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These powerful viral photos are changing the way we talk about pregnancy + infant loss

In a series of stunning photographs, Paterak shows mothers who have suffered a loss holding a chalkboard with the worst and best things people said to them.

These powerful viral photos are changing the way we talk about pregnancy + infant loss

Words are so powerful and so are images. That's why photographer Melanie Paterak combined the two in her now-viral portrait series, "Positive Words."

In a series of stunning photographs, Paterak shows mothers who have suffered a loss holding a chalkboard with the worst and best things people said to them in the wake of pregnancy and infant loss.

"We titled this project 'Positive Words' in hopes of not only putting out there what stuck with us in a negative way, but what stuck with us in giving us hope. The images in color represent things said that gave us hope in the darkest days," she explains, while the black and white images represent comments that pushed grieving moms further into the darkness.

"She's in a better place"

"I want people to see that we completely understand that during a time of loss, people are generally not sure what to say. Sometimes you can have the best of intentions, but when you're hurting, things may be interpreted differently than how you meant them," Paterak tells Mother.ly.

In one image a woman holds a chalkboard with the words, "She's in a better place," followed by her own thought when she heard that comment: "Was I not good enough?"

The series reminds us that sometimes well-meaning comments can do more harm than good.

So how can we be more mindful when trying to comfort someone who has suffered a loss? Paterak's participants suggest focusing on the present and the positive.

"I want people to see that we completely understand that during a time of loss, people are generally not sure what to say. Sometimes you can have the best of intentions, but when you're hurting, things may be interpreted differently than how you meant them," Paterak explains.

"She is beautiful"

The same participant who was told her baby was in a better place was also told that her stillborn baby was beautiful and that was the comment she held onto.

It was about the present moment, not about trying again, and it focused on her baby in a positive way. By paying her baby a compliment the person who uttered the words on this chalkboard helped this mother hold onto her positive memory of her baby girl, who she carried for 36 weeks and 3 days and who was perfect.

Paterak is proud of the project and the women who participated in it. This photoshoot almost didn't even happen, she tells Motherly. "We started planning this project a month or so before shooting it, and then most of the women canceled less than 48 hours before we were set to shoot. I posted to my Portraits By Melanie [Facebook} page with 24 hours to go that we needed women to come, and they did! I met many of them for the first time that day. It was a powerful thing. We cried together, we hugged, and we talked about our experiences of loss."

Her advice to anyone who wants to offer kind words to someone going through pregnancy or infant loss: "Sometimes a simple 'I'm here for you' is just best."

More portraits from "Positive Words" by Melanie Paterak

"At least you're still young...you can try again," someone told this mother. Being told that they could "try again" was common for the participants in the project, and most found that comment was not comforting, but dismissive of their very real feelings of loss.

To see the full project visit Portraits by Melanie on Facebook.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

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Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

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Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

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Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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