Friday, February 6, 2015

Connor's Birth Story

I realize that I still haven't shared Ethan's birth story.  I have to dig that one out of my journal vault.  In the meantime, I've been so frustrated with myself for not finishing hand-journaling Connor's birth story when I suddenly realized today that I can type a whole lot faster than I can handwrite.  And, since I DO have two little ones now, I'd like to save myself some time and share what an incredible experience I had birthing Connor.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The day started like any normal day, though the night before (Friday), we met our upstairs neighbor, Helen, who is an RN and acupuncturist.  She was planning to come over Saturday morning to practice acupuncture to induce labor, since I had been having false labor off and on for a few days.  But, just before we went to bed, Helen and her mother (a Chinese doctor) came back to ask if they could check my radial pulses.  I'm still not sure exactly what they were checking for, but Helen felt one radial pulse while her mother felt the other.  After 5 whole minutes, they switched sides.  Helen's mother explained that she didn't think my pulse was strong enough to support my body going into labor.  Well, a bit selfishly, I am so pleased Connor was born on this very evening.  I WAS strong enough to bring him into the world!

I took Ethan for a walk to Kirsten's Starbucks store.  We got there around 12:15 and all walked together to Parkway Park.  I played with Ethan on the slide (his favorite - it is built into the hillside), the bouncing motorcycles, and the climbing rope structure.  I only felt a little achy, but I had no contractions until about 2:30PM (about an hour after we finished our walk).  I did not want to chart contractions again until I knew it was the "real deal", as I had charted a whole 12 hours worth on Thursday night (staying up through the night to try to get them moving faster by being active).  Kirsten called the salon for which she had purchased a Groupon haircut and was able to make an appointment for us for that afternoon at 4:45.  We left Ethan with Cameron and brought some returns with us to Target.  I had had a few contractions just before we left the house, but I started getting pretty uncomfortable in the car, even holding the passenger handle of Kirsten's car through some of them.  I went into Target with Kirsten and breathed through some pretty uncomfortable contractions.  We got back in the car and got on the freeway toward Los Gatos.  We didn't even make it to Highway 17 before I told Kirsten I was not going to be able to sit through an appointment - we needed to go home.

When we got home, I texted my midwife, telling her my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart (they started this way).  She called me right back, saying she was at a postpartum home visit, but that she wanted to come check on me, as contractions were really close.  Then, I started dinner.  I toasted some Israeli CousCous and chopped all the veggies for a CousCous salad.  The cooking went a little like this: Pour oil in pan.  Heat oil.  Stop to breathe through contraction.  Pour in CousCous.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Breathe through contraction.  Stir some more.  Contraction.  Chop tomato.  Contraction.  Chop cucumber.  Contraction.  Chop red onion.  Contraction.  Chop olives.  Go in Ethan's room to hold onto bunkbed and BREATHE.  Start thinking about mixing dressing ingredients.  Another bunkbed contraction.  After that one, I asked Kirsten to finish the dressing for the salad.  I took the stability/birthing ball into Ethan's room and bounced during the breaks, getting onto my knees for contractions and holding onto his dresser.  I had charted all these contractions on my phone, so when Hope (my midwife) arrived at 5:40, I had a record to show her.  She had told me to call her immediately if I started to moan through contractions.  Saturday night is crazy around here, and she had a heck of time trying to park.

Shortly after Hope arrived, Cameron set up and started filling the birth tub in our bedroom.  It didn't take very long.  Hope checked the temperature of the water and we ended up having to cool it a bit.  They both offered for me to get int the water, but because of my experience during Ethan's labor (19 hours total, probably a lot of it because I sat on my butt in the water all day and didn't move much), I didn't want to get in until the end.  I asked Hope how long she expected labor to take, considering the contractions I'd already been through.  "2 hours?" I asked her.  She responded with big eyes and told me "Definitely within the next 2 hours."  So, since the water sounded nice, I agreed to get in to try to rest my back.  After a few contractions in the tub, my friend Laura came by to watch Ethan so Kirsten and Cameron could focus on me.

