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This preemie baby couldn't go to his parent's wedding—so they brought it to him 😭

The hospital staff went above and beyond in delivering family-centered care—and an unforgettable wedding.

This preemie baby couldn't go to his parent's wedding—so they brought it to him 😭

When Amanda Acevedo was pregnant she wasn't just planning for a baby, she was also planning a wedding. She was supposed to marry her fiancé, Edwin, on a beach in June and then welcome their baby boy in August.

But when Amanda's water broke early everything changed. She was admitted to the hospital for three weeks and went into pre-term labor on June 14. Baby Oliver came into the world two months early, weighing just 3 pounds, 14.6 ounces, and Amanda and her fiancé Edwin stopped thinking about romantic beach weddings, but certainly not about their love for each other and their baby boy.

Caring for their preemie together in the NICU the two felt closer than ever and decided they would just get married quickly down at the courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, and then plan a "real" wedding for next year.

But when they told a nurse they would be away from the hospital for a quick courthouse wedding, they ended up with the wedding of their dreams. It wasn't on the beach, but their baby was able to be part of it.

As Amanda tells Motherly, she and Edwin ended up walking down the aisle in the hospital chapel with their baby boy, thanks to hospital staff who went above and beyond in delivering family-centered care and an unforgettable wedding.

"We could not have asked for a more special or memorable wedding"

The morning of the wedding Amanda got a call from Mallory Magelli McKeown, a Family Navigator at WakeMed Children's Hospital. McKeown had heard from the nurses that Amanda and Edwin planned to dash down to the courthouse that afternoon and she had an offer for them.

"She said she would be happy to marry us at the hospital in the chapel," Amanda tells Motherly. "Oliver's doctor, Dr. Demeo, said he was stable enough to be unhooked from his monitors so I could carry him during the ceremony."

McKeown is amazing at her job as a Family Navigator, but she tells Motherly she is an is ordained minister and has also served as a chaplain. That's why she was able to officiate a wedding on the fly, and can now add "instant wedding planner" to her resume.

"They had planned on a 2:30 wedding at the courthouse so we held to that timeline. We have some really amazing nurses and they wanted to decorate for the wedding so I ran out and got some decorations to surprise the family with," McKeown explains.

Carrying her baby instead of a bouquet

Amanda was blown away by everything McKeown and her colleagues did to ensure she had a wedding she would love.

"The NICU staff was so sweet and surprised us by decorating Oliver's room, dressed him up in a little suit, decorated his crib, and made it possible for him to come down to the third floor to the chapel," she says.

Instead of carrying a bouquet down the aisle, Amanda carried her son, something that was very special to her as a NICU mom.

"It's just hard when you think the safest place for your baby is in your arms but being a preemie that wasn't always the case. You sometimes feel more like a visitor or [bystander] than a mother or father because the nurses have to do the medical side of his care so you just stand and watch and hope they get better," she tells Motherly.

Before her pregnancy complications changed her plans Amanda had always planned to carry Oliver with her on her wedding day and thanks to the efforts of McKeown and her colleagues she got to—with no wires or monitors to keep them apart.

Celebrating the formation of a family 

When Amanda and Oliver got to the altar McKeown had yet another surprise for the NICU mama.

"Mallory made the vows personal to our time here and this new chapter in our lives," Amanda tells Motherly. "It was all just so sweet and special and I could not have asked for a more perfect wedding."

The WakeMed campus will always be a special place for the Acevedos. It is where some of the most stressful days of their lives took place, but also the venue for one of the happiest. The Acevedos are so thankful to the staff who have cared for Oliver as he's grown—because this little guy has grown a lot!

"He is currently 8 pounds, 5.7 ounces," Amanda tells Motherly. "If all continues well he will be discharged Wednesday morning and can finally come home."

We're not crying. You're crying.


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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

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When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

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For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

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Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

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.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

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.

$30

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!

$75

Detective set

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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.

$40

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.

$120

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.

$100

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.

$40

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.

$121

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.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

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.

$45

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.

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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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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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