July 5, 2016

Our Little Levi | 6 months

Last week Levi turned 6 months old! It's been an eventful couple months and mama is still wishing time would just SLOW DOWN! (No I haven't watched that music video because I'm not prepared for the monsoon that would come after it.) 

Levi is now 13lbs 14oz and 24.25in long. He's still nursing pretty frequently but has definitely gotten more efficient making our time stuck on the couch less and less! He's started eating some solid foods and loves sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and just about anything else you'll give him. He's been in 3-6 month clothing for a little over a month now and is in size 3 diapers.

He loves to play in his exersaucer and still greatly enjoys his treetop playmat. He LOVES people and talks and smiles with just about anyone who will pay him attention. He's started to recognize faces and will light up when he sees Joel or I from across the room. The belly laughing has begun and I couldn't be more obsessed. Those moments are probably my favorite in our days. He's rolling from side to side, is close to sitting up solo, and can scoot off his playmat. He usually sleeps a good 6-8 hour stretch at night but those 2 teeth making their way in are messing with that here and there. 

In the last two months....

Levi was dedicated at church.
Blessed Joel and I in celebrating our first Mother's and Father's days.
Had his first few trips to the beach.
Celebrated his cousin's first birthday.
Welcomed a new baby cousin.
Got a visit from Nana, Auntie Kate, and Uncle Jack.
Experienced his first VBS.
And continued to be loved to the max and fill our hearts with so so much joy. 

We praise God for these six glorious months.

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June 28, 2016

Levi's Birth Story | Labor & Delivery

Yeah, yeah... I didn't plan on it being this long before I published the 2nd part. While part of me wishes I'd been a little more on the ball with this, most of me is just thankful the abundant amount of snuggles that keep blogging from being anywhere close to my top 5 priorities right now. :) If you missed part 1 and want to know what led us up to the induction, you can find that HERE. 


I had taken a shower, walked around the room, and eaten a breakfast tray from the cafeteria when the induction orders came through on Christmas Eve. It was a little past noon when the nurses and the Maternal Fetal Medicine doc came in to turn on the Mag (because of my preeclampsia) and insert the Foley Bulb (used to help open the cervix in an induction). I had to get a new IV because the one I had from triage was giving me issues and then it took 3 tries to get the Foley Bulb in but around 1pm my induction was all set. 

It was explained to me that the Foley Bulb would fall out once I was dilated to 3-4cm and at that point they would start Pitocin to get contractions going. The nurse warned me that it would likely make me really crampy (which it did) and that it could take anywhere from 4-12 hours to complete it's job.

One of my closest friends stopped by in that waiting period and it was such a breath of fresh air. Joel arrived within a couple hours after getting our doggie set and packing up a few last minute needs for me and him. He had his first of 3 back to back WaWa meals (it was Christmas) for dinner and I had my first of many cups of Jello (one of the only 2 foods I was allowed while on Mag). We watched Christmas movies on and off, tried to rest, and attempted to prepare. 

I was feeling pretty calm and at peace throughout the evening. I was trying not to get worked up about all of the possibilities to come and just be in the moment. Looking back, the heaviest weight I had that evening was knowing that because I was on Mag and Levi would be required to go to the NICU, I would not get to spend those first hours with him. I asked a few close friends to pray for me about that and then just tried to relax.

I dozed on and off waiting for the Foley Bulb to fall out. At around 2:30am on Christmas Day the doctor on call came and said I was ready for Pitocin. I dozed back off but not for long. Within an hour or two the contractions were coming strong enough to wake me and I would try to sleep in between. The frequency and strength only intensified and by 6am there really wasn't much sleep happening.

At some point in the next couple hours, the new on call doctor came in. It was Christmas Day now and the practices had teamed up for a holiday rotation and I had no idea who this woman was. Up until this point everyone coming in had prepared me that this would be a long process since my body had not started labor naturally and because Mag usually fights labor. Many had said it would likely be Saturday (the 26th) before he was born... But this new doctor was in a hurry. She came in ready to give me an epidural, break my water, and crank the Pitocin. Her words were "We'll have a baby today one way or another. Either this induction will work or you'll have to have a C-section.
Aye aye aye. My heart sank. 

