• LIFE

    Aston’s Story – Kyle

    Yesterday Sam shared her version of Aston’s Story, today is Aston’s Story through my, Kyle’s, eyes.

    There are two things I hate about clocks. Clocks that make a loud, audible ‘tick-tock’ sound and clocks where the second hand doesn’t hit the minute hashes exactly. This clock did both and added to the frustration of our current situation. 

    We were sitting in Surrey Memorial Hospital in a room that was basically a family doctor’s office but based on the devices on the floor it was quite obviously used for women’s stuff. We were there waiting for a definitive answer to if our baby in Sam’s belly was alive or not. Basically, this was going to be a day of incredible relief and joy or the worst day ever.

    Let’s back up though. How did we end up there?

    The below was written in real-time as we wanted a documented account of what we went through and what we were feeling in the moment.

    Wednesday

    On January 8th at our regular checkup, the midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat. She requested an emergency ultrasound for the next day, which we found out later can take up to a week sometimes, doesn’t seem to be much urgency for that emergency eh?

    I got the text at work in between patients and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because I had another patient who needed me. I got through the day. Sam picked me up from work and cried when she saw me. I rubbed her leg from the passenger seat trying to not cry myself. We drove home; the boys were super happy as they always are to see me after work. A contrast of emotions that was not lost on me. We spent the night hoping, praying, and trying to stay positive. I struggled to stay positive. I was extremely cautiously optimistic, in fact I was probably more pessimistic than anything at this point. We put the kids to bed, watched a couple episodes of Scandal, and then went to bed, but not before praying once more. Praying for news that would bring great relief to our current stress.

    Thursday

    We woke up and couldn’t do anything but wait and pray. Wait for the ultrasound appointment and pray for good news. I kissed my pregnant wife and walked out the door to head to work. I had a knot in my stomach. It felt awful. It hurt. Physically and emotionally. My first patient canceled on me so I had an hour to do nothing before my next two patients. 

    Finally, at noon, Sam got a call from the midwife clinic; they hadn’t gotten an ultrasound time yet but wanted to do a bedside scan at the clinic. Sam went in and I prayed. I had an hour lunch break and it was just past noon. I hoped for some news before I had to see my next patient. 

    My next patient was Joe. Joe is a beauty, a big guy and always a joy to treat. 12:53pm Sam called and said they couldn’t find the heartbeat on the bedside scan either. The placenta was anterior (in front) which was making access to the baby’s heart difficult. Two separate midwives tried to hear it. The first one thought she had it but couldn’t get it again. The second one could see the baby but no heartbeat. That gave me hope. I kept telling myself “yeah, baby is fine, the placenta is just in the way, that’s all”. I was optimistic. Cautiously optimistic, but optimistic. We were told to go to the hospital later that day to get a real ultrasound to confirm either way.

    Joe was in the waiting room so I called him and told him the news. He says, “go, why are you still here? Get out of here!” So I did.

    I walked home to meet Sam before heading to the hospital. It was a long walk. I turned on my favourite podcast but I honestly couldn’t tell you what the episode was about. I don’t remember anything because all I could think about was Sam and the baby. 

    This baby was going to be okay, the placenta was just in the way.

    I got home, hugged the boys, again happy as clams to see me, that contrast of emotions rearing its head again, and off we went. The silence was deafening. Neither of us saying much on the way there. Honestly though, what do you say?

    We arrived at the hospital and waited for our turn. The porter came to take us to the ultrasound room. I wasn’t allowed in but the tech said they wouldn’t be long. He wheeled Sam out a few minutes later. Sam said “he said he can’t tell me anything either way”. Understandable, but that just added to our angst. I asked if she could see the screen, she couldn’t.

    Back upstairs we were taken to triage and put into a room. Literally what you’d expect to be in for a doctor’s visit. The bed with stirrups, except this one had a microscopic and a used speculum on the floor under the sink in a bin. According to the sign on the wall, that’s where it was supposed to be. Gross.

    The midwife came in and Sam started crying. The midwife gave her a huge hug and told us she was going to go wait for the results. Minutes later she walked back.

    At 3:40pm to be exact, without hesitating the midwife says the four worst words I’ve ever heard in my life, “there’s no fetal heartbeat”. Devastating. Bursts of tears from both us. More hugs from the midwife. 

    This wasn’t actually happening to us, right? No, it was. Our baby had gone home before we even had a chance to say goodbye. To hear its cries. To hold its hand. To name it. To see its older brothers love on it.

    Now what? What happens next? The midwife said she would give us a minute before we talked about what we wanted to do next. Sam cried some more. I couldn’t cry again. I felt numb now. I felt like something was wrong with me. I just got the worst news of my life and I can’t even cry anymore.

    When she returned she presented us with two options, deliver or operate. Delivering the baby involves a pill that induces labour and then the baby is delivered as a normal delivery would be. Surgery involves general anaesthesia. Then they go in and remove the baby and the placenta. I told Sam the choice was hers. Whatever she was most comfortable with. If she could handle the emotions of delivering the baby then do it. If not, opt for the surgery. She had my support either way.

    At 4:24pm the midwife comes back in with the OB to further explain things and hear our decision. We had decided to take the pill. It was the one that could get done the soonest and didn’t involve going to a different hospital. The OB agreed it was the best choice. She explained the procedure a bit more and explained that it’s like labour but it can go from 0-100 really fast and usually within 24 hours of taking the pill.

    She also talked about why this might have happened. While we will never know, and frankly we don’t want to know. The OB explained this late in pregnancy it’s mostly like a chromosomal abnormality that caused it. They said they could do an autopsy on baby and examine the placenta for more answers if we wished. They’ll examine the placenta regardless but we’re not sure about the autopsy. If they do it, we can’t take our baby home, have a burial, or anything like that. At that point, it’s no longer ours. We think we want our baby but who knows what the emotions will be like tomorrow. I know I want to see my baby. Touch my baby. At least be able to say goodbye to my baby. That much I know for sure. There’s no way I’m leaving without saying goodbye.

    We asked the midwife if we could have the ultrasound photos from today’s ultrasound. She said of course and brought them back in a few minutes.

    They took Sam’s blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and some blood. To make sure she’s healthy and that she doesn’t have an infection or anything.

    After that, we were free to go, free to leave the hospital without our baby knowing that tomorrow if we kept the baby, it would be coming home in a box instead of a car seat.

    It’s the second time we’ve left the Family Birthing Unit without a baby but still pregnant. When Zaden was born we got sent home, but that time we knew we’d be returning to deliver a healthy baby. Tomorrow we go to deliver a fetus.

    Zaden’s turns 1 in two days. Every January from now on we will be reminded of the lowest point in our life on January 10th followed by one of the highest on January 11th. We’re celebrating his birthday on the 12th this year. We want to bring some normalcy back to our lives and he still deserves to be celebrated, but it’s gonna be hard with the present reminder that we’re no longer going to be a family of 4 for now. Maybe ever, who knows, that’s a conversation for a later date.

    We got back to the car and started the long list of phone calls we had to make. My mom was first. Dad was at our house and we would just tell him when we got there. I called and said, “our baby has gone to Heaven”. I’m not sure she even understood me as I lost it before I even started talking. I guess I remembered how to cry again. I was no longer numb. It hit me. Hard. My baby had gone to Heaven. Thank God, but selfishly I wasn’t happy about it, obviously. My mom said, “I prayed so hard that this wasn’t the outcome.” Me too mom. Me too.

    Next, Sam called her mom. Mom’s just know. It’s crazy. As soon as her mom picked up and before Sam said a word mom says:

    “Sam, what’s wrong? Is everything okay?” 

    “No” Sam says. “We lost the baby” 

    I can hear mom start to cry with Sam. Me too again. The numbness was gone, that’s for sure. We will save the other phones calls for a later date. There’s only so many times in a row you can make that phone call. We had friends, grandparents, and other loved ones to tell still. Not looking forward to that.

    The car ride home was filled with music. The first song Sam put in was Highlands by Hillsong United. We saw them live and heard the song for the first time; it has been a favourite of hers ever since. The course is so good and fits our exact situation at that moment:

    So I will praise You on the mountain

    And I will praise You when the mountain’s in my way

    You’re the summit where my feet are

    So I will praise You in the valleys all the same

    No less God within the shadows

    No less faithful when the night leads me astray

    You’re the heaven where my heart is

    In the highlands and the heartache all the same

    We’re in the valley right now. Never been deeper in it than we are right now. And there’s a whole lot of heartache, that’s for sure. But at the same time, God is no less God because of our situation. Perfect song choice babe.

    I chose the next one, my favourite song on that album. The first line says “I’ve been strong and I’ve been shattered within a moment.” Yup. But the song finishes with the line “Your love’s too good to me leave me here”. Damn right. I won’t be in this valley forever, my God is too good for that. He loves us too much.

    We got home and once again the boys were so excited to see us, Nixon excited as ever to tell us that Grandpa was here. That damn contrast again, there it was. I love those kids, nothing phases them. Their innocence is so sweet.

    My parents took the boys for the night so that we could have a night to ourselves and not have to worry about finding last minute care for them tomorrow. It was nice to see them though. Family makes you feel better no matter what. And talking with them, even if for just a moment, we’d forgotten why they were here. It was nice to forget for a moment. Our kids left for grandma’s house in such joy as we were left to ourselves to prepare in despair.

    What are we supposed to do now? What do you do? Nothing feels sufficient and doing nothing feels insulting. I went to change into my pajamas and then found Sam in the boys room crying into the newborn onesie she had bought for baby. It was a 3 pack. One of them had llamas on it and the only reason Sam bought it was because Nixon said:

    “Mommy we need to buy that for baby. Baby likes llamas.” 

    Sam said “no we don’t need it”. 

    Nixon replied, “I buy it for baby”. 

    Love you buddy. But baby won’t ever get to wear it. There is no more baby buddy. Every Sunday at church Nixon looks forward to seeing the llamas at the farm next door. That’s where the love of llamas comes from.

    Sam called her mentor to talk. Straight to voicemail. She was away but called us back after we texted her the news. Sam couldn’t even talk. No words were able to make it through her sobs. We explained what happened then she prayed for us.

    Sam’s sister popped by with some snacks. Her first memory of me was downing an entire bag of Lay’s Salt & Vinegar chips so that’s what she brought. We ended up talking about beer for a while. That was nice. Again, we go to forget about the valley we were stuck in for a moment.

    Now? Now Netflix goes on until we fall asleep. I hope we can sleep because that’s what our eyes, hearts, and minds need right now, rest.

    Friday

    I slept well. I got about 10 hours. Perks of not having kids at home to wake you. Sam didn’t sleep well. 

    Sam needs to sleep with the window open every night and thus our room is freezing. I went to shut the window and I noticed that the ground was white. It had snowed all night long and our backyard was blanketed in it. I love the snow. Everything was white and so peaceful. God knew.

    The worst part of today is the waiting. We’re just another name on a list at this point. We might get called in a few minutes or a few hours. I just want this to be over, mostly for Sam because it’s infinitely harder on her than it is me. She has to do all the work, I just sit there and support however I can.

    We carried on with our day as we would any Friday, except we had no kids today. The day was uneventful. I had a dentist appointment and we ran some errands for the party while we waited for the phone call we both dreaded and wanted at the same time. Dreaded because it meant it to time to deliver our baby that we wouldn’t get to bring home but wanted because we wanted this over with.

    It was 1:30pm when the phone call came. They wanted us there at 2:30pm. 

    We’re currently sitting in the waiting room for our time to go in. A nurse Sam knew came by to say hi and give her a hug.

    It was about 3:00pm when we were finally called in to our room. The charge nurse came to get us because she didn’t want us waiting out in the waiting room. She gave a brief overview of what was going to happen. She referred to the baby as “the product”. That bugged me. Sam too. That’s my baby ma’am, not my product. 

    Other than that, everyone was so nice and respectful of what we were going through. Our nurse was Grace. She was a real sweetheart. No task was too much for her and she made every effort to make sure we were comforted as much as possible. 

    Another OB came in to explain the procedure to us and asked if we were ready to start. We were. No point prolonging the inevitable. We just wanted to get it over with and go home.

    Nothing moves quickly in this hospital. We’re waiting for the first set of pills and have been for 20+ minutes even though the orders were made before we even got here.

    We had to decide what we wanted to do about an IV in case Sam wanted pain meds at any point during the delivery process. We decided to get in put in now just in case rather than having to get it inserted while she’s in pain.

    At 5:00pm the nurse came in and inserted the medication. Two tablets. Now we wait. It could be quick or it could take a while. They’ll insert 2 tablets every 4 hours until the baby comes. This baby better come today because I don’t want this baby and Zaden to share a birthday.

    Grace was amazing. Always getting us whatever we needed. Warm blankets were constantly being brought in. She said the hospital food had improved but wasn’t great and Sam couldn’t have a full meal after the pills were inserted anyways. So she went and brought us crackers. Lots of them. Snacks were allowed but they just didn’t want her to have a full stomach because as any mother knows, it has a tendency of coming back up during labour.

    5:18pm dinner is here. Hospital food, eh? Yeah it’s not great. It always looks like it belongs in an old folks home. It would be fine if they seasoned the food. It always lacks so much salt. That’s the problem. It would be fine otherwise. Our mind was preoccupied but we usually bring our own. FYI for those having babies soon. Bring salt.

    5:56pm Grace came back. She came back with nipple cream to use as lip chap since hospital rooms are so dry, some hand lotion, and towels in case we wanted to shower at all. Before she left she said, “are you guys at all interested in popsicles?” Grace, come on, that’s a yes no matter how old I get. Sam didn’t want one but Grace said she would bring one anyways because Sam might want one later. If you’re delivering at Surrey Memorial, you want Grace as your nurse.