Funny story: Kirsten was here to be my doula (she moved here and lived with us for a month, working at Starbucks Part-Time, but letting them know she'd be taking the day off when I went into labor).  But, I ended up not really needing anything from her.  I thought, given my labor with Ethan that I would need a lot of emotional and mental support.  And, though he has helped me tremendously through two labors before, I kind of wanted nothing to do with Cameron.  He tells me I was rude and didn't want to talk to him.  I feel bad about it now, but I was really in my element and nature was just taking its course.

Anyway, Laura arrived.  She asked if she could come see me in the bedroom and I definitely wanted to see her!  We had a full conversation in between contractions.  I was still feeling so great.  For the breaks, I would lean my back against the birth tub (which was up against a wall on that side) and lay back like it was my own personal recliner.  Then, when contractions came, I would excuse myself from our conversation and lean over the opposite edge of the tub, letting my weight kind of fall into the cushion and gripping the outside of the tub.  After a few like that, I just stayed there and went into my own little world.  I didn't come back to the conversation (and I figure she knew after a few minutes that we wouldn't be talking again for a bit!).  I took little sips of water that Hope handed me, but other than that, I didn't do anything until the pushing stage.

With Ethan, I probably didn't push as long as I should have.  I wanted him out and I was incredibly uncomfortable at that point.  But, with Connor, I wasn't nearly as uncomfortable.  Perhaps since I was following my body's urges and instincts this time, I "just knew" when it was time to push, instead of reacting out of fear and uncertainty.  Anyhow, I had a total of 3 real pushing contractions.  I felt like I was pushing for quite a few more than that, but the midwives told me that I actually only displayed the signs of pushing for three.  The first one accomplished getting him to a point where I could feel his head and his hair with my fingers.  The second one, I pushed his head out.  Hope held a mirror underwater for me and I got to see his face.  I knew immediately he was a boy - he had manly features like Ethan did as a baby.  On the third contraction, I pushed his shoulders out and the rest of him slipped into my hands.  I pulled him up out of the water onto my chest at 7:27PM and leaned back into my comfortable spot.  Cameron had Ethan all undressed and plopped him into the water almost right away.  Ethan looked terrified - he had never really looked scared like that before and hasn't since.  I thought maybe he didn't want to be there, but he came right over and wanted to console Connor from all the crying he was doing.  Connor was absolutely covered in vernix (the white protective layer) and probably looked like an alien to Ethan.  But, when Ethan came over, he patted Connor on the head and said, "Baby".

Ethan was so young the whole time I was pregnant and didn't really understand that concept until a few weeks before, when he would point to my belly and say "Baby!"  I thought it might take him a bit to realize that I didn't have a baby there anymore once I had given birth, but because he was there for that transition, he hasn't seemed to have that problem at all.  Ethan mostly ignores Connor until it's time to go somewhere or nurse, then he's right there to help with all the fussing and crying.  He likes to try to help put Connor's socks or hat on, give Connor a blanket, or cover his face with a burp rag.  And, I'm getting quite adept at 'Tandem Nursing'.  I had planned to continue nursing Ethan after Connor was born, but I didn't really picture doing it simultaneously!

Connor's transition to this world was smooth until about 3 hours into his life.  He developed a little cyanosis around the mouth (blue/dusky color) that would decrease with blow-by oxygen, but then return, decrease with one positive pressure breath (the mask), but then return.  After about an hour or so of watching him and debating whether to take him in to be seen at a NICU, we made the decision to go get a second opinion.  All Connor's other signs were good, but the color was of concern to Hope and to us.  Cameron, Hope, and I spent about 2.5-3 hours at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with Connor.  He checked out fine and we all went home at 3AM.  Almost immediately after leaving the hospital, Connor started choking on his own secretions in the carseat.  Cameron pulled over and I took Connor out and patted his back as he was face-down.  He subsequently coughed up more secretions over the next 24 hours and greatly improved after all the fluid was out of his lungs.  The story goes that I pushed him out all too fast and didn't give him the "squeeze" he needed coming through the birth canal.