Thank God for my sweet nurse who was willing to hear my thoughts and advocate on my behalf. When the doctor came back into the room she let her know that we were not in a hurry. Because of the meds, I was stable and baby was stable and breaking my water was going to put me on a time restraint that I wasn't ready for. So she checked my dilation and I was at 3cm. She said she'd be back in a little while to check in.

My contractions picked up and I was mainly having back labor. All I wanted to do was walk around or get in the shower but unfortunately that wasn't allowed with Mag. I knew I could go ahead and get the epidural but I also knew that it wouldn't help me progress at all. Not to mention that once I had that I'd be in less pain but fighting the anxiety that I get with being numb. So we set the bed up as far as it would go into "shoe shiner's" position (the name a nurse had given it) and Joel was champ at rubbing my back every time a contraction came on. My mom, sister, and stepdad arrived around 1pm and my mom took some turns to give Joel's hand a break. 

For the better part of Christmas Day, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting for 60-90 seconds. When the doctor came back in to check me again, I thought for sure I was at 5 or 6 at least. 

Nope. Still only at 3. Consistent contractions all day long and no progression. The nurses said this wasn't uncommon with Mag and especially with not being able to walk around. The doctor thought I needed to have my water broken before I was going to progress any farther.

Most everyone left the room to prepare for the next steps to get going and for the first time in this process, I lost it. It was just me, Joel, and the nurse and I sobbed. So many emotions all at once. I am so thankful for my compassionate husband and the sweet nurse I had. I am so thankful that they both recognized I just needed a few minutes of a good cry and didn't try to tell me to "get it together" or insist that "I could do this." In the midst of my good wail, I begged God to make it clear to me what to do and to please let this labor progress. 

A few minutes later there was a strange turn of events. Call me crazy, but I really believe the Lord changed my doctor's mind. She came back in and gave me 2 choices. The first was to proceed with her original plan (epidural, break water, crank pitocin). The second was a "pit rest." This would mean they would turn the Pitocin off for 5-6 hours to give my body a break from the contractions and we would pick back up at 1am to try again. Hal-le-lu-jah! 

Needless to say, the decision was clear to me. Physically and emotionally, I needed a break. I also knew that if I could restart early in the morning, my chances were greater for getting to the next on call doc who would hopefully have a different birth philosophy. So at around 8pm the Pitocin was turned off.

Joel and I watched Elf and both tried to get some rest but my IV was making rest really difficult. The amount and type of meds being pushed in it were causing issues and my arm was red and swollen and in so much pain. My night shift nurse that had came on (who was such a Godsend) was concerned. She babied my arm with ice packs and elevation but nothing was working. Since this was my 4th IV in 2 days, she called in the IV team to look for a new vein. She tried a few places but nothing held and they all suggested a PICC line. (Info in the link but long story short: It's not something I really wanted.) I was a little relieved when were informed that the PICC team stops at 11pm... it was 11:10. Problem was, that left with us with only the bad IV that was giving us so much trouble. My nurse pushed for my veins to get a break so they turned off all the meds and only had fluids running to give my arm a break. My nurse put my bed in the most comfy position possible when you're pregnant (a position I later learned only she knew how to do... but she had been an OB nurse for 30+ years) and finally I got a couple hours of sleep.

During that sleep, they'd got all my meds back going and the Pitocin was restarted at 2am. The next few hours progressed much like the day before but this time as the contractions picked up, my back was shot. The day before I had been able to handle the contractions all day because I would get through the pain of one, have 1-2 minutes of no pain, and then be ready for the next one. But because of my back labor the whole day before, I was sore and getting no relief in between. I knew it was time for an epidural.... not what I wanted. But what I needed if I was going to deliver this baby vaginally while on pitocin without the freedom to walk or get on my birthing ball. 

All around the same time that my nurse put in my request, the doctors were switching out. The new doctor came in I took a big sigh of relief. Calm, compassionate, patient. What an answered prayer. At this point, everyone agreed that it was best to go ahead and get the epidural, break my water, and see if we could get things moving. 

I was so nervous about the epidural but many of my fears were relieved when the anesthesiologist shared that mine was her final epidural of her 38 year career. Needless to say, she got it right on the first try. I still hated the weird feeling of it shooting down my leg and had to pray through the anxiety constantly of feeling numb and not having total control of my muscles but it was one step closer to getting me to see Levi's face. 