    I haven’t cried yet today. I feel numb again. I feel bad. I feel normal and I feel bad about it. I’m sure it’s coming because this baby is coming eventually but I feel bad that I haven’t cried yet.

    Popsicle ‘cheers’

    7:00pm Grace returns, with popsicles. Sam picked orange, I got pink. It tasted like medicine, maybe it was, but I didn’t care. Something other than Salt & Vinegar chips was good enough for me. Every baby we’ve had we’ve gone across the street and gotten tacos. It’s the best taco place in the city that tastes as close to Mexico as I’ve had around here.

    Grace keeps reminding of us the pain options. It seems like they really care that this is as painless as possible. They also offered lorazepam, anti-anxiety medication. All of this is available “on demand” as the OB has literally ordered everything so if she’s not there the nurse is able to give it to us right away. The care has always been good here but this has been a special kind of care for a special situation and we appreciated it very much.

    8:02pm my eyes are filled with tears finally. 7:35pm Sam has to go to the bathroom. When she went to wipe there was a bulge, she yelled “Kyle it’s coming, get me something to catch it. A container, something.” I rushed over to find something to catch it. First I hit the call button and yelled “she’s having it” the nurse replied that she was coming. The water cup would be too small so I grabbed the water jug. I ripped the lid off and dumped it in the sink on my way to the bathroom and stuck it between Sam’s legs. Yup, there was something. 

    Grace’s shift had just finished and this was our first interaction with Courtney. Me holding a water jug between Sam’s legs as she stood at the toilet. Nice to meet you too, Courtney. 

    Courtney said we needed to get to the bed. It was happening. I rushed over to the bed and threw all the blankets that Grace had brought us off the bed.

    A whole gamut of nurses followed and introduced themselves. I don’t remember any of their names besides Courtney even though they introduced themselves to me just 15 minutes ago. Sorry but my mind was elsewhere. One nurse called the OB. Another nurse got an IV pole. Courtney monitored the action between Sam’s legs.

    Sam was crying and had been since the bathroom stuff started. I started crying too. I was gonna, hopefully, see my baby.

    The OB arrived. A large Eastern European lady, she was mildly friendly. She came and punctured whatever it was. She called it “the membranes”. I won’t get too detailed here, but yeah, there was fluid.

    I turned the music up and put Highlands on repeat. I held Sam’s hand and we cried together. I sang the song in my head as to not distract or annoy Sam. We cried and cried. I don’t know how the nurses do it; there’s a couple delivering their stillborn baby bawling their eyes out and they just push on doing their jobs. This is not a knock on them but the strength they have to control their emotions and remain focused enough to do their job well was impressive. Scary, but impressive.

    Sam was told to push whenever she felt the cramping start. She must have been offered pain medication at least a dozen times and refused each time. She’s a trooper. She took the gas though, laughing gas. More for the distraction than for the actual pain relief. That happened with Vanek and Zaden too.

    After the membranes were ruptured there was no more action. The OB did a check and her cervix was only 2cm dilated. We need to get to 10cm. The OB said we would get another dose on the induction medication at 9:00pm; until then, just monitor the cramping. She again reminded us of the pharmacy’s worth of drugs that were available whenever Sam wanted.

    I just heard a newborn cry next door. Man, I would do anything to hear that sound from my baby. Anything. It’s going to be weird to have a baby come out dead silent. I wonder what that’ll be like. I’ll find out soon, hopefully before midnight.

    9:00pm Sam got another dose of pills inserted. 

    At exactly 10:25pm it happened. Our baby was born peacefully and quietly. It was painful. Really painful. I think it was worse to see how much pain Sam was in. Physically and emotionally. That hurt. I didn’t cry though. Why couldn’t I cry? Sam was wailing and I couldn’t even shed a tear. The placenta still has to come. I sat back down in my chair and it hit me. I started bawling. I was mad. Angry. I wanted to punch something. This was not okay. No baby is supposed to be born looking like that. My baby is supposed to be crying and I’m supposed to be crying tears of joy. Not these tears of anger. A nurse started rubbing my back. Physical touch is my love language and even though this was this nurse’s first time in the room and I didn’t know her name, I felt comforted by that. Thank you nurse.

    We’re gonna be okay. We will get through this. That’s what we keep telling ourselves as Highlands is back on repeat in the background.

    A different nurse offered to bring the baby over and show Sam. Sam wanted to wait and the nurse just said to let her know whenever she was ready. I don’t think Sam will want to see until the placenta is out. When there is some sort of finality to all of this.

    I saw the baby when it was delivered. The nurse put her hand over it and “said sorry, you don’t have to see it. I replied and told her I wanted to and she removed her hand. I don’t know what I expected but that was exactly what I expected. I won’t describe it to save you the details but it’s what you’ve seen in your science textbook. I felt a peace in seeing it. That’s when I didn’t cry. I can’t explain it but I smiled when I saw it. That’s my baby and even though I don’t get to bring it home to be a part of our family this baby will always be a part of our family just not the way the other three have been.

    Sam is funny during labour. She’s loud. Lots of “mmm mmm” mumbling noises. At this point, she had accepted several doses of morphine as the pain levels ramped up. When Sam is on drugs it’s comical and in this time of extreme sadness, unintentionally she brought comedic relief to me. These are some of my favourite quotes:

    “I know I’m annoying but If I’m going to sit here in this much pain you’re going to fricking listen to me”

    “You should’ve brought your noise canceling headphones so you didn’t have to listen to me but then I would’ve killed you”

    “This is shitty. I know I’m not supposed to say that but I’ll ask for forgiveness later”

    “Oh golly miss molly”

    “That OB didn’t need to dig around in me like she was searching for treasure in a sand box”

    **Another contraction** “Here we go again, because why not? This is fun”

    “Placenta why are you still here? You need to leave”

    **Nurse checks Sam**

    Sam: Still nothing?

    Nurse: No

    Sam: Rude

    You might think I’m mean by recording this but this little bit of humour was much needed at this point and we will both laugh about those quotes one day. I smile reading them even now but one day we will laugh.

    12:25am The placenta finally came. The OB confirmed that all was good and the nurses could start cleaning up. The miscarriage was officially completed.

    Courtney asked if we wanted to see the baby. We were ready. The baby was laid on a pad in a little tub and the tub was placed on Sam’s lap. She started crying.

    The baby was a grayish purple. You could clearly see the spine and the ribs. You could count the ten little fingers and ten little toes. Baby’s mouth was open. Sam said it was a girl. Courtney said it was too hard to officially tell. Looking at our baby was surprisingly peaceful. After the initial round of tears there was just silence. A calming silence full of stillness and peace. It felt nice.

    Sam was done looking but I was curious if I could tell the gender. I opened baby’s legs. It was a boy. Apparently we can’t make girls. We had only decided on a boy’s name hours earlier. Aston Gabriel Enns was born on January 10, 2020 at 10:25pm. Gabriel means “God is my strength”, it seemed fitting.

    I grabbed the tub and held baby on my own for a few minutes. So peaceful. Peacefully still and peacefully whole. Aston has gone home but one day we will meet him again. His brothers will meet him. We will hear him laugh, see him smile, and see him play with his brothers. Our family will all be together one day. But for now he’s right where he needs to be. The best place he can possibly be. God has him now and that’s better than anything we could do for him.

    We both felt that an incredible weight had been lifted off of us. Relieved that it was over and that we could start to move on. Whatever that looks like.

    The blue butterfly is taped to the door of our room to represent loss so that those entering the room can be senitive towards the situation

    After everything had settled the nurse wanted to get Sam to pee. It apparently it was important that her bladder was empty. The nurse asked if she was okay to go to the bathroom. The nurse and I helped Sam to the bathroom and about halfway there Sam asked us to stop. She was dizzy and light headed and needed a break.

    And then just like that she went limp. I caught her. Thankfully. She started to seize. It was suttle but I knew exactly what was happening. The nurse supported her on the other side. Sam’s eyes rolled back into her head. I patted her face. I called her name. No response. Nothing. Then her eyes opened. Wide. Really wide. They were staring right at me but I knew there was nothing there. She wasn’t looking at me but her eyes stared daggers at me. Except I knew there was no life behind that stare. Courtney looked at me and asked if I had her so she could call forheelp. She pulled the call bell out of the wall which rings differently than just pushing it because the sound we usually hear in the hallway when we press the button didn’t happen; it was a constant noise and immediately 4 more nurses came into the room. I was scared now. I prayed. God I can’t lose my baby and my wife. Not today. Not like this. That wasn’t an option. I needed her back and it needed to happen now. I heard her body take a breath. I was expecting her eyes to open or for her to respond to me calling her name. Still nothing. A nurse grabbed a pillow and laid it on the floor so we could lay Sam down. Once on the floor a nurse called her name, “Samantha”. She opened her eyes and answered, “yeah”. Thank God. Sam was really dizzy and hot. The nurses reassured me everything was okay. This was normal after delivery. Not in my experience, but they’ve done this more than I have so I’ll take their word for it.

    I had my wife back, that’s all I carednabout. The nurses came up with a plan to get her back into the bed. They lifted her up and laid her down. She was safe in the bed and that’s what mattered. I got a cold washcloth and laid it on her head.

    Now we could get some rest. Some much needed rest.

    Since I’m writing this “live” it looks like I’m a jerk husband who is always on my phone and I think Courtney is disappointed in me for not being there to support my wife but I’m really doing what Sam wants in documenting this experience.

    Sam just fell asleep. I’m going to do the same. It’s 1:37am which is about 3 hours past my bedtime. Goodnight.

    Saturday

    At 5:27am Sam woke me to tell me she was going to try to go to the bathroom again with Courtney’s help. I was nervous as I watched from my bed this time. She made it. She feels way better after sleeping a bit. Courtney is gonna help her shower and wash up.

    I’m tired. 4 hours of sleep isn’t enough for me. I’m really excited to go home today just so I can have my own bed again. I miss my bed right now. I know Sam does too.

    I can hear newborn cries next door again. I hope that family is doing well. Genuinely. I hope they treasure that baby every single day. What a gift.

    At 12:10pm it was finally time to go home. The morning was uneventful. Just lots of waiting until we could go. Sam had a mild fever and some elevated white blood cells so the doctors were worried about infection. After one last vitals check with no fever, we were good to go.

    We stopped to pick up a box to bury Aston in. We found one and went to the one spot that means something to us. A spot down by the river where we used to go on dates, where I proposed, and where we took our wedding photos. It seemed fitting.

    At 1:15pm we arrived at the river. We took turns holding him. He was cold from the ice. I rubbed his forehead and told him I loved him through my sobs and tears. I promised we’d meet again one day under better circumstances than these. Whole times, peaceful time, and joyous times. I passed him to Sam and she held him and cried. She said her goodbye and we placed him in the box in the onesie we had picked out for him to come home in. His body barely filled the neck of the onesie. He was too little for that onesie. Much too little. But it was his and he got to wear it. We closed up the box and went over the dyke to the river. I had dug a spot for him and we laid him in. 

    I covered it up, laid my hands on it and prayed to God, “He’s yours now. Take good care of him. You’ll take better care of him than we ever could. We love him and we love you.” 

    We sat and cried for a minute together. It was windy. Very windy. The water was being blown right up against my jacket. God was showing us his might, He is so strong. He was there with us. He always is.

    We sat in the car before driving home. More tears. Questions. Why? Anger. Sadness. All of it. We didn’t want to leave him. There was supposed to be a car seat in the back seat with him sleeping peacefully, not an empty container where his body laid just minutes earlier.

    It’s okay. Or at least it will be. God knew. God ordained each of those days and decided it was time for Aston to go home. Go home buddy, your Father is waiting for you.

    Through all of this we’ve felt nothing but love. Everyone at the hospital, minus the first charge nurse who referred to Aston as “product”, was so kind and loving. We came home to Skip the Dishes gift cards, freshly baked muffins, and a meal in our fridge. Someone had cleaned our house for us, too. Thank you so much to everyone who sent a message, said a prayer, helped out with food, watched our kids, helped plan Zaden’s party while we were in the hospital, or even just gave us a thought. We love all of you. And you, you that’s reading this. Thanks for reading. Thanks for allowing us to share our story with you.

    And Aston, I love you and I miss you. I’m so happy that you are in the best hands you can be in. I’ll see you again one day I promise. I can’t wait to see you again when we’re both more whole and perfect than we’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see you with your brothers; you’re going to love them, they’re great. When they’re ready I’ll tell them all about you, they’ll know you too. We won’t forget you. I won’t forget you. Ever. I’ll always remember the short time we had together and think of you often. You’ll never be forgotten. I love you. Love, Dad.

  • Uncategorized

    Aston’s Story

    Just FYI, this is Aston’s story as written by me, Sam. Some of this was written ‘live’ but most of it was written after the fact as I felt I had the strength to do so. 

    It’s 6 AM on Friday January 10, 2020. I went into labour on this day a year ago and I will go into labour today. A year ago we delivered a healthy 41 week baby boy, Zaden, who will turn one tomorrow. Today, I will deliver our baby who went home to meet Jesus before we had a chance to meet him. 18.5 weeks along, 21.5 weeks too early, but Baby E likely has been home for sometime as the doctors tell us.

    As I sit and write by candle light, snow is falling outside. Thank you Jesus. I have always found the sight of falling snow to be the most peaceful and God knows how much my soul needs peace. 

    The story of Baby E, as we know it, began in Japan. A kid-free vacation to celebrate five wonderful years of marriage. We found out officially on September 27, 2019 when the pregnancy test came back immediately positive. We were all so excited. Excited to be completing our family, excited to see who baby would become, excited to tell baby’s brothers. 

