On Wednesday, January 25, I joined my last BikeBrampton Zoom meeting. I said my goodbyes to colleagues and friends that I’ve spent many hours within the trenches of City Hall, trying to make the city experience a little better outside the automobile. Many of them were supportive when Toby was diagnosed with cancer. I’m going to miss them dearly.
I’ll try to make it back to Brampton when I’m able. But it could be a while before the twins are big enough to hold themselves upright and can sit in a bicycle trailer or cargo bike.
What should be the last truck has been booked. It’s a big one — 26 feet. I was hoping to have it for a week but it seems that one-way rentals from U-Haul don’t allow this. 48 hours max, so, we’ll have to maximize staging to load the truck as soon as it’s picked up, and hit the road the next day, 24 hours later.
For-profit health care means we don’t have a compelling enough case to keep it public.
By this, I mean that people have become complacent. After all, governments are elected to represent the people.
Even if one argues “broken democracy”, “proportional representation”, etc. It’s people that haven’t cared or been desperate enough to change any of it. Our election turnout in Ontario speaks for itself.
My first update post of the year — So, Happy New Year, everyone!
Last Christmas, we were still feeling a little raw at our first Christmas without Toby. We didn’t do much. But with newborn infants this year, we didn’t want to let “doing nothing” become a habit. We had recently purchased Costco memberships in anticipation of our move north and decided that our first purchases were going to be movie theatre confections.
Christmas Eve was kicked off with decorating cookies and watching a holiday classic: Die Hard
On Christmas Day, we were going to watch the Marvel cinematic universe in chronological order — Toby’s favourite — but chickened out for Star Wars instead.
I’ve been taking parental leave since the twins were born in November. January is my last month off before returning to work. In that time, my goal is to get our house ready for sale and move so that our primary residence Mattawa, Ontario with Emily’s parents, before returning to work in February — no pressure!
We’ve already started moving some of our non-essential stuff, and it’s definitely looking like winter up there, compared to the dry ground of Brampton (as of this writing).
This move, when finished, will mean that everyone in the Papineau Homes project will be located close to where we will be building. I expect updates will come more readily at that time, and I already have topics I want to record content for. I’m hoping it’ll be easier to provide context by recording on location.
We’re excited to feel like our move is picking up momentum again.
On November 3, 2022, at 11:30 am, my wife and I welcomed Enid (7lb 0.2oz) and Asher (6lb 4.9oz) Montgomery into the world.
As is common with premature twin deliveries, theirs was not without issues — which we are still managing now and is the cause for the delay in this update.
The primary concern was that they both lost more than 10% of their birth weight. Because they are primarily breastfed, it has taken more time for that weight to recover. Though I’m pleased to report that they have recovered that weight.
That recovery was due to Emily and I working simultaneously to feed the twins every 3 hours at the latest, earlier if either expressed a desire for it. This means that for the last 3+ weeks, neither Emily or I have slept through the night, which hasn’t been pleasant. Fortunately, I’m taking parental leave until February, so there’s no rush to be anywhere in the morning.
The twins are growing. Their faces are filling out, and their appetites continue to increase. We’re hopeful that they’ll soon take on more supplementation at a time, further apart, to allow us more than 1.5-2 hours of sleep at a time. 😉 But in the meantime, there are worse things than waking up with these two.
“Different Spokes” is the results of years of work, some of which I was a part of early on in it’s conception. It’s where I was hoping to take The Bikeport before life pulled me in a different direction.
The bicycles in this photo represent the end of an era for my family. The cruiser-style bicycle was my wife’s, before we committed to living car-free in Brampton for what ended up being 10 years. It was later passed on to my daughter. The orange mountain bike was Toby’s, and his older brother before him. Had Toby not become ill with cancer, he would probably be at the age now where we would consider sizing him up to another bicycle. A coming of age moment.
Instead, it’s the end of an era.
This photo carries a lot of weight with me: Joy and sorrow at the same time. A composition that reflects the bizarro state of my life.
I’m beyond thrilled that BikeBrampton and Punjabi Health Community Services in Brampton were able to make this happen. This is so awesome and I’m so sorry I can’t be a stronger participant in it. The people that made this happen are amazing. I’ve no doubt that Different Spokes is going to offer an amazing space for people using bicycles in Brampton.
It’s also a bittersweet moment to donate these bicycles. I still remember my last ride with #TheLegendaryToby, before his liver failed. We rode to A&W for burgers together. It’s an experience I’ve become used to in grief where I don’t want to separate from the things that belong to Toby, knowing full well that as we prepare to move, there isn’t space or purpose for keeping it. It’s better that it “live on” in another child’s possession.