I was at 4cm when they broke my water around 7am. From there we'd just have to wait and hope and pray that my body would progress. Another huge gift from God happened not long after my water was broken. As if the new doctor didn't bring enough relief, in walked the midwife who worked with him. When she introduced herself, I literally thought I might cry. Because it was Christmas weekend and my midwife has 3 kids, there was no way she could be there.... but having Jennifer was the next best thing. She was in my room a good chunk of the morning and put me a such ease! Having her and my nurse Monica both there made me feel so confident about the hours to come.

The coming hours really all started to blur. I hated the way my body felt as the epidural kicked in. I had to pray through anxiety as the tingling and numbness came farther and farther up my torso. Thank God, Joel and my mom were there to talk to me down every time I got panicky. Though the pain relief was really nice, I had one spot about the size of a tennis ball on my lower back that the epidural didn't take. So with ever contraction I felt a crazy amount of pain in that one spot. Because of that I couldn't lay and get rest. We got the bed situated all the way up in a sitting position again. That was the position I was in most of the time and it allowed Joel and sometimes Mom to rub the spot on my back that was in so much pain. 

The team came in to check me at some point and I had progressed to 6cm. At this point, we called our friend who would be photographing the birth to let her know it might be time to head our way. My mom headed over to Babies R Us to pick up some preemie clothes but she wasn’t out for long. I started feeling a lot of pressure and the midwife came in to check me. She was surprised to find I had moved to 8 in a very short time and thought he may be coming out faster than we originally thought. My mom rushed back over and our sweet photographer friend was in a panic worrying she might miss it. 

The doctor came in to see if I was possibly close to pushing and found that I had actually regressed. It was a huge disappointment when after a second opinion, they all agreed I was back at a 6. My team had never seen that before. They gave me instructions not to bear down as they thought that might have been the cause and assured me I would progress back quickly. All of this happened around 11am. By this time my mom and friend photographing were in the room taking deep breaths that they hadn’t missed anything.

It didn’t take long for the crazy pressure to return. My nurse and midwife both checked and agreed I was around 8 or 9. They told me to let them know when I felt like I had to push even in between contractions. They hadn’t been out of the room for 5 minutes when the pressure got insane. I could no longer sit on my bottom and I turned over and got on my knees on the bottom part of the bed. This was a big no-no considering I was on mag AND had an epidural, so naturally everyone freaked out on me. But looking back, the midwife thinks that was just the position I needed to put Levi in perfect position. When she came back into the room to check me she agreed it was time to push!

So Joel grabbed one leg and my mom grabbed the other and we began the final stretch of getting that sweet boy out. We pushed through a couple contractions and the fetal monitor fell off of Levi’s head. They called in the doctor to be there just in case there was an issue. The NICU team was all set up and waiting to the side as well. I pushed for roughly 15 minutes and through 3 or 4 contractions. I don’t remember much about this time….

The midwife asking my mom what color hair she thought he had.
My sister (who wanted to only stand in the corner) being at the end of the bed watching her nephew arrive.
Joel telling me over and over that I could do this.
A nurse I had never met coaching me on what to do.
Pain and pressure and pure excitement.

And then I heard that cry…. 

oh what crazy joy came when I heard that cry. 
Our sweet Levi was born at 12:15pm.

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May 6, 2016

This Mother's Day I'll stand, but I'll still think of you.

This year I'll stand, but still I'll think of you.

Sunday morning will come and I'll wake with excitement, but still I'll think of you.
I'll receive a card and gift with joy, but still I'll think of you.
I'll hear Happy Mother's Day with so much glow, but still I'll think of you.
When they call for Moms I'll stand with pride, but still I'll think of you.
I'll hold my flower or bookmark with a smile, but still I'll think of you.
I'll go to lunch with my family with full arms and a full heart, but still I'll think of you.
I'll praise God for my son with thanksgiving, but still I'll think of you.
I'll laugh and I'll cry and cherish that day, but still I'll think of you.

