29.11.13

WHERE HAVE THE LAST 5 YEARS GONE?

Matt and I went to high school together for grades 11 and 12. In grade 12, we became close friends but over our university time, we drifted apart. I still heard news about him and he I, but we saw each other infrequently. Until the fortuitous day that he came to paint the basement in my house. We spent the day working side by side (with him nicely telling me, "I'm not going to say that you're doing it wrong, but..." and then just suggesting that he do it and I watch) and talking about everything. It was on that day that I knew that he was the same friend that I used to have, but with the improvements that the years apart had brought. We developed our friendship over the next month by spending almost every day together and, one evening, I told him that I knew that I was ready to commit to him, not just for the next few months, but for the rest of our lives. After two months of dating, we were looking for engagement rings and a year later, we started our life together in the house that brought us back together.

We spent years together, just the two of us, happy being a couple. We spent a hard year together trying to get pregnant while knowing that there was an underlying issue with me that might make it impossible. Then we spent a harder year together with Lauren and her fight for life. This past year has been a year of recovery and regrowth as a family and a couple.


There are moments in our life together that I think are pivotal, though at the time, I didn't realize that they could have changed the way that our lives played out.

The first is July 31, 2013, when we first took Lauren to the hospital. Matt had had such a long day at work that day and he walked in the door exhausted and overwhelmed. I could tell that he wanted nothing more than to lay down and take a nap, but as soon as I said to him that I thought Lauren needed to go to the hospital, he started packing stuff up for her and loading us all into the car. He didn't give a second thought to his own needs and never once questioned my feelings about her health and for that I am eternally grateful. I don't know if, in that moment, I would have been strong enough to make the decision to take her by myself. I know that even Matt thinks that because of me, Lauren's life was saved that day, but really, it is because of us together. I couldn't have done it without him, and, as he carried her sweet, exhausted little body out to the car, I saw the depth of his love and dedication to his family. I don't even want to think about what would have happened without his complete support that day.


Until Lauren went into the hospital, I never imagined that I might lose Matt until I saw him breaking during Lauren's first days when her heart was laying lifeless in her chest, worn and tired, while a machine kept her alive. And then I saw it. If Lauren didn't make it, Matt might not either. The pain of that would not be something that I could take from him and fix. His world would fall apart and would I still be a part of it? In our moment alone, I told him that I was afraid of losing Lauren, but also afraid of losing him at exactly the same time. At our most vulnerable time, speaking that aloud allowed us to join together in our fight for Lauren, as he took all of my fears away with a simple hug. This was the "for worse" that we had promised to work through when we made our marriage vows and he assured me that he wasn't going anywhere. And he didn't. My favourite memories of that horrible time are of the two of us walking outside for our evening lap of the hospital grounds, crunching leaves under our feet and talking openly about how Lauren was doing and our concerns and cares for each other. That was a hard year. Even after Lauren got out of the hospital, we still had a lot of healing to do together.

One year later, with a lot of work, prayer and patience, on our 5th anniversary, we are back to a time of "for better" and I can't imagine my life any other way.

Marrying Matt was one of the easiest decisions that I've ever made and, hands down, the best decision that I've ever made.


Matt,
There aren't words enough to explain the depth of what our first five years have been and how much I love you. Thank you for making my life so complete and joyful. I love every minute of our journey together.
With love always,
Amanda

26.11.13

FIRST BABY FREE NIGHT

I guess, technically, the nights that we stayed at the Easter Seals house while Lauren was in the ICU were our first baby free nights but, in my mind, those ones don't really count.

On Saturday, my mom and Elysha watched Lauren while Matt and I had 24 hours sans baby. What did we do? First he played Halo, while I read a book that I was dying to read. Then we ate and headed downtown for dinner, a lovely walk in the city and a night away in a hotel. It was so nice to spend time together and not have to worry about bath time routines.

Lauren had a blast at my mom's. They went swimming, played at the park and went for walks. I was worried that Lauren might not sleep through the night but she was so exhausted that she didn't even make a peep. Why doesn't she do that for me?

All that being said, both Matt and I were looking forward to picking her up on Sunday morning. He pointed out that much of our conversation was about Lauren but I swear we talked about other things as well. Oh well, even if we did, she is a big part of our lives so I guess we'll let it slide.




20.11.13

GET READY TO RUN

It's been awhile. For the past week and I half I haven't been feeling very well and with taking care of Lauren, working and making dinner, I've pretty much been tapped out. Most evenings, I haven't looked at my computer and since blog posts don't write themselves... nothing.

Because of the past week and a half, my doctor sent me yesterday to have an ultrasound to check on the baby. I wasn't worried because I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary, but I think, after Lauren, he is being extra sensitive to my health and the health of the baby. So, I walked in with my ridiculously full bladder and got to see the little one yet again. The measurements all looked fine and the heartbeat was fluttering away and suddenly the little guy (I'm convinced that it is a boy) started wiggling around and waving his (her?) little arms around. The technician was surprised because it is unusual to see them wiggling around at this age, so either I'm lucky that I got to see it, or I'm growing another 100 mile a minute baby inside of me. Hopefully these two kids just go 100 miles a minute in the same directions (we all know that is just wishful thinking).




