Our stories, our why.
*scroll down to see why // where // how to donate
Becoming a mom is a huge transition. For moms that have had a complex pregnancy(ies) followed by a critically ill baby, Mother’s Day can sometimes bring more feelings of sadness then joy.
For me (Jessica), my first Mother’s Day was the day after Theo’s last closure surgery - it was one of the darkest and saddest days during my time at The Hospital for Sick Children. Theo was completely sedated - he seemed lifeless. So many questions ran through my mind post surgery - Will his intestines work? Will he develop another infection? How long will he need to be intubated? Will he be able to eat? Will he wake up and be in pain? Will he live a “normal” life? When will all the tubes be removed? And when, when, when...can I hold him?
My husband, parents and closest friends did things to try to make the day special but when your baby is completely lifeless and there is literally nothing you can do to help them, you are left feeling hopeless and for me, anything but a Mother.
During this time, I lived at Ronald McDonald House in Toronto. It was a weekend and they had a nice breakfast for the moms. Despite their efforts, all I wanted was to be HOME with my baby.
For me (Kayla), my first Mother’s Day went from something that I had always looked forward to, to something I was somewhat dreading. Waking in a completely different building, a block away from my baby and rushing over to the hospital to spend some time with him. The last thing I was expecting was a gift to celebrate this moment, I didn’t even want to think about it.
When I opened the door at RMHC that morning, I was greeted with a box, full of donations from wonderful people, just for me, for my very first Mother’s Day. Every Mama had a box. Every Mama was thought of at that moment. The fact that someone was thinking of US when we couldn’t even think for ourselves, was a special moment and feeling that I will never forget. I knew in that moment that when I was in the position to give back, to let others have this feeling I was so blessed with, I would do whatever I could to pass it on and make it happen for many more.
As soon as the pandemic started, all we could talk about and all we can still talk about is the mamas/caregivers out there, RIGHT NOW, living in the hospital with their child(ren). We can’t imagine the hardship of your experience - not being allowed to have spouses or family/friends visit to offer their love and support is unimaginable.
For this reason, THIS Mother’s Day we want all mamas to know that we are thinking of them, especially those living at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto.
What Beyond the Beads is doing:
We have collaborated with loveloladaisy and some of the most amazing small businesses, local makers, and community members to put together a box for each mother living at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto!
Each box ties in with our ultimate goal of Mamas supporting other Mamas. Contents of the box include indulgences like bath bombs, speciality tea, custom mugs, custom keychains, treats, and products that we would have loved to have when we were staying at RMHC.
In addition to the Beyond the Boxes, we are hosting and sponsoring the Mother’s Day Dinner at the Ronald McDonald House on May 9! Chef’s are coming in to prepare a special meal for families, to celebrate and recognize the Mamas who are doing it all, and holding it all together - especially in these trying times.
The last thing we want Mothers of critically ill and/ or hospitalized children to worry about, is having to come back ‘Home’ and have nothing to eat, especially after a mentally exhausting day. We say this because we lived it - Mother’s Day for a Mama living at the hospital sucks, it’s one of the worst times to be there. This is one more thing that we can do to make Mother’s Day extra special for these Super Mamas.
How you can help:
We are currently accepting monetary donations through firstname.lastname@example.org to continue to fill the Beyond the Boxes with goodies for Mamas.
We also have partnered directly with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Toronto, for an official fundraiser/ donor page - that is also tax deductible, and can be linked here:
Either way you choose to donate, the money will be going to support families directly living at RMHC Toronto, this Mother’s Day on May 9, 2021. Both accounts will be linked together, and donations will show on the RMHC Beyond the Boxes fundraising page.
Beyond the Beads x loveloladaisy are partnering with Brand With Purpose to give families the opportunity to purchase a full box to donate to a Mama at RMHC Toronto!
These boxes are purchased and then physically donated on behalf of the Donor to a Mother living inside the House. The Buyer/ Donor can choose to have a card sent to their recipient of choice, representing the Beyond the Box given in honour of their own Mother/ Sister/ Grandma/ Aunt/ Caregiver for Mother’s Day.