    Everything was normal, just as it has been for three other pregnancies besides being super nauseous. On January 8, 2020 we had our 18.5 week appointment with the midwife, and she couldn’t find a heartbeat. I tried not to panic as she searched and searched but the look on her face became more concerning. I prayed for life, I begged God for there to still be heartbeat. ‘Baby must have just been hiding’ I thought to myself. But then I remembered how I wasn’t growing as quickly as I have before, there was no kicks yet & in general things felt off. I told myself to hope until we had definitive news. I texted Kyle and told him to start praying, we needed to pray life into this baby.

    Kyle and I tried to stay as positive as we could through the night which was filled with tears and moments of silence. I felt like I needed to be doing something to help this baby, that I could somehow force a sign of life. That the fact I was sitting and waiting for a call for an emergency ultrasound was ridiculous, but yet sitting, waiting and praying was all we had. 

    The midwife clinic finally called, they wanted me to come in at 12:30 for another check and bedside scan since there were no appointments available at Jim Pattison. At the office, the midwife attempted to find the heartbeat with the doppler. At first try, it sounded like she got a heartbeat and there were tears of relief and I imagined texting Kyle ‘HEARTBEAT BABY!’ but the midwife wanted to be sure since she only heard it for a few seconds and then lost it. She couldn’t find it again and my mind began to worry. She used a bedside ultrasound scanner, and couldn’t find it, either. Another midwife came in as well and she had no luck. She said they could see the baby “wiggling” but there was no heartbeat so they sent me to the hospital. Once they said that I needed to go to the hospita,l it started to sink in how serious this was and that the reality of life or death would be found out in mere hours and I didn’t feel prepared for that. I made arrangements for the kids to be taken care of, and Kyle cancelled the rest of his day to come to the hospital with me.

    We briefly saw the kids at home and they were excited and unphased by any of this since we hadn’t told them anything. Kyle and I scrambled around thinking of things we might need, but I had no idea how to prepare for this. A wallet, phone, and water bottle would be all we had.

    The drive to the hospital was quiet for the most part. The odd conversation about how we did this drive a year ago and me rambling about party stuff – trying to distract myself about the news we could possibly be facing. When I wasn’t talking to Kyle I was praying, praying in tears, praying in faith knowing that God was ahead of us in this situation and was with us in every moment. I remember as we arrived there, declaring the truth – no matter what we found out, no matter what we felt in the moment or moments to come, God is good and God is love. No matter what. It was a proclamation that felt counterintuitive in the moment but the truth is truth no matter my feelings. 

    We arrived at the hospital at 1:45pm, checked in at the Family Birthing Unit, and it felt like we sat there forever. More waiting. I hated waiting. We finally got called down for the ultrasound. Kyle couldn’t come in, which was terrifying but the tech quickly told me that he couldn’t give me any news good or bad and that they would give me the results once we were back upstairs. 

    I laid down on the table like I have so many times before, begging for a miracle, begging for movement. It was a very quick ultrasound and then we were brought back upstairs where we waited in a tiny exam room that looked just like a doctors office. My first thoughts were that this could not be good. I wasn’t allowed to wait in triage, I was put into an isolated room that felt cold and sad. 

    Alison, the midwife, who had delivered Zaden nearly a year ago, came in and apologized that we were going through this, gave me a hug and said results would take a bit but she would come back when she had something.  

    More waiting. This time it was a very nervous wait. I couldn’t sit still, I didn’t know where to look, what to do with my hands, what to say. It was only minutes until we were going to find out if our baby had a heartbeat. How was this real? How were we sitting here? This was the one time I didn’t want the midwife to come back. I didn’t want the door to open. But at the same time I knew we didn’t have a choice and the only way to end this limbo was for Alison to come back and give us news. 

    At 3:40pm Alison came back in and with barely enough time for me to look up from the floor and the door to close behind her, the words fell like boulders on the floor, “there is no fetal heartbeat. I’m so sorry.” 

    Both Kyle and I burst into tears, she came and gave us a hug and said she would come back in a bit to talk some more. 

    A million thoughts ran through my head. How? How is there no heartbeat? How am I carrying a dead baby in my belly? How has my body failed me? How has it failed my family? When did this happen? Is it a boy or a girl? How am I so sad over someone I never met? How do I tell people? How do we tell our boys who were so excited to the baby in mummy’s tummy? Why this time? Why now? At a time that is messing everything up with Zaden’s birthday. A birthday that I wanted to be able to celebrate, to celebrate Zaden, not mourn the loss of my baby. I had party preparations to get done, not sit in a hospital room. 

    I never pictured this as part of our story. I never wanted to be apart of this ‘infant loss/miscarriage’ club, why us? And yet I still knew that God is sovereign and was over this whole situation but it didn’t take my pain away. I had so many questions and yet nothing but loud sobs would come out. I had no way to digest the words of ‘no fetal heartbeat’. 

    That fetal heartbeat was my baby, my baby that we wished for, that we prayed over, that we wanted and loved so badly. I couldn’t stop crying. Kyle held me, we held each other. I tried to form some thoughts, the first thought was that I was so thankful for Jesus, for heaven and for a God that is love because that gave me the assurance of where our baby was. How much more beautiful Jesus & heaven became at that moment. The tears stopped coming so aggressively and we just sat together, in shock, holding one another. I was trying to form all the questions I knew I would have because I felt like this was all happening so fast and I wanted to make sure I did it ‘right’, that I got all the information that I wanted and all the ways to keep memories of this precious life.

    Kyle and I sat embraced, crying for what felt like forever, trying to let this reality sink in but also trying to process what is next. Alison came back and was as sweet as she could be considering the situation. She began laying out our two options: a D&C (surgery) or to be induced and deliver. Alison gave the pros and cons of each; Kyle was on board with whatever I could handle. The surgery is quicker and ‘easier’ since I would be under general anaesthesia but less humane for our baby. Delivering seemed to be the right choice but could I labour for a baby that I don’t get to take home? Could I go through all that immense physical pain on top of the emotional pain? 

    I just wanted someone to tell me what to do. I didn’t feel qualified to make this choice, it wasn’t one I was prepared to make. No one should be making this choice. We should have been making choices about finding out the gender, coming home outfits, and names. I was angry. Angry at the whole situation, angry that I would have to labour for a dead baby. It all seemed terribly unfair. As we sat in silence both processing this bomb we had just been hit with, I knew this choice was ultimately mine and yet in the midst of my anger God spoke so clearly and I knew I would deliver this baby. I would do anything for this baby, I would endure it all, just as I had for the babies I had at home. Just because his life was cut short in my eyes, God has ordained the exact days of its life from the beginning and I will love him all the same. 

    A while later, the OB and Alison came back in. The OB said that based on the measurements at the ultrasound baby was measuring about 13.5 weeks. But that was odd to me because I had been to the midwife at 14.5 weeks and we heard a heartbeat so we figure that baby was just measuring small and it likely happened shortly after that appointment. That meant that I had likely been carrying this lifeless baby for close to 3 weeks. 

    I didn’t like that, I felt weird, but I also felt proud that my body still provided it comfort and a home. The OB then explained how the delivery would go and how I would have the full support of the midwife, staff, and access to all the pain medication – at that time I didn’t understand just how much pain medication but because the baby no longer had a heartbeat there was no concern about the amount of pain medication I took, a small silver lining. 

    I don’t remember much else of when they came and went or what was said, but I do remember Kyle asking Alison if they had any pictures from the ultrasound today that we could have. She said she could get a couple photos with her phone and send them to us. We will treasure those last photos of our baby forever. 

    We were then informed that we couldn’t deliver today. We had to go home and wait until tomorrow. We were now on the induction list just like any other pregnant woman and had to wait our turn. It was the saddest walk we have ever made out of that hospital to date and I’m sure once we deliver it will be even worse. Kyle held my hand the whole way out, confidently communicating to me that we are in this together and we will see it through. 

    Once at the car, we both called our mums and it was excruciating painful to have to utter the words that we’ve lost our baby. Our parents cried with us and have been nothing but supportive asking what they can do to help & taking the kids. The drive home felt empty, sad but peaceful as we clung to our favourite worship songs. My first pick was Highlands by Hillsong United:

    “So I will praise You on the mountain

    And I will praise you when the mountain’s in my way

    You’re the summit where my feet are

    So I will praise You in the valleys all the same

    No less God within the shadows

    No less faithful when the night leads me astray

    You’re the Heaven where my heart is

    In the highlands and the heartache all the same

    Whatever I walk through

    Wherever I am

    Your Name can move mountains

    Wherever I stand

    And if ever I walk through

    The valley of death

    I’ll sing through the shadows

    My song of ascent

    These are truths of who God is and will always be and I clung to that on the cold, dark drive home and have continued to cling to every day since. He is no less God in this shadow.

    Upon getting home we were greeted with smiles and excitement from our three boys and it was a much welcomed break after all the sadness. Walking through this makes me extra grateful for their lives and how much of a miracle each one of them is. Only Nixon asked if I was sad and I said yes and his response was ‘but God is good mum’ and I replied ‘yes Nixon, yes, He always is’. I’m not sure who I was talking to more, Nixon or myself. 

    I am so grateful for grandparents who took them for the next couple night and allowed them to enjoy being kids.

    Kyle and I silently started to tidy up the house, not really knowing what to do with ourselves. We aren’t used to a quiet house, we aren’t used to this pain, we aren’t used to this being our reality. I was tidying up the kids room when I was stopped and overcome by emotion. I found the pajama set I had bought for my baby. When I was out to buy it, Nixon saw it and one of the pieces had llamas on it – every Sunday at church he eagerly looks for the llamas to say ‘hi’ and tell us what they’ve had for breakfast, hence his love for llamas – I told Nixon that ‘we weren’t going to buy it because we don’t need it, baby has enough pajamas’ (fourth baby problems). His insistent response was ‘no mum I’ll buy it because I love llamas and so does baby’. Well at that I couldn’t say no. But now this baby won’t wear those llama pajamas and I have to tell Nixon that. Now I have another reminder that this baby will never come home with us. There were going to be so many of those reminders over the coming days and weeks.

    We finished cleaning up, still wondering what we’re going to do with all these reminders that we were supposed to have a baby with us in June. I don’t want them here anymore but I don’t want to just toss them away as if it all meant nothing. What if we have another? Is it okay for that baby to wear those things or use that baby book? Or will it all be too painful? So many questions that no one can answer but us, in time. Except I hated waiting, I wanted it all sorted out now but God wasn’t working that way, it was going to be a process that we walk through, that He walks us through. 

    I left the kids’ room and I saw the letterboard that still read ‘& one more makes four; June 2020’ with our ultrasound picture on it. An ultrasound where our baby still had a heartbeat. I sobbed as I began to take off each letter, there would no longer be four come June; this sign was no longer needed. I didn’t have a plan for what to put up next, but my heart settled on HOPE. We would hold onto hope, the hope of Jesus that would see us through.  

    We finally both sat down on the couch, found some crappy snacks to eat and shared a beer. I called Ashlee and told her the news. I knew she had been hoping for the best and so it was devastating to tell her the worst outcome. She came over with more snacks and drinks to help us through tomorrow. We stayed and chatted with her for a while which was nice because it gave us a mental break. I also called my mentor, and I couldn’t even speak, the emotions were so strong, I felt like I was going to be sick, all I could hear was her praying for us. Praying for things which I felt but couldn’t voice, praying for emotions that I hadn’t even named yet – such a gift from God. 

    Prayer is something I struggle with but I have seen the power of it and this was God reminding me of how important and how powerful it is. It was all we had and it truly is enough to handle this, not take away the pain and sadness but to bring true comfort. 

    I felt bad that I was so tired, I wanted to be able to do something to prevent this or prepare for it. However, I fell asleep shortly and had an on and off sleep until 4:30 AM. And now we wait; we wait for the hospital to call to tell us to come in and be induced. Neither of us are sure what to say to each other, there were no words for this period of waiting in such sadness.

    Since no call was coming in and waiting was nauseating, I got up, got myself put together and began to work on party prep. Kyle joined me when he was ready; I don’t think he was overly surprised to see me keeping so busy and forging on with the party, I think we both welcomed the distraction. 

    The house was quiet, too quiet. I missed the constant chatter of our boys, their asking for snacks, or asking what we were doing. I missed the laughter. I missed them. But it also made me realize that God had designed me for motherhood, even when it feels like I can’t face it or do it right. That being parents to these three amazing, healthy boys, is God’s design and plan for my life and that is a moment I will treasure forever. 

    We ran a couple errands and as we were leaving Staples, at 1:30pm my phone rang. ‘Can you come for your induction at 2:30pm?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Bring your stuff, you’ll likely be here overnight’ the nurse from the hospital says. The nurse that called seemed so nonchalant about asking me to come in for my induction, I’m guessing she had no idea why I was on the list, after all, I was likely just a name. And yet this was the call that would be the beginning to the end and it was anything but nonchalant, it was everything. It was a punch in the gut and a blow to the knees.

    We checked into the Family Birthing Unit triage at 2:30pm and were told to sit and wait, waiting was the worst at this point. I didn’t want to explain why I was there, why I was there with barely a belly, 5.5 months before I was supposed to be there. We waited some more and finally at 3pm the charge nurse came and got us to take us to our room. Room 222. She quickly became my least favourite person in the hospital. As she led us to our room she was explaining the medication process and said ‘you’ll be given two pills every 4 hours until you pass the product’…this is a BABY. My baby. Not some product. Thankfully we never saw her again. 

