From exhausted/overworked mother to Mrs. Vancouver Island!

by janevermeulen on July 12, 2017 · 2 comments

It is official—I am now Mrs. Vancouver Island! Don’t worry, I did not lose my license to practice veterinary medicine and my “Doctor” title. Rather, I did something unusual last weekend—I entered the Mrs. BC Pageant.

How I prefer to dress!

To answer some questions that have come up since I announced that I was running in the pageant:

  1. What? Is there such a thing as a Mrs BC Pageant? Yes—it is coordinated with the Miss BC, Miss Teen BC and Junior Miss BC pageant. The pageant is not a “beauty” pageant in the sense that there is NO swimsuit component. There are interviews (private and on-stage), evening wear and fitness. For fitness, I skipped. No joke—skipping rope and all. One woman played basketball. There are no age, weight, height or marital status restrictions so it was a mix of girls as young as 14 years (teen) to women in their sixties!
  2. Was there a talent category. Yes, but it was optional and more of a fundraiser for the official charity, Cops for Cancer. My talent was interpreting x-rays. Another woman showed how you can bake a cake in 60 seconds. Clearly, the talent section was not judged.
  3. Why the bleep would a 42 year-old veterinarian with two young children do something so bizarre, weird and rather out-of-the ordinary like enter a pageant?

Well, the decision was not random or spontaneous—I actually met with the pageant organizer in November. But, I was a little embarrassed to tell people for the longest time because it just did not seem like “me”. And by “me”, I mean the woman who is a veterinarian with a Master in Public Administration, founder of Vets for Pets, coordinator of Women’s Campaign School, wife of Nick and mother of Miki and Nora. But, I need a break from “me”. Here is the story on how I traded in scrubs and spit-up for an evening gown and heels.

Nine years ago, Nick and I made the decision to adopt a child from Bulgaria. And that was the start of an expensive and lengthy journey to have a family. In 2012, it became obvious that we were not going to have a family through adoption and we pursued fertility treatments. In April 2013, we welcomed Miki! And one week after coming home from the hospital, we headed to Surrey to see Nick’s mother who had suffered a massive stroke right before Miki was born. For three years, we were members of the “sandwich generation” caring for a toddler and a parent at the same time. We managed a young child, careers, my own mother’s illness and bringing my mother-in-law to Victoria. And another four cycles of fertility treatments to have another child. On March 21st, 2016, we welcomed Nora! And one week after bringing Nora home, we returned to the same hospital where I had my c-section and said goodbye to my mother-in-law. Although her condition had been unstable for months, her death was rapid and unexpected. I will be eternally grateful to the McDonalds and Starbucks for sustaining us for the weeks that followed.

And almost overnight, life became different. For so many years, my life revolved around medical appointments. Visits to the fertility clinic at 7am for ultrasounds, specialists appointments as I was of “advanced maternal age” (aka OLD), appointments with my mother-in-law’s many doctors and all the visits needed to keep a young child alive. It is not that I suddenly had free time, I had free “thoughts”. There were times when I felt compelled to worry and then realized I had nothing to worry about. Very odd sensation for an anxiety-riddled person like me. I actually did not know what to do with myself! So, I entered contests to win things: online contests, phone contests, newspaper contests. And that is when I discovered the Mrs. BC Pageant. And, there was no swimsuit component!

I met with the organizer and liked the concept of a weekend dedicated to women becoming better versions of themselves. I became motivated to look after myself —including getting my fractured tooth repaired, my ingrown toenail cut out and that scary skin lesion on my forehead burned off by a doctor. Not quite “pampering” but I literally felt better from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I threw away my old, ill-fitting clothes (except my Roots hoodie and my “cheeto sweater”) and actually spent more than 72 seconds picking out a shirt.

The pageant weekend officially started on Saturday July 1st at registration and the “heart and soul” with all the contestants in the Miss, Teen and Mrs categories. Basically, we had one minute to state why we entered the pageant and what we hoped to achieve. There was a recurring theme of women trying to make the world a better place. Sounds “pageant-y”, but listening to these amazing women talk about mental illness, postpartum depression and fractured self-esteem, I could tell I was in the presence of some cool chicks! The rest of the weekend was a total blur. We did workshops on etiquette, public speaking and leadership. And rehearsal. SOO MUCH REHEARSAL as the pageant was before a live audience and being taped for Shaw TV. And then on Monday, July 3rd, my nieces did my hair and make-up, I put on a fancy dress and tried to “wow” the judges.

I did not win the “ultimate” title of Mrs. BC but I did get a runner-up (regional) title of Mrs. Vancouver Island. Truthfully, I considered myself a winner the moment I stepped on stage. I stepped out of my comfort zone, looked after myself and made new friends.

But hey, I will take the sash and crown and wield my power to get my husband to pick up his socks. Who am I kidding —not even Mrs. Ruler of the Entire Galaxy has that power!

Look at me! All fancy!




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shari July 12, 2017 at 9:32 am

You are such an inspiration. So happy for you. If anyone deserves this, you do. Bravo. ❤️

Sarah Bourdon August 31, 2017 at 10:55 am

Dr. Vermeulen! I recently met you for the first time at Hillside for an appointment with my dog, Buddy. Somehow, reading through blog posts this morning, I found your post. I love that you did this! What a great experience after everything you were going through. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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