But it's so worth it!

Today we packed up and headed back to the hospital for Lauren's heart check up. Surprisingly enough, we made it there on time and Lauren was in a fantastic mood. Over the past few days I had spoken with her about going to the hospital and having to lay down very still while someone looked at her heart. I didn't know how much she understood or if she was just saying, "Okay!" so I would stop talking (both perfectly feasible).

When the echo tech came to get Lauren, she popped up out of her seat, headed out in front of the tech and said, "Come on! This way!" and walked confidently towards the echo room. The echo went incredibly smoothly. Lauren got to watch Dora, which she sees very infrequently but seems to be a big fan of, and she didn't even want to get up when the echo was done (maybe because Dora was still on). I enjoyed the echo because it gave me a chance to chat with the echo tech who I hadn't seen since she got married and now she is 38 weeks pregnant. (And Elyse just chilled on the bed beside Lauren because she is the easiest baby ever!)

Then we headed in for Lauren's EKG and pacemaker check. Here, I got to chat with the cardiology nurse who has been on mat leave for the past year (twin boys) and the nurse who does the EKG. In the middle of this lovely chat I realized just how much time we've spent in the hospital with these people, that I would know so many details of their lives and that doctors and nurses that we see in the hospital hallways would know Lauren's name. There are so many things about Lauren's heart that I love and so many things that I hate. Often those things are one and the same. I love being able to enjoy seeing people at the hospital and catching up but I hate that I'm able to do that. I love resting my hand on Lauren's chest while we cuddle when I put her to bed at night, feeling her heart beating hard and strong, but I hate what we have gone through because of it, fully knowing that it is only because of her heart that we have become the people that we are today and I wouldn't want to give that up. It is a confusing, twisted maze of emotions.

But then the pacemaker scan popped up and relief began to hit me. Last time, in a 6 month period, Lauren had used her pacemaker over 1000 times, approximately 3% of the time. They changed the settings a bit to allow her heart to function more slowly but still pace her when her heart stops and this time the results were very encouraging. In July, she paced 5 times. In August, only 2 and in September, she has only been paced once! The pacemaker registered episodes of her heart rate being higher than usual but many of these occurred at 11am, 4pm, 6pm or 7pm, all explained by gymnastics, park time, daycare play time, and after dinner walks (which usually end up being all out sprints for Lauren. "Run, mom!!"). Lauren has never been paced this infrequently!

When we went into the exam room I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. There has always been a "but..." to each visit. There was no but today. Lauren's heart has stabilized. Her aorta is still pinched but it is growing with her, not staying the same size as she gets bigger. Her heart muscle is still a bit thick, but no thicker. And her heart is functioning like a regular heart.

Regular. What an amazing word. Normal. Expected. Happy. All of these were words that we heard today. Unexpected words with no but. I might lose some more blog readers because Lauren is just regular but it's a chance I'm willing to take.

After Lauren's appointment we saw one of the ICU doctors who had cared for Lauren, said goodbye to her cardiologist who is heading off to finish her specialization at a few other hospitals before finding her forever hospital, and saw Lauren's surgeon in the hallway. He is almost never wandering around and Matt and I were thrilled to see him (we both have hero crushes on him - it's hard not to when someone saves your daughter's life). In true surgeon fashion, he asked Lauren for a hug so that he could feel her pacemaker and she thought that was a game as she danced around in the hall pointing out the colours of each of the doors close to us. At the end of our chat with him, Lauren went up to him, gently ran her hand down his face and gave him a hug before flitting away again. She must know that he has a special place in her life. I guess she has a hero crush on him as well.

We left today with a sense that a chapter of our life is done. Lauren was taken off one of her meds and the doctor gave us instructions to take her off another one only one month from now. The goal is to have her med free by the time she heads to kindergarten. We are headed towards normalcy. However, this will always be a part of our story, a big part.

