself this outcome?

Today, he is making the divorce close to impossible. He threatens me with court, with taking the kids, with wanting crazy amounts of money for the house. What I felt was liberating in leaving him became once again an unescapable trap that I can’t find a solution for.

How does one get out of such a situation without causing damage to the kids? He wants to fight and it will be ugly and I did everything to make sure it doesn’t get to this. Or did I do everything to make sure it did? So fucked up. After all this, I still find a way to blame myself for this hell I am in.

What makes it harder is that I cannot talk about it. I never expressed everything and I don’t think I will ever be able to. None of my friends can fully understand. One is an angry woman who only poisons me more, and it hurts me so much to realize that. Another is so far away that I can’t dedicate every time we speak to my depressing situation. My sister knows most but not all, and still doesn’t grasp the reality or magnitude – she lives in a completely different reality, and country. My parents don’t know how to make me feel better, or I don’t know how to let them make me feel better.

When problems had started to be bad, I would go to him at night, after putting the kids to sleep (alone), and would want to talk to him. He would tell me to fuck off, to leave him alone. He would laugh when I would tell him I hated him; he would say it is my hormones. I would tell him that we need to plan financially for when the kids are old enough to go to school and he would get defensive, saying that I never think what he does is good enough and would tell me that he knows nobody who can make more than 4K a month. I had told him that to be able to stay in this home and take the kids to the schools that would be ideal for them, we would need to make together 10K a month. I told him that I was going to do a masters and get good paying work. His proposal was to go gold digging in Lebanon.

I am just not able to understand why this is happening. I know I am strong. I know I am smarter than he is. But I never realized how difficult it would be to deal with trashy logic. He drains me. These last 4 years have killed my confidence, developed self-pity in me, and have made me such an indecisive person.

I haven’t been myself for so long.

I just want to be at my best with my children. I just want to give them the best, my best.

Giving birth in Montreal

As a mom who has had two delivery experiences in Montreal, I found it to be quite the surprising adventure. Who would have thought that finding a doctor I like, a hospital I am comfortable with, and easy access to variable delivery options would have been so difficult in Montreal?

As someone who really needs to feel surrounded by the right people, the right atmosphere and positive energy, I found myself searching for places, people, and answers for a long time. Until now, I am not sure I really found what I was looking for, but I figured I could at least share what I know and have been able to figure out. It might help other moms in Montreal who are now going through the adventure of preparing for their delivery experience in this city.

I had first quickly realized that I didn’t want to give birth in a birthing centre. Although I believe that midwives should be part of staff of all hospitals, and although I wanted to give birth as naturally as possible (no epidural and a minimum of medical intervention), I chose to give birth at a hospital because I didn’t want to take any risks in case something went wrong. This also explains my hospital choice at the end.

So first, a Dr. … Ask around, tell people you respect and admire that you are looking for one; chances of their Dr. being one you could mesh with are higher. Check reviews online and make sure they have more positive than negative feedback. Most doctors will not necessarily be there to assist you during labour but figure out anyway if you are ok with that and if not, one of your criteria might be that your doctor shows up to all patients’ deliveries. The doctor that will follow-up your pregnancy is associated to a hospital and you will have “no choice” but to go to that hospital. This is of course if we want to go by the system. Otherwise, show up wherever you would like, without a follow-up doctor to claim for your pregnancy and they will have no choice but to take you in; with attitude of course.

For me, it was important to find a doctor that was open to the variety of options I was considering for my birth experience. It was important for me to find a doctor who was comfortable with a more natural process and who was able to answer all my questions with care and time. Did I find that? First time around, partially. A friend I look up to and mom of four referred me to The Herzl, a family practice clinic associated to the Jewish General Hospital. Her doctor of course took no more patients, so, I was placed with a resident. I was really uncomfortable with that at first and found it revolting that I pretty much had no choice but to be with a resident. We live in Canada people!! But I quickly accepted the facts and grew to like the resident because he took the time to answer all my questions. I was happy that the clinic was a team of family doctors. So, I was followed by a family Dr and a family doctor delivered my babies (OBGYNs are always in the ward if needed anyways). I preferred a family doc to an OBGYN because I was looking for a less medically-focused experience; and this clinic provided a good balance in that respect (that doesn’t mean that the birthing ward at the Jewish is aligned with that mentality). One thing I didn’t like however was that, following protocol, the resident had me fill out a birthing plan, which would be consulted by the nurses when I go into delivery. Having put my all into that plan, I was extremely disappointed to notice that the hospital nurses gave little importance to the priorities laid out in the plan. So, impression given by the doctor at the clinic doesn’t always match reality in the hospital. At least the team of doctors you get are from the Herzl, but it will be whoever is on call that night or day. On another positive note, the Herzl feels like a family clinic where people get to know you and your kids. The head nurse is especially great, Ros. Some of the secretaries are the stereotype Montrealer clinic nazi-secretaries who make you feel they rule the game and  love the power, but you learn to appeal to their better nature.

