Give Love

Give Love

February is Heart Month.  This might seem obvious because of Valentine’s Day and how we celebrate this “day of love”.  However, Heart Month isn’t just about celebrating Valentine’s Day – it’s also about raising awareness for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), and people who live with various heart-related issues and illnesses.

If you’ve stumbled upon my blog for the first time, then you may not know that I was actually born with a form of CHD called Bi-Cuspid Aortic Stenosis.  This means that my aortic valve only had two leaflets instead of the three that the valve is supposed to have, which caused my heart to have to work much harder to pump blood out of the left ventricle, through the aorta, and into my body.  Over the years, the valve became increasingly “stenotic”, which basically means, thickened, to the point where the opening for blood flow was almost completely closed.

When I was 10 years old, I had a Valvuloplasty, which is when they insert a balloon into the valve laparoscopically to stretch it, as a temporary solution to help delay valve replacement surgery.  This worked for me for several years, but for those of you who have been following me for awhile, you  know that I did end up having valve replacement surgery this past December, 2018.  Valve replacement surgery is an open-heart sternotomy procedure, where they cut through the sternum and physically remove the defective and damaged valve in order to replace it with either an animal or mechanic valve.  My particularly surgery ended up presenting the surgical team with some unexpected challenges, and I also received an emergency bypass, which involved removing a vein from my left leg and placing it in my heart to re-establish blood flow from the right ventricle to the aorta.

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My recovery in the immediate aftermath was difficult, and in the months following, has been slow but steady.  I will definitely write a follow-up blog post going into more of the details of my surgery and recovery, but for today, I wanted to take time to highlight the importance of raising awareness for CHD, because despite the fact that it impacts hundreds of thousands of Canadians, the research for CHD is severely underfunded.  As someone who has experienced the effects of being born with Congenital Heart Disease, and living with the associated issues my entire life – which for me included/include having to avoid physical activity in order to prevent enlarging the heart muscle, extreme fatigue, dizzy and fainting spells, chest pain and erratic heartbeats, being on life-long medication, etc; this cause is quite literally near and dear to my heart, and I want to do my part to help raise awareness.

There are lots of great organizations here in Canada, such as the Heart & Stroke Foundation, which are doing their part to help raise money and fund research for CHD here in Canada, and I am so honoured to have been asked to speak and share some of my story at an upcoming local fundraiser hosted by the Hornets Hockey Team for the upcoming Hockey Heroes Weekend, in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation.  Although I’m not nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd, and I recognize that it might be an emotional experience for me, I hope that the personal aspect will continue to put actual faces to the funds being raised.

Additionally, I’ve been so impressed by the number of Canadian businesses that have stepped up this month in order to raise money for this important cause as well!  One that I have the pleasure of working with is Paris Jewellers Canada.  Paris Jewellers has created a special collection of pieces called the “Give Love Collection“, and a portion of the proceeds of every purchase made in February will be donated to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Paris Jewellers has gifted me this absolutely gorgeous 14K Rose Gold Diamond Pear Shape Morganite Ring  as a keepsake to commemorate my journey with CHD, and my recovery from open-heart surgery.  I will also be hosting two giveaways with Paris Jewellers, where you will have the chance to win pieces from the Give Love Collection, and continue to have an impact.

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So – even though Valentine’s Day is over – it’s definitely not too late to pick up a special piece from Paris Jewellers and “Give Love” to someone special in your life, along with all of those like me who are dependent on the research of organizations like the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to continue to improve our lifelong prognosis and quality of life.

I am definitely one of the lucky ones – although my journey has not been without its challenges – the reality is, a lot of people aren’t as fortunate as I have been, and CHD continues to be a lifelong reality for many Canadian children and adults. Below are a few statistics on CHD quoted directly from the Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance website:

  • Congenital Heart Disease is the world’s leading birth defect.
  • About 1 in 80-100 children in Canada are born with CHD.
  • There are an estimated 257,000 Canadians with Congenital Heart Disease
  • There are fewer resources allocated for the care of adult CHD patients than other cardiac patients.
  • Research in the area of adult CHD has not reached the level of sophistication observed in other areas of heart disease research – even though CHD-related research has the potential for greater impact.

So – with the end of February nearing, you’ll observe Valentine’s Day displays being taken down, and you’ll be able to purchase all the discount heart-shaped candy and chocolates you could possibly desire.  “Heart Month” will officially be over.  But –  for those of us living with CHD, every month is heart month, and I know that I for one, couldn’t be more grateful for those of you who are helping to raise both funds and awareness for this life-changing, life-saving cause.