Walking out today, I knew that we could leave and not look back, only let this be a passing thought next summer when her appointment is coming up again. But that's not part of our plan. Matt and I are going to continue to be advocates for Children's Hospital and we have a goal. A BIG GOAL. When Lauren first crashed in the hospital, she relied on an ECMO machine. Her heart was too ruined to beat and, for three days, that machine kept her alive by circumventing her heart and moving the blood through her body. We want to raise enough money to pay for an ECMO machine. With a whopping $235,000 price tag, raising the money will take quite awhile, but it's not like we have a time limit. Lauren's going to be with us for many years to come.



I know that lots of people swear by the Sleep Whisperer, but I would prefer to swear at her, I think.

I really should know better by now than to read anything about babies at all. With Lauren, I found it to be a huge source of stress because she wasn't "normal". I was doing things that would help her. When Lauren stopped sleeping through the night (unbeknownst to me because of her heart condition), I brought her into my bed. Having me beside her helped her throughout the night when she needed constant comforting. Well, Elyse has no heart problems, but according to the Sleep Whisperer (and random people who like to share their opinions with me), apparently I am messing Elyse up really badly as well!

Here's why - up until this past week, Elyse only slept well during the day if she was in motion. That meant that she would take all of her naps in the car, while on a walk in the stroller or in her swing. If she wasn't in motion, BOOM, awake. And the crazy part was that I was okay with that... until I started reading and people started commenting. If I didn't stop doing that right away, she was going to be 13 and still sleeping only in a baby swing!

Stupidly, I decided to try to stop that cold turkey. I decided that she would only sleep in her crib and she would like it. Let me tell you, she's starting early with that whole "not listening to mom" thing. Not only was she only having short naps, she stopped sleeping through the night.

That was the kicker for me. By eight weeks old, she slept through the night (10 hours in a row). By ten weeks old, she would sleep straight through half of the nights in a week. And I was messing that up with my determination to have her sleep in her crib during the day. Suddenly, it was a struggle to get her down at night and then she was up multiple times. What had I done?! After two nights of that, I grabbed my Sleep Whisperer book, threw it in the garbage and put the baby back in the swing for her naps. After one day of napping in motion, she was back to sleeping through the night. For me, the nighttime sleep is so much more important than still naps. I went through the house and grabbed ALL of the baby sleep books that I owned and got rid of every single one of them.

Is my baby sleeping well at night? Yes. Does she sometimes nap in the car? For sure. We have places to go! Does she sometimes nap in her stroller? If she wants to. Does she nap in her swing? Interestingly, not as much as she used to. Now at 13 weeks old she is also napping in her crib. I didn't decide that she should nap there, she did. I guess I won't have to worry having a teenager sleeping in a baby swing, which is good because I'm pretty sure these things have a weight restriction.

The Sleep Whisperer Solves All Your Problems Can Shove It.



According to Lauren...

...your bum is actually called your bump

...a penguin is still called a mey-mey

...everything is "MINE!" and by mine I mean all hers

...Elyse is cuuuute, Mom is cuuuute, Dad is cuuuute and Lauren is pretty

...the only acceptable colour to wear is pink

...dinosaurs are also cute

...when you smell a fart, you should yell, "SKUNK!"

...fruit and vegetables are poison

...the best movies are Robin Hood (the Disney version) and Cinderella

...you should try to watch said movies every. single. day. (Though chances are, Mom and Dad won't let you)

...you should only accept anything - food, toys, rocks, etc - that you would consider a "tiny baby"

...all crows should be chased

...direction doesn't matter so you are always going up the stairs, even if you are going down

...helmets can be worn as accessories and are acceptable attire for any occasion or outing

...if no acceptable pink shirt or dress can be found, a dress or shirt with a kitten on it is also acceptable

...you should chase any and all crows

...eagles are eagles and seagulls are sea eagles

Life as a two and a half year old is full of fun!



