30.6.14

SHE'S GOT A NAME!

This pregnancy meant so much to us because of everything that we went through with Lauren. When you have a child who has a birth defect, for any other babies that may come, the possibility of birth defects changes from a possibility to a reality and fear sneaks in. We had to have such hope in God's promises in order to have a second baby because we weren't strong enough to do it without him.

Neither of us hesitated to choose the name Hope for a middle name. To choose a first name, we looked through name lists that also gave the meanings of the names. Many of the names that we were interested in were disqualified because we didn't like their meaning. And then we came to Elyse. As we read the meaning, "God's oath", we looked at each other and I fell in love with it. God has constantly promised us hope through everything that we went through with Lauren and now he gave us that promise and hope in the form of a second little baby.

While Matt was studying for the CFA exam, the name discussion became something that we couldn't think about. Other names were thrown around and our list of names got messy. We couldn't settle on anything for one reason or another.

It took us a few days after she was born to go back to that name that we first loved and the reason that we chose it. Other names might be pretty, but this is the one for our little girl.


29.6.14

OF COURSE IT WOULD BE TOO EASY IF THE STORY ENDED THERE...

We got home Thursday and Friday I wasn't feeling well. Thursday I had felt great so Matt and I were both concerned about this. Last time I had to have my placenta removed, I ended up with a massive infection and, after a few days home together, Lauren and I spent four more days in the hospital for me to get IV antibiotics. When I spiked a fever around 3pm, Matt and I packed up Baby (still no name) and headed off to the Emergency room. Thankfully this time I was given an IV and started on antibiotics but whatever was getting to me, we seem to have caught early enough for me to be able to go home and return daily for IV antibiotics until I kicked whatever seemed to be getting to me. They booked me in for an ultrasound the next morning to check that there wasn't some placenta that had been missed and was now causing problems for my body.


Baby and I headed off the next morning for IV and the ultrasound and I was given the news that there is still retained placenta that was missed during the operation after birth. You can probably figure out why that isn't a good thing. So, now I'm scheduled to see the delivering/operating doctor tomorrow morning when I go for my IV antibiotics and most likely I will have to have the procedure repeated. I'm hoping that if that is the case that it goes more smoothly than it did the other night (without the bleeding), that Baby and I can get home as soon as possible afterwards, without another stay in the hospital, and that with the help of the IV antibiotics, I am able to keep infection in check in the meantime. If you wouldn't mind keeping me in your prayers, I would really appreciate that. 

SHE'S HERE!!

On Tuesday night, Matt, Lauren and I were out for our regular evening walk together and I started to feel some cramping. Once it passed we kept walking but I started to wonder if our little girl was finally getting ready to join us. Then it happened three more times during our walk.

When we got home I told Matt that he had to put Lauren to bed that night and by the time he came downstairs once that was done, I had timed my contractions to be eight and a half minutes apart. No problem! I had plans to watch a bunch of tv that I had saved and get ready for the hospital. After the first show I went to put on some mascara (I knew photos would be happening) and during those few minutes, my contractions suddenly sped up to every two and a half minutes.

I let Matt know and called the hospital while he let our family know and hopped into the shower. By the time he got out my mom had just arrived and I needed to go! Contractions were speeding up quickly. I was a little surprised because my contractions with Lauren were so much more intense than these ones were. If those were a 10, these were a 4. I could simply rock side to side and get through them. With Lauren, each contraction took over my whole body and stopped me cold.

But by the time we got to the hospital, I was constantly doing my side to side dance. We were ushered into a room and the doctor came in. She checked me out and said that I was 6cm dilated and she would be back in a few hours. I replied, "Oh no, this baby is going to be here way sooner than that." I'm just going to throw it out there that I love being right!

The seemingly small contractions kept coming and I spent most of the time with my eyes closed rocking my legs side to side and breathing through it. Matt was so amazing through all of this. At first he kept asking me questions and if I needed anything but then we just got in a rhythm. He had water ready when I needed it, fanned me with a paper plate until they could find a fan, replaced the cloth on my head and spoke such encouraging words to me that I felt like the strongest woman in the world, capable of anything. I'm so blessed to have someone like that beside me.