So, after 5 hours of near-pleasurable labor, I would do it all over again.  Hopefully, a few more times!   I took 2 days of bed rest at Hope's suggestion and 2 more of my own version of modified bed rest.  My body healed completely within a week and a half. At 2 weeks, I started working out again.  At 3 weeks, I started the Insanity workouts at home.  It's crazy to me how different things are this time around, and I'm thankful, because I have these two precious boys to care for.  We all love our Connor very much.  Adaptation to 2 kids has been great.  I feel our family is complete with him.  We wish we had more time with just the four of us, but Cameron's school and studies keep him pretty busy.  We're looking forward to Spring Break and some fun California adventures this year!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mixed Emotions

I am not accustomed to bawling... at all.  I rarely shed a tear, and sometimes, this bothers me.  Why, the other day, I cried in Cameron's lap.  One puny, little tear.  The explanation: "I haven't cried in a really long time."

Our baby is due in about 4 weeks.  Around the same time, we will celebrate Levi's 1st birthday.  It is so strange to think that I should be toting around a babbling one year-old, who would probably be learning to walk.  I really don't think of the "should haves" very often, but big milestones like a first birthday or the birth of your second child tend to make one daydream.  I want June 2nd to be a happy, memorable day - one where we celebrate the life that was Levi and the plans God has for his lasting legacy.

Our dear friends, the Catteralls, lost their young son, John Christian, to a heart defect 14 years ago.  In October, I was invited to their home to celebrate his birthday.  The family prepared all day by baking brownies and making a delicious chili dinner.  Since John Christian's birthday happens to be on October 31, their 3 younger daughters celebrate each year by handing out little goodie bags with candy and the story of their older brother's life and death (and the continued goodness of God despite terrible circumstances).  I was so blessed to join this wonderful celebration, especially the very year we lost Levi, so that I could have a picture in my mind of what we wanted the mood to be surrounding June 2nd.  Peaceful, hopeful, and filled with the goodness and presence of our Savior!

My pregnancy with little Ethan has gone just as well as it had with Levi's.  I have the occasional heartburn, sciatic pain/weakness, and some cramping/Braxton Hicks contractions, but this young man is extremely healthy and progressing well, and I couldn't be more grateful.  June 7th is the official due date.  We're making things ready around the house.  The bathroom is being deep-cleaned by my dear mother a week from Saturday.  Ethan's room is pretty much done - only a few shelves to finish painting for the bookshelf.  But, all the necessities are there.  It's been a great deal of fun to prepare the closet, dresser, changing table, and crib.  I have been going through boxes of Levi's clothes, sorting sizes and washing, folding, and putting them away.  My friend, Ivy, gave me 2 boxes packed full of more clothes and socks, which has really blessed us.  And, to date, I've had 2 baby showers where we received so many wonderful gifts.

Today, I shopped at Fred Meyer and Target, in hopes of using up some gift cards and buying crib sheets and changing pad covers.  I must be really picky, but there were very few choices, and the choices they had seemed pretty cheap to me.  I would love for our linens to last through a few kids, and I just don't see that happening with Target sheets.  :(

As June 2nd draws closer, please remember that I love to talk about my son.  I do not mind in the least if conversation goes that direction - in fact, it blesses my heart to know that people think about him.  Levi is my son.  And just like you probably talk about your kids on a daily basis, I like to talk about mine.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's crazy to think that life is changing all over again.  We will be welcoming a sweet, young man into our family in June.  Currently, I am up at odd hours of the night since I can't sleep.  It seems a more frequent occurrence, as my belly grows.  I would love to be in dream world right now, but instead, I'll update my blog and work on baby shower decorations for a friend's shower tomorrow (oh, wait...that would be today).  Cameron is snoozing, and I'm planning to make him a hot breakfast, which is something we almost never enjoy together anymore.