    We got settled into our room and shortly after our nurse for the next 4.5 hours came in. Grace. How fitting a name and what an answer to prayer she was. I will never forget her, her kindness and gentleness. 

    The OB came in to explain the procedure in further detail and asked if we were ready to start. I wanted to scream “NO!”. No one should ever be ready for this, no one is ever ready for this. I wanted to ask ‘are you ever ready to deliver a baby that you don’t get to keep? Are you ever ready for this? How am I supposed to be ready?!’ But I knew deep down the only way to the other side of this was through so we had to start at some point. So, instead of screaming at her I simply nodded my head yes, took a quick look at Kyle to make sure he was on the same page, he was.

    Next in our room was a lab tech to draw a large panel of blood, he asked if I was pregnant…I legitimately didn’t know how to answer him. I fumbled over my words, confused, annoyed that he had even asked. I ended up mumbling that I had miscarried and that’s why I was here. He responded by saying that he didn’t know how to enter that on his machine. I was so annoyed. I’m sorry my situation doesn’t fit into your machine, it doesn’t fit into my life either but that didn’t change the fact that I am here. Finally Kyle spoke up and said “yes, she’s pregnant.” I was thankful that he had a clear mind and spoke for me. 

    Grace came in often to check to see if we needed anything, seriously anything at all, we always said no because really what could she bring us? She couldn’t make it go away and that’s all I wanted. On her own, she did bring us cookies, lip balm, body wash, popsicles and heaps of warm blankets. Like I said, she was an absolute gem. 

    When her shift came to an end I was genuinely sad. She said she didn’t want to go home, she wanted to stay with us and that the love that Kyle and I have for eachother is a love she aspires to have one day. What an encouragement at such a time as this.

    As shift change was happening, I noticed the cramps were starting to pick up and I had to go to the bathroom and then I had to push… I had so many thoughts. I was not going to deliver my baby into the toilet, we needed a nurse – Kyle hit the call button, I needed something to catch this in ASAP. Kyle finally brought me the water jug. Nurses came running in and helped me to the bed. One of those nurses was replacing Grace. The rest is a blur of tears, questions and so many emotions. All of a sudden I felt more pain and a gush of water. My membranes. My water had broken. This is really going to happen, all of it, just like the other three except there would be no newborn cry. 

    They kept asking me to push. I had zero urge to push but I tried because how amazing it would be to have this over with so quickly and with minimal pain. The OB then asked to check me, lets just say she wasn’t ‘gentle’, it was very uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if the tears I had were from her or from the situation, probably both. This all felt very invasive and chaotic since shift change had just happened and I hadn’t met a single one of these people. I missed my old familiar nurses and OB. I missed the calm, I missed peace. The new OB was kind but lacked compassion. 

    I tried to just focus on the music and ignore everyone else. Finally, I heard her say we needed to wait longer. Back to waiting. Everyone cleaned up and left; finally a little bit of peace after the chaos. 

    Shortly after, our new nurse introduced herself and let us know what the plan was now that things had settled down. Courtney was her name and as it turns out she went to school with my sister and they were good friends. Courtney had never had to deliver a miscarriage before and apologized for saying or doing the wrong thing. I said not to worry, I don’t think there was much she could say wrong and that it was my first time too. 

    The plan now was to simply wait and give me another dose of medication at 9pm. Time passed, 9pm came, and I got another dose. Kyle and I were desperately praying that our baby would be born before midnight. The last thing either of us wanted was for Zaden and the baby to share a birthday. It was bad enough the dates were going to be so close for such opposite emotions but if nothing else, please God, don’t let it be on the same day. 

    By 9:30 I had started bleeding. This was so difficult, it wasn’t overly painful but I was realising that soon our baby would be born and wouldn’t be with me anymore, heartbeat or no heartbeat I wanted to keep my baby with me, safe in the home it was supposed to be in. 

    I finally had the urge to push, the OB checked again and I was focused on all the bleeding but trying to drown it out with the music that Kyle had put on – Highlands by Hillsong on repeat again, and loud. Then out of nowhere, I heard a nurse I had never met or seen, say to Kyle “sorry” and Kyle’s response was “It’s okay, I want to see”.I knew at that moment our baby had been born. This precious tiny baby that was supposed to be safe in my womb for months more was now outside of my body, outside of my care and that hurt. It sent me into tears, uncontrollable tears that shook my whole body. 

    I didn’t care what the nurses or OB were asking me to do. I didn’t care what they were doing to me. My baby was laying on the bed instead of with me. There was no newborn cry, there were no tears of joy, there was no telling of the gender. It was a deathly silence that cut to my core. 

    My whole body hurt as I sobbed. This was wrong. I was angry and sad and even those words seem so small and don’t begin to describe the level of devastation I was feeling. I buried my face into Kyle’s hand, away from all the nurses. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want the lights, I just wanted to lay in the darkness that my soul felt at that moment. I was mad to see Kyle comforting me but not upset. How was it he was already at peace with our baby being in heaven? How do you not cry when all I can do is sob uncontrollably? 

    I decided to ignore his feelings and just pull his body closer to mine so I could hide in it and cry. Cry with no end in sight. Cry because it was the only way to let the pain out of my body. I remember laying there, wanting so badly to curl up and rock myself as I cried out ‘that’s my baby, I want my baby back’ and yet there was no answer. No nurse telling me it would be okay, no nurse giving me instructions on how to care for this baby, just silence and some muttering between the OB and nurses. 

    All I wanted was to curl up in Kyle’s arms, somewhere that felt safe because I felt so exposed, so raw; the tears continued to flow. Kyle all of sudden sat down in his chair and began sobbing, the reality hit, I couldn’t reach him and was too busy sobbing on my own but I remember seeing some random nurse rubbing his back. I was glad because I know physical touch was what he needed. 

    The OB was still busy, trying to get the placenta to come out, but it wouldn’t so she said we would wait at least 2 more hours and see what happens. Waiting, more waiting.

    Courtney started oxytocin through my IV in hopes of helping the placenta, that’s when the pain got real. I was proud to have birthed our baby without medication but this was ridiculous so I finally asked for morphine. The silver lining of this whole thing was there was no limit on the amount of painkillers I could have so I took advantage of that when asking for morphine. They got that started, followed by gravol to help with the onset of horrible nausea. If you read Kyle’s story apparently I said some pretty comical things, I’m glad to know that further down the road I will have provided us comical relief in such a tragic time. 

    Eventually, just past midnight the placenta came and it was all over. I remember crying again. More from a sense of relief. I knew that from a grieving standpoint this was not over, it had only just begun but the labour and delivery were over and that was a weight lifted off both of our shoulders. 

    The OB, who I had barely spoken a couple of words to me, let alone talked face to face, came up to my bedside and simply stated ‘the miscarriage is complete’ and walked out of my room. That was the last time I saw her and frankly I was okay with that. Her words stung. That word – miscarriage, I still seemed foreign to me, my story and my baby. The tears came back as I replayed her words over and over. It’s done, my baby is no longer a part of me, my body no longer supports life like it was supposed to. How was it over? And what were we supposed to do now?

    The nurses did a great job cleaning up and being super respectful and quiet, allowing both Kyle and I to talk if we wanted or to sit in silence and we did both. Once they were finished, Courtney asked if I wanted to see my baby. I was ready. I wanted to hold my baby, I wanted to see him, my heart needed to see. Our baby was respectfully laid on a pad inside a small white tub. I won’t go into detail about what he looked like but it was love at first sight. It was familiar as if my eyes knew what my heart already knew, he was mine and I will forever love him. 

    The sobbing started as I began to grieve his life, his body, and realizing this was as close as I would ever get to having him with me ever again. We smiled and tears of joy rolled down our faces as we just sat with Aston. This moment in time is one we will have forever. Just us and our little baby boy. We knew right away, his name would be Aston Gabriel Enns. Gabriel meaning ‘God is my strength’ and that was exactly what we had at that moment. Kyle took Aston for a little bit longer, I was feeling sick again just from all the medication and needed to lay down. The tears came back, and they would continue to come and go throughout the night as my heart continued to grieve the loss of my little baby boy.

    Once all the medication had stopped, and we were done holding Aston for now, Courtney had wanted to get me up to go to the bathroom/walk. I knew this was coming, it happened after each delivery before and I just wanted to get it done so I could go back to bed and try and get some sleep. I knew I should have said I didn’t feel well enough to do it but I was stubborn and tried anyway. About halfway to the door I got really dizzy and hot. 

    The next thing I remember was a nurse I had never met, staring me in the face calling my full name. I quickly realized I was laying on the floor, and there were way more nurses in the room than when I tried to get to the bathroom. They asked me if I knew my name and where I was…I felt annoyed with the questions, of course I knew where I was and what my name was but I also realized that I had probably fainted and they were just doing their job. They lifted me back into bed and I felt so dizzy, lightheaded, tired and hot. Kyle leaned over looked me right in the eyes and said in a very serious tone ‘don’t you ever do that to me again’.

    Whatever ‘that’ was, he wasn’t too happy about it. It wasn’t until much later that I was informed of how scary it had been for him – sorry babe. It was taking all I had to try and stay coherent while everyone talked to me, I needed a rest and I needed it badly. I finally slept for about 4 hours before I remember Courtney coming back in to check my vitals and ask if I could try the bathroom again. I felt like a new person so I was up for trying the bathroom again. I did however wake Kyle incase anything went wrong again, I wanted him to be there to help Courtney. The bathroom was a success which meant I could shower – if you’ve delivered a baby you know what a treat this is. 

    The rest of the morning went by uneventfully. I was sad to see shift change happen, I really liked having Courtney there, she had been there through it all and had been so kind and gentle with us. I felt bad that she had to go through all that but I pray that we were gentle with her. 

    The next nurse came in, she was kind but I quickly became annoyed when she said that we may not be out of here until dinner time. I had already missed putting Zaden to bed for the last time before he turned one. I wasn’t there to wake him up and wish him a happy birthday or do birthday breakfast. I knew all of these things didn’t really matter and Zaden didn’t know the difference but it bothered me a lot and brought on more tears. It was just another ache that I was facing that I couldn’t do anything about. 

    I was getting annoyed with all the blood tests, I just wanted people to stop poking me and let me go home. Finally, at noon we got the all clear. I felt empty leaving. I had never left this hospital without a carseat with a cute bundled baby. This time all I was left with were two buckets, one with ice and another placed on top that held my baby boy. 

    Both Kyle and I were shocked, and annoyed that Surrey Hospital was not better prepared for situations like this. Regardless, we were thankful that we were able to leave and take our baby with us. We stopped by a store and picked up a tiny box to bury Aston in, yet another thing I had never done and truthfully wasn’t prepared to do. 

    The drive was silent for the most part, a lot of music, both of us just in our own thoughts. It was sunny, windy and very cold but sunny. We pulled up beside the river and waited. This spot on the river was special to us; Kyle brought me here on our first dates to take pictures of sunsets, he later proposed there and our wedding photos were taken there. There was no other place that we could think of that we would want to bury our son. 

    Neither of us were sure how to do this. I filled in the birth card with all the information we had. We didn’t have a height or a weight, we had his name and his birthdate. I found it crippling to try and write his name down knowing that this card wasn’t coming home to go in his baby book, it would stay here with him, another loss. 

    I had packed one of the onesies that Nixon had picked out, to put in the tiny box to hold his tiny body. I took as many pictures as I could of the onesie, the birth card, all of it. Desperately wanting to document that moment, wanting to document Aston because these will be the only photos we have of him. 

    Kyle held him, sobbed, and said his hellos and goodbyes, declared his love and promised to never forget him. I took him next. My baby. There are no words that will ever describe a mother’s love. My love for that little baby boy. I rubbed his head, his tiny toes, and fingers. He was perfect to me. 

    I cuddled him for what felt like forever but yet there was never a moment I felt ready to let him go. I prayed over him, prayed that God would care for us both and that he would know that I never wanted it to be this way. I never want to be without him. I must have said ‘I love you” a million times, desperately praying that he would somehow know that, that even in this tragedy, he would know how deep my love for him is. I laid him in the onesie, his whole body wasn’t big enough to even fill out the neck hole but it was his and I wanted him to be wrapped in something. 

    I took more photos. We closed the box and prayed and thanked God for his love and protection. We headed outside, the wind was insanely strong, and bitterly cold but I didn’t care. Kyle laid the box in the ground, I sat on the log and sobbed. How was it okay to leave my baby here? How am I supposed to leave without my baby? I already wanted to take him out of the box and cuddle him and tell him it’s okay. But I knew that God was already telling me those exact things. Aston was with God, in a perfect place, far better than I was. He was loved beyond my ability. My mind knew all these things, it was just going to take time before my heart caught up. Kyle covered up the box, and we just sat, holding each other the way we had two days ago. The wind was whipping the river up against our jackets but we couldn’t leave. I wasn’t ready to leave. As I sat drenched in tears, there was a peace that surpasses understanding that came upon me. 

    My body and heart hurt in ways I had never felt before, but I knew we would be okay and there was peace in letting go. Back at the car the tears came again, full body sobs from both of us. We held each other and let the tears and the hurt just come. It was over. This part was over and that was hard for me. I wasn’t ready to let go but I had no reason to hold on, Aston was already home. I needed to let go of this and cling to God, and that’s what the next days, weeks, months will look like. 

    Thank you to everyone who has done anything and everything to help us as we walk this journey. I may not reach out to say thank you personally but I couldn’t have done this without you. I’ve never been more thankful for our village.

    Kyle, thank you for being my partner in all of this. We will see it through, God will make sure of it. 

