My husband and I have always felt happiest outdoors, particularly in the forests and lakes of central Canada. We dream all year of canoeing through the mist on early summer mornings, and watching the sun set over the trees and water.
So it was only natural, when we found out that our family would be expanding in spring 2010, that our main focus was on planning for the outdoor adventures our new baby would participate in.
Where other parents might (quite rationally!) be painting the nursery or researching stroller models, our priority purchases included a new tent (big enough to fit two adults, one baby, and one dog), a UV-protective body-suit, and an infant-sized life-jacket.
By the time the due-date arrived we were well-stocked for baby’s first camping trip, and therefore naively assumed we were ready for whatever else might occur. But no manner of planning and outdoors experience could prepare us for what ensued: despite a text-book ‘normal’ pregnancy, our son River was deprived of oxygen sometime just before or during his birth (for reasons that still remain unknown), and an MRI at 4 days old confirmed his significant brain injury. After two surreal weeks in the NICU, where River dealt with seizures and feeding problems, we finally brought him home and began to reconsider what our new reality might be.
While maybe a little ‘crazy’ (many parents wouldn’t attempt such trips even with developmentally-typical kids), these early adventures were the critical first step in an adapted but exciting life that still includes the pastimes we love, with a new little camper along for the ride.
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