Seeing our son via ultrasound was an incredible wonder.  I now feel pregnant.  I knew I was before, but it didn't feel quite real.  Even when I started to feel him kick, I still hadn't seen his face or known whether to call him 'he' or 'she'.  We don't have a nursery, yet, and probably won't until after birth.  We plan to have little man in our room for a few months, at least.  Still, it's fun to be getting his closet ready.  :)  I had a very strong feeling this was a boy, and a couple weeks ago (with a spurt of energy), washed, dried, and hung all the newborn and 0-3 month clothes we had for Levi.  Cameron was kind enough to clear 1/2 of his dresser drawer for diapering equipment and that is prepped with newborn disposables.

In this sweet time of my life, I am not complaining about a thing.  I love that my back and hips are sore and I can't sleep at night, since I know it means that God is preparing me to be a mother again.  When Levi died, I remember friends and strangers telling me that they would never take their precious ones for granted or moan during nightly feedings or scream sessions.  That made me feel like we made a difference together and I vowed to do the same when the LORD again blessed us with children.  Levi still lives in my heart and my memories, and God is doing a wondrous miracle in bringing me to love another little boy.  We can't wait to meet him!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sick, but happy!

I have rarely been sick in my 25 years (minus all those ear infections I don't remember - thanks for taking care of me, Mom!). But, today, I am really sick - think NOROvirus. I have lost everything in my stomach over 3 sessions, the last one ending with dry heaving. The result is a VERY tired girl who didn't get much sleep at all and can't go back to sleep without fear of getting sick again.

It's surprising to me (since I've had issues bonding with this baby) that I can only think of baby's health.  I really could care less that I had to call in sick to work and stay home doing absolutely nothing (since I have no current crafty things in the works).  I don't care that I probably won't get anything to eat down today (except water).  I just want our little one to be okay.

So, today, I'll do my best to take care of the body that's housing our tiny family member.

Thank you, Cameron, for caressing my back last night as I tried to sleep and for loving me and spending 5 wonderful years together with me.  I wish I could say it under better circumstances - Happy 5th Anniversary!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I can't even tell you how privileged I am to be a child of our King! He is my constant supply of peace and mercy in this fallen world. He has taken my mourning and given me a spirit of joy. The idea of having this new baby has been a difficult one for me. I have felt many people's quick responses to the announcement as their judgement that this baby will replace my Levi. That has made bonding in the first few weeks a challenge. I know as time goes on that feeling this baby kick and figuring out names and planning for the future will help me ease into this. But, I just miss my first son. I am not down and out, bawling my eyes out; in fact, I very rarely shed a tear. But, my mind constantly wanders back to the day I first saw him in this world and the hopes that I had for him being crushed when I held his lifeless body. I still want so much for Levi that he'll never have. My mind knows that Levi will never come back. My heart wishes I could hold him and tell him I love him and will never forget him. I have been learning about idolatry, along with Cameron, as we have begun a home group with our neighbors, Jose and Abida. For me, this has meant thinking of how I treated my pregnancy with Levi in a whole new light. In a way, I idolized that first pregnancy. I idolized my son and the life of being a mother. I worried constantly about what we would do for childcare when I went back to work ("part-time, full-time, per diem - what should I do?"). I worried about other people holding and loving my baby. I worried about who we would allow to be influences in this child's life. I wanted control. And I had none. I only had worry. Releasing that to the LORD has been one of the most freeing things. And since I've done that, some pretty amazing things have happened. God is good. He knows my heart and only wants me to give of my life willingly. Let me tell you - it is so much better (not always easier) when I allow Him to have control in my life!