The whole time I had felt nauseous and finally it got to me and dinner came up. That appeared to slow the contractions right down but actually it was just the trigger for a change. Now I was pushing. I think the best part of the pushing contractions is the time in between. In those moments, I felt amazing. My body was so relaxed and comfortable, the breeze from the fan was beautiful and I relished every second. Especially since the other moments, my body was trying to expel a human being as fast as possible. Nine minutes later, after only two serious pushes, our little baby girl entered into the world on June 24th at 11:09 pm.

The doctor handed her right to me and I felt so present in that moment when I reached for her and brought her close to me while Matt bent close to my right shoulder. We were there together. She was safe and she was so beautiful. From her gazing eyes to her long fingers to her thin little legs, my eyes wanted to eat up every tiny detail of her 6 pound 2 ounce body.


Apparently my body really gets attached to my placentas because, just like with Lauren, my placenta wouldn't come out after birth. With Lauren I was whisked away from her and Matt right away after birth for surgery, but this time the OR was being used so we had to wait. It was such a blessing to have that time with the two of them before being separated. 

I was taken into surgery while Matt headed down to the maternity ward with Baby. After the surgery, I was woken up by the doctor telling me that I had had a significant amount of blood loss during the procedure and they were concerned about my hemoglobin levels. They had hooked me up to IV antibiotics and finally sent me back to my family. 

Matt had been worried because instead of the two hours we were told to expect, I had been gone for three and a half. Finally he was able to relax enough to get some sleep (the poor guy was exhausted because he had been up since 5:30am the morning before for work) and I got to cuddle our little girl before getting two hours of sleep myself. 

We had a few visitors through the day but spent most of it together, trying to get a moment of rest when Baby slept. Baby was also watched closely because she was vomiting quite a bit and not much of her food was staying down. They were concerned that there might have been a structural issue in her digestive system but around 3:30, she finally kept a feed down. It looked like she was struggling from having had such a quick birth. Normally, the contractions are long enough and strong enough that the baby is able to expel most of the mucus from her system. Instead of the usual two hours of hard compression on the baby, our baby had only nine minutes leaving her much like a C-section baby in that respect. Her body was trying to expel mucus and causing her to throw up. Of course, Matt and I were trying to keep our worry in check but after everything that we went through with Lauren, it was hard not to imagine the worst. Having her keep her food down for those few hours made us feel a lot better. 




The most important visitor of the day was Lauren. Lauren loves babies but I was nervous about how she would react to one that would force her to share her mom and dad. I don't think I needed to worry at all. Lauren walked in (like she owned the place) and came right over to us to meet Baby.


She was so excited. Elysha had practiced with her saying "Baby Sister" and Lauren was ready to make the baby her own right away.






Baby and I were released on Thursday around noon, excited to get going on adjusting to life with a two year old and a new baby. Two days after a walk as a family of three, we headed back out for our evening walk as a new family of four. 


23.6.14

NO NEWS IS...WELL...NO NEWS

Inside Baby must know that we still haven't picked a name for her because she refuses to join us. I am now three days overdue and this kid is no longer a comfortable passenger. I've been really lucky with how easy this pregnancy has been so I really shouldn't complain... but come out already kid! Every night for the last week, Matt has predicted that she will be showing up. When I pointed out that he has said that all week he replied that one of these days he will get it right.

Until the past 3 days when I've adopted beached whale status, I've spent most evenings trying to get projects (and laundry) done so that I don't have anything outstanding in my mind once Inside Baby becomes Outside Baby with no name. (Poor girl.)

The most exciting thing that I've done is to make a playhouse for Lauren. One night when I couldn't sleep (again, thank you Inside Baby), I came up with a plan for a PVC frame that I would cover with material for Lauren to play in and call a house. In the morning, I went over to my dad's to chat with him about my plan and we got around to chatting about the playhouse that I had when I was a kid.

And then my dad said, "I wonder if I still have that." I don't know why I was surprised that he might have a thirty year old toy, but I was. Moments later he showed up in the room holding the box and frame for my old playhouse. The plastic cover had long since ripped but he always thought that maybe he could use the frame for something (why not, right?). And here we are decades later and it is being used again.

I brought it home and set up the frame during Lauren's nap. Using material that I already had in my stash, that evening I created a cover for the frame with a roof portion, windows that can be tied open and a sliding door.