I'll think of you, the woman still longing to hold a baby in your womb.
I'll think of you, the woman who's lost her child far far too soon.
I'll think of you, the woman who's standing but still holds hurts just the same.
I'll think of you, who's missing your own dear mom more than ever on this day.
I'll think of you, who's taken in the children of others but still longs for one with your eyes.
I'll think of you, who's sitting and longs to be standing or stayed home to hide your cries.

After two Mother's Days of longing to stand with all  those Momma's, this year I will stand. I will enjoy this day and be so very grateful. Being a mom is one of my greatest joys in life and I want to soak in every bit of being a Momma on this beautiful day.... But I want you to know that you're not forgotten. You are remembered. You are loved. And you are prayed for. 

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You can read my letter to Mommas-in-waiting from last Mother's Day here.

April 27, 2016

Our Little Levi | Four Months

Four whole months... Time just keeps flying by.

Levi is growing and changing so much. He hasn't been weighed in a couple of weeks but my guess is that he's between 11 and 12 lbs. He's still in 0/3 month clothing but as moved to size 2 diapers. He still eats quite a bit and pretty often throughout the day but will usually sleep a 4-6 hour stretch at night.

He loves to smile and chuckle and coo (or quarrel as my grams calls it). He's taken a new interest in animal toys and loves his swing time where he watches the birds twirl. He often coos at them as we play the bird sounds on it. He loves when Daddy makes him a "super baby" as he flies through the air like a plane and he finds Nana's Cookie Monster voice hilarious. He's getting stronger and stronger and surprised us all on Saturday night. When I laid him down for tummy time, he just flopped over on his back! He's not rolling from back to belly yet but he sure is trying.

Most days we stay home and nurse and snuggle minus a nap in the swing here and there but we are starting to venture out more as he seems to enjoy it now. Breastfeeding has also got a little easier as I'm learning to nurse in my carriers and that simplifies getting out and about too. 

This past weekend we went on our 2nd date night out as a family. Levi sat patiently in Daddy's arms through dinner and was totally fascinated by The Jungle Book until the sleepies overtook him.

This boy continues to steal my heart over and over again.... when he smiles at me in the mornings,  chuckles as I talk to him, or wants to hold my finger as he falls asleep. Motherhood is even better than I ever dreamed it would be and I had dreamed pretty big. I feel so blessed to be this little man's momma. 

Sunday we will be dedicating Levi at our home church as a public commitment to always point him to Jesus and raise him in the truth of the Gospel. I pray that never knows a time where he doesn't love the Lord and recognize his need for Him. We thank God for Levi every single day. 

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April 14, 2016

Our Birth Story Part 1 | Leading Up to Labor

(last baby bump shot... 33wks 3 days)

I'm excited to write our birth story and I hate I've waited this long to do it!
As I look back, many of the details are already starting to fade. This is the first post of 3 and it tells of the events leading up to my induction.


(photo credit to Stephanie Leight of Luminosity Photography)

I had just hit the 31 week mark when I was diagnosed with Superimposed Preeclampsia. I had high blood pressure before I got pregnant and my numbers had been up and down all pregnancy so this didn't come as much surprise.

I was just past 32 weeks when I woke up at 3am with a headache (the kind I knew came from my blood pressure) and visual weirdness (something I'd never experienced). I took the medicine I had been prescribed for my headaches in pregnancy and it still didn't go away. It wasn't excruciating and my numbers were only slightly elevated so I tried to go back to sleep... no success. We went on to church but the combination of summer making an appearance in mid December and the loud praise music landed me in the car with the A/C on during service. I had talked with my midwife at church and she'd suggested I try another pain relief dose with my afternoon bp med and let her know. By 7pm, the headache wasn't gone and we knew our umpteenth trip to Maternity Triage was near. For those of you who may not know much about preeclampsia, these were not great signs.

That night led to an MRI and an overnight stay in triage for a neuro consult. Neither of which really determined much. Slight swelling around my optic nerve (which could be something or nothing) and a neurologist who thought I was having a migraine. My pressures weren't high as that 900mg of labetalol a day was doing it's job but something was definitely off. On Monday morning I was sent home with instructions to follow up with my midwife the next day and come back if it got worse.

