When it comes to marriage, I’m in my infancy. Just barely out of the honeymoon stage and with only two years under my belt, I still find myself toddling around on occasionally wobbly feet. Like childhood, these early years offer exponential growth and steep learning curves. While this journey in togetherness has been teaching me oh-so-many things, I have yet to gather a collection of profound wisdom or great advice. But I do have are twenty-four months of stunningly beautiful memories and laughter, struggles, excitement and day to day life.

And so, entering into our third year as husband and wife, here is a quick glimpse (just barely scratching the surface here) into what this wonderful adventure has been teaching me:

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In the Smith household, Saturday mornings were always synonymous with waffles. Tickled awake by the smell of freshly baked waffles, we’d make our way downstairs to find Dad busy creating a mountain of breakfast. Dousing the waffles in butter and maple syrup, we perfected the art of stuffing ourselves to near overflowing, while somehow managing to still find room for “just one more…”

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To all the Mothers with Empty Arms and Grieving Hearts

Some days are easier than others. There are days when the painful throb of a broken heart briefly eases and tears are replaced by small smiles. These are the moments when the world seems a little lighter, a little brighter, and this new form of “normal” appears almost manageable. There are days without questions, “what-if’s” and the heavy weight of a grieving heart. But today is not that day.

Today is Mother’s Day.

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A few years ago, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across photos of a mother holding her newborn baby. With tears in her eyes, she gazed lovingly at the tiny babe that had just been brought into the world. Bundled gently in a white hospital blanket, he was small and beautiful. And although he appeared to be asleep, this little fellow would never wake up.

He was stillborn.

To be completely honest, this picture confused me. I was genuinely grieved over the loss of this mother’s baby but more than anything else, I was weirded out. I found it strange that they’d posted a photo of their deceased infant and odder still that the mother’s arms were wrapped so tightly around him. I couldn’t imagine wanting to hold someone who was dead, even if they were your child.

“Would I hold my stillborn baby?”

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For a while now, I’ve been hearing about the “FlyOver Canada” ride at Canada Place (Vancouver, BC). They’ve run ads on the radio and plastered flyers around town but until recently, I’ve never actually considered checking it out. I’ll be the first to admit that I avoided this attraction for the sole reason that I’m a bit of a flight snob.

Four years ago, with the bare minimum of 200 flight hours to my name, I earned my commercial pilots license. I saw the Rockies up close and personal as I tipped my wings past dazzling lakes and snow capped mountains. Flying from Regina to Three Hills with my night rating, I watched the sun set in flaming beauty and saw the glow of summer forest fires shimmering against the distant night sky. I’ve flown around the Lower Mainland, with mountains on one side, ocean on the other and the city below. I’ve caught a glimpse of the Northern lights from inside my little cockpit and touched down as far north as Yellowknife.

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A couple years ago, while perusing wedding pins on Pinterest, I happened to stumble across a picture of some very unique looking pyjamas. These pants were more than just the stack of generic nightwear tucked away in my closet. The colours were splashed across the fabric in a dazzling, eye catching pattern; they were ornately trimmed and looked beyond comfy. They were also way bolder than anything I would normally wear – even as pyjama pants. But there was just something about them and as I peered closer, the description caught my eye.

“PUNJAMMIES™ are loungewear bottoms made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking. Whenever you purchase PUNJAMMIES™, you invest in the freedom and dignity of these women and girls who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children.”

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It was Easter Sunday and although we were a few minutes early, the church building was already feeling crowded. We squeezed into the sanctuary and made our way towards the family seating area in the corner. The main floor was quickly filling and my husband made a beeline for a row of available seats.

A few steps behind him, my gaze wasn’t on the empty seats but rather the row immediately in front of them. Perched on the theatre style seating were two matching car seats with a teeny tiny baby nestled in each one. Newborn twins.

My breath caught in my throat and I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach.

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Until I began maternity leave, I worked part-time as an admin assistant for my home church. Typing, filing, organizing, formatting, and editing, may sound like death by paperwork but I was in my element. I couldn’t have been happier. My favourite time of the day was first thing in the morning as I’d begin preparing for office hours. With fingers flying over keys and emails whizzing out of my inbox, I’d open up YouTube and let my little computer fill the air with worship songs.

The musical notes would soak deep into my womb and the boys would respond with leaps and flips. With a belly morphing and bouncing, the three of us spent daily time in joyful praise and adoration of the one who gives life. One of the songs in particular caught my attention and I would play it over and over again, the melody lifting high in praise, my heart soaring alongside:

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Usually, I consider myself a pretty good skater. I grew up on the ice and spent a fair number of Saturday’s wheeling around the neighbourhood on a pair of inline rollerblades. So, finding myself wobbling around the rink, clutching at the sideboards, was a new experience for me.

A couple weeks ago, Andreas and I persuaded the grandparents to babysit our wee one (doesn’t take much to persuade them) and headed out on a date. We try to make date night a monthly occurrence and are always looking for fun, new ideas. That’s why I was so excited when we were given a Groupon for Christmas: two passes for an evening of rollerskating at Central City Arena in Surrey.

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When it comes to picking out a gravestone, some cemeteries only allow for markers so as not to disturb the natural appearance of the landscape. A marker is a flat headstone, compared to upright headstones which are called monuments. The price of our 20×12 baby sized marker was more than the funeral and came complete with a granite base, name, date, a five word epitaph and three emblems.

I’m twenty-three years old, I should not have to know this. But I do.

Last week we finally went to pick out a marker for Landon’s grave. For eight months his little plot of earth has been marked by a plastic slip of paper with his name and the occasional flower or stuffed bear.

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As a child, the first signal of an approaching Easter was always the night that we’d get to dye eggs. The table would be set with glasses of brightly coloured water and a dozen, gleaming, hard boiled eggs would await each of us. We’d begin to dip and dunk the little white ovals, excitedly watching them transform before our very eyes. Our baskets would soon be filled with rainbow splashed, multi-hued masterpieces. Every year there was an egg we were proud of, an ugly egg that we hid behind the others, and at least one egg with a crack. Nestled in little woven baskets around the house, we would proudly leave our creations on display for the duration of the Easter season.

It’s been several years since I last decorated an egg, but now that I’ve got a little one of my own, it’s time to revive this time-honoured tradition. (Even if this year our baby Ali-gator doesn’t get to touch them.)

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Today, Alistair turns eight months old. (I know, I can’t believe it either!)

Because Alistair was born nine weeks early, his development (size and skill) has always been approximately two months behind other babies his age. Upon discharge from the NICU, we were referred to the Infant Development Program with the Developmental Disabilities Association. In order to assist babies with developmental delays, this program partners with their families to provide support, information, and encouragement.

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