I am not going to lie. When I pictured what my own family would be like once I was married and started to have kids, this is not what I had in mind.

When our first son Chase was 16 months old, we found out we were expecting twins. A few months later the doctor informed us I was pregnant with identical twin boys. Three boys. All I could think was, “how am I going to survive being a mom to three boys under two-years old?” This was not part of the plan at all. I was barely figuring out how to be a mom of one boy and now we were going to have two more?

Just when I got used to this idea, started getting excited and began planning for life with three boys, the picture was shattered. We lost one of our twins, Braden at 29 weeks and our surviving son, Maclain was sent to the NICU where he endured a roller coaster ride for the three months that followed.

We didn’t have the typical experience of Chase coming to the hospital to meet his new little brother or the first ‘family of four’ picture in the hospital room with Chase holding Maclain.

Instead, for three months we stretched ourselves thin. We nearly drove ourselves crazy trying to manage a 20-month-old while racing back and forth from the hospital to be with our fragile newborn and mourning the loss of Braden. This was not what we had signed up for when we decided to start a family.

When Maclain finally came home, I struggled to make our life as normal as possible. All of my mommy-friends were also bringing home their second babies. I would watch in awe as they planned new family outings for their expanded families. Walks in the neighbourhood with double strollers, both kids being pulled in a wagon, two kids in swings being pushed at the same time, trips to the splash pad…

We tried to do all of these things, but it wasn’t easy because double strollers didn’t support Maclain, he couldn’t sit in a swing, sit in a wagon with Chase or run in the splash pad. I would cry and cry as I mourned for these typical experiences. Was it too much to ask for my boys to be able to have a bath together or take a nice sibling Christmas photo? Why couldn’t we have a family like everyone else?

It was several years of feeling this way, and putting on a smiling face as I tried so hard to build these typical family experiences before I realized that our family was just different, not bad. Not wrong. Just different.

As much as I didn’t like it, I knew that life was sometimes going to be harder. We were going to have to figure out how to do things in our own way, on our own time and learn not to worry if we didn’t do things “normally.”

Once I let go of preconceived notions, labels and ideals, things became so much clearer. We were still a family. We all put our collective family pants on one leg at a time, but we do it with assistive devices and some extra patience.

I stopped being so consumed with what other families looked like or what they were doing. We started being our own family and everything else fell into place. The blessings, the triumphs, the hard times, the fun moments, lots of love, laughs, snuggles and tears. Experiencing all the same things as other families do. Same things, different way.

I love that we are different. Different is good and interesting, it’s never boring and it is what makes our family so special.