    Aston, I don’t know how to say goodbye. I am so sorry our story has gone this way, I never wanted it to end like this and I eagerly await the day I get to see you in perfect peace and whole; the way God intended life to be for all of us. You will always be my baby and not a day will go by where you are not in my heart. A mumma’s love is forever. I love you.

  • beluga baby
    BELUGA BABY

    Going Local: Beluga Baby Interview

    Last time we told you all about what we love about Beluga Baby and today we get to share our interview with Beluga Baby’s founder, Haley Campbell.

    What is the story behind Beluga Baby?

    Haley: I had my daughter three and a half years ago and before that I was working advertising and marketing in various different disciplines; I worked for a direct marketing agency for a while and I worked a couple non profit jobs, lived in Australia for a while, but when I had Sawyer and I went on maternity leave I started making my own baby wraps. I had tried other wraps and they were good but there were things that I found that were lacking from each of them. So, ‘I thought I’ll make my own’. Usually you end up having kids at the same time as your peer group so I made some for friends and then I thought ‘well with my background in advertising why not see if I can make it into into a company’. I worked while my baby slept instead of sleeping which was a recipe for a lot of postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t even realize it was happening to me at the time, I just thought it was normal motherhood, but it was insane sleep deprivation and a lot of pressure on myself. I launched the company when my baby was 5 months old. It went really slowly at first, I had no expectations for it and I didn’t put a lot of money into it. I borrowed about two and a half thousand dollars from family members for start up costs for my logo design, my website design, my first order of fabric, and my first round of products filled. They [the wraps] have always been made here in Vancouver so it was a bit more expensive than manufacturing overseas. I grew organically and I was quite experienced with social media so I learned quickly how to find influencers and work with influencers which was my biggest help with my organic growth. At the time it was really cool because there was a group of women between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley who were all were starting baby companies at the same time: Little More Shop, Baby Deluxe, Glitter & Spice, Tattrd Threads, Remzo and other I’m forgetting. We ended up with this group of 15 of us who met on Instagram and built this WhatsApp group chat and it gone insane because by the end of the day you would look at it and there would be like 1,250 messages to get through. We were all excited that we’re all starting these brands at the exact same time and we all helped each other out. Like if someone found it influencer who is really effective they would tell everyone else about it. That’s how I connected with Jillian Harris, I got all my friends with brands and we built this awesome basket for her and Leo. We all helped each other and it was a really cool experience. Some of the companies are not in existence anymore, some kept it little, and some are big national business is now. My friend Amanda rebranded Baby Deluxe to So Luxury; they have a whole Factory in Mission now. With their help and my background in marketing the company grew painfully slow, but enough that by the time my maternity was over I didn’t have to go back to work.

    When you started Beluga Baby what was your goal?

    Haley: I had no goal. I was just like ‘okay I’ll see if I can do it and see how it goes.’

    Kyle: Now what is your goal for Beluga Baby?

    Haley: I would love to get to a point where I can have a nice office with people that I enjoy working with where I can go on vacation and other people can keep the company running for me. It’s still just me; I’m the only one who works at Beluga Baby. I have a seamstress and I have a couple some contractors to help me with AdWords and SEO, and a website programmer but essentially it’s still just me, I package up all the boxes and do all that. So yeah I would love it to be something that serves me instead of the other way around and there is a plan.

    What was the hardest thing starting out?

    Haley: Other than the classic you work all the time and you also have a new baby, so I’m working literally 24 hours a day, plus my daughter never slept through the night until she was a year and a half until I weaned her. That was probably the hardest thing. Also, at about the 2-year mark, my husband quit his job because he wanted a change in careers, so while he was transitioning he worked for me for about 6 months and it was fine but it was good when he went back to work for both of us. He still will come to the office and pack boxes for me, or pack boxes for me when I’m super busy.

    beluga baby

    Looking back on where you were and where you are now, what are you most proud of?

    Haley: the fact that it is still growing, we’re projected to be 70% over where we were last year. I have a 4 year business plan that is laid out and at that point it should be where I have a really nice office and employees.

    Beluga Baby designs and makes everything here in Vancouver, where is your fabric sourced from?

    Haley: Our fabric is sourced from overseas as most bamboo fabric is. There is one bamboo mill in Canada that has fabric, they are in Ontario and they are very very expensive. Even at our quantities, if we were to switch our cost would double and it’s already priced as a luxury items. What we do do is work with fabrics that are all Oeko-Tex certified which means that all of the dying process and everything is environmentally sustainable and bamboo itself is an environmentally sustainable fabric.

    Have you been over to where your fabric is being sourced?

    Haley: No, we use a middleman and they provide us with all the information that we need but I will be going over to China in the next 6 months, which is kind of intimidating. There’s so much I need to find out and so much information I need to do my own research on so that I can go over there and be responsible with the decisions that I make and not just be like ‘I don’t know anything so it’s not a problem,’ you can’t do business like that, you have to ask the tough questions.

    This summer Beluga Baby launched a very special product, the Reid and Rhett wrap, what was it like launching that product with such an important story behind it?

    Haley: A lot of tears. It was a lot of time, me and Emma, met in very unfortunate circumstances. We had babies within weeks of each other, but hers was stillborn at 40 weeks. We reconnected when she was pregnant with Everett who is a year and a half or two now. We spent a long time developing this wrap; the amount of types of rainbows I’ve looked at, I have hundreds of drafts. I went rainbow crazy for a while, but we’re really proud of how it looks. It’s hard to get a rainbow that is also cool looking. So, when that came out, we spent a lot of time up front working with influencers to get everyone talking about it on the same day and it was the first time I’ve ever launched anything with any kind of plan. Usually, I’m just like “…and we have a new product!” because you don’t have any time because you have a kid. This product was special and we wanted it to have the weight behind it that it deserved. So, that launched and just to see the orders roll in on the first day and for people to share their stories with me and with Emma, we eventually talked to each other and said we could only read our direct messages once per day because so many women, let’s be honest it’s all women writing in, have so many stories and they’re all similar and they’re all so different and they need to be read and acknowledged but it’s just a lot to take in when you’re reading them all day long. There are these women who have never had a place where they can talk about it. The photoshoot in the field, you’ll see a lot of those photos, those are all mothers and one grandmother who have a connection to loss. The grandmother lost her son Adam, stillborn at 40 or so weeks, but back then you don’t talk about it really, so she was there with her daughter and her daughter’s new baby son who is also named Adam after her brother. Chills, right? So the grandma wore her grandson for the photoshoot named after her son that she lost. There are all sorts of different types of loss stories too, like Sky, she’s the one with the little Japanese baby, she’s blonde and totally not Japanese, but she adopted her daughter from Japan, had the baby home with them for several days, was breastfeeding and then the birth mom changed her mind so they had to go back and give the baby back. That’s a type of loss you can’t talk about because she’s alive and doing well she’s just not in their life anymore. It was cool because she was wearing her 5 month old adopted daughter and she was also 5 months pregnant at the time. You asked earlier about what I was proud about, I think being able to tell a story like that and have it connect and mean something to someone other than just a business that makes money.

    As a business owner, how do you feel about the second hand market?

    Haley: It’s cool. It’s actually on my list of things to do this month, to make a Buy, Sell, Trade, page. Yes, no problem, go, buy second hand. I think it’ll make the community bigger, make the name bigger, you gotta think long term, right? I might miss out on a couple dollars today but more people will get to try it. The only thing that I would worry about is that, we do a lot of limited editions, and there is a lot of carrier Buy, Sell, Trade pages so if people sell it for more than they bought it for I don’t know how I feel about that.

    beluga baby

    What kind of criticisms or negativity has Beluga Baby faced?

    Haley: Obviously I try really hard to be diverse and welcome all types of families and background to the babywearing community. So, I’ve had people who write in and say “there’s no one how look like me on your website” and that’s hard because where we live only has certain amounts of ethnicities and then you’re also looking for a new mom, when you’re doing a photoshoot, with a baby under 6 months old who is available at this time with like 2 seconds notice because that’s how I roll. It was a super valid thing that they were concerned about, having women of colour, people of colour on the website. At that point, it was like 2 out of 12 on the website were women of colour, but none specifically that represented this one minority. You can only do so much, right? But at our next photoshoot we made sure it was more diverse. There are other little ones I won’t mention, but people assume we’re a big company a lot, which is a compliment because it means I’m doing a good job at my marketing and social media,l but ots of times people are surprised when they find out it’s just me doing it.

    Kyle: I didn’t know, I thought you had at least one person helping you out.

    Samantha: I was very surprised, it’s funny because I messaged you once and you responded right away and I thought, “who is responding that fast?”

    Haley: Oh it’s just me, it drives my husband crazy because I’m always on Instagram.

    What does the future of Beluga Baby look like?

    Haley: Oh, very exciting, the fall collection is out, which is 6 new colours. Then in the next year, we’re prototyped already, I already met with the manufacturer, we’re coming out with a buckle carrier for larger babies like 6 months to 3 years. The weight range will be 15-60 pounds.

    Kyle: That was our big issue because both of our kids were massive and we needed a little bit more support.

    Haley: I’m really excited about the buckle carrier, that’s a whole other beast because we can’t get them made in Vancouver, but we still want to get them made in either Canada or the US and they’re going to be made from either hemp or linen. The prototypes are beautiful, they’re so soft, so excited.

    How much of your success do you attribute to your skill, abilities, and hard work and how much of it was due to luck?

    Haley: I don’t think any of it was luck. It was a market that already had products in it. I’m sorry, that might have sounded so egotistical but I don’t think that a lot of people could do it especially at the time of life that I did it with a new baby. That being said, I totally could not have done it without my husband; I would have ended up in the hospital or something. It wasn’t luck but it wasn’t just me, it was me plus my husband, plus my family, plus this network of ladybosses that I connected with, it was a village for sure but I don’t think any of it was luck.

    We want to give a final huge thank you to Haley from Beluga Baby for spending time with us to do this interview and providing a swaddle for our Instagram giveaway.

    Be sure to check out the Beluga Baby website and follow them on social media:

    Beluga Baby Website
    Beluga Baby on Facebook
    Beluga Baby on Instagram

    Be sure to follow us on Instagram to follow along throughout this series!

    Never stop adventuring!

     

  • beluga baby
    BELUGA BABY

    Going Local: Beluga Baby Review

    Beluga Baby Introduction

    Last week we featured Minimoc as our favourite local kids footwear brand and we shared an interview we conducted with Amanda and Jeff Penner, Minimoc’s founders. Today, it’s all about baby wearing. Wearing your baby is something every parents has to do at some point and finding the right piece of equipment to do so can be a daunting task. Wrap or carrier? Front or side? 2, 3, or 4 positions? There are so many things to consider and so many brands out there that it can be impossible to decide between all the options. Well, let us make this simple for you, pick Beluga Baby.

    Beluga Baby makes all of their wraps out of bamboo materials, which as we shared earlier in this series, is a very ethical and preferred material for the environment compared to others. Haley, Beluga Baby’s founder and owner, has made sure to keep that a priority in everything they do. We bought our Beluga Baby wrap from a local kids clothing store, who we will feature later on in this series, and we haven’t regretted it for a second. There are so many things to like and so many reasons that it reigns supreme over all the others out there. In fact, being pregnant, I’m actually excited to get to wear it again.

    beluga baby

    Beluga Baby: What We Love

    It’s light. Before we had our Beluga Baby wrap, we had a different brand wrap and it was so heavy. The material was thick and it was not even close to what you get from your Beluga Baby wrap.

    It’s breathable. Both of our boys were born in the summer so carrying them around in the summer means it’s hot, especially with a baby on you. That’s why the Beluga Baby wrap is so great, because it’s made of bamboo, it’s really breathable and you get airflow to help keep you cool while you wear it. You can still wear it in winter also, since it’s so light and easy to wear, you can just add layers to yourself and due to its ability to stretch, it will always fit no matter how much or how little clothing you’re wearing.

    It’s surprisingly sturdy and durable. Since it’s made of light, breathable bamboo, we thought it might be flimsy and/or not as durable and something heavier wraps or those made of other material. It has held up to lots, even our extra large children.

    beluga baby

    It doesn’t lose its shape. The wrap is flexible and stretchy but thankfully, when you stretch it to its limits, or wrap it on yourself nice and tight, it doesn’t lose its shape or lose its ability to stretch. It remains the same size and shape regardless of how much you use it or how much you stretch it.

    It’s easily washable. Since it’s only made of bamboo material, it’s just like washing any other piece of clothing, you just throw it in with the rest of your clothes. Rather than putting it in the dryer, we always air dry ours as we do all bamboo materials.

    It’s soft on baby. The material is actually very soft to the touch, which means even if it’s over baby’s face or baby is tucked up under the wrap while sleeping, it’s soft and comfortable for baby.

    It’s reasonably priced. It’s not hard to spend over $200 when shopping for a baby wrap or carrier, this wrap can be had for under $80.

    beluga baby

    There are so many fun colour options. If you go to the Beluga Baby website, you can see all of the different colours and patterns to choose from. Do you like things simple? There are basic colours to choose from. Do you like things more fun and outgoing? There are stripes, tie dye, and floral to choose from.

    You can put it on before you leave the house. One of our favourite things about their wraps is that it saves you time when you’re out. If I know I’m going to need to wear the wrap while out, I will always put it on before I leave the house. This saves me the time and hassle of trying to do it while out, especially if the kids are cranky and because it’s actually comfortable to wear, it’s not an issue while driving and wearing the seatbelt.