Covid is affecting everyone right now, not just mentally or emotionally. If you would like to participate without donating, you can share our posts and our links to your social media, and help to spread the word. Anyone, anywhere can donate. Families who have experienced the NICU from anywhere in the world, or who have stayed at any of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Houses are able to donate and come together to show their love and support to the families going through it right now.
Last week we talked about comparisons. About what your child is eating, and when.
This week, we're discussing comparing again, because it is a huge deal.
I'm not talking about comparative suffering - I'm talking about simple mom-to-mom talk and discussions.
We see it everywhere, on mom groups, in playdates, even just simple text message conversations.
Most of the time it's harmless, unintentional curiosity. But almost always it is damaging.
A little back story - Adam got the common cold around 5 months old. We were pros at tummy time at this point. We put a gym mat on the hospital floor, and a clean sheet over top, so that Adam could continue to develop and play as best as the situation allowed him to, but in a hospital setting, tethered to the wall by a suction tube.
We made it work. We brought in books, toys, a cute Finding Nemo activity centre with lights and sounds.
However, when Adam got sick, we pulled him off of the hospital floor and said absolutely not. Because even something as regular as a common cold is a huuuuuge deal when you're in a hospital and everything is monitored microscopically.
Adam no longer did tummy time.
We got his surgery date soon after, and kept him in a bubble. He stayed in his isolation/ private room, no visitors, nurses had to gown up, absolutely no leaving his crib to play on the floor… we had him quarantined so nothing would get in the way of his surgery.
Obviously after surgery he didn't have tummy time. We weren't putting him back on the hospital floor.
Plus he had a new button Gtube we didn't want to put pressure on.
When we went home, we tried tummy time ...Adam was now 8+ months old, this is vital development time!!!! However, we couldn't do it because the pressure on his stomach would cause reflux and we didn't want that.
So ….we were recommended an in-home occupational therapist. This was a huge pill for me to swallow. As a teacher I assure my student's parents that therapy is a good thing and it will only help!
...But I couldn't take my own advice. I couldn't admit that Adam was behind at something, and needed help. We did though, and I am glad that we did. Because it pushed me to keep pushing him, more than I would have. Instead of just staying "oh he'll catch up" we both worked so that he did, and he did so very quickly and very well.
The point is…
Adam barely crawled. He was stuck on his back from month 5-8 for the reasons above. He missed out on vital developmental practices. While most kids are doing tummy time, we're keeping him in one spot so he's at his healthiest for lifesaving surgery.
People don't know that.
So when they ask me "hows tummy time?" Or "when did Adam start crawling"
He didn't. We worked for weeks with an OT to get him crawling and redevelop those muscles and skills.
Adam finally started to crawl near the end of our time with the OT. He skipped the army crawl stage, and went straight to standing up and cruising.
Within a week, he was walking.
Not your typical journey.
Sounds great right?! Nope. Apparently those muscles they work while crawling are important for development to aid in their walking and standing…. Yeah whatever. I was happy my kid was walking.
The thing is - now Adam runs, jumps, swings, rolls, spins - everything. Just. Fine. Perfectly. Normal.
It is irrelevant to anyone else when, why, and how.
No one is going to ask your child on the playground "hey when did you start to crawl" or "how old were you when you began to walk"
It's irrelevant. Do not stress about it! If there is something delaying your child significantly, your paediatrician will notice and tell you. It's not up to mom groups to inadvertently shame you into thinking your child is less or is achieving less than theirs.
We need to focus on what our children CAN do and not what they are not doing.
The same thing goes with eating.
Everyone asks about the start date for purees, baby led weaning, whole foods, milk, a sippy cup…
Curiosity gets the best of us, but it's also comparison and shaming whether we realise it or not.
Mom's put pressure on each other and it's damaging!
Each baby will reach these milestones in their own time.
Just because Karen over there is feeding her kid bananas with the peel on as part of her BLW practice, doesn't mean that Susan is in the wrong for cutting her kid's banana into smaller pieces.
The fact of the matter is, both kids are eating. So Karen needs to keep her opinion and her self righteous feeding regime to herself.
If you're feeling pressure or stress about any of these things, please reach out to us. We promise you that we will be nothing but motivating and supportive. We've guided a lot of friends through these stages - comparison is the last thing you need to stress about. We've got you.
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