When I first brought it out for Lauren, she screamed at the top of her lungs for an extended period of time (she's not usually much of a screamer so I knew this was good). We placed her reading couch inside the house and every day she spends some time playing in there, pulling my books in with her to flip through or dragging Matt in there with her. It is a bit of a tight fit with the two of them squashed together but that doesn't stop her from insisting that he come.

While I can't believe that my dad kept the frame for this playhouse, I love that Lauren now gets to enjoy something that I loved so much myself as a child. And the best part is that having used my own material, the house actually matches our living room - no more of the original orange roof and door of yesterday. One day, if she ever decides to join us, Inside Baby will get to enjoy this updated playhouse as well.

18.6.14

POCK-NEE?

There have been concerns with Lauren's speech, or lack thereof, in the past year. Last September, she only had a few words and we were primarily using sign language with her because she was so frustrated with her inability to communicate. How things have changed!

Over Christmas, Lauren started using more words and we were so excited for her. She still made use of sign language but she got some important key words and could communicate her needs with us. 

Now? She doesn't stop! Last week we had an appointment with a speech therapist who said that Lauren's speech is at average or above average. Average sounds great to me!! She is using 4-5 word sentences, uses "you", "I" and "me" properly, has a significant number of verbs that are used in the proper context and her identification of people, animals and objects is well over another hundred words. 

Lauren has never struggled with comprehension, so her understanding of language was not a concern but her ability to use her mouth to create the words was delayed. But no longer! 

Her pronunciation of words is now what we're working on next. There are some things that she says wrong that are endearing and others that shouldn't be said in public.

Some examples:
choc-nee: chocolate
pock-nee: pocket (we hear this anytime she sees a rock because she wants to pick all of them up and put them in a pocket to take home. The number of rocks that have gone through my washing machine is out of control!
whurizit: where is it?
thereizit: there it is!
seedown: sit down
weg: leg
Rauren: Lauren
maggic: when you ask her to say the magic word. Sometimes you get "please maggic" instead.
mey-mey: penguin (don't ask me about this one. I have no idea how this came about!)
bey-BEY: baby
Onga: Opa
da du wah: thank you (though she also says this correctly sometimes as well)
hore!!: Tim Hortons (not a good one for public) *Note: Matt swears that she says "hort!!" but I don't know that I've heard the "t" and I've listened very carefully though he is the one who takes her there once a week for daddy/daughter dates.

13.6.14

39 WEEKS AND KEEPING IT REAL

I'm finding that at 39 weeks I have bouts energy and of moments of exhaustion. So, even though I want to document this pregnancy, this is a more realistic photo of where I'm at right now. Just a little bit more to go! I can't wait to meet Inside Baby (still no name!), but I'm enjoying every night of sleep that I get.


9.6.14

PHOTO RECAP AND HOW I MADE MY KID AWESOME

Lauren and I have been rocking the show together. About a month ago, my brother's fiance had invited me to come as part of her group to go wedding dress shopping and, on the morning that I was trying to get out of the door for that, Lauren was being incredibly difficult. She had a dirty diaper just as we were putting on shoes and then when I changed it, she didn't want clothes back on. Then she tried to run away to play with her toys, next none of her shoes was good enough, the pair she put on was unacceptable once she got outside and she sat down on the wet ground outside to pull them off, I wrestled her into her carseat and by that time I just wanted to scream. In the 20 minutes that it took to do all of that, we were fighting the whole time. She was upset, I was upset and we didn't really want to be around each other. Not my finest mom moment. 

Dress shopping was great and Chanel found a stunning dress that she will be breath taking in on her wedding day and I realized that one day I will be sharing that moment with Lauren as she finds a dress to marry someone as wonderful as her dad (or I will be locking her in her room regardless of how old she is or even if she still lives at our house). So I decided to change things. 

I don't want to fight with Lauren and I don't want to get stressed out. I can't change her, but I can change my approach and response to her. So I decided to stop raising my voice. It was a simple change but it forces me to get close to her, usually holding her in my arms, have her look at me and explain what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we will be doing next. And the past month has been a dream. She's not always an angel and she still tries to push the boundaries but by bringing her close and talking with her, she will usually change her behaviour quite willingly. Who is this child?! There are constantly things that we are working on with her behaviour as she grows and changes (no, Lauren, we do not want to see you at 6:15am and, no, Nemo and Dory aren't going to happen then either.. go back to bed) but this one change has been huge for her. It is amazing how the biggest impact on her behaviour was changing my behaviour. Being a mom is a tough job.