    It stops your baby from fussing. Don’t ask us to explain how this works but Vanek would always fuss in other wraps or carriers. Even if I was at home and he was cranky and refusing to nap, I would put him in the wrap and he’d be asleep in a few minutes. We’re not sure if there’s some magic she put in the bamboo material or what, but this is a huge positive.

    beluga baby

    Beluga Baby: Our Minor Issues

    It takes time to learn how to wrap it. Admittedly, it took more than a few times to learn how to wrap it comfortably. Thankfully, Haley has done a great job at providing tutorial videos to show you how to do it. Plus, she is super responsive to messages so if you message her with an issue, she will provide suggestions for you to make it easier or more comfortable.

    It doesn’t hold bigger kids as comfortably. We’ve had 2 big boys so far. We didn’t have our Beluga Baby wrap when Nixon was born, but Vanek didn’t last in it longer than 6 months when he hit about 20 pounds. It just wasn’t as comfortable to wear him. We know moms who love wearing their wrap well past that weight so it’s not like it can’t be done but it wasn’t our preference and he started to not like it as much.

    Beluga Baby Bottom Line

    Do it. Go and but one right away, you won’t regret it. There are so many great things about this wrap, plus Haley has kept things as local and ethical as possible which means a lot to us. Baby wearing has been shown to be super healthy for babies as baby stays warm and close to mom or dad. Speaking of which, yes Kyle has worn it before and even he admits it’s super comfortable to wear. And even better, you can win a free Beluga Baby swaddle by visiting our latest Instagram post and entering in the comments.

    Be sure to check out the Beluga Baby website and follow them on social media:

    Beluga Baby Website
    Beluga Baby on Facebook
    Beluga Baby on Instagram

    Be sure to follow us on Instagram to follow along throughout this series!

    Never stop adventuring!

     

  • minimoc
    MINIMOC

    Going Local: Minimoc Interview

    The last part of our Minimoc feature in our Going Local series is our interview with Amanda and Jeff Penner, the founders of Minimoc. The two of them were gracious enough to sit down with us and answer a some questions that we asked them during an interview one morning.

    Amanda and Jeff were also gracious enough to bring some of their very first pairs of minimocs to share with us. Throughout the post we will share photos of the progression of the minimocs.

    What is the story of Minimoc and how it started?

    Amanda: The story we usually tell when people ask that is that we had leather scraps sitting around our house; when we got married Jeff hand stitched leather wallets for his groomsmen and he was at work and I was on summer vacation from being a TA (teaching assistant) for the Abbotsford district and I was playing around with the scraps. We had a bunch of friends having babies so I made that pair, the first pair there, and I sent him [Jeff] a picture and said “look” and we refined it a bit and started giving them away and then started getting requests from friends and then Jeff sort of jumped on it and was like “I’m gonna make a website.”

    Jeff: Yeah and then we started dealing with e-commerce and getting into that world. It really picked up once we started doing markets. From some of those markets we got some wholesalers that allowed Amanda to leave her job.

    Amanda: Yeah that was two and a half months in I just realized. I went back to work in September when school started. That was sort of like “what’s the worst that can happen?” I quit and it doesn’t work out and then I go and get another position; like that wasn’t really a huge thing but it felt huge at the time. When you [Jeff] quit your job it was like “alright, here we go!”

    minimoc
    The Very First Minimocs

    minimoc
    The Very First Minimocs

    When you started, what was the goal? And what is the goal now?

    Jeff: When we started the goal was just to support our family and doing that we would be satisfied. Now, the goal is running the business. There are certain levels we have to get to to keep it going and keeping that happening is one of the main things right now. As far as going into business and saying ‘we wanna be $100M a year and sell it then go vacation the rest of our lives,’ we’re not doing that. We’re in it more for a family business and making sure we’re happy and everyone around us is happy that’s working for us. It’s kind of an interesting place to be when you talk about hard set goals; of course we’ve got sales numbers we wanna match for doing better than last year but the main goal isn’t to become this massive company that’s just extracting as much dollar from our product as we can.

    What was the hardest thing about getting this company off the ground?

    Amanda: One of the first speed bumps that I recall was right before I quit my job. I would go to work, come home, sew, ship and then go to work and do all that. Then we started doing renos in our home; we live in a pretty small space, so we decided to close in our covered patio and that would be minimoc. We would get our employee to come to our home every day and sew and that’s a nice little company, that sounds great. Then we got our first very large wholesale order and we were like ‘this is not gonna work’ so we thought ‘okay do we find a company that already makes these and get them made for us or what do we do?’ and then within 3 weeks we moved into our first factory, a giant open space. For me that was the first big speed bump.

    Jeff: We were lucky enough that we didn’t have kids at that time so it allowed us to put time into figuring out how to move out of house and into a warehouse space, that was the first hurdle we really had to do, other than that we would still be in our house plugging away at a maximum capacity.

    Was there ever the thought of going the Dragon’s Den route or getting outside investment?

    Amanda: It crossed our mind a few times when they were in town.

    Jeff: Yeah but I don’t think that I would ever want to do that. It’s always been like ‘let’s own it’. It’s never really crossed our mind, I like to keep the control.

    Where did the name ‘minimoc’ come from?

    Amanda: That happened pretty quick. Thinking back we sat down one evening and went through a million different options.

    Jeff: We were just naturally calling them ‘minimocs’ and we tried to find a name for it and it if you go back through my journal I was writing in at that same there are tons of different names and directions we could go for the name of the company and we ended up going for the simplest thing.

    Amanda: It is kind of cool because when you think of something like ‘Kleenex’ or ‘Band-Aid’ it’s a tissue and that the brand, it’s a band aid and that’s a bandage. Now we hear people say ‘oh these are the minimocs’ when they’re not actually minimocs, but they mini mocs so it’s been used as a term like that.

    Jeff: Minimoc is all one word so it takes it away from being mini mocs.

    Amanda: Like Kleenex but inevitably that’s what people call them.

    minimoc
    2nd Generation Minimocs

    minimoc
    2nd Generation Minimocs

    What other names were in consideration?

    Jeff: We did some things with our last name and thinking about it now it wouldn’t even make sense.

    What does the future look like for minimoc?

    Jeff: The big thing is the Voyageurs that we’re coming out with and making sure that the shoes aren’t just functional for the kids but for the parents as well; that’s a main cornerstone in what we do. So, continuing with that style of shoe so we can serve the kids that have grown out of our soft sole shoe.

    Considering where you are today, what are you most proud of?

    Amanda: I feel proud of our factory and that we’re still going.

    Jeff: Yeah, manufacturing in Canada and trying to find that has been tough. The challenge and the reason why we moved out of our house was that we tried to find factories that could do this here and they would have to bring in the same equipment that we’ve built our factory with over the years. So it wasn’t readily available to us. Garment manufacturing you can get in British Columbia, but leather manufacturing, shoe manufacturing, there’s nobody doing it on the scale we wanted to get to.

    Amanda: And we can see why now, this is not easy.

    Jeff: Building it ourselves, building a supply chain, and bringing it into Canada, there’s been a lot of learning there and I think that’s one thing that we’re pretty happy with and proud of.

    Amanda: His former job was in process improvement so I think I would say almost every day there is a new improvement to some sort of process in our factory. Sometimes because I’ve been busy with the kids and everything and I’ll come in and I’ll go into the back and I haven’t been there in a while and I’m like ‘wow, okay, this is new, this is new, this is more efficient,’ it’s pretty cool.

    How many employees do you have?

    Jeff: We’re about 20 right now. So there are 4-5 people in the front office, all the rest are in the back doing things like cutting, sewing, and dealing with stock.

    Amanda: And there’s some family in there, Jeff’s sister works with us full time and then her brother in law, and her cousin, and his parents are super involved.

    Jeff: So it’s really a family business.

    minimoc
    3rd Generation Minimocs

    minimoc
    3rd Generation Minimocs

    So everything is designed locally, manufactured locally and shipped from here?

    Jeff: Yeah. Building a factory for the Voyageur shoes would have taken a huge investment and wasn’t something we could have done right out of the gate so those are made in China. I’m super heavily involved. I’ve been over there a number of times in the past year to work on design and look at the factories they’re being made in. I’m also learning a ton from that process as well, so I’m bringing that back to our own factories. China has been manufacturing at scale for the last 70 years and they provide that to the rest of the world so there’s a lot to learn from them that we can bring back to our own facility here in CAnada.

    So is the plan to move the Voyageur manufacturing back here to Canada?

    Amanda: It’s the dream

    Jeff: It’s definitely on our minds and it’s the dream. A lot of things factor in to that based on what we can do and handle. The soft sole business is still growing so in order to keep that growing and focus on it in our own factory keeping the Voyageur in China or at another facility is something we need to do to protect our core business right now. There’s definitely whispers in the shoe industry that could bring more manufacturing back to Canada. There’s a lot of popularity right now with Adidas and the speed factory bring manufacturing closer to where the product is actually used so as we see that growing there might be some opportunities for us as well.

    What steps do you take to ensure your product is local and ethical and that those remain a core part of your business?

    Jeff: One of the major things is we reach as far back into our supply chain as we can. We make sure that we’re purchasing from factories that have good humanitarian practices, good environmental practices, and they’re form countries that have laws that have good human rights. That’s the first place we start and then once we get it to our factory we have complete oversight from how happy the people are to what they’re actually doing and then we make it here locally. Doing it locally gives us that really precise insight into how people in the process are actually doing. For the Voyageur shoes going to China and being in the factories was something we actually wanted to see. You hear a lot in the news about factories and subcontracting out; going there myself and seeing the factories, seeing the workers, it looks just like our own factory. The people are happy there. Learning about the culture and seeing the cities they live in has been pretty fascinating; it’s a different world over there but you can be happy there too.

    How did you pick the Chinese factory that you ended up choosing?

    Jeff: This comes down to who you know and through doing Minimoc we’ve had some people that have come to us and people we’ve met through association and throught those contacts we’ve found someone who is a Canadian who had been able to mentor me in getting into the shoe business. Meeting him was super pivotable for the business. When you meet someone who is willing to share their knowledge just for the greater good of the next generation it feels like more than a friendship. It’s been a really good mentorship, life changing for me. That’s really what’s coming into the core of the new products that we’re bringing in.

    minimoc
    Minimoc Progression

    Where does all your leather come from?

    Jeff: Most of our leather comes from Italy and America. Places where there are good practices. One of our suppliers, the CEO drinks out of the water at the end so they have $2-3M filtration systems for the water before it goes back into the environment and the guy is sitting there at the end of the tap and he drinks it.

    Who is your ideal customer?

    Amanda: You guys. When we go places and we see a mom before we see their kids we’re like ‘I bet you that kid is wearing minimoc’ and if they are we’re like ‘sweet!’ and if they’re not we’re like ‘we need to market better haha’. She’s probably tbe mom with the backpack diaper bag with two kids, busy and has her kids in some stylish local clothing and dressing her kids in something that looks good but is super functional.

    What criticism have been brought against minimoc over the years?

    Amanda: We definitely had a few people question why we decided to make the Voyageurs in China and we can explain to them what we explained to you.

    Jeff: Yeah you have to move your business forward and we think with that there’s been some criticism to moving it over there to China but we couldn’t do that. It’s a product that everyone has been asking for, they want that next generation of shoe from us and as parents I think they appreciate that we’re designing the product so when we get those criticisms we can’t offer that product with what our company is doing. We can’t make the soft sole moccasins and shoes without going to China first. There’s that criticism that we’ve dealt with but I think people are accepting of it now that we’ve explained it to them. Other than that, it’s a ruthless world out there with customer service and day to day we’re reminded of how we can get better. We’re constantly trying to improve the customer service aspect of it and making sure our customers are successful with our product.

    How does it make you feel when you see minimocs in public?

    Amanda: It feels really good still, definitely doesn’t get old. Every once in a while where there is a big event somewhere we will keep a running tally. We were at the Berry Festival and every couple minutes we’re like “we’re up at 5, oh 7, oh I saw Oak, Driftwood, there’s Confetti.” It feel really good.

    Jeff: Sometimes we’ll be at a place like the zoo and we’ll see a stroller walk by and Amanda might be 30 feet in front of me and as the person walks by she’ll be like *excited face* and I’ll see them walk past and they’re wearing Confetti or Narwhal.

    Amanda: And we don’t show our face a ton on social media so sometimes they’ll just walk by and have no idea we’re associated with their children’s footwear but other times we’ll walk by and see the mom do a double take and then she’ll whisper to her husband and we’re like “yay haha”. It definitely feels good.

    Jeff: One thing we wish we could do is interact with people more when that happens but it’s kind of weird to always just start with looking at the kid’s foot and then introduce yourself.

    Minimoc Interview with Jeff & Amanda Penner, Minimoc Founders

    In honour of one of my favourite podcasts ever, How I Built This, how much of your success has been due to your skills and abilities and how much was because of luck?

    Amanda: Initially, the product we decided to get into, looking back now, that’s luck. People buy one pair then they grow out of them then they’re back a few months later and they buy another pair then another pair. We could’ve stumbled upon something that you only need one of and the rest is an insane amount of hard work.

    Jeff: It’s such a selfish question for me to answer because I feel like there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it so you want to reclaim that by saying it’s not luck, it’s all what we’ve done. I think there’s a certain amount of, I don’t know if you would call it luck but people gravitating towards your brand differently than anybody else’s or the brands that don’t build up in scale. It’s such a hard question to answer. I think that there’s some businesses where they’re making a great product and someone discovers them and boom, it happens all the time in the music industry.

    Amanda: Timing was huge for us too. The way social media was at the time as well, we got into just when Instagram was small and growing. Our brand wasn’t perfection as first, now when you start a new business you need the perfect curated feed and everything just for anyone to even take a second look at you.

    Jeff: We actually notice a lot of business now starting up and they’re people that don’t really have an Instagram following and it’s a beautifully curated Instagram feed. Back when we were starting that wasn’t even something you thought of first. Instagram didn’t even come until 2-3 months after we started. That social media part if pivotal to any business starting up now.

