Inside Baby, as I've taken to calling Baby Number Two, is only weeks away from making her appearance. I wake up at night and can't fall back to sleep because I start to worry about birth. I know lots of people say that you don't remember it, but unfortunately, I do. And it hurt. A lot. So I'm being a bit of a wimp about it. Last time I didn't have medication and I'm hoping to be able to do that again this time. Last time I had to have surgery right after birth and I'm hoping that won't have to happen again this time. I wrote out my birth plan this morning and it pretty much just says, "Get the baby out." Whatever happens, I just want Inside Baby to be healthy when she comes out. And this time it really would be great if I didn't remember giving birth after.

Hopefully over the next few weeks, Matt and I are able to settle on a name. With Lauren it was so easy; we wrote a list of our favourites, went for a walk and by the time we got home we had both selected Lauren as our favourite. We've gone on lots of walks while I've been pregnant with Inside Baby but we still have no name. Argh! It drives me crazy.

But at least Inside Baby's room is ready. I wanted her room to look totally different than Lauren's room and I wanted it to be cheap. Mission accomplished.

This was Lauren's room before:

And this is Inside Baby's room now:

I haven't yet done the math on the room but I figure now is as good a time as any to see what my grand total was. Fingers crossed that it was as cheap as I thought.

The bunting cost me $3.20 for the gold paper and $4 for a fray stopper to use on the edges of the fabrics. A friend had given me the fabrics a while back and I love that they are a mix of soft colours with pops of a dark, rich purple.

To make the fabric bunting, I simple cut rectangles out of my assorted fabrics and then, after finding centre, cut a short triangle out of the bottom of each one with a rotary cutter. I painted the fray stopper on each edge (because I was too lazy to do all the hemming and ironing) and it worked perfectly. The bunting won't be touched often so a dab of fray stopper was enough.

The gold strand was even easier. I borrowed three different sized circle punches from my mom and went to town. Then, with Lauren's help, I randomly fed them through my sewing machine on a straight stitch. She was fascinated with watching them move through to machine and her assistance meant that there was true randomness.
The chair is the same one that I used for Lauren, only without the fabric cover that my mom and I spent forever making and the rug is being reused as well. Everything in the bookshelf is either reused (the brown bear was mine when I was a child), a gift or something that we used with Lauren. The only thing I bought was the Every Little Thing book, but I used Scholastic coupons that I have had sitting around for years so that was free as well!

I struggled to find sheets for the crib that weren't pastel pink or purple or grey chevron so I wandered into the regular sheet section and found the perfect deep purple in a twin sheet set for $19.99. From the one flat twin sheet, I was able to make two perfectly fitted crib sheets following this tutorial and I also learned how to make a fancy French seam (really not that fancy but it made me feel special). I have the fitted sheet stored away for when Inside Baby graduates to a big girl bed in the future. The simple hanging bedskirt was something I whipped up from my favourite one of the bunting fabrics and another dab of the fray stopper (that stuff really is amazing).

The painting over the bed definitely took me the longest to create. Everything else DIY came together really quickly but this one took quite a few nights. The canvas and most of the paint was already just sitting around in my craft room but I did have to spend another $6 buying a few more tubes to make sure that the paint was completely opaque. I couldn't decide on one animal to have as a theme for the room so I decided to do an animals in crowns theme. Why not. So I ended up with a bear, a rabbit and an owl all with crowns. I really like that they are not too cutesy or girly and I think they fit nicely into the room.

When I finished making the bunting strands, I noticed that I had some extra of each so I created a smaller swag to hang above the change table. 

This was another area that I spent some more money on. The change pad and dresser were Lauren's old ones and I made the change pad cover with some of the hand-me-down fabric that I chose for the room. The white metal baskets were something I found in the discount area of Michael's and I think they cost me $20 together. That was a splurge! The three larger frames were also on the clearance rack at Michael's and might have cost me $15 altogether. I especially love the mirrored one in the middle! Then I hit up Ikea for the shelf ($15) and the two smaller frames ($3 each). I made all of the prints that are inside the frames and I will be posting those soon as well. 

I've chosen not to make a quilt for Inside Baby because I made some for Lauren and all that she will sleep with is a brown blanket that some mutual fund company gave to Matt. It kills me a little inside. So instead I have plucked a white blanket that I knit for Lauren to try with Inside Baby and a purple Minky blanket that it also lovely and soft. If Inside Baby decides that she would like a quilt in the future, I will make her one right away. But for now, I'd rather just lay on the couch than slave over a quilt that won't see the light of day.

