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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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As our first official Father’s Day flitted by in a haze of early morning snuggles, a baby entranced by empty watchband boxes, and a quick trip to the doctor for a bad case of diaper rash, I was reminded that this day was yet another milestone for our family. Our first Father’s day was one of joy and remembrance as we celebrated my husband and the boys who made him a dad, and a time of reflection as we mourned the memories that we had hoped to make as a family of four.

Sitting on the couch, watching the lake water reflect through the window of our summer cabin, I asked my husband about his experience with grief. As he paused for a moment to think, I was struck by the sudden realization that for the past year, he has had to carry an extra heavy burden. As husband and father, his shoulders have borne the weight of both his pain and mine. He has stood tall as protector, provider and supporter for our family during an uncertain time, and he has emerged from the other side stronger but still scarred.

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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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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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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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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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Okay, where did the saying, “Sleeping like a Baby” come from? Because as peaceful as they look for those brief moments of blissful slumber, we all know the truth. Babies suck at sleeping. I’ve been sleeping on a baby’s schedule for the past seven months, and hands down, I would much rather sleep like an adult.

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I love traveling. There’s such a thrill involved in the discovery and exploration of somewhere new. But more than just the final destination, I love the process of getting there. I love being propelled upwards through a ceiling of grey clouds to skim along the rays of brilliant sunshine. I like sitting thousands of feet in the air, jostled by turbulence, watching the world pass by below. Hmm… maybe I should get my pilots license, or something?

But add a baby to that combination and the magic of flight fades a little. When a screaming baby drowns out the rush of the engine, you start counting down the seconds until the plane touches down and that seat belt light switches off.

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The other day, I took Alistair out for a walk in his jogging stroller. Usually, the instant his five point harness snaps shut, his eyes close with equal ferocity and he’s out for the duration of the stroll. But this time, his baby blues were open wide in amazement. Birds, trees, cars and tall buildings – these are pretty spectacular sights for someone who has previously only been able to see as far as his feet.

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In the little white casket sat a pair of blue booties, knit with love.

I was nineteen and in my second year of college. There was this certain, red headed boy that I’d been dating for a few months and I was busy working on my commercial pilots license. When we weren’t wandering our way through an Albertan blizzard, we spent a great amount of time trying to knit. Very few college students had managed to avoid the knitting fever – even the boys spent time “brocheting.” And so, when my roommate tossed me her old pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn, I eagerly set to work.

Three failed attempts later, I’d finally completed my first project – a wobbly, lime green, garter stitched scarf.

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When my son was born at thirty-one weeks, we were immediately ushered into the preemie life. But at just three and a half pounds, we quickly realized that when it comes to the littlest of little ones, some products work better than others.

Here are a few of my thoughts on some of our favourite preemie baby gear.

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