    What year did you sell your first shoe?

    Amanda: 2013. September 1, 2013 is when we say we really started. I think the end of August was when I made that first pair.

    That was our Minimoc interview with Amanda and Jeff, the husband and wife founders of Minimoc. We want to send them a huge thank you for taking the time to share everything with us and sitting down with us. If you haven’t already, be sure to check them out online:

    Minimoc Website
    Minimoc on Instagram
    Minimoc on Pinterest
    Minimoc on Facebook

    They’re having their Fall warehouse sale this Saturday and you’ll be sure to find us there. It starts at 10am in Abbotsford. You can find more info on Minimoc’s Instagram post. And if you want to know why warehouse sales are so great, you can read all about how we save tons of money at them.

    Be sure to follow us on Instagram to be alerted about new posts throughout this series!

    Never stop adventuring!

  • minimoc
    MINIMOC

    Going Local: Minimoc Review

    Minimoc Introduction

    As we mentioned in our Introduction post for this series, we’re going to share all of our favourite companies in a variety of different kids categories. Minimoc is our favourite company for local and ethical kids footwear. Minimoc is a kids footwear company that started out by Amanda making moccasins out of scrap leather that Jeff used to make wallets for his groomsmen.  Almost all of their products are still designed and manufactured at their factory in Abbotsford, BC.

    Amanda and Jeff Penner are the husband wife team behind Minimoc and you can read what they have to say about themselves on the Minimoc About page; this post is all about why they’re our favourite footwear company for kids and the things we love about them.

    Our boys have been wearing minimocs for 2 years now and we have mocs in all sizes that will continue to be worn by our future kids. That’s one of the best things about Minimoc is that their mocs are so well made that they will last well beyond just one kids. They also have mostly gender neutral designs and patterns but they also have great ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ coloured mocs as well so you won’t ever have a problem finding something for your little one. We’ve been super happy with the service we’ve received and the products we have. The mocs seem to never wear out; even the used pairs we’ve bought still look brand new!

    minimoc
    Our boys wear minimocs on the regular

    Minimoc: What We Love

    Our focus when we shop is to buy from companies that are local, ethical, and sustainable in the way they source, process, manufacture their products. Minimoc is our favourite company for footwear because they adhere to all of those qualities that we look for. We’ll save the details for the blog post about our interview with Amanda and Jeff, but everything they do is as ethical, local, and sustainable as they can. The best part though, is that everything is quality to top it all off. We’ve never actually had a pair of minimocs wear out. Besides the fact that everything Minimoc does is local, ethical, and sustainable, those aren’t the only things we love about them.

    They’re local. That’s what this whole series is about and the fact they’re a husband and wife team makes it even cooler as that’s not often a dynamic you see in local businesses; often it’s the wife with the help of her husband but the fact Jeff is so involved is really neat.

    They’re easy to get on and off. This is a very important quality of kids’ shoes because putting shoes on kids can be a huge hassle. Minimocs have a tab on the back of the shoes that allow you to pull them on easily. Taking them off is easy by just pulling the heel off and sliding the rest of the moc off the front of your kids’ foot. Sometimes you can get your kids’ pinky toe stuck in one side of the moc when putting it on but if you use two hands, one on each side of the moc, it’s much easier and you can avoid getting the pinky toe stuck. Another bonus, there isn’t specific shoes for left & right meaning it’s super quick to grab a pair and throw them on your kid as you head out the door.

    Their leather is ethically sourced. Jeff explains this in detail in the next post where we interviewed them so we’ll save the details for then, but this was a really encouraging point to hear about in detail as leather is often of the the most unethically sourced materials.

    They keep as much of their work local as they can. All of the mocs they make are made in the factory in Abbotsford but local employees. This means their employees are all getting fair wages which is great to see because they could easily move that work overseas to cut costs. To see their business also support the local economy by hiring local help is so great to see.

    minimocMinimocs make everyone happy!

    Their styles are classic and timeless. Almost all of their styles are simple plain colours that will never go out of style. Black shoes have never been out of style since even before we were born. They have cute patterns for certain seasons of the year of course, but the majority of their styles are classics that will be in style forever. Also, plenty of gender neutral options which we have personal opted for because we want to be able to pass them down through our kids and hopefully their kids too!

    They genuinely listen to their customers feedback. The way the Voyageur shoe came to be was because the customers, you and I, were asking them for a more sturdy shoe that can be worn outdoors. They don’t just send out a survey or ask for feedback for the heck of it, they take it to heart and listen to what we have to say.

    Their shoes can be worn all year long. Even as we get ready to approach winter, our kids wear the mocs inside as slippers and even if we’re going over to a friends house we put them in them to wear as slippers there too. Then the Voyageurs can we worn whenever we need to go outside and for playtime.

    They don’t make the kids’ feet stink. One thing we were worried about with wearing shoes barefoot is that the shoes and the kids’ feet will stink; well, they don’t. This was such a relief to realize because stinky feet are not okay in our household.

    minimocMinimocs are good for all situations!

    Minimoc: Our Minor Issues

    There are only two things we had an issue with when it comes to Minimoc:

    Learning how to put the mocs on takes time. Like anything, the more you do it the better you get at it. Learning how to put the mocs on so you don’t get your kids’ toes stuck took several tries before we could easily get them on. Putting the mocs on with two hands, one on each side, and pulling wide when putting them on was a game changer for us.

    minimoc
    Minimoc Voyageurs in Santorini!

    The Voyageurs can aggravate sensitive skin. This is probably just an issue for a very small percentage of kids out there but for our boys, who have very sensitive skin and also have some eczema, the Voyageur shoes aggravated Nixon’s Achilles’ area of his skin and left some marks. This can be easily combatted by putting socks on, but if you decide to do this we recommend buying the Voyageurs a size bigger to account for the socks.

    Minimoc Rocks

    Minimoc is a fantastic company. We had to get pretty picky to find anything we didn’t like and one of those things will only apply to very few of you. We can not recommend them enough and we will continue to be lifelong customers of theirs. If you have not had a chance to get yourself a pair of minimocs, their online warehouse sale starts today! Hurry over there before everything is gone, though. We shared all about why warehouse sales are our favourite earlier in this series so check that post out to learn how you can save big money. And even better, you can win a free pair of minimocs by visiting our latest Instagram post and entering in the comments.

    Come back later this week to read our interview with Amanda & Jeff! And be sure to follow them on social media below!

    Minimoc Website
    Minimoc on Instagram
    Minimoc on Pinterest
    Minimoc on Facebook

    Be sure to follow us on Instagram to be alerted about new posts throughout this series!

    Never stop adventuring!

     

  • going local
    OUR JOURNEY

    Why Bother Going Local?

    As we go through this series, some of you might be thinking, “why bother buying local?” or “why does it matter where I shop?”. Those are questions that we asked before we started buying local as well. We used to just find the cheapest thing we could that looked stylish and that’s what we picked. Stores like H&M, Zara, Old Navy, and the likes were frequented by us. But as we started to go local we quickly saw why local clothing was so expensive and why the clothes we were buying were so cheap.

    Going Local Pays Workers A Fair Wage

    By buying local, we are giving our dollars to support local workers who we know are making a fair wage. As we mentioned in Our Going Local Journey post, we live in a country with labour laws and minimum wages so we can be sure that the workers are being treated well both financially and with the conditions surrounding their work. We are also supporting the business which in turn supports the local economy by providing jobs, tax money, etc.

    buying local
    Buying Local Helps Provide Fair Wages For Workers

    If we were to buy from the places we mentioned above, we would be supporting fast fashion and the businesses that pay workers very little, provide horrible working conditions, make the workers work long hours, and provide a very poor quality of life. The way they get around this is by contracting the work out to factories and the factories in turn pay the workers. This way the big brands can say that they are paying the factories a fair amount and the factories are the ones that are providing the poor working conditions, low wages, long hours, etc. But the big brands are cutting the factories bottom line so much that the factory has no choice but to do what they do to/for the workers. If the big brands provided proper funding to the factories, then they could in turn pass on the benefits to the workers. If you want a great movie to watch that is both informative, entertaining, and infuriating, watch The True Cost. It was the best movie we’ve watched on this topic and it really solidified for us, why we are on the journey that we are on. Did you know that because of the volume some of the big brands are buying in, it would only cost 20 cents more per shirt from these big brands to pay an Indian worker a living wage?

    Going Local Keep The Environment Clean

    There are 3 areas to be concerned about when picking an ethical company to buy from: the wages they pay their workers, the way they source their materials, and the impact the products have on the environment Most of the local companies have either kept their work as local as possible and when not possible have gone to certified ethical factories in foreign countries. Most local companies have this information right on their website and if they don’t, a quick email to them should get you the information you’re looking for.

    buying local
    Buying Local Helps Keep Our Environment Green

    In terms of environmental cleanliness, local clothing companies have decided to produce their clothing with either bamboo or organic cotton. While neither of these materials are perfect, they are the best two options out there in terms of their environmental footprint being as small as possible. Other environmental concerns when buying clothing includes the types of dyes that are used, what (if any) chemicals are used to manufacture the materials, how much water is used in their processes and how much of it can be reused, and how much waste there is at the end of the manufacturing process. When companies that use leather in their products you need to be concerned with the tanning process, water waste, and the dyes used.

    Bamboo and organic cotton are both fairly low in their impact on the environment which is great, but again neither is perfect. To get the bamboo as soft as it is some chemicals are used and depending on the specific process, sometimes the chemicals are wasted as much as 50%, some process can recoup over 90% to be reused it just depends on which process the company is using. While organic cotton, reduces soil damage, used less water and uses overall less energy than conventional cotton, it does however have a lower yield which means that in order to produce as much material as conventional cotton it has to use more energy, water, etc to produce the same amount as conventional cotton.

    Bamboo, organic cotton, and leather are our go to materials we look at when buying due to their low impact on the environment. However, we do encourage you to get in contact with your favourite local companies and ask them about their processes and what initiatives they are taking to reduce their impact on the environment.

    Going Local Makes You Feel Better

    By buying from more local companies who are ethical and sustainable, we feel good about it. Whenever I shop at H&M and the likes, I know why their prices are so low; it’s because someone else on the other side of the world is literally slaving away for pennies to make it for me. It doesn’t feel good when you actually think about where your clothing is coming from and who is making it and what conditions they’re making it under.

    buying local
    Buying Local Helps You Feel Good

    By lowering the impact on the environment, and making sure workers are being paid a fair wage it feels good to be buying local.

    Lastly, we have boys who don’t like to stay clean for very long which means we wash their clothes often. Even with all the washing and drying (always hang dry local clothes), these clothes look as good as they did day one. Local clothing is simply made better and thus lasts longer. So while you might be spending more, you won’t have to spend that much for a long time.

    Next week we will feature our first company, any idea who it might be?

    What is the most important reason to you that justifies buying more local clothing?

     

  • going local
    Uncategorized

    Our Going Local Journey

    Our going local journey of buying more local clothing started very slowly after Nixon was born. We had been following a few local kids clothing companies on Instagram and we had bought a few things shortly after he was born, but we also had a ton of clothing from the big corporate brands in his closet like Old Navy, Carter’s, Osh Kosh, etc. And we had a ton. You know how it is, you have a baby and all of a sudden you have kids clothes coming out of every drawer and your closet is full after one week because all of your family and friends decided to buy your kid clothes. That’s what happened to us. After the first several months of Nixon’s life we had so much clothing for him that he hadn’t even worn all of it!

    We slowly decided we would start to accumulate more local kids clothing and hopefully get to the point where that’s all we owned for him. So, we slowly started to buy stuff; we knew it had to go slowly because going local is expensive, naturally. The local businesses are hiring local people to work for them and we live in a country with minimum wages, labour laws, and a high cost of living so right off the bat the local companies have a higher cost. Not only that, but they are buying higher quality materials which comes at a higher cost as well. And then on top of all that they have to make a profit. So while the local clothing is much more expensive we justify it in a few ways that we will share in the next post. This post is about how we got to where we are.

    going local

    Once we got our first few pieces of local clothing for Nixon, we soon realized how good the quality was and that it wasn’t going to wear out anytime soon. This was encouraging to us because it meant if we had another boy, which we did, he would be able to wear a lot of it as well. Local clothing soon became the only thing we asked for at birthdays and Christmas because we don’t need more stuff. Our kids have enough toys and they don’t need anymore, but they will need clothes that fit as they grow. One thing we stress to family and friends and anyone else who buys our kids gifts is that we don’t expect you to buy the local stuff that we are okay buying. It’s expensive and for some people it is hard to justify and we would never put that on someone else to spend the way we spend. We just ask that they don’t buy clothes at all but rather buy experiences for our boys. For example, Sam’s sister bought the boys a day at Science World during the PIXAR Experience. We thought that the boys would be too young for it but they had a blast. That’s what we mean by buying experiences over stuff. We don’t want to sound ungrateful for the things our boys have been given, but we find that both the kids & us can easily get overwhelmed by stuff resulting in less playtime and more time spent cleaning up.

    Our Going Local Journey And Staying Organized

    Most of the time we know exactly what the kids have and don’t have, but as we get more and more and the kids get bigger it becomes harder to keep track of everything. In order to keep track of everything, we have a spreadsheet we use to monitor exactly what the boys have so it’s easy to know exactly what the boys need. Here is a page of our spreadsheet so you know what we’re talking about:

    Going Local
    Kids Clothing Spreadsheet Example

    As you can see, this is a pretty organized spreadsheet that has all the information we need to know about when going shopping for new stuff or asking for other stuff from family and friends.

