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Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with losing a baby.

This picture. It's all I have of my daughter who died. No videos, no precious pictures of her tiny feet or even a picture with her triplet siblings. Nope. This is all I have. And while I often put myself out there, knowing the internet is not always a kind place, I am usually greeted with heartfelt support. That is until now. I'm used to the criticism that comes with my career in television, but this one comment hurt me to the core. And as a parent of child loss, I feel the need to speak up in support of every parent who has lost a child, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth or child loss.

It's a comment that stuck out like a sore thumb while I scrolled through Instagram. As I reread the comment, I stopped in my tracks, as if I had been kicked in the gut. Yes, I am smiling in this picture. Yes, my child is alive in this picture. Yes, my child was about to die in my arms.


As I stared at this picture, the tears fell quickly. It may have been five years ago, but the memory of this fateful day will always be fresh in my mind. After going into labor at 22 weeks gestation, my firstborn triplet arrived in the wee hours of the morning. I hadn't showered in days, my husband hadn't slept as he wore a stained In-N-Out shirt, and we were just told that our daughter would not survive. Our strongest triplet in the womb, Abigail is the one who kept her siblings tight, long enough to give them a chance to live. Doctors intubated her and tried to save her, but she was too weak. They handed her to me and we held onto her as she lived for only two hours.

In the pain and chaos of that morning, we didn't think to take any videos. The shock of our impending loss took over and we spent our time looking at our sweet girl as we sobbed at our reality. We were first time parents and our firstborn couldn't be saved. We snapped a few pictures and the doctor eventually called her time of death.

As I think back to that comment, my heart physically aches. Sure, I know this woman knows nothing about my family and I doubt that she's ever experienced the unimaginable loss of a child. And that's what makes me cringe. This woman has no right to tell me how I should grieve or what I should or shouldn't be doing when my child is born.

When I look at this picture, I see so much love. I see a husband, a wife and a beautiful baby. Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a child. It's something we never planned, but life doesn't always go as planned. As we held our baby girl, knowing that doctors couldn't save her, we talked to her and watched her in awe. We created this tiny little human, who was absolutely perfect, even more than 17 weeks premature. Her perfect little nose matched her perfect lips and tiny toes. She was perfection in a one pound body.

As we smiled for the camera, you can see the heartache on our faces. My cheeks were tear stained and my eyes were red from the pain we were experiencing. But those smiles were pure and genuine. Through those tears you can see so much love; two parents proud of the little baby that touched their lives in a profound way.

To the woman who called me cruel for smiling, my heart goes out to you. I hope you never have to endure the loss of a child. Yes, I was smiling, but I wouldn't want it any other way. These few pictures are all that we have to hold onto; tangible memories that will last a lifetime. And as I look back at this special moment, I smile through the tears. My daughter felt comfort and love during her short time on earth…and as a parent, that's what I'm proud of the most.

Originally posted on Stacey Skrysak.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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