Not every pregnancy and birth are magical or even smooth. Some are incredibly difficult for a variety of reasons. At YRSTRY, we honour all stories and pride ourselves on our compassion. Benjamin’s story is an example of how we can craft a beautiful story even if the circumstances leading up to a birth aren’t ideal. When he reads his book for years to come, he will know just how loved and special he is, which is what every child wants to know, and what every parent wants that child to know.
Flip through his 20-page 6×6 hard cover YRSTRY book and read his full story below.
We always knew we’d have more than one child. Because our pregnancies were never smooth, and the first ended in a stillbirth, we needed time to deal with the emotional and physical pain associated with those before we could continue growing our family.
After a difficult pregnancy and birth, we wanted to be able to enjoy your older brother, Aedan, before trying to welcome a sibling into the family. We knew we wanted another child because Aedan needed to have a sibling – we really wanted that for him. It was now or never, and we entered that stage of our lives with a lot of trepidation. It took us about eight or nine months before we became pregnant with you.
I found out I was pregnant literally the day we bought and moved into our current house in Leduc. We were so excited with the news we were having another baby that would complete our family.
The first trimester of pregnancy was “normal,” where I was glowing and happy. The second trimester I found out you had a growth, so I spent the rest of the pregnancy worrying about you.
Benjamin, you were born March 2nd, the day you were due. We were so excited to meet you and felt huge relief bringing you home. You were born at 5:06 pm weighing 8lbs 14 ounces when we welcomed you into the world. You were a big baby!
The first month of life was hard: we were in the hospital a lot. You found a lot of comfort in breastfeeding. Around two weeks old, you became sick with a bladder infection. The infection spread to your blood and you were in big trouble. Luckily, we got the help we needed at the Grey Nuns Hospital. Your neonatologist was the most kind, empathetic human being I’d ever met. She could see the fear on my face. She said, “Everything is going to be fine; he’s going to be just fine.” She reassured me with kindness.
You were a very cuddly baby who loved to cuddle with your mom. You were not satisfied to sleep on your own or on the bed. We made you this beautiful room, and you never slept in it once. You never slept in your crib once – you wanted to be close to us, and we were more than okay with that.
Having a stillbirth, I was very rigid with Aeden and routines. By the time I had you, Ben, the idea of sleeping with you absolutely terrified me, I was worried I was going to roll over on you. But I was so tired, I needed sleep, and you woke every hour and a half until you were two years old. We made it work so that I could get as much sleep as possible and you were as comfortable and as loved as you needed.
You have always been a stubborn little fighter. You didn’t care that mom needed sleep. You didn’t care that you “should” sleep in a crib, and when the public health nurse admonished us for bedsharing, you didn’t care what she thought, either! You have always marched to the beat of your own drum, and it’s one of the many things I love about you.
I wore you everywhere. You were always on me. I even exercised with you on me. You were a happy little kid that way. You were a bit of a contradiction as a baby: you wouldn’t let me sleep at night, but you were so easy to please during the day. You just wanted to be cuddled.
Aedan was excited about you, to have a little brother. But he sometimes was rough, just like an over excited puppy. I was trying to enjoy you, the new baby, and Aedan would climb all over you. You took it like a champ and I am grateful that you have each other.
We were all really excited to have you, Aedan especially, who was incredibly involved as a big brother. You’ve both always had a partnership where Aedan pulls you along and Ben, you work so hard to keep up with him.
We took a trip up north when you were a few months old, to see your cousins. You must have been good as I do not recall any troubles carting you the 6 hours up north! Most of the first year we spent time at the cabin. We even made a makeshift jolly jumper hanging it from grandma Margies’s trees in the yard. Sleeping with you in the trailer and sharing a bed with me and Dad was a bit tight but we made it work.
When I think back to that first year, I can’t remember much except breastfeeding. We travelled to Mexico when you were nine months old. You hated sand, so you became upset every time you touched it. However you loved the pool and tolerated all the running around, even if it meant you had fallen asleep during dinner literally!!
