For the love of pets and babies

17 March 2022

For the love of pets and babies

No matter how much trouble they are, there’s something about babies and pets that makes your world complete. Fortunately Albany Mega Centre has all the everyday things you need to look after both of them, as well as those special things to show them just how much you love them.

As I sit by the window of Burger King, enjoying my Whopper meal, I look across the vast car park of Albany Mega Centre to The Baby Factory. A wave of nostalgia floods over me. At first, I think I might cry but then I compose myself and smile. These are memories with a very happy ending.

Giles and I were both in our late 30s and, after surviving the constant pressure from our parents and baby-popping friends, we made the decision it was time to start a family.

Like many others, we thought that it would just happen. But months went by, and then a year, and nothing happened. It engulfed our life and the stress of waiting to see whether this was the month became all-consuming. And just as we started to talk about seeking professional help it happened. And we couldn’t have been happier.

We should have contained our excitement but after waiting so long we couldn’t, and got planning in the way that only expectant parents can. We were at The Baby Factory almost every week, looking at all the beautiful things, picturing our happy future, and buying a little something for baby each time.

But then the unthinkable happened - we miscarried. In the depths of my misery, I learnt that this is a silent epidemic in NZ – much more common than anyone understands. Friends and family were supportive and shared their stories but nothing could shake the loss I felt. Giles buried his own grief and focused on me and, after a few months of me moping around, he came home with a labradoodle puppy. She was so cute.

It was if she knew I was unhappy, and Lula made it her mission to comfort me and make me laugh. From that point on we were inseparable.

We continued to come to the Albany Mega Centre almost every week but instead of The Baby Factory we’d always end up at Animates for food, treats, bedding and toys.

We were loving and devoted parents and Lula was our whole world. We were happy again. Having babies was still there in the back of our minds but it didn’t consume our every moment. And that’s when it happened, almost when we were least expecting it. We fell pregnant. We were cautious this time, ever hopeful for the best but always ready for the worst.

And late last year, in the midst of the global pandemic, our baby boy Zac came into this world. For the months leading up to his arrival, we visited The Baby Factory on a regular basis for everything from cots, strollers, toys, clothes, bottles, bottle warmers and everything else. And since he joined our family, it’s still our regular go-to place for everyday things like formula, bibs, bath stuff and toys.

As I look down at Zac sleeping in the stroller next to me, I think how blessed Giles and I are. It was such a dark period for both of us but we came out the other side with Lula and Zac. Our family is complete and we couldn’t be happier.

I push Zac across to The Baby Factory and I buy him a classic Winnie the Pooh soft toy. It’s cute like him and he instantly hugs it and smiles. We then walk up to Animates and I buy Lula a dog toy. It’s a squeaking duck. It will amuse her for hours. Leaving the store, I look down towards the shops of Albany Mega Centre and suddenly realise, through the good times and the bad, with babies and with pets, this place has always been there for us, whatever we needed.

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