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Emma Mastoris holds baby beau, who is wearing a suit and breathing mask in her wedding gown. Her husband Alex looks on.
May 11, 2018

Celebrating Mother’s Day through love and loss

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet occasion for some families. For parents who have lost a child, it’s both an opportunity to celebrate the bond they had with their baby, and a reminder of what it’s like to live without them.

This Mother’s Day, Emma Mastoris is celebrating as a mom of three—two sweet baby boys who are no longer with her, and their brother who just turned 10 months old. Beau and Kilian were born with a rare and fatal genetic condition. They stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at McMaster Children’s Hospital, where a devoted team made sure their short lives were as comfortable as possible.

During Beau’s stay, nurses organized a post-wedding celebration so newlyweds Emma and husband, Alex Mastoris could take photographs with little Beau. The couple thought they couldn’t top that moment, but they did, bringing infant twins Kilian and Ari together so their parents could hold them at the same time.

For Mother’s Day, Emma has generously agreed to share her experience with other moms.

Tell us about your babies.

Beau, Ari and Kilian. I’m not even sure where to start. Although Beau and Kilian were only with us for a short time, they were all such different personalities from day one. So beautiful in their own ways and I’m so proud to be their mom.

Are there any moments that stick out to you?

There are many moments I can recall while we were in the NICU that I am especially grateful for. Obviously our wedding with Beau was spectacular. What the nurses did for us is something I will never forget.

It was such a beautiful thing seeing them together

And then when the twins were born and we thought they could never top what they had already done, they created this wonderful moment bringing our boys together for the first time. Ari and Kilian spent months together literally on top of each other before they were born and then they were separated right after birth, both needing different levels of support. I was devastated because I had thought about that moment so much.

Our nurses made sure we could bring them together so they could cuddle and hug. It was such a beautiful thing seeing them together, getting to hold them both at the same time. I smile just sitting here thinking about it. The nurses in the NICU aren’t just there to care for your child, they play many roles and wear many hats. They’re nurses and counsellors, they’re activists and friends. And eventually they become family.

How did your NICU family support you as a mom?

They are there for you and your babies during some of the most difficult times in your life, but they show up every day with a smile on their face and spread love and joy in the best ways they can. They allow you to be a mom when you feel helpless and scared. They encourage you to hold and change diapers and give baths and try to make the experience as normal as possible so you don’t miss out on doing all those “firsts” that you dreamt about during your pregnancy.

What do you want to say to moms who might be struggling this Mother’s Day?

Every story is different and tragic in its own way. I think the best things for mamas who are struggling when Mother’s Day come around is to know you aren’t alone and that you are ultimately still a mother. Just because your angel isn’t on earth with you does not make you any less of mom. Celebrate them and the fact that they gave you that title. Spoil yourself because you have done an amazing job and deserve praise. Cry a little, smile a little and remember that the sadness will get easier to deal with. You just need to try and hold on to the good memories and let go of the bad.