I felt it seemed to take forever for you to crawl but you walked at nine months. Unlike your brother, who began speaking at a young age, you stayed silent a long time. Your first words were “ball” and “Dad,” which made sense, because you loved balls and you’ve always loved your dad. Kyle was very involved with you as a baby and toddler: you loved snuggling with your dad. You were his lawn mower co pilot. Every time your dad started the lawn mower, you would dash over and want a ride.
I went back to work when you were 9 ½ months old, which was tough. You were good going to daycare. Nights were hard because you wanted to be near me after being apart during the day.
My favourite time with you was when you were around 18 months old. It was such a nice time. We had time for just me and you to hang out. Your personality was starting to shine through, and that time together meant I was able to get to know you better. That was when I realized how much you loved being at home, that you had such a big imagination and could happily play on your own.
I stayed home for a year in Warman with you. We connected and bonded and did lots of fun things like camping; visiting Pike Lake, Blackstrap Lake and Lake Diefenbaker; and playing with friends.
You have always been an affectionate, smiling, happy child who is easy going and goes with the flow.
I relaxed into the way you needed to be parented when I met other moms. This happened when we moved to Warman, Saskatchewan. It’s hard to be a type A mom when you have a Pisces who just wants to do what he’s going to do, and that is you, Ben!
When you turned two, we realized you were hilarious. I think before I wasn’t sure if you were angry or messing with us when you’d make your signature face. We then realized you just did your own thing; you always did what you wanted!
Another memory: there was a puddle that was probably 10 feet deep. I warned you to stay out of it – “it’s cold.” I turn around and you’ve fallen in the puddle. Aeden was extremely cautious, perhaps from an over-anxious mom. If I said to Aeden, “Don’t touch that,” he would listen. Aeden didn’t climb, he didn’t go into cabinets. Ben, you climbed. I had to lock up the cabinets. I was worried about the doors because you were a potential fleer. If you got it in your mind, you were going to do it. I remember I worked Easter weekend, and your dad had fallen asleep on the couch. Ben, you decided to go looking for me, and walked right into the garage. Your dad found you in the garage, screaming, looking for me.
You are an entertainer who loves to entertain people if you’re willing to go into your fantasy world with you. Your love of costumes was apparent in your first year of life, by dressing up in great hats and Dad’s and my shoes.
You love movies/stories and recreate scenes with a fanatical accuracy. With Jurassic Park, you want to relive the dinosaurs. We’ve had trips down to Drumheller that started when you were a baby. So you have inherent a love of dinosaurs from your mom and brother. Whether it’s Jurassic Park or Avengers, you will watch those episodes and memorize an entire scene and play it out for us. I know it’s exact because after you’ve watched it 20 times, you yourself have also memorized the scenes.
One week you will be Spiderman and you ask us to create webs out of saran wrap. We have watched every single Avenger movie, and I don’t know how many Captain America shields I have made: you constantly want us to make you costumes. You once created the scene where Captain America comes back, and he is old. He is handing off his shield to Falcon. You relayed the entire scene, word-by-word, with the exact tone of voice, and then admonished me for not paying attention and knowing my role:
“You’re Falcon and I want you to take the shield and I want you to finish the scene.”
You disappear into these scenes and don’t care if anyone else around is interested in being there with you. I am blown away by your creativity. It makes you an incredibly fun person to watch.
Now at five, you’re into practical jokes. You like drawing butts and sticking them on people’s doors or backs when they aren’t looking. You talked your dad into mixing a bunch of sugar with vanilla, so that it looked like poop on plate and hid it under Aeden’s blanket.
You are currently obsessed with tape. I don’t know how many rolls of tape you have gone through, but you require tape on a regular basis. I joke that if we’re out of band-aids or tape, it’s a bad day. You use tape to fix everything.
Up until the year you turned five, which is also when the pandemic hit, you were your big brother’s little tagalong. The pandemic has made you both grow apart a bit: you each disappear into different corners of the house. Before the pandemic, Ben, you really worked hard to try and keep up. I think when you’re exposed to someone all day, you both need your space.
You are a good little brother. You put up with being bossed around or blamed for things, yet you are so loyal to Aeden. You are a great sidekick and fighter who will always go to bat for your team.
Words that describe you are loving, cuddling, funny, imaginative, brave, fearless. You perfectly completed our family. Our lives wouldn’t be the same – or as much fun – without you.