I'll spare you the up and down details of the next 10 days but 1 pain med that made Levi stop moving, another triage visit, 3 midwife visits, and 1 Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) visit later...... I still had the headache, my vision issues were making me nauseous, driving and lights were my worst enemies, the tub was my best friend, and I couldn't remember what it felt like to be rested. I was frustrated and scared and so confused. My bp readings and labs didn't seem serious but my symptoms were not letting up. 

So December 23rd (33wks 5 days) I spent my day going back in forth between the bed and the bath and trying to keep the house as dark as possible. Joel had gotten off work early and I was trying to get myself together enough to go with him to buy a few last minute gifts. That's when I started having sharp pains in my upper stomach. Off to triage we went.

The nurses hadn't even gotten my vital signs when I started puking everywhere. It took a couple hours to get that to stop. I wasn't crazy about the doctor on call as she kept dismissing my stomach issues as unrelated to the pregnancy. They started fluids and a doctor I recognized and really respected came on for night shift. When they started my second round of fluids Joel went to the truck to sleep and I tried to get some rest. The kind doctor came again and she remembered me from being in the week before. She had been the doctor on call when Levi had stopped moving. 

One question led to another and she came to the conclusion that we couldn't really blame my symptoms on a migraine at that point. I agreed. (I was on day 12 of this funky headache.) She explained that she thought the bp medicine was holding back my numbers but not the symptoms of preeclampsia. Her suggestion was to try one round of Imitrex knowing that if it didn't work, I would be admitted for induction. 

I wasn't surprised when the Imitrex didn't work. So a 3am on Christmas Eve I sent a text to Joel to let him know that it was looking like they would admit me. When he got this and came in around 6, he was kind of surprised but relieved. The triage doctor waited until about 7 to call my midwife and make sure she was on board with the plan and she ordered a consult to MFM. 

While I awaited my consult and admission, Joel went home to take care of a few tasks and get his overnight stuff. The MFM consult went as expected... with them explaining all the issues I was at risk for with Preeclampsia and this type of headache and, of course, concluding that an induction was necessary at this point. The original plan of waiting until midnight (34 weeks) to start induction was tossed and he put in orders for a foley bulb right away. 

Transport came to take me to the Labor & Delivery floor and it all started to sink in. My admitting nurse came and talked through my wishes and prepared me for the pieces that weren't exactly part of my birth plan. She explained that once the order came through for Magnesium (used for seizure prevention in preeclampsia), I would be hooked up to it until at least 12hrs after delivery. She went on to share that during that time I would not be allowed to eat anything or get out of bed. She also warned me to brace myself for a long process. While Mag is used in preeclampsia it is also used to stop preterm labor. Pretty much this meant that it would fight everything that the Pitocin would be trying to do and this would be 2-3 process that "hopefully" allowed me a vaginal delivery. Whew. As I began processing all of that, she encouraged me to take a shower, walk around, and eat.... because it might be awhile. 

I called my Mom to fill her in and let her know that instead of a normal Christmas Day, she should likely get on the road early the next morning. This was the first Christmas we were to ever spend apart and my sister shared that she had been praying that this would happen so they'd get to come see me. (No offense Kate, but we I wouldn't have minded a few more weeks ha.) As they made travel plans and Joel called to see about any last minute needs from home, I began to pray and try to process. 

I'm thankful for that window of time where it was just me and little man inside me hanging in the room where our lives would change forever. I had loved being pregnant and loved every kick and turn from him. It was scary not knowing what the next hours could hold.... pain, fear, an epidural, a c-section, a preemie baby, a NICU stay? There were a lot of unknowns and it definitely didn't fit the 10 day past due all natural birth I'd been hoping for. But that's what it was and I couldn't change it. Peace and grace began to rush over me in a way that I know could only come from my sweet Jesus. Peace that in the midst of scary, He would be sovereign. I knew in that moment, that I could give into the panic or give into the Peace. Over and over again through the whole process, I had to ask Him to help me give into Peace. 

My motto for delivery that I had read and planned was "one contraction at a time." As my hopes for delivery flew out the window, the new motto became "one moment at a time." One moment at a time that each got me closer to seeing his sweet face.  It was in those quiet moments before it all began that God set the stage for all that was to come because ready or not... our sweet boy was making a Christmas arrival.
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