So we've had a great month together. Here are some shots of my crazy kid as she has explored and played her way to summer. 

She figured out how to work the hose. I've been drenched a few times since then.
Austin taught Lauren to drink from the hose. She got pretty good.

Enough said.

Morning cuddles with crazy morning hair. I usually just wrangle it back into a clip but Matt is so good at brushing it (something that I still find strangely endearing).

She was super excited about diaper change, obviously. Meanwhile, that scar is healing up pretty nicely. Where they had the big tubes for the ECMO machine there are still some more obvious areas but that can always be cleaned up when they go back in when she's around 10 or 11 to replace the pacemaker battery.

The dog also taught her to drink water from the squirt spouts on the side of her blow up pool. He is just a wealth of knowledge for her.

Lauren's most favourite cousin (who she asks for multiple times every day) moved away this month. I am dreading the first time I have to take Lauren swimming and Joy doesn't show up at the pool. I think I will have one heartbroken little girl on my hands.

Lauren's favourite past time: driving the car. 
Number of times I've had to call the tow company to have my car jump started because my lights have been turned on by a young driver: 2. 
Number of battery chargers that I now carry around in my car at all times; 1 (thanks, Dad!!)

Pretending to sleep with Oma after being decorated with Disney bandaids.
Enjoying a homemade popsicle (which now gets requested every time that I open the freezer)

Mommy and daughter movie and popcorn date (she watches Tinkerbell, I read a book, we eat popcorn and we cuddle. I love it!)

And we will say that these were all for her. She seemed to think they were, though, unbeknownst to her, she's been sharing.


6.6.14

MIRACLE MAKER UPDATE

Matt has been working so hard lately studying for his CFA exam (which is tomorrow!). He's been studying in every spare minute since January and we all can't wait for it to be done. Last weekend, Matt spent all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning at a CFA bootcamp and then he raced over to BC Children's Hospital to be a part of the Miracle Weekend. Around 3pm, he was on TV for a short interview and I was lucky enough to catch it live. He was asked a bit about Lauren and he briefly told her story and then he was asked what Children's Hospital means to him. I lost it and started crying when he said that they gave us "hope and joy" because that describes so much of what Lauren is to us. (And I might be a little bit hormonal.) 



After Lauren's nap, we rushed to get down to the hospital so that Lauren could join Matt on the reveal of what the Banks Committee had raised for the hospital. She was a grumpy bird because I had to wake her up from her nap in order to get there on time. That changed when she got her first taste of Slurpee. 



Matt's goal as a Miracle Maker was to raise $3000 and thanks to incredibly generous donations of many people that he works with and for and many people who read the blog, he raised over $5000 in donations! We're thinking big for the future and we want to give back in a huge way so stay tuned for some upcoming ideas that we have for how we can really make an impact for BC's Sick Kids. (PS - This will be a long term goal so don't expect something by next week. All I'm planning to do next week is maybe pop out a baby).

Aside from the Slurpee, Lauren was pretty excited to see a bouncy castle at the event. I think she stayed in there for a good 20 minutes, successfully dodging us as we tried to reach in and grab her any time that she came close to the exit. Those 20 minutes were such a nice time to catch up with Matt and I didn't mind that she kept veering away from us to keep bouncing. It has been hard to have him constantly studying when he's not working. I've missed him and he's missed us, but I'm so impressed with how he's stuck to it and how much hard work and brainpower he has put into being able to do his best tomorrow. It is a ridiculously hard exam so we will be praying for clarity of mind, that he remembers all of the things that he has studied so hard over the last many months and peace about the outcome of the test. If you could send up a quick prayer as well that would be wonderful. While I hope he passes, I'm just looking forward to having him back. My family has been amazing by helping to keep Lauren and I company, especially as my hugely pregnant belly makes it tougher and tougher to take care of Lauren (she's a fast runner when we go for walks), but it will be a nice break for them as well not to have to babysit the two of us anymore. 

 


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