For more information on CHD in Canada, and how you can get involved, check out the following websites:

 

From the bottom of my heart, thank-you for your support!

August is here! Be part of (5)

Festive Fizz with Montellier

Festive Fizz with Montellier

Is there any denying that one of the best things about the holidays is all of the yummy treats we get to indulge in?  That one month of the year where we have every excuse in the world to sample and sip the yummiest of treats and drinks?  In our house, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home, and the food and drinks we consume are a social experience; a ritual of sorts – it’s what brings us together in a time and space to share with one another.

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This year, I’m really excited to be partnering with Montellier Canada  to create a delicious festive drink to enjoy this Holiday season with your loved ones using Montellier Carbonated Natural Spring Water.  Not only is Montellier both bubbly and refreshing, it is also Canadian made right in Quebec!

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If you’re looking for the perfect drink to elevate any party this holiday season, try a Cranberry Mint Mocktail with Montellier Natural Sparkling Water.  It’s fun, festive, and oh-so-pretty!  What are your favourite festive drinks during the holidays?!

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Peace of Mind – Oma Sense

Peace of Mind – Oma Sense

This post contains sponsored content from Levana.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but as a mom, I feel like I am constantly worrying about my kids.  I know I shouldn’t worry as much as I do, and I know there is so much we don’t control in life – but I think it’s just second nature as a parent.  I have been especially aware of this with Nora being born eight weeks early, at 32 weeks gestation (you can read her birth story here if you’re interested in more about that journey).

Anyway, having already gone through the newborn stage three times, I really thought I was prepared for anything, but having a preemie opened up a whole new world of concern for my little one.  The constant monitoring while she was in the NICU, although a little overwhelming, was also such a comfort. I have to admit, I was nervous when we brought her home and suddenly the responsibility of her health and safety was entirely in our hands.

With that in mind, I  was really excited to receive the Levana Oma Sense Movement Monitor with Wake-Up Technology to try out with Nora.  Safe sleep is so important for all newborns, and even more-so for preemies who often struggle with learning to regulate their breathing in those early weeks.  The idea of having a device in my own home that would safely monitor Nora’s movement while sleeping was a huge relief to me.

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So – what do I love about this monitor?  The monitor itself is designed for new babies, 0-6 months in age.  It is compact, lightweight, and cordless.  Additionally, the one-handed clip mechanism is easy to use and comfortable for baby, and also doesn’t need to be in direct contact with your infant’s skin in order to work effectively.  A simple on button activates the monitor, and an easy to understand light and alerting system keeps you notified of your baby’s movements. The best part is, if no movement is detected for 15 seconds, the monitor will first attempt to wake your baby with sound and vibrations; if regular movement has not been re-established after 5 seconds, an emergency alarm notifies you as the parents that your baby needs attention immediately.

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I have been using the Oma Sense Movement  Monitor with Nora for several days now, and I am really impressed.  Because it is so lightweight, it never interferes with Nora’s ability to sleep (note: babies need to sleep on their backs for the Oma Sense to work because it needs to be clipped to your baby’s onesie overtop of his/her stomach).  I also accidentally left the monitor on after removing it from Nora’s sleeper the other day, and within 15 seconds, it started to buzz and beep. When I didn’t react within that 15 seconds, a high-pitched alarm sounded as the monitor obviously sensed no movement (because it wasn’t attached to Nora) – so it definitely works, and would absolutely wake me up if it were to go off in the middle of the night when Jeff and I were sleeping.

I also love the fact that Levana is a Canadian company, and that I am able to support a local Canadian business by promoting the Oma Sense to other parents who are looking for something like this for their little one.  And best of all, the Oma Sense Movement Monitor really does give me that added peace of mind when it comes to Nora’s safety while she sleeps – which definitely helps me to sleep better at night as well!

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I recently did a “Favourite Baby Products” post which you can read here if you haven’t already, and honestly, I wish I had been using the Oma Sense when I wrote that post because I would definitely have included it on my list!  So, if you find yourself looking for an easy to use sleep monitor for your preemie or newborn baby, definitely check out the Levana Oma Sense Movement Monitor.  If you have a minute, I would also love to know what products give you peace of mind as a parent!?

August is here! Be part of (5)