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Loup celebrates first Mother's Day as a father

When Leighann Loup went into labour, the first thing she did was call her husband. It was August, and Aaron Loup, the 26-year-old Blue Jays relief pitcher, was on the road in Houston for a series against the Astros, while she was at the couple's home in New Orleans.

The two had spoken just a few hours earlier that night, and with the baby due any day, the soon-to-be father couldn't sleep. After tossing and turning until 4 a.m., Loup was finally able to doze off, but the rest would be short-lived. His phone rang again at 5 a.m., and he knew it could only mean one thing.

While Loup's heart raced, the voice on the other end of line wasn't one of panic, as one might assume given the monumental seriousness of the situation. Yes, it was Leighann calling to tell Aaron that she was going into labour and would soon be giving birth to their new baby daughter. But it was also to inform him that she'd already rearranged his travel itinerary and booked him a flight. All he had to do was show up at the airport.

"She'd already taken care of everything," said Loup with a laugh, recalling one of the most important days of his life. "All I had to do was show up. ... She's an amazing woman, and I don't know how she does it."

That kind of management is all in a day's work for Leighann, who is celebrating her first Mother's Day as a new mom to the couple's first child, 8-month-old Sophie Harper Loup. Aaron said his wife is a master of all trades, and he admits that on top of taking care of their daughter, the house and all things family-related, Leighann also takes care of him.

"I have to say, it's unbelievable what she's capable of doing. She does it all," Loup said.

For her part, Leighann said being a young mom and the wife of a professional baseball player -- whose work schedule is exceedingly long for half the year -- brings daily challenges.

"Some challenges that come along with being a mom are being able to do it on your own while your husband is traveling, or dealing with things for the first time when you have no clue what could be wrong," Leighann said. "Rewards are what I live for. I could be having the worst day, and just seeing [Sophie] smile at me makes it all go away."

Leighann's experiences as a new mom have brought with it many ups and downs, but she said it has given her an even greater appreciation for her own mother and the day-to-day challenges of motherhood. Since Sophie's birth, baby and mom have moved to Toronto, where the family will stay for the duration of the season. They'll spend the offseason back at home in New Orleans.

Leighann said she and Sophie have adjusted quickly to the fact that Aaron spends so much time on the road, and it makes the time they get to spend together even more valuable. Modern technology affords them the ability to stay in more frequent contact with Aaron when he's gone.

The couple frequently exchange text messages, and they use FaceTime so Sophie and Aaron can see one another when they're apart for extended periods of time. They're also getting used to travelling to meet Aaron whenever he's in the middle of a long road trip to break up the time they have to spend apart.

"When you see the look on both their faces when they see each other after a few days or even one game, it makes it all worth the wait," Leighann said.

On top of holding the family together, Aaron said his wife has always been a huge supporter of his career and a knowledgeable baseball fan.

"She loves [baseball]," Aaron said. "She knows a lot about the game and keeps up with who does what, what moves are made. She knows her stuff, sometimes stuff I don't even know about."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for

Toronto Blue Jays, Aaron Loup