SAANICH – Shayla is holding her sleeping son in her wheelchair, heading home after "one of those days."

"He was not a happy camper," she says, smiling down at three-year-old Shafiq. "So this is usually how it goes." 

Our voices don't wake the boy who's finally asleep after being too tired and enduring one too many errands. Shafiq is resting against his mom's torso, while Shayla attempts to push her chair's wheels forward. "I guess I'm the stroller," she laughs. 

The single mom says they've travelled together like this since he was born. "You got to do what you got to do," Shayla explains. "I wouldn't change it for anything."

Shayla says their life has been challenging since before Shafiq was born – when she went into labour seven weeks early. "You go into panic mode," Shayla recalls. "Is he going to be OK? Am I going to be OK? How do you do this?"

Shafiq was born via Caesarean, weighing just four pounds six ounces.

"They were amazing," Shayla says of the hospital staff. "But it's very scary." She shows me a picture of baby Shafiq in an incubator, covered with tubes. Shayla says she couldn't touch her son for the first 24 hours. After that, she could only hold his hand. "You're trying to heal yourself and not worry about your baby," she recalls. "But you can't help but worry."

After two days, Shayla was finally able to hold her baby. "I just cried and cried and cried," she says. "He just latched on to me. It was skin to skin."

There's a picture of her kissing Shafiq's head for the first time. Shayla says she told him everything would be OK. "We're going to do this," she remembers saying. "We're going to get through this."

After spending a month in the NICU, Shayla and Shafiq rolled out of the hospital and embarked on the rest of their life together. Shayla says that although their life is filled with challenges, there are even more opportunities to be grateful. "It really makes you stop and appreciate, this world is amazing!" she smiles.

When our conversation ends, Shafiq is still asleep. He appears at peace, his mouth is slightly open, his breathing deep. Shayla looks down at him with love, and kisses her boy's head. She is grateful that even during "one of those challenging days," she can savour one of these wonderful moments.