    Going Local
    Kids Clothing Spreadsheet Totals

    These are our totals which we have calculated by putting in custom spreadsheet formulas so that as you update the formula with what you have, the totals will also update itself automatically.

    As the photo shows, we always do our best to never pay full price and from the above photos you can see that we’ve never once paid full price for an item.

    Sign Up To Get Our Kids Clothing Spreadsheet For Free


    If you leave us your email address above, we will send you our entire spreadsheet blank so you can fill it in on your own and keep track of your kids’ clothes as well. The hardest part is making sure that you keep it updated, otherwise you can easily find yourself buying things you already have. Staying organized is also super important so that when there is a big sale or you’re going shopping, you know what you have. If you’re like us and only shop a few times per year, it can be even more important to make sure you get exactly what you need.

    Our Going Local Journey And Saving Money

    A few things you should know about us, we’re frugal, we love a good deal, and we’re not even close to rich. That is not a good combination for a family of soon to be 5, that wants to shop local where things are more expensive and often the sales don’t even bring the cost down that much. That being said, there are a few times per year when we shop and we shop hard.

    Warehouse sales are our best friend. They happen anywhere from 1-4 times per year and are almost always at the end of a season. Companies need to move product at the end of a season to make space for the next season’s product. This means we get the previous 1 or 2 season’s product at a minimum of 30% discount but usually 50% or more. This is the time we when spend. A lot. Since we purposely don’t shop much during the year a lot our hauls at warehouse sales are usually in the hundreds of dollars. Planning is involved before you go to these sales though and that is where the spreadsheet above is so handy. A quick look at the spreadsheet before we go tells us exactly what we need. We then put a quick note in our phone (or on paper if you’re old school like that) and now we go to the sale knowing exactly what we need. We don’t worry too much about what season it is because a lot of stuff, like sweaters and t-shirts, can we worn year round. Keep in mind this also means that our kids are not usually in the newest colours or even newest styles these companies have released because we are waiting until the end of season to by items our kids need, it’s a sacrifice we’re willing & need to make.

    going local

    As a general rule of thumb, we don’t buy something unless we’re getting it at at least a 30% discount. There are times when we make an exception but that is rare. Our favourite times shop, and when there is usually a sale worth spending at, are:

    • Summer warehouse sale
    • Winter warehouse sale
    • Boxing Week
    • Black Friday

    If you look at those sales, most of them are in the last half of the year which is why being organized is so important because for the first half of the year, if you want to get winter clothing for your kids, you have one shot to do so, at the winter warehouse sale.

    going local

    The other way we buy at a discount is by buying second hand. Almost every local brand we know of has a B/S/T Facebook page or group. What does B/S/T mean? It stands for “Buy/Sell/Trade” and it is where customers can, well, buy, sell, or trade that brand’s items to someone else. It usually works by posting the item you have with a few pictures and the price you want. Then the first person to comment on the post that they want it, gets it assuming the transaction goes as planned. Often times people will comment after the first comment something like “next if not picked up” so that if the original commenter doesn’t end up buying it, that second commenter is next in line if something happens. These groups are highly competitive because everyone wants to get product at a discount and often times these discounts are over 50% but we’ve gotten stuff at 90% discount before. The downside, obviously, is that it had been worn before, but for us that is minor because kids rarely wear through their clothes. If you want to know if your favourite brand has a group like that just hop on Facebook and search “YOUR FAVOURITE BRAND B/S/T”.

    Lastly, if you have friends with kids, one thing you can do is share clothing. For example, another couple we’re close with has a son moving into size 6-12 Months. When our new baby comes in January, he will be in 0-6 Months size. Since we won’t be using our 6-12 Months sized clothing anytime soon and they won’t be using their 0-6 Months sized clothing, we just swapped and they can use our 6-12 Month clothing and we use their 0-6 Month clothing when we need it. This is the best way to cut costs because it costs you nothing. It only costs you the risk of someone else potentially ruining your clothing so use caution in deciding who you share with, but if you find someone with the same mentality as you then this is the cheapest way to cut your costs and avoid having to buy new clothing.

    Our Going Local Journey Details

    So, how much have we actually spent and what do our kids actually have? We are going to share exactly what we’ve spent and compare that to what we would have spent if we bought at full retail price.

    Here it is:

    Total Retail Price: $3,487
    Total Price We Paid: $1,967.50
    Total Savings: $1,519.50
    Percentage Savings: 45%

    As you can see, we have made a significant amount of savings by applying the methods mentioned above, buying used and only buying items on sale/at warehouse sales. Everything we got was in very good or brand new condition to ensure that quality would not be an issue. So we’ve spent almost $2,000 on our kids’ clothes, what did we actually get them?

    8 Long Sleeve Shirts
    32 T-Shirts
    9 Tank Tops
    4 Pairs of Shorts
    23 Pairs of Pants
    17 Hoodies
    2 Long Sleeve Rompers
    3 Short Sleeve Rompers
    1 Short Romper
    2 Hats
    2 Pairs of Pajamas
    3 Pairs of Underwear
    2 Jackets

    Those are all across the following sizes

    • 0-6 Months
    • 6-12 Months
    • 12-18 Months
    • 18-24 Months
    • 2T
    • 3T
    • 4T

    The biggest size Nixon is wearing is 2T but when something comes along that is used, in good condition and significantly discounted, we buy it for the future.

    going local

    Keep in mind this is just our local clothing and it is a slow journey. As a result of that our boys still have some non-local clothing as we continue to transition their wardrobes. We are always looking for new companies to help fill in the gaps of items that we cannot find locally and as we do so, we will phase out the other items. And as always, we will look for the best savings possible!

     

     

  • Going Local
    OUR JOURNEY

    Going Local: Introduction

    As some of you know, over the past year we’ve put a very conscious effort into buying our kids’ clothes from local and ethical companies as much as we can. It has been difficult as we haven’t been able to find everything local – more on that in our next post – and it is definitely more expensive than going the alternative route of buying whatever from wherever the price is best. We have built up a time capsule wardrobe for each of the boys and we have decided to share our journey and highlight some of the companies that we are most comfortable buying from. Join us on this adventure we’re calling Going Local.

    Going Local

    Going Local is going to be a series all about the journey we’ve undertaken to buy as much as we can from local companies who hold themselves to ethical standards. We chose kids clothing and accessories to start the series because it’s a category most of you can relate to as you have kids and we see many of you at the sales and on social media posting about a lot of the same companies we will be featuring in this series. There are tons of businesses out there that are dedicated to kids clothing and accessories and it can be very hard to differentiate between which companies are just local and which are being ethical as well. For Going Local, every business that we will feature in this series we have personally vetted and bought from before we started this series to ensure they met our standard of local and ethical.

    What Can You Expect From ‘Going Local’?

    Over the course of this series you can expect us to share posts about our journey of going local, our favourite brands we put our kids in, and interviews with the founders of some of these brands. In Our Journey, which will be the next post, we will document our journey in going from international corporate brand our kids used to wear to local, ethical brands that our kids now wear. We will share everything from how much money we spent making the switch, ways we saved money, how we keep track of what we have and what we need, and why we decided to make the switch.

    Going Local

    When it comes time for us to write about our favourite brands since going local, we will do it in two parts: the first post will be all about why we love the brand and the second part will be our interview with the founders. The first posts about the company will include which products we like specifically from that brand, why we like them over others in that category, and how moving our kids into their product has impacted us in every way. In the interview posts, it will simply be a transcript, with some commentary, of our interview. We will ask them questions about their journey, what has gone well and what has gone wrong along the journey, why they felt the need to start the company, what criticism has the company faced, and what the future looks like for the company. We are very excited about these interviews and are excited to bring the personality of the brand and the people behind them, to you.

    What Categories Will Be Featured In Going Local?

    All the companies we are going to feature will be local to the Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions. The categories we will be featuring are:

    • Footwear
    • Sleepwear
    • Clothing
    • Baby Wearing
    • Skincare
    • Brick & Mortar Store
    • Online Store

    Going Local

    We hope you’re as excited about this Going Local series as we are. Along the way, we want to hear your story, too. Either in the comments here or on Instagram, let us know your experience with each company that we feature.

    Stay tuned for our journey in the next post.

    Do you have any guesses as to which company we’ve chosen in each category?

     

     

  • LIFE

    Get To Know Us – Samantha

    Yesterday you guys got the chance to learn about me, Kyle. Today, you get to learn a little bit about Samantha, call her Sam. She’s the one behind the scenes that keeps everything in order in our house to allow time to be dedicated to this blog.

    Get To Know You Questions

    Where did you grow up?

    Born in Edmonton Alberta, lived there for 10 years. Yes I know it’s cold, but truthfully I like having snowy Christmases! We moved from frigid Edmonton to Melbourne, Australia for 2.5 years because of my dad’s work (where my love for hot summers came from). We then landed in Cloverdale, British Columbia in 2001 and have been here ever since!

    What do you do for a living?

    I wouldn’t necessarily call it a living…Kyle makes our living but I am employed as a substitute teacher (TOC) by one of our local school districts.I’ve been doing it for 2 years where I work on Kyle’s days off and it is a perfect fit for our family!

    What was the funniest classroom story you’ve ever had?

    It happened while I was doing my practicum to become a teacher. I was teaching science to a grade 3/4 split class and was being observed by my university professor. We were talking about the different units they had already covered in science that year and ended up on the topic of habitats. I was asking them to recall what they remembered from the unit when one student raised his hand, trying to show off in front of his peers, and emphatically stated that they had learnt about orgasms in the last unit…he meant organisms. I didn’t point out his mistake but simply asked what about organisms he had learnt and he just kept repeating orgasms…over and over and over again. I managed to keep a straight face (because I didn’t want to draw attention to it because I didn’t want to explain it) but my professor had turned away and was in tears laughing at the whole situation.

    A close second was with the same class (I swear they were very bright children) when I shared with them that I was pregnant (about 6 months along at this point). One little girl raised her hand and asked if it happened that morning…

    What is your biggest fear?

    Spiders and heights, in no particular order, I fear them equally.

    What is your favourite sport to play?

    According to Kyle I don’t play sports, however I danced competitively a lot as a young girl and I count that as a sport.

    What is your favourite sport to watch?

    Hockey & baseball. Good thing the seasons are opposite.

    What is your favourite meal?

    Sushi. All the time. Yes is always the answer. Spicy tuna rolls specifically.

    What is your favourite TV show?

    Meh, not a huge TV fan. A little bit of reality TV (Bachelor/Bachelorette & Survivor) and Young & the Restless (I blame my mum for that one)

    What is your dream house?

    Anything designed by Joanna Gaines.

    What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

    Depends…I like coffee but also love a good raspberry (any fruit really) cheesecake

    What is your favourite chocolate bar?

    Reese’s Pieces. Eating some as we speak.

    What is your favourite genre of music?

    Country

    Fun Things About You Questions

    What are you interested in that people people haven’t heard of?

    I can’t say I’m interested in it anymore but I used to love playing ultimate frisbee.

    What was your favourite CD album as a kid?

    S Club 7. They were huge in Australia.

    Where have you been that you would not go back to?

    Paris, beautiful but overrated.

    What job would you be terrible at?

    Anything to do with insects, especially spiders. Count me out by a mile.

    What skill would you like to master?

    Piano & guitar. One day I will put in the time to learn.

    What was the best compliment you received?

    Being a mum a natural fit on me. Some days it sure doesn’t feel like it.

     

    Either/Or Questions

    Bacon or Sausage?

    Bacon but not crispy.

    Pepsi or Coke?

    Coke

    Cake or pie?

    Pie if it’s fruit filling & always with ice cream.

    Tea or coffee?

    Tea unless the coffee is loaded with sugar (aka fancy Starbucks drinks)

    Pancakes or waffles?

    Waffles, fresh fruit on top

    Food truck or sit down?

    Depends on who I’m with. Kids? Food truck, no kids? A quiet sit down meal is a treat.

    Tacos or nachos?

    Nachos.

    Ketchup or mustard?

    Mustard

    Wine or beer?

    Radlers or neither.

    Salad or fries?

    Fries

    Ham or turkey?

    Ham

    Drama or comedy?

    Drama

    Action or thriller?

    Depends if it’s a book or a movie. Movie – action, book – thriller.

    TV or book?

    Book. I have an issue with a lot of noise in a day.

    Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean?

    Jason Aldean. Kyle & I’s first public date so he holds a special spot in my heart.

    T-shirt or tank top?

    Tank top – should mean it’s summer and warm weather.

    Modern or rustic?

    Whatever style Fixer Upper is.

    Car or truck?

    Car. Even though my days of driving a car are limited.  I blame the kids.

    City or country?

    Country but I like being close enough to go wander downtown every now and then.

    Young & the Restless or General Hospital?

    Young and the Restless, been watching it with my mum since I was 5. Never watched an episode of General Hospital.

    Fly or drive?

    Drive. All about the road trips.

    Winter or summer?

    Summer but I love a snowy winter.

    Ocean or lake?

    Lake for swimming. Ocean for everything else.

    Salty or sweet?

    Changes hourly. Blame the pregnancy.

    Tim Horton’s or Starbucks?

    Starbucks.

    Glazed donut or jelly?

    Jelly. I love all the fruit (yes I know there is no real fruit in the jelly but just let me have my moment)

    Reese’s Pieces or Reese’s peanut butter cup?

    Reese’s Pieces.

     

    Wow. That was a lot of questions. Hopefully, you learned a little about me, hopefully you had some fun doing it and hopefully you’ll join us on this journey. Follow us on Instagram, sign up for our email list, and let us know you’re there so we can follow you back!

    Never stop adventuring!