16.11.13

SHE'S A MIRACLE LIVE SALE

Lauren is enjoying a daddy-daughter day today, while I am all set up at Pacific Academy today with the only She's A Miracle sale of the Christmas season. If you have a minute, swing by and check it out. We have a new display, sale pricing and for every item purchased today, the same item will be donated to BC Children's Hospital.

11.11.13

I DID NOT TEACH HER THAT

We've been teaching Lauren her body parts lately. She's really gotten excited about finding her nose. So far she knows nose, ears, mouth, hair, belly, bellybutton, feet and hands. Not too shabby!

She had her monthly development check up on Friday and she's doing great. We have been encouraging her to try to speak more and she's also picking up new signs really quickly. With her signs and speaking, she can communicate around 30 words.

Her understanding is a whole different ball game. She is scoring months ahead on her comprehension of language. It is somewhat frightening when you tell her something that you think she totally won't understand and then suddenly she is doing exactly what you wanted (half scary because she understands and half scary because she's doing what we asked).

It is hard not to be constantly thinking about where your child is developmentally when she is being checked out so often. That's why I'm glad that we decided to wait a bit on speech therapy. And I have loved these last two months of just enjoying her being a kid without one appointment after another. Watching how she is coming along, you would never know that anything out of the ordinary happened to her last year.

Other than the scar. As you can see from the double nose jab photo above, the top of her scar is almost non-existent. The bottom half is still a bit obvious. It is the part that was cut open three times and had the large tubes for the bypass machine so it is a bit wider, still red and doesn't sit perfectly flat. Now that she listens a bit better, we've decided to give the scar strips another go, this time on the bottom half of her scar. So here we go, 1 week down, 11 more to go.

But I still think that scar is beautiful. It's why she is here.

PS - Lauren saw the picture of herself with her fingers up her nose, grinned and shoved them right back up there. She is trouble.

5.11.13

A BUTTERFLY HEARTBEAT

After everything that happened with Lauren, Matt and I were exhausted. All that we could think about was doing everything in our very limited power to try to get her healthy again. Before we had Lauren, we had plans about what our future family would look like. And then they all fell to the side.

At the one year anniversary visit to the ICU, one of Lauren's nurses asked me when I was going to have a second baby, but that idea brought up a strange brew of emotions, with the most prevalent feeling being guilt. How could I even think of having a second child when we had needed so much help with Lauren? How could I think of it when I had given birth to a baby with a heart defect that almost killed her? How could I expect anyone to be happy for us if that was to happen? I imagined that people would groan and say, "Here we go again."

Then Lauren had her heart check up in the summer. The one where we heard the beautiful and unexpected words "healthy" and "normal." It was in that moment that I realized that Lauren was just another little girl.

I asked her doctor what the likelihood of having another baby with her condition would be. He said that her condition is as likely as getting hit by lightening so having it happen twice was almost impossible. However, once you have one child with a heart defect, your chance of having another child with a heart defect doubles. But the good news is that your normal chance is only 1% so with any second child we would be looking at a 2% chance. That's a 98% chance of perfect heart health... still an A+.

I remember when I was pregnant with Lauren and we went for our early ultrasound. The doctor was over an hour late and, as much as I enjoyed sitting in a paper dress for over 60 minutes, I was so mad. But all of that disappeared when we first heard our baby's heartbeat. I looked over at Matt with tears in my eyes and say his eyes brimming as well. We were going to be parents.

After everything that we have gone through, I wouldn't change any of our journey. I know that Lauren has had a rough early go and it was hard on our family but now I know that we can make it through anything together and it made us stronger as a family.

Yesterday we heard the first heartbeats of our next step as a family. In an early ultrasound we saw the butterfly light heartbeat of Lauren's little brother or sister to be. And it was just as magical as seeing Lauren's heartbeat for the first time.

Of course, going into this one, I have worries that I didn't have with Lauren. I also feel like we are ready. As Matt and I got into the car to leave the appointment, photos of the new baby in hand, we both took special note of the song that was playing on the radio.

Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.

While I might worry over the next seven months, even though I try my best not to, I also know that God has everything in His hands. We know that prayer works. We have seen it with Lauren. Now, when I pray with Lauren at night, I am so blessed to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for her health. I would ask you to join with us in prayer for this second child. My prayer is not that it would be a boy or a girl and not that it would have blue eyes or like peanut butter, but that it would be totally healthy with every cell in exactly the right place working in exactly the right way.

It's going to be an exciting year!


3.11.13

SNAPSHOTS

Lauren's been a busy girl this month. Here are some snapshots that have slipped through the cracks.

 High fives all around.

 A lady and her dad.

 Not so much of a lady.

 She loves her spaghetti.

 Break time.

 That's a dangerous sleeping position.

 She smells so good!

 Silly monkey.

 Duplo with her cousin.

She still loves her books. Current favourites are "A Home for a Bunny," "It's Pyjama Time" and "Barnyard Dance."

 Colouring with a captive audience.

 Renos = an audience.

 Kiss attack.

 Umm, yeah.

 Happy times.

Exploring nature.

Lauren brings delight to my life, smiles to my face and lots of laughs to my mouth (though, let's be honest, half the time I'm laughing at her, not with her).
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