The start of this story technically goes back about 15-16 years, shortly after my second child was born. My wife and I came to an agreement that after recently having a second child fairly soon after our first, we should take a break before having more. We discussed options for birth control.
Decisions were made, procedures had, and — against the odds — we were expecting our third child, Toby, within 2 years anyway.
I made a decision to have a vasectomy performed. As far as Emily and I were concerned, we were finished with having children, now having had 3 close together.
We continue to experience many emotions over our loss. Those feelings include the sense of being cheated. Robbed. One of our children was stolen from us by fate against our will. We still have so much love to give to our kids. With that in mind, we re-opened the discussion of having more children.
We weren’t naive about our chances of success. Emily and I are both in our 40s now. But, with open minds and hearts, we started seeking fertility consultation in May 2021.
The first action for me to take was to have a vasectomy reversal, which I did in July 2021.
Emily and I then started having discussions with Newlife Fertility Clinic in August 2021. Emily was monitored and both of us underwent testing to assess feasibility — including assessing the success of my vasectomy reversal. By December, the clinic had all of the data it needed.
During that time, my benefits plan at work came up for renewal. This was a good thing because it allowed me to increase my coverage to pay for fertility medication, which it wouldn’t have before. The new coverage began in January 2022, and that’s when Emily began the process of ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval.
In March 2022, after going through embryo screening and selection, the embryo was transferred, and we had a confirmed pregnancy!
Whose Cookies Are They?
Here’s a scenario to consider.
You’re making chocolate chip cookies. You’ve done your best to prepare, but you realize that you don’t have any chocolate chips! Your neighbour has some and kindly offers them to you so that you can complete your recipe and make your cookies.
Question: Whose cookies are they?
This thought experiment was one that I and Emily had to consider during the IVF process. The reason is that my post-vasectomy reversal testing indicated that I was not a viable donor to produce an embryo. Secondary male-factor infertility: At one time I was fertile, but am no longer.
So, we turned to a donor bank.
In choosing this, we were required to meet with an IVF councillor. One of the things we talked about is the nature of fatherhood, and what it means to be a father to children that I did not offer a biological contribution to.
What is a father, anyway?
Fatherhood is just as much a legal term as a biological one. But the more relevant example, in this case, is a relationship between a male parent and a child. I will be the only father these kids will ever know. They will be my children, and I will help raise them to be the best people with all the love that I have, as best as I possibly can.
Although we had help, we took the time to make the way for these kids to come into the world.
They’re our cookies.
Through this process, I came to learn that sperm donation is seen as altruistic in countries like Denmark, where 90% of donors state this as a reason for donating. This hadn’t occurred to me until I found myself needing a place to turn to for help. So, guys, consider donating. There are often shortages in Canada. It’s an amazing gift to people that want kids.
At one point, I donated regularly. However, in 2019 I developed a chronic cough/throat clearing sensation. I’m still working with doctors to figure out the cause, or what works to reduce symptoms. In 2020, before a COVID-19 vaccine became available, this cough was problematic in convincing nursing staff that this was not “new or worsening”, and so my donation was refused. I decided to hold off until a vaccine was available, or the situation was otherwise more amenable for me to donate again.
That shook me to my core, and I’m still building up the fortitude to go outside and be in public again — never mind the pandemic. I wasn’t sure whether they would accept my donation. My cough hasn’t improved (or gotten particularly worse). But I am fully vaxxed + boosted, I haven’t left the country recently or otherwise done anything that puts me at high risk.
They did take my donation. That was really important to me, and was emotional if I’m totally honest.
By the time we learned that Toby had liver cancer, his liver had already failed. During his assessment, we discovered that cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes, which meant that he didn’t qualify for a liver transplant. It had infiltrated too much of his liver for a resection. Normally, aggressive chemotherapy would have been recommended, but as his liver had already failed, he wouldn’t have survived it.
We had no options. There was nothing we could do to help him. To save or extend his life.
Totally. Fucking. Helpless.
Had chemotherapy been an option, he would have needed blood platelets. Platelets that nearly anyone can donate. How fucked up is it that by the time I was able to donate again, it’s too late to save my son?
But, it’s not too late to extend or save another child’s life. Children that are going through chemotherapy right now. Children with parents that I hope never ever ever have to experience what I have.
You can help these children too. And everyone else that’s going through chemotherapy or experiencing any other number of situations that require platelets, or a blood transfusion.