Last week I snapped. I had kept it together for two months and tried to do everything that I used to do before Elyse had come along but I reached a breaking point and couldn't do it anymore. I needed to eat healthier, but when was I going to find the time to make the food? I needed to exercise, but between constantly trying to put one kid down for a nap or feeding another one there was no time. I needed to sleep, but I've got a baby who needs to eat. And I needed some me time. I felt like I was drowning.

I know these feelings because I remember having them after Lauren was born. I didn't recognize them early enough with her and it got bad enough for me to end up on medication for depression. This time around I want to do whatever I can to avoid that. The medication helps for sure but it makes me really drowsy and I would prefer not to have that fuzzy feeling in my head if I can avoid it.

Lauren is two and a half. A magical age. An age of exploration and learning and constantly pushing the boundaries. After some convincing, Matt managed to talk me into sending her to daycare during the week for two weeks so that I could regain my sanity and only have one child to attend to. It was so hard to agree to this because it made me feel like a failure. I want to (and love to) spend time with Lauren but if I'm healthy I can be a better mom to her. And it isn't like daycare is a bad place for her. She gets to go to the park, go for walks, play with the other kids, jump on the trampoline, dig in the sandbox and the woman who watches her really loves her.

The time that Lauren has spent at daycare has also given me time to bond more with Elyse. What a special little girl she is. She is full of smiles and coos. She loves being naked and squirming around. She makes me feel like I'm wonderful when she looks up at me and her faces sparkles with happiness. She loves going for walks and being outside.

In general, I have a hard time asking for help but I'm so glad that I did. Finding time for myself will allow me to make the time with my girls and with Matt so much better.



Typical mommy guilt makes me think that Lauren didn't do anything fun all summer, but looking back over the pictures tells me otherwise. As we move further into September, here's a glance back at what we did this past summer. 

 Lots of evening walks. 

 Off to Lonsdale Quay. 

 Backyard swimming / pool drinking.

Sunday night family dinners (drinking juice like a boss).

 Night Market with friends (with her best fake crying face). 

Pool time together. 

White Rock beach.

Lots of time at the park.
 Miracle Treat Day treats.

 Feeding the squirrels (and, yes, she chooses her own outfits. I've had to hide the helmet. It's pink so it often gets added as an accessory).

Spending time with her sister - one of her favourite people for sure!

 Riding the miniature train.

Granville Island breakfast.

 Waterpark play!

 Aquarium adventures. "Nemo, what are you doing here?! Where's Dory?" My kid has obviously watched Finding Nemo too many times!

 Helping Grandpa wax his car. 

 Painting (She only uses blue. It must be because we don't have pink.)

Reading to Elyse. She doesn't know what a wedding is so at the end of the book when Robin Hood gets married she yells, "Happy Birthday!"

So, I guess in the end, I should tell my mommy guilt to stuff it. Lauren has had a summer of adventure and she has continued to grow and develop into a great big sister. What a fantastic summer it has been!



Lauren has changed so much since she has turned 2 and I thought that I would document her changes by making her a Half-Birthday Round Up.



Summer was a bit of a blur. It makes sense, really, with the arrival of Elyse at the beginning of summer and having to work her into our lives and our routines. I still feel like many days are blurs from the beginning to the end but I tried to give Lauren a summer that was a "normal" as possible with activities most days. Matt and I also made the choice to keep her in daycare two days a week. Before Elyse came along, we had planned for Lauren to go to daycare one day a week but then we noticed that she missed having time each week to play with other kids and we were exhausted. Then, smack in the middle of summer, her daycare lady went for two weeks of very deserved vacation. I was scrambling and my good friend, B, said that Lauren could attend morning day camp at her preschool for a few days.

And, I swear, those became Lauren's favourite days of the entire summer. When she would wake up in the morning, I would ask her what she wanted to do that day and she would throw her fist in the air and yell, "CAMP!" While she is naturally a loud and exuberant child (much to my chagrin during baby nap time), her excitement for camp was over the top. Now I know why Lauren is signed up to go to that preschool as soon as she is three. I'm sure she will wake up in the morning and cheer, "SCHOOL!"

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