I just calculated it and my grand total for the room makeover was $89.19. Not too bad! I would say that I put minimal time into the room other than the painting so that is a plus as well.

So we are at 37 weeks now (the picture below is a week old), the baby is super low (to quote my doctor, "I don't know how you're even walking anymore!") and I'm just hoping that she hangs on until after June 7th when Matt writes his CFA exam.

PS - If anyone has a baby swing that we can borrow in the near future, I would really appreciate it! That is the one thing that we are still missing and I know that a swing was a lifesaver with Lauren.

PPS - Don't forget to check out Matt on the Miracle Weekend on Sunday afternoon. It sounds like his interview is getting extended a bit more to include some more of Lauren's story and she might make a guest appearance when he and the other bank people hand over their cheque. That's step one for getting her cute little mug on an elevator or something in the hospital. Some people want to make their kid a celebrity - I only want her to be a hospital celebrity.



Many people would be shocked to know that Matt and I only dated for 3 months before we got engaged. We were only together for 2 months when I bought my wedding dress. We had already looked at rings and the dress was a killer deal! But Matt and I had history. We met each other in pre-placement testing for our grade 11 year and I remember giggling about him because he seemed so serious. In Grade 12 we were placed on the same mission team and we became strong friends. We would talk on the phone, spend time after school hanging out with our friends together and, though he will readily admit that he was in love with me, I did not see him like that. Over our time in university we drifted apart. I knew what was happening in his life through my friends who still saw him but we didn't have much contact.

Then I moved into my house and he heard about that through Facebook. I guess it was obvious that I was painting the house myself at a less than stellar pace and he offered to come and help me paint. Two weeks later (after more turtle paced painting), I took him up on his offer. He came in his rugby spandex with his short rugby shorts on top and flip flops the first time he came over. Matt likes to think that it was the spandex that got me, but I can tell you honestly, that definitely wasn't it. A few days later he came and helped me paint my basement (read: he painted, I tried to help but wasn't too successful at that). We talked the whole time and spent time together every day for the next three weeks. He was still the boy that I had known in high school, but with a maturity, faith and focus that had developed since I had previously known him. I knew that once we started dating it wouldn't be to spend a long time dating, it would be to move towards marriage.

We have been married now for five and a half years and I feel like we've had a bit of a tough run. With our struggle to get pregnant, my diagnosis of celiac disease and Lauren's heart condition, we've had to face a lot in those few years. However, he is my rock. I am so proud of the man that I married and even more proud of the father that he has become. I know that no matter what, we are walking through this life together and I am so blessed to have walked through both the calm and difficult times with him.

Last year, Matt walked upstairs one day and announced that he thought we should have a garage sale. Not a small garage sale, a HUGE garage sale. He does this to me every once in a while. He comes up with these crazy ideas and I typically respond with, "Uh huh." Sometimes he drops them, sometimes he decides that they are his best idea ever. The garage sale fell into the second camp. After months of planning, weeks of prep and days of work, we were able to celebrate Lauren's one year anniversary of her diagnosis and ongoing recovery by presenting a cheque for $9000 to Children's Hospital.

Over the past year, Matt has been a member of the Children's Hospital Foundation Banks Committee. He has be diligent in working hard to think of new ways to raise money and goes regularly to meetings for the committee. I love that he is so dedicated to continuing to give back on days other than just the anniversary.

This year, with the baby coming, he decided to think of a different way to try to raise money for the hospital. One day he came home and told me he was going to be a Miracle Maker. "Uh huh," I said, not really knowing what that was. I figured out that it meant that he was committing to try to raise a certain amount of money for Children's Hospital and I was proud of him. Over the past few weeks it has come to light that not only will he be trying to raise funds through donations, but that he will also be on the picture box (aka TV) answering phones on the Children's Hospital Miracle Weekend Telethon on Sunday, June 1st and he just told me now that he is also going to be interviewed!! What?! First of all, I can't believe that he didn't tell me this sooner and second of all, do we have it set up to tape yet?!