Friday, August 17, 2012

This week, I met a beautiful lady who owns a bed and breakfast in Cle Elum. Her home and business is in the middle of the Taylor Bridge fires that are still burning this week. This lady was most precious and I pray her home is saved from the flames. We shared some stories of our babies. She had a Thalidomide baby - something I hadn't really heard of before. It's a drug still in use for other conditions, but used to be used for morning sickness. My friend lost her first baby at age 18 after having been pregnant for a WHOLE YEAR. Her belly was so tiny that the hospital didn't believe her when she told them she was pregnant and overdue.
I think I would be fairly furious if that happened to me, but under the circumstance, what could she have done? Her baby was born at a time where they would whisk the precious package away; for her sake, she said, they didn't want her to see the baby's body or face, which was evidently very malformed. It made me so happy that I got to hold precious Levi and cuddle and rock him and take pictures of our family together. I can't believe how far we've come as a country and as a profession.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

By No Coincidence

After our new refrigerator was installed this morning, I looked over to the counter to find this note (must have slipped behind the old fridge), written by my Dad for Levi's memorial.
Levi Wrangler Lee: What an appropriate name for Cameron and Sarah's baby boy. "Levi" is a Hebrew name that means "joined or attached". Levi was only here about 20 weeks and yet he has joined us together in an amazing way. Joined a family. Joined friends. Joined hearts. In the Bible, Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah. God later renamed him "Israel". Leah named him, saying, "My husband will become attached to me because I have borne him 3 sons." The nation of Israel began with Jacob. Of the 12 sons of Jacob, only one was chosen to be the priestly line - Levi. God chose the line of Levi to be the line of the priesthood. Not because of anything Levi had done, but just because He wanted to - God is sovereign.
For Levi Wrangler Lee, the name Levi represents his lineage to our Heavenly Father. "Wrangler" is a very American name. It means "a person in charge of horses". What an appropriate name for little Levi. Levi was an active little guy in the womb - taking after his earthly Father, Cameron and his Mother who both love the outdoors and both love Cowboy boots! Wrangler represents his lineage to his earthly Father and Mother.
"Lee" is an English name meaning "meadow or forest clearing". A meadow represents a place of peace. Somehow, through all the tears, all the sorrow, all the joyful memories that could have been, little Levi's life has brought us all a little peace in this world that is greatly lacking real peace. This name represents little Levi's early "Fathers" and "Mothers". His ancestry. The name Lee is even represented on his Mother's side of the family. My Grandfather's last name was Bakke but his brother chose the name "Lee" when he arrived here from Norway because he lived with a family named Lee and they treated him so well that he decided to adopt their family name. There was a man during the Civil War named Robert E Lee. Along with Abraham Lincoln, he is one of 2 men I most admire from that very difficult - really defining - period of our country's history. Lincoln was the great political leader; Lee was the great military leader. And I believe Cameron is directly related to Robert E Lee.
Here are a few quotes from Robert E Lee:
"Do your duty in all things, you should never do less." - Do what you are supposed to do. That's all.
"I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself." - If you want to be able to lead others, you better be able to control yourself first.
Here's one that surprised me a little bit: "I love whiskey and I always did, and that is why I never drink it." - Good advice.
"I have been up to see Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco while my army is starving." - Some things never seem to change.
And here is my favorite: "I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence placed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God." - Lee had a very humble view of himself.
I have a story I would like to tell you:
There once was man who had a dream about a little boy. The boy was his Grandson and he was not born yet. The man saw the face of the little boy and his brow was very furrowed. the man didn't understand if they little boy was confused - or worried - or concerned. The little boy was still in his Mama's tummy but the Grandfather could see him clearly, like he was looking through clear glass. Then the man awoke from his dream very startled. He didn't know what the dream meant, but he told his wife and his family and some of his friends about the dream. Then, shockingly, he learned a week or two later that they boy had dies in his Mama's womb. It became clear at that time that the little boy had been very concerned about his family, especially his Mother and Father. He wanted to tell them that he was OK. In fact, he was much more than OK. He was walking with Jesus on streets of gold. In fact, he was skipping with Jesus on streets of gold! If he could talk, he would say, "I will be waiting to greet you in heaven when you get here!"
I had that dream about a week or two before we found out that Levi had died in the womb. It was a startling, very real dream. Now, we know that Levi is sitting at the feet of Jesus, worshipping Him!
Thank you, Dad, for such a beautiful letter to encourage us and to share with our family and friends the meaning of Levi's name!