As we settle into life as a family of four, it seems like the world around us is draped in darkness. Bombings, explosions, anniversaries of bombings and explosions, and a general atmosphere of sad is hanging over us. I know the sun is rising each morning and that good is happening, but it's certainly not getting much air time on the news or my Facebook feed. I'm so thankful for the baby-scented bubble I'm living in right now. Watching Levin mesh into our family has been just the solace I've needed. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the transformation from three to four. (At the end of this post I've included Levin's birth story details, for anyone interested.)
On Easter weekend, my sister and her family came to meet Levin. I have no pictures of all of us, sadly. I love the pictures Sarah took of us though.
All of our family went home on Saturday and it was just us for the first time. Early on Easter morning Ava and Levin spied some Easter bunny goodies left downstairs (thanks to grandmas).
Levin and I stayed home while Josh and Ava went to church.
Of course we had to get brother dressed up for his first Easter.
Wearing shoes that Sarah, Nate, and I all wore as babies
Me on the left, Levin on the right
From birth Ava James has looked mostly like Josh. Levin and Ava definitely favor, but Levin has more of a Raines flavor.
Click here to compare Levin and Ava at this age.
It's hard to stop snapping sibling pictures of these two
10 days old and already grocery shopping with mom. I'm raising another foodie. Also, after some remedial YouTube courses, I'm a master of the Moby wrap. Levin loves to be in it.
My view most days. Levy has tons of blonde hair.
When she gets home from school, Ava keeps an eye on sleeping Levin while I make dinner.
A funny gift from Ava James
Once dinner is made, the three of us camp out on the couch and wait for Daddy to get home from work. The, ahem, beauty of raising kiddos attachment-style is that you always have someone (or someones) touching you. Always.
Ava requires morning brother love before she heads to school each day.
At his two week appointment, Levin weighed 9 pounds. He'd surpassed his birth weight by an entire pound! He is in the 66th percentile for weight, 90th percentile for height, and (because the Lord Jesus showed mercy on this mama after his 90th percentile headed sister) only 59th percentile head size. He is perfect!
At two weeks we introduced a bottle of expressed milk for the first time. Ava gave him the first half of the bottle and Daddy gave him the second. He did great and has had no problem going back and forth between feeding methods.
I nursed Ava for 18 months, and am enjoying this sweet time with Levin too. He eats like a champ.
Levin received this gift of a patio shirt from friends. Too funny.
Couldn't you just eat him?
He's so bright eyed and alert for periods during the day. I can tell he's a thinker like Ava.
You're all going to groan at me, but I have to document this element of our lives too. From his second night home from the hospital Levin rocks at sleeping. During the day he eats about every two hours. From around 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. he has a feeding frenzy and then goes to sleep. He wakes up between 2:30 and 3:30 for a quick meal and diaper change then goes right back to sleep until around 7:00. I was afraid to say too much, fearing this was just a honeymoon period. However, it's been his pattern now for four weeks. I love my wee hours of the night with him, but cannot express my thanks at his sleeping skills. Here he is during one of our night feedings.
Sweet sleeper during the day
A sweet moment before bed in Daddy's lap
We ventured up to the city to have lunch with Daddy one day last week.
Levin made Daddy get right down to business after we ate.
Three weeks old
Last Friday was beautiful so we headed to a park to let sister play. Levin loved being outside.
Soaking up the sun
When we sing the Aggie War Hymn to Levin he is captivated. Ava says she is "going to Texas AMN because it's close to all of the grandparents". We'd love for brother to go too. The brainwashing continues with this one.
Left picture is day 1, right picture is day 21. He is growing growing.
Look at that tummy!
On April 14 we all went to church together for the first time.
He loves the Boppy
Ava loves to give Levin his bottle after school. Depending on how pumping and nursing goes during the day, we try to do a bottle every other day or so.
Just when we think he can't get any sweeter, he clasps his hands by his cheek and we melt into a puddle all over again. Love this fella' so so much.
Just for my own memory's sake I'm going to write about Levin's arrival.