The hospital… man oh man did I go around visiting hospitals while being super pregnant. I only looked into the English network of hospitals. I didn’t want Ste-Justine (a friend of mine had a bad experience and I was just not attracted to the place) and LaSalle is too far for me (I was told by a few that it has a good birthing ward). So, I looked into the Jewish, Royal Vic, and St-Mary’s. I called and asked around about more hospitals but decided that these were the main ones worth visiting while carrying a huge belly (at this point, I was 7 months pregnant and still thinking I could find a ‘real’ doctor vs a resident and a hospital I like!). After my first experience at the Jewish, I was traumatized by some of the nursing team members and promised myself I would never step a foot in there again. Very briefly, the nurse didn’t answer my requests, made me sit when I asked to stay standing for pain relief, let me vomit on the floor because she wouldn’t believe I was nauseous and therefore didn’t bring me a container, was rude to my family and to the resident doctor… I can go on. Most important thing to know is that she no longer works there. Goodbye!

But the Dr (not resident!) I had at the Herzl second time around convinced me to stay with him by month 6 or 7, and promised me he would come to my delivery and make sure the nurses were sensitive to my first experience. He was the one on call during my first delivery and I loved him, so I had asked him to be my first baby’s family doctor. He therefore followed my second pregnancy a year and a half later and ended up giving birth to my second as well. He is their family doctor.

Here is a summary of my personal findings:

Rooms and ambiance Medical and delivery equipment Nursing team Feedback and reputation
The Jewish Ordinary cold medical atmosphere with ugly curtains and colours. Post-partum ward is not very charming either but plain ordinary. Most equipped with specialized medical facilities for you and your baby in case of problems. Bathtubs don’t all work in case you want to sit in bath during labour (or I was just refused the bathtub because the nurse didn’t feel like prepping it). You take your chance – some nurses are amazing, some are unbearable Most people I know who had been there had a +ve experience. I had both a very –ve one and a +ve one. It has the reputation of being one of the 2 best performing hospitals for delivery. Depending on the Dr you get, it can be a very medically driven experience, or not much so. I guess you are still at a hospital nonetheless.
Royal Vic Ordinary cold medical atmosphere. Post-partum ward known to be very old and in need of renos but have not visited it. Most equipped with specialized medical facilities for you and your baby in case of problems. Known for dealing best with sensitive pregnancies. You take your chance. It has the reputation of being ‘the best’ for delivery, although I would argue that statement because it is only claimed so due to the fact that it is the hospital that deals with sensitive cases. Therefore, very medically driven.
St-Mary’s New rooms, warm atmosphere, lots of light (during the day). Same for post-partum ward. Not the most equipped with specialized medical facilities in case of problems (I think that they lack one machine in particular). It is a couple of blocks away from the Jewish though…Hospital with the most options available as to the delivery experience: big bathtub, yoga balls, etc. Generally friendly and caring It is known to be the best hospital to go to for a mentally positive birthing experience. Most moms I know who went there had a +ve experience.

If anyone has anything to add to this collection of observations please do! As much help we can provide to new moms is best 🙂

Just so you know, my first delivery ended going completely opposite to my plan. I took the epidural (after long hours of contractions, the nurse pretty much cornered me into taking it – yes the same nurse who is not there anymore); I was induced because contractions were not getting intense, the Dr had to perforate in order to get all my water out because it seemed that it broke but was sitting in a way that was keeping it in; I had a 3rd degree rip, and the Dr had to help the baby out by cupping her because I pushed for almost 5 hours and although her head would almost come out, she would always get sucked back in. And, as I mentioned earlier, the first half of the 20-hour delivery was accompanied by horrible nurses. But then the morning shift came in and hope was back. The Dr was amazing, the resident was so attentive, and the nurses were champions.

The second time around, I gave birth 3 to 4 weeks early; delivery was quick and didn’t have time to get the epidural even if I would have wanted to; it hurt like crazy and I thought I was going to die (really) but the nurse was another champion and without her, I might have completely broken down. My sweet Dr. came to deliver me, as promised, and was very supportive as well.

On a final note, I would advise to be open to however the events roll out once D day arrives. Take things as they come and make the best decisions you can make as the options fold out. Never forget that you are Queen of the moment and you can request anything you want and express whatever you feel like expressing, without worrying about being too demanding, picky, or judged. What is most important is that you feel you can listen to your intuition, trust that intuition, act by it, and not be afraid to say ‘no’ or ‘I would like to insist on this’. You are Queen.

Listen to your body and trust what it says. You will see. It is bigger than you.