My best friend arrived at the door armed with Christmas presents, sugar cookies, and lunch supplies. I sat on the couch, a hand pressed tightly against my abdomen, and watched as she navigated her way around my kitchen. She didn’t have to be here on her day off, bearing platefuls of crispy grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup, but when she’d heard I was miscarrying she’d offered to help.

My son and her swapped Christmas presents while we waited for lunch: a slightly wonky snowman ornament for her and a wrapped parcel for him. He didn’t need much encouragement to rip his way through the paper and uncover the new toy underneath. He could barely contain his two-year-old enthusiasm.

The toy was colourful, wooden, and in the shape of a semi-circle: a beautifully, handcrafted rainbow.

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“Is he your first child?”

This question follows us around wherever we go: playing at the park, buying shrimp at the grocery store, hanging out at a mom’s group, or celebrating a friend’s birthday. This is the question I have to answer most frequently. Coincidentally, it’s also the one I find most challenging to respond to.

Most often, the truth feels too time consuming to put into words; it carries with it awkward responses and a lingering emotional toll. So I take the easy way out and simply say, “Yes.”

I know that in a few years, I won’t be the only one struggling to find an appropriate answer to this question. Alistair will have to find his own words for this story too.

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When our doctor confirmed at the four month check-up that our son was teething, I assumed that we’d see those pearly whites popping up shortly thereafter. It was another eight months (and countless bouts of swollen gums) before we finally saw that first tooth – needless to say, we were all pretty relieved.

We all know that having a teething baby can be exhausting for the whole family. Here are 9 simple tricks to help you and your little one get through this process:

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“Aren’t you afraid that he’s going to fall?”

Legs dangling, feet swinging, my son stuffs a handful of cheese into his mouth and giggles from the comfort of his Guzzie + Gus Perch highchair. Whenever we invite guests over for dinner, this is inevitably one of the questions that gets asked. Will this “floating” perch hold his weight?

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Remember when Baby Showers used to be a lot simpler? Back when a group of women would sit in a circle, tie balloons to the new mom’s chair for decoration, and watch as she opened up a pile of presents? We’d eat cake, guess which melted chocolate bar had been smeared inside the diaper, and go home with a couple clothespins clipped to our sweater.

But thanks to the wonderful and all too time consuming invention of Pinterest, things have changed. Now a days, even the once-a-year party planner is expected to channel her inner Martha Stewart, and quite frankly, it’s all a little daunting to live up to.

When it came time to organizing a Baby Shower for my marvelous friend April, I struggled to come up with a simple to execute, budget-friendly theme. So I decided to go back to the basics: a good ole’ “Baby” themed Baby Shower. (The fact that we knew her little one is a boy helped to refine the colour scheme a bit.)

And I have to say that I love the way this party came together. Cute. Simple. Budget-friendly. What’s not to love?

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A night of gift wrapping used to be synonymous with a roll of reindeer covered paper, a glass of eggnog and a Michael Buble Christmas CD. By the end of the evening, a pile of presents would sit under the tree dressed in shiny gift tags, sparkling bows, and delicately handcrafted snowflakes.

But with a toddler in the house, everything looks a little different…

While I envy your Pinterest inspired wrapping techniques, and gifts pretty enough to hang over the mantle, our boxes are going to have a little more “character” this year. But in case you’re still curious about that foot-shaped imprint in the middle of your present, here’s what it looks like to wrap gifts with a toddler in the house:

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When you dream of being discharged from the hospital with a healthy, full-sized little one in your arms, it can be crushing to suddenly find yourself in the organized chaos of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Most families never plan on spending time in the NICU. The average mom is unprepared and unfamiliar with this strange world of beeping monitors, bubbling oxygen machines, and gowned hospital staff. And when you factor in a little baby that’s not doing so great, a few postpartum hormones, and a ton of stress, it’s no wonder that it can feel particularly overwhelming.

That being said, here are a few tips that this NICU mommy wishes she’d known in advance:

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Strapped into the five point harness of my baby stroller is a mini superstar sucking on a dinosaur soother.

That’s right – I have been given the highly sought after and seriously underpaid job of chauffeuring a little celebrity around town in my Graco buggy.

At least, I’m pretty sure there’s a celebrity in there…

Because how else can you possibly explain the unfathomable amount of attention given to the tiny human chewing on a toy giraffe?

Anytime we leave the house, we have to tack an additional half hour to our schedule for spontaneous “meet and greets.” We barely make it out of our apartment elevator without being mobbed by a herd of cooing grandmas and cross-eyed strangers pulling silly faces. And forget about the days of messy ponytails, sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt – my little passenger ensures that there is no longer such a thing as running a “quick errand without seeing anyone.”

Clearly the only plausible conclusion is that I’m carting around a blue eyed, button nosed, internationally recognized superstar.

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Note: This post was written for Michaela Evanow’s blog series on “This is Motherhood (Too).” This article was originally posted on Michaela’s site on August 10, 2015. 

I was eight weeks pregnant when the ultrasound technician turned a grainy screen towards me and pointed out not one but two little miracles. And in that moment, with two hearts blinking on the screen and cold jelly oozing down my belly, all fears dissipated. My husband and I could only marvel at the God who delights in giving such sweet surprises.

Amazed, we stumbled out of the appointment with a fistful of fuzzy ultrasound photos and the reassurance that One greater than ourselves was holding this pregnancy in the palm of His hand.

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Sitting outside the hospital with my empty, saggy tummy and watery eyes, I watched family after family proudly and ever-so-carefully carry their day old newborns out to the car. With every step the beaming parents radiated a wave of pride, nerves, and pure delight. Caught up in a world of wonder, they smiled broadly in my direction, inviting me to join them in this brief moment of bliss. And while I desperately wished to share in their excitement, to feel something, I couldn’t seem to get further than the fake smile twisted on my face.

This was their happiest day. But it certainly wasn’t mine.

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Warning: This post is disgusting and squishy and most certainly not for individuals prone to queasy stomachs or an overly active gag reflex. If you’re currently chowing down on lunch, you’ll probably want to save this post for later…

Congratulations! You’ve just brought a milk guzzling, sleep stealing, poop machine into the world. Sadly, gone are the days when you can simply pass the bottom heavy baby back to its mother for a quick change. You are now the parent! It’s time to grab some zinc oxide cream and a gas mask because you are about to wrestle one squirming baby out of an obnoxiously tight sleeper that’s erupting with half-digested carrots.

Ah yes, the joys of parenting… Who knew there were so many wonderful things to learn about babies? Because standing knee deep in a pile of fermenting diapers, you are now an expert on pimply bum rashes and oddly colored excrement. No one can say that having a baby isn’t informative. This, however, is one subject that you probably wish wasn’t covered so extensively…

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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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