After weeks of trying to keep him baking longer, Levin was finally to a point where his arrival was welcome. A few posts ago I wrote that I guessed he'd come on March 21. Well, on Thursday, March 21 my contractions intensified starting at around 9:00 that morning. By 4:00 I was starting to get nervous being home alone. (Ava was in Texas with grandparents for her Spring Break.) I called Josh and he headed home. When he arrived I was still trying to finish up a project for work and wash dishes, hello nesting. He threw our stuff in the car and convinced me that we should go to the hospital. After many trips, I was hesitant. I didn't want more tests and needles with a vague, "We don't know why your body thinks it's in labor, go on home and come back when it intensifies."
At around 5:45 we were in triage and my sweet Doula, Sarah, arrived. I was dilated to a 3 and my contractions were about the same intensity that they'd been since February 24. Pretty sure that they'd send me back home, I settled in to be monitored for a bit. Sarah and Josh rubbed my feet and hands with wonderful essential oils and I drank a ton of water. We listened to the sweet rhythm of Levy's strong heartbeat and relaxed. When the nurse returned to check my progress I was dilated to a 4. My doctor was out of the country for Spring Break, but the doctor on call was wonderful and admitted me. It was baby time!
We wheeled over to labor and delivery and the site of a tiny diaper and baby hat made everything seem very real. By the time my IV was hooked up (just hydration), paperwork completed, and I'd settled into a pattern of contractions on my labor ball it was around 8:30. I bounced and sipped water while Josh and Sarah applied counter-pressure on my hips and knees during contractions. (The water sipping was a big deal to me. I drink water all the time, and one of the most awful parts of my labor with Ava was the extreme thirst. Ice chips do not quench thirst, people! My nurse was an absolute doll. When I asked her if it was okay if I kept drinking my water, she said I could.) Josh made a quick run home to get the video camera and to grab Chipotle for dinner. We figured we were in for hours and hours of labor fun.
Dr. Lashbrook asked if it was okay for her to break my water, and I agreed. I continued to labor on the ball for the most part. I was having intense heartburn and took a swig of something horrendous to help. One of the major differences in this labor was that I felt like I had a voice. I think it was a combination of age (30 instead of 23), experience, and having a Doula. During my labor with Ava I was so sick with heartburn I could hardly stand it. I didn't even think to ask if there was something that could help. This time I asked and got relief. The doctor also asked my permission and let me make decisions for myself. My labor with Ava went great, but I felt like things happened to me. With Levin I understood and approved everything that happened. So nice.
Anyway, with my heartburn at bay, Dr. Lashbrook asked if I was okay with starting Pitocin. I knew from my labor with Ava that Pitocin works very well on me. I said okay and they started the drip. I was still only dilated between a 4 and a 5. It was around 11:30. The doctor suggested that if I was going to want an epidural I should request it. She seemed confident that things were going to progress quickly from the Pitocin. The hospital was slammed with babies that night, something about spring equinox. Not wanting to miss my window of relief, I agreed. Soon the magical anesthesiologist came and granted my wish of epidural. So amazing. Until that point Josh and Sarah had been helping me handle the pain of each intensifying contraction. I'm sure they were thankful for a break from contractions too.
By 12:20 or so I was feeling no pain. I was still at a 5. The nurse was concerned about Levin's heart rate. I had to get on my hands and knees to take pressure off of his head. How I did this while completely under epidural's spell I have no idea. My vitals were dropping too. Once I started an oxygen mask and they stopped the Pitocin, Levin and I both started doing better.
The nurse checked me again, at my insistent request, and even though it had only been about five minutes since my last check, I was at a 9 almost 10. Dilated 5 centimeters in such a short time, no wonder Levin and I were both freaking out. Anyway, they rushed to grab the doctor and a few short pushes later Levin was in my arms and latched on for his first meal.
He arrived at 1:16 a.m. It had been such a long span of weeks waiting for his arrival, that when they checked and told me it was time to push I was kind of in shock. I imagined things taking all night, but once he decided to come he came quickly. Labor was easier than I remember and my recovery has been a dream. I'm so thankful for my healthy baby boy. I will always remember the sweet time of his arrival. The night Ava was born was the best night of my life, and I didn't think anything would ever compare. However, I can say that Levin's birthday was equally as precious. I'm not sure what Josh and I did to deserve these two lovely gifts, but we'll take them. Savoring every moment of their existence, and thanking God for every breath.
A few pictures from his birth and first visitors:
A few pictures from his birth and first visitors: