A Beautiful Life

I’ve talked on here about our miscarriage before – not ever in detail, because let’s be honest – it’s not something I like to talk about. But it is a story of grief all of it’s own, and that grief, the one of losing a child whom you never knew but imagined and dreamed and thought of and LOVED is as real as losing anyone else.

That’s why when yesterday, when a dear friend told me of a close family member losing her own baby, it was brought to the surface with that same rush of intense emotions. And then on top of that, social media was flooded with the classic “I’m pregnant!” April Fools jokes and all of a sudden, they really didn’t seem that funny.

The loss of an unborn but well thought of child is such a touchy subject. But I am pretty sure all of us can say we know someone effected by that loss, because it’s far too damn common. Whenever I hear of miscarriages and stillbirths it shakes my core because it comes with such a heavy handed “whyyyy”. Why the babies, why the innocents. It is a very real and true loss and to all you ladies out there who experience it, from one mama to another.. I feel you. I hear you. I respect and acknowledge that loss just as I would any other.

It was all this feeling yesterday that caused me to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude all day then, and now today. These days come by every now and then, when I realize my blessings and the skies just seem a little bluer and the difficulties and personal struggles in my life are so diminished by the successes and gifts. I try to embrace these days for what they are worth because often times, the busyness of life and the to-dos overshadow the important things, and I don’t stop to take the time and admire my life for all it has given me.

I guess the whole point of this rambling is to save this for a later day – a post to remind me of this beautifully blessed, although imperfect life that I live. With the handsomest and most caring man, wonderful and solid family support, cozy and comfortable house, adorable fluffy pets, and of course – the cutest little bean that I get to spend the rest of my days loving, watching her grow and learn and thrive and flourish before my very eyes.

This; this life of mine, is a beautiful one.

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Your First Birthday PARTY

On Sunday, December 15, 2013 our family and friends alike gathered at a small hall in Fort Saskatchewan to celebrate your first birthday!

Even though there had been freezing rain the night before, and some people chose not to brave the highways (it was outside of the city), we still had a great turn out and a fabulous time celebrating you, little one. About 30 people showed up, and we had a wonderful time!

We stuck with a simple theme – pink and green polka dots – and laid out a simple spread of snackin’ foods. There was a guestbook – one of my (many) favourite pictures of you blown up and surrounded by a frame for all to sign. There was a time capsule, filled with blank cards, for all your family and friends to fill out with wishes, advice, and kind words for you to read on your 18th birthday. Your Dad and I will keep this box safe for you.. but I cannot wait for you to read them!

There was a poem on each card (part that I wrote myself, part I found on.. you guessed it – Pinterest!) that read like so:

Please leave a note before you leave this place,

A note for our sweet McKenna Beryl Grace,

Into a time capsule we’ll slip them to hide,

Till she’s 10 & 8 years they’ll be locked up inside;

On her 18th birthday to her we will show,

All these great wishes for the places she’ll go!

 

Other than that, it was your usual birthday party – with a kids play area, treat bags, food, drinks, conversation, then of course, gifts (you were completely spoiled) and your second ever cupcake! You loved it as much if not more than the first, but once again you were such a lady! I was certain I would need to throw out your birthday outfit afterwards (sad face) but that was not the case. It is still in tact and hanging up in your closet, special memories kept (happy face)!

It was a great day filled with so much love. You are a special little girl, McKenna, and you are growing up surrounded by an amazing group of people that truly love you. We are such a blessed little family of three, and we were really feeling the love that day!

So without further ado, here are the (many) pictures from your very first birthday party! I have to thank your Auntie Lareina for once again capturing these wonderful memories on film! We are so lucky to have such a talented photographer in the family!! xoxo thank you Lareina!

McKenna's cousin, Marrah enjoying her treat bag!

McKenna’s cousin, Marrah enjoying her treat bag!


McKenna's cousin, Declan, enjoying the food!

McKenna’s cousin, Declan, enjoying the food!


McKenna's cousin Colton, enjoying a balloon :).

McKenna’s cousin Colton, enjoying a balloon :).


McKenna & her Nanny telling stories.

McKenna & her Nanny telling stories.


Family shot (starting far right) my cousin Daegan, my Auntie & Uncle, and cousins  Collin & Jenny, & McKenna's Papa.

Family shot (starting far right) my cousin Daegan, my Auntie & Uncle, and cousins Collin & Jenny, & McKenna’s Papa.


Enjoying her birthday balloons!

Enjoying her birthday balloons!


McKenna & cousin ZZ!

McKenna & cousin ZZ!


Present time! (McKenna with her Mum & Dad, of course)

Present time! (McKenna with her Mum & Dad, of course)


All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di
All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di
Love this shot!

Love this shot!


Cousin Marrah showing off her custom made wrapping paper :)

Cousin Marrah showing off her custom made wrapping paper 🙂


Helping hands :).

Helping hands :).


<3


Cupacake time! You were a little unsure about the sparkler...

Cupacake time! You were a little unsure about the sparkler…


But definitely not unsure about the cupcake!

But definitely not unsure about the cupcake!

All images are © Unforgettable Images. Photographer: Lareina DiAll images are © Unforgettable Images. Photographer: Lareina Di
All gone!

All gone!


With your cousins Daegan, Collin and Jenny.. reading them a story :)

With your cousins Daegan, Collin and Jenny.. reading them a story 🙂


All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di

Your First Birthday (a recap)

Even though your birthday was nearly a month and a half ago, your Mum is waaay behind the times and has yet to post a recap from the fabulous day. This is just a recap of your birthDAY, not the wonderful party that followed on December 15th. I am hoping to get to that post this week too .. but to be honest, I just haven’t been in the writing mood! With our upcoming trip to Jamaica and the wedding 5 MONTHS TO THE DAY away, my mind has definitely been distracted. But these are important events that must be recorded for you to read in the future, so here I am, just for you :).

On December 1, 2013, I woke up at 7 AM so I could be sure to be awake before you (I never purposely do this .. it seems like cruel torture!). I started blowing balloons, and filled the hallway. You Dad and I had assembled your birthday present – an AWESOME play kitchen! – the night before. I wanted you to wake up, find the balloons in the hallway and make your way down to see your birthday surprise.

You woke up at 8:30, and that’s just what you did. Crawled out into the hallway and played with the many balloons. You were so enamoured with the balloons that you stayed in the hallway for close to half an hour before I grew impatient and moved them into the kitchen, so you would come that way. You finally did, and alas! There was your kitchen! You immediately crawled up to it and started playing with it, particularly fascinated with the buttons and all the different sounds they made.

I decided we would stay home that day. On most days, I bundle you up and we head out of the house to run errands or take part in an activity, but I thought you would like a home day to enjoy your presents. I was right, you played with them for the entire morning, had a special breakfast of smashed banana pancakes and then laid down for your late morning nap as usual.

After lunch, we had a visit from your Auntie Ethel & Uncle Emlyn, and your cousins Gillian, Collin and Jenny. Gifts were exchanged (a fancy new cash register to go along with your play kitchen!) and then we all sat and visited. We watched your One Year video together (and I cried) and shortly afterwards, they left.

The afternoon was spent once again playing with your toys while I baked cupcakes, and then I ordered pizza for our special dinner. Your Dad, your Papa, and your Auntie Vanessa all came over for your birthday dinner and you ate your first piece of pizza like it was nobodies business. We sang happy birthday (I cried again) and I presented you with your first ever cupcake, vanilla with chocolate frosting. You started eating the cupcake like such a lady, picking at the icing with your fingers. But that didn’t last long! Not a crumb was spared.

You went to bed (after a much needed bath) with a full belly and a smile on your face.

It was a relaxed, calm quiet kind of day.. just the kind of day I wanted to spend with you on your very first birthday. Even though December the first will always be a day celebrating your birth, and giving you presents, believe me when I say you are the best gift I have and will ever receive. December 1 will always be my favorite day, a day of reflection, celebration, happiness, and undoubtedly, more tears (the happy ones, of course).

One Year (a video)

McKenna turned 1 yesterday! A full birthday recap, along with an amazing cake smash video, will follow later on this week.

In the meantime, I made a little video to celebrate the occasion. It was rather hard to put the very best year of my life into a 3 1/2 minute video, but I did my best :).

McKenna, your father and I love you so much. Our biggest birthday wish for you on your first birthday is that you continue to enjoy this, your childhood. Be carefree, be curious. Explore the world with the comfort of knowing you have a mother and father who love you so, who will always be here with open arms.

Love you forever, our sweet sweet girl.

xoxo

Mum & Dad

They Say it Takes a Village…

They say it takes a village to raise a child. As we approach McKenna’s first birthday, I find no words that could be more true.

Today also marks the 100th post on A Little Baby Bean (hooray!). How very appropriate that I intend to use it by thanking our own village.

I contemplated writing personalized thank you’s, because I am just so terrified of missing someone. But if you have been a part of this past 12 months in any way, be it a visit, a phone call, a kind word on Facebook, a read of this blog, or a like of a photo on Instagram, thank you. Thank you for being our village.

Now, onto the sappy stuff!

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To our Auntie Ethel….. A million thank you’s. Thank you for always answering the phone. Thank you for the warm lunches, for the offering of supportive words, for Band-Aid deliveries well into the night, and above all: thank you for giving me advice ONLY when I ask for it! I wish there were more people who followed this philosophy (see last post re: unsolicited advice). Thank you for always being such a constant in my life.

To our Uncle Emlyn…. Thank you for being you. Another constant. For your calm voice, warm hugs, and secrets whispered during cuddles with McKenna. You will always be Uncle Lemlyn to me, but I am so happy to be able to share you with my own little girl now.

To Nanny…. For your support. For the offering of kind words when I was frustrated with sleeping arrangements, for reminding me that every baby is different. Thank you for all the presents you shower McKenna with, the lunch dates, the help running errands, and for just being there whenever we need you.

To Papa…. for being the calming gentle presence that all little girls need in a Papa. McKenna is so lucky to have you.

To Helen/Auntie Helen… my big sister. I know you are going to be an ever present figure in McKenna’s life, and I am so happy she will have such a great role model to look towards as she grows older. I hope McKenna one day will have or become a sister like you, that she can also call a friend. Uncle Michael too..  another great role model. I am so happy you are a part of our family!

To her Auntie Chrissy, Auntie Nikki, Uncle Mike, and all of her adorable cousins… for surrounding us with the love of a family. For quality time spent. I am so happy McKenna has such a large family to grow up with, cousins close to her age, and so many houses where she will always be welcome.

To my cousin (and McKenna’s third cousin) Gillian.. thank you for always responding to my messages, answering my questions, giving advice and just for being there. Thank you for the hand me downs that we have put to good use, and always thinking of our little family. You have been a role model to me for as long as I can remember of what great parenting looks like!

To Lareina/Auntie Lareina… my sister in law. The abundance of information. Thank you for responding to my gazillion text messages, at all times and on all days, even when I started to find myself annoying for asking SO MANY DAMN QUESTIONS. Thank you for sharing and supporting me with my parenting choices. I find comfort in knowing someone personally who has adopted so many of the decisions that I too have made for my own little love.

To Vanessa/Auntie V…… My bestest friend. I love you so.. thank you for all the words, support and gifts (but seriously, enough with the gifts!) you have provided us with over the past year. You are not just a friend to Matthew, McKenna and I.. you are family. And your Mama. God bless your Mama and her sweet soul.

To Kelsey/Auntie DB… my childhood friend. I only hope that McKenna can find someone as precious as you have been to me all these years. I know it has been quite an adjustment on our friendship this year (from talking all day, every day, and drinking our faces off each weekend) but thank you for being my childhood, and now adult best friend. Thank you for all the advice and wisdom, and for always giving it to me straight (even when I don’t want to hear it!). I look forward to sharing McKenna’s life with you.

To Leah/Auntie Leah…. my never judging friend. Thank you for never judging – for being the person who, when you know I am having a down day, will send me an article about the benefits of co-sleeping and nursing just to make me feel better. It’s people like you that make this parenting gig not feel so lonely.

To Mike/Uncle Mike….. for always making the effort. Be it our lunch dates, the rides when I am stranded in cold weather, our text messages, or the likes of photos on Facebook, you have made your presence known this past year in both McKenna and I’s life and taken a true interest as my friend! It’s so nice to always have someone like you to count on.

To Clarissa and Jayda….. thank you for the text messages, for always checking in to see how our little family is doing. Thank you for making yourselves available to babysit. I know the door is always open at your house, and I am thankful for that! It is so nice to have a select group of people we can rely on to watch our girl, and you two beautiful women absolutely top this list.

To Sarah, Molly, Michelle, Tia and all the other mothers I have met (or reconnected with) this past year.. some who don’t read this blog. But it has been so nice to connect with other mothers with babies the same age as McKenna who are going through the same experiences I am going through. Thanks for letting McKenna socialize (and sometimes antagonize) your beautiful babies this past year! I hope we can all keep in contact as our little babes grow up! 

Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts! We look forward to continuing to share McKenna’s life with each and every single one of you!

One Sunny Autumn Day…

On a sunny autumn day just before Halloween, we asked our close friend Dave to come and take some shots of our little family.

Dave normally specializes in nature photography, but we are so thankful he was able to come and take these beautiful pictures of us! Growing up, I would always drive by these trees and be in awe of their beauty in the autumn months. People would drive from all areas of the city just for the photo opportunities, and I am so happy that I now have photographs of my own little family surrounded by these stunning trees. We could not be more pleased with how they turned out! Thank you Dave!

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All photos are credited to Unique Light Photography. Check him out!

Breaking the Rules

My Darling McKenna,

Be it your excitement from today’s events or the long nap you took late this afternoon, you did not feel like sleeping when bedtime rolled around tonight.

And, instead of me persisting with trying to get you to sleep, I rolled with the punches and opened your bedroom door. You crawled out, quite gleefully, and played with your toys happily for the next 2 hours.

You walked around with your walker, and played with your wooden bead toy. We played with Lego, you (as always) smashing any structure I would build with such satisfaction. We played peekaboo with your favorite blue scarf, and you laughed joyfully, contagiously. You didn’t show an ounce of grumpiness for staying up late, and I allowed you to play happily until you began to yawn, close to 10:00 PM.

After I tucked you in, cozy and warm, gripping your favourite green fuzzy blankie close to your chest, I felt compelled to write this post about our evening. It may sound so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s these moments, these tiny, tender, beautiful, bonding moments, that have all built up on top of each other to create the most memorable, most life changing year of my existence.

I also felt compelled to share the importance I feel in breaking our routine now and then. Some of my own fondest childhood memories come from times when my own mother strayed from the norm, be it allowing your Auntie and I to stay up past our bedtime, taking us on a special trip to the mall, or even just to allowing us to eat sweets that we normally would not (like cinnamon buns the size of our heads).

They say that babies thrive on routine, but I think it is safe to say that babies and children alike delight just as much on the occasional break from it. I want to never forget this insight, as you grow older and enter toddlerhood. Want to remember the expression of joy on your face when your mama sat on the kitchen floor and played with you and your toys, well past your bedtime. Because one day, you will no longer find joy in these moments. You will be a teenager with friends and a life completely your own that I as your mother will only be able to try to understand.

In a mere nine days you will be 1. I cannot even describe the intensity of emotions that comes with such an important milestone. But I can tell you that these moments, these small treasured moments, are the things I will hold onto from your first year of infancy. I promise to continue to surprise you, to break free from the norm, to allow us chances like this to bond. As we approach the day that marks one year passed, I look ahead to so many more of breaking the rules with you, my favourite, my own little love.

I love you forever.

Xoxo

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The Gift of Time

When you become a new mother, your life suddenly revolves around time.

In those early days – time to breastfeed. Setting alarms in the middle of night to ensure your newborn is well fed, and your nursing relationship well established. Then there is the scheduling involved when leaving the house – okay, when are nap times? How long until baby gets hungry? How much time before you are faced with hunger or tiredness? Then baby gets older, and bedtime routines are established – what time does baby start to get tired? When should we start our routine? What is the optimal time for baby to go down for the night to ensure the least wakeups?

Slowly but surely, your life begins to revolve around the clock.

And then, you need to deal with the lingering sense of time, passing too quick, in the back of your mind. Constantly. You go from counting the weeks to counting the months, 6 week olds become near one-year olds in the blink of an eye. And you are so busy from your days spent scheduling and watching the clock that your head spins as you try to grasp onto something, ANYTHING, to just make the time slow down.

As McKenna’s birthday approaches, I have not one, but two, big dates marked in red in the calendar in my head – December 1, the day my baby turns 1 year old. I still can’t really form words to express how this feels to a mama, but I am working on it. The second date is December 28 – the day where my maternity leave runs out, and I am due to return to work.

I have commented SO MANY TIMES (here, here and here for starters) about my hesitance in returning to work. I have discussed my feelings with Matthew, with relatives, with friends. I have spent endless hours watching McKenna play and thinking about what is really the best thing for her, my wonderful little girl. I have tried to reassure myself everything WILL BE OKAY. Countless of mothers do not even have the amount of time I have so graciously been granted. Countless of mothers have faced this change at the year mark and their BABIES ARE FINE. But I still felt as though I was doing far too much convincing.

I am now, happy to report, that our family has come to a decision. A decision both Matthew and myself are at peace with. I will remain at home until the end of winter, allowing ourselves 3 more months of time. Time to nurse, time to sleep train (I prefer sleep teach), time to wean, time to play, and time to grow independence. I am so happy to be able to remain at home with McKenna during the cold and flu season, and I feel as though McKenna will be better prepared for childcare, and I will be ready to return to work come April, 2014, after being given this extraordinary gift of just a little more time.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Matthew for this decision. I knew I wanted it to be one we came to together, and I am happy it has turned out to be so. I know this time is a luxury that many could not afford, and for that reason, I will not take a single second of it for granted.

I woke up this morning feeling such peace. All because of this beautiful family that I am so happy to call my own, that never stops growing.I am the luckiest girl in the world. 🙂

 

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