Last week, Matt sent out an email to his clients asking for contributions toward his fundraising goal of $3000. So far he has raised $1670! I thought I would get in on the action here. If you don't want to or are not able to contribute, that's fine. Thanks for reading about how awesome my husband is (I should have just saved some of this for Father's Day, but, oh well)! If you would like to contribute to Matt's BC Children's Hospital Foundation Miracle Maker Campaign, please click on this link: Matthew Arneill Miracle Weekend CampaignAll proceeds go directly to the hospital and a tax receipt will be issued in full. The Arneill family will be matching the first $1300 donated. 

Thank you for your ongoing support of our family and BC Children's Hospital. We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who care about our little (soon to be bigger) family. 



I hope that if you have read this blog for any length of time that you know that I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. When Lauren was first admitted to the ICU on that terrible first night, there was another young family there with their own little Lauren. Their little girl had been in surgery the day before for a serious heart condition and they witnessed Lauren being wheeled in after first crashing in the emergency room. They saw the doctors working on her, watched our panic as we saw our little girl hooked up to all of the machines for the first time and watched as we unraveled in each others arms with the sudden and shocking news about our little girl's heart.

A few days later, they introduced themselves to us and our friendship has been strong ever since. It began with our two little girls: their shared name, birthdays three days apart and sad little hearts. It has grown to a relationship of understanding. To have another mom who is going through similar worries, struggles and victories is such a blessing. I believe that this family was also placed in our lives for a reason.

We live an hour apart from each other so the times that we get to see each other are exciting events. I love it because, as we move away from our time in the hospital, we can still connect and talk openly about how we still worry and struggle and love every little victory that we see in our girls. Children who go through heart surgery often have delays and we have seen speech, feeding and mobility delays in our little ladies... all of which they have or are overcoming!

Last week, we were able to attend one of our favourite nights of the year - DreamNight at the Aquarium. On DreamNight, hundreds of volunteers come together to open the aquarium for children who are still linked to the hospital. There are singers (Bobs and Lolo were there), local athletes, mascots everywhere you look, free ice cream, aquarium staff galore and divers in many of the big tanks waving to the kids. They think of so many details to ensure that the kids (and parents) feel welcome and special. From the moment that we stood in line to check in to the moment that we left, Lauren was delighted. Not only did she get to wander and see the fish with her friend Lauren, but she got to hold a bird on her arm, wiggle and dance to some music, watch the dolphin show and spend as much time as she wanted staring into the tanks. And Lauren's mom and I spent the night catching up, chatting about everything under the sun, including our little ladies.

At the end of the evening, Matt, Lauren and I left exhausted and excited about what we had experienced. Looking back at it, that is how I feel about everything that Lauren has gone through and how she is doing today. I finally feel like our past is exhausting and our future is exciting. And what a blessing it is to be able to walk through this journey with a kindred family who are also walking this exhausting and exciting journey. Our little girls are blossoming and we see amazing things in their future.



Dear Lauren,

You are asleep upstairs, snuggled in bed and it gives me a chance to think about Mother's Day. I'm able to celebrate Mother's Day because you were born and this is the last Mother's Day that will be all because of you. Soon you will have a little sister and our lives will change again.

Watching you, we've never thought of you as an only child. You thrive around others and you've always been so social. I can't wait for you to have that special bond that you can only have with a sibling. I've been blessed to have both a brother and a sister and each one of them is so special to me and has played a different role in my life. You will probably only have your sister (I'm getting old, let's face it) and I can already picture you playing, whispering and giggling together.

Right now, you don't understand why I can't carry you or pick you up every time you request it but being eight months pregnant means that this baby tummy is taking up more space than either you or I would like. While I'm excited to have her out to meet her, I also can't wait to be able to pick you up and snuggle you close whenever either one of us wants or needs it again.

During a moment of reflection today I realized that my life is not what I expected and many things haven't gone smoothly, but I am so blessed because I have you and your dad to love. When your dad and I got married, I felt like we were complete. When you came along, I realized that we were actually like one of those puzzles that come without a picture. We had put the pieces together but the picture wasn't actually complete. The pieces that you added complete the parts of our puzzle that didn't have a whole picture. And it makes so much more sense now. Your strange habits make me laugh, your enthusiasm is contagious, your demands are exhausting and your hugs and kisses are the most perfect gift.

Lauren, you have challenged me to become a better person. I would love to say that I am a great mom but I know that I make mistakes. Instead, I can only hope that I am a mom who always shows you how much I love you, no matter how old you get, a mom who takes time to step back and think before I speak and a mom who always encourages you to do your best. I always want you to feel love, gentleness and support from me.

I can promise you that I will do the best that I can as your mom. I realize how blessed I am to have that job and, if I could choose any child in the world to have as my own, I would choose you. I know that God formed you from Day 1 and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He also gave you to me. You were chosen for me by the maker of the universe and what an amazing gift you are.

Today, on Mother's Day, I thank you for loving me as your mom. Thank you for wanting me to come with you everywhere you go, even if it is only a foot or two away. Thank you for every time you ask me to come and sit with you, for every book that you ask me to read to you and every time you come to me for a kiss on a bump. Thank you for all of the laundry and diapers and hand holding and smiles. Thank you for the running, and jumping and laughing and cuddles. You keep the picture of our lives full and beautiful.

Your dad and I love you today and every day.

Love Mom



Sometimes Lauren needs to take a break. Matt and I found her in her old room, sitting in her nursery chair rocking herself while she sucked her fingers and sat quietly with her thoughts. It was one of those moments that makes us stop and think about who she is and who she will be. As a crazy two year old with boundless energy it seems as if her only thoughts in life are where she can play next, who will run around the house with her and who will get her juice when she is thirsty. But there is so much more to her. She is a little mind that we are molding, a little personality that is developing and a little heart that we are trying to make aware of and sensitive to the world around her. It is an amazing process.

When I look at Lauren as she sleeps soundly, draped in various positions around her twin bed, my heart aches with how much I love her. It is true that you don't know how much you can truly love someone until you have a child. Living with Lauren I have learned the depth of my ability to love with patience, care and gentleness even during the daily challenges of exhaustion and fear.

After seeing Lauren in her moment of quiet, Matt walked into the kitchen and asked me, "If Lauren had died, do you think that we would have had another baby?" to which I quickly replied, "Thank the Lord we don't have to worry about that because she did." But my dismissal of the question doesn't mean that it isn't something I've wondered about myself.

I like to think that I would have eventually had another baby, but the memories of that time even with Lauren surviving are still something that I have to consciously talk myself out of. It isn't so much the memory of Lauren's time hooked up to ECMO that bothers me. I can now look at the photos of that without tearing up, though the reality of her heart not beating for three days but her staying alive is still something that boggles my mind. It isn't the moments of watching Lauren receive CPR when her heart stopped on six separate occasions because in those moments I prayed and time was suspended as I lived in a place of disbelief. The memory that haunts me now is a feeling that I experienced as I held her as a baby in my arms. While we were in the emergency room as they were taking a break from assessing Lauren's condition before her diagnosis, I tried to feed my child who hadn't eaten all day. She started to choke in a frantic sort of way and I told Matt, "Something is wrong! This isn't right!" He ran out to get the doctor and I held Lauren as she choked (likely on her own tongue) and her warm little panicked body arched back and went rigid before she collapsed in my arms. That is the feeling that haunts me. The actual feeling of her pulling back as her heart stopped and collapsing and there was nothing that I could do. There was nothing that I could do to keep my child safe. And fear entered in.

That fear was something that lived with me even though she survived. How would I have moved past it if she hadn't? It took so much work with God, with a therapist, with my family and with Lauren to move past that fear enough that it stopped ruling my life. It still takes work. Now the what ifs of things that could happen to Lauren (some of them totally unrealistic) are still something that I fight against and I feel like, with constant vigilance, I'm keeping it under wraps.

When we made the decision to try to have another child, I was full of fear again for this new baby. Once you have a child with a heart condition, your likelihood of having another doubles. Granted that goes from only 1 in 100 to 2 in 100, but since ALCAPA is 1 in 300000, numbers like 2 in 100 don't sound that comforting. Once I found out that I was pregnant, I knew that I had to hand this baby over to God before I drove myself crazy with fear. I firmly believe that God doesn't give us more than we can handle and He knows of my struggles with fear. I have felt such a peace about the health of this new baby and all ultrasounds that we have had also suggest that her little body is forming just fine and she is entirely healthy. This pregnancy has been incredibly easy and I can't wait to meet this new little girl!

In the end, I don't know if we would be having another child if Lauren hadn't survived, but having her around makes me wonder if we would have survived without experiencing what it is like to love our child.

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