Tuesday, November 9

Welcome to the world, Leo!

Leo Francis born Nov. 3rd @ 1:17pm.
5lbs, 14oz and 18 in. long!
On Wednesday, November 3rd, Leo made his transition from womb to world in a wonderfully blessed way. Before I go into any further details, I want to say, thank you, again, to all who have been praying and caring for our family in the past three months. It is a miracle to us that we have a healthy baby boy now, and it clearly took a community of family and friends to join us in bringing forth this new life. To God be the glory!

On Wednesday morning, I was greeted at 7am with an "unusual" feeling contraction. I took note that this was going to be a "take-it-easy" day. By 9am, I was feeling just all around strange and began to reminisce about my early labor with John Paul, which then immediately alarmed me to call my mother-in-law to come over and head to the hospital. We got to the hospital at 10:15am, where Paul joined us and we checked into Labor and Delivery. My contractions were demanding all of my concentration by that time and were about 5 minutes apart. The L&D staff needed to take stock of our situation, which was unique in a few ways: My cervix was still stitched closed, Leo was breech, I was in active labor. They ordered an ultrasound to confirm the baby's presentation and then informed me that the doctor wanted to do a C-Section at 1:30pm. Since I had eaten breakfast at 7:30am, it is protocol to delay surgery at least six hours after eating to minimize the risk of aspiration (food in the lungs).  At this point, it became a reality that this was going to be Leo's birthday, but instead of excitement, I was momentarily overcome with sadness. I had so looked forward to giving birth to this baby, and didn't imagine that it would happen by walking into an operating room. Also adding to my emotion was the fact that I was laboring to pass the time until surgery, and with the fear that each contraction would cause damage to my sewn-shut cervix. I know it was at this particular moment that I was carried by the grace of your prayers, because I was quickly able to snap out of my sadness and concentrate on the matters at hand. Paul was awesome and actively helped me weather each contraction for the next half hour or so. By that time, contractions were getting really intense and close together, and the doc determined it was too dangerous to wait any longer and called for an immediate trip to the O.R. About 30 min. later, the anesthesiologist was giving us the play-by-play of what was happening beyond the blue surgical drape and I was overcome with joy as I knew the doctor was bringing my Leo into the world. He cried his squeaky newborn cry, and I cried my mother's tears of triumph.

Great is Your faithfulness, O Lord! 

A nurse brought Leo over to Paul and I, and we shared together that glorious moment of first meeting your own child. A few minutes later, Paul went with Leo to the nursery while I was being stitched up. I must admit, a c-section is much more uncomfortable than I had imagined! There were strange, painful burning sensations that were radiating through my shoulders and neck while they were pushing, pulling and tugging on my insides. I was also a bit concerned when I overheard the doctor ask, "Did you find it?" to his surgical staff accompanied with more pushing, pulling and tugging on my insides... We came to find out later that they had lost a surgical sponge and had to make sure it wasn't still inside of me...!

Once I was brought to the immediate recovery area, Paul joined me with our new baby. He was 5 lbs, 14 ounces and 18 inches long (choosing to come two weeks early). He looks like such a tiny little guy! We think he is the best baby in the world! Honestly, we are so amazed at how easy a full-term newborn is: no wires, no tubes, no monitors, no alarms... He sleeps well and eats well and we have just been loving him with all of our hearts!

Upon discharge from the hospital, my very Christian doctor shared with us a few verses from a hymn to remind us of how faithful God was to us through this entire pregnancy. The Lord promised to never leave our side, and looking back now to the way all things unfolded, we know He never did.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
Morning by morning new mercies I see,
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Friday, October 29

Adventures of Vertical Living!

I just realized today that it was time for an update here. We've had some excitement in the past week that is due to be shared...

Last Thursday, I was hit with a stomach bug that totally wiped me out and sent me into the hospital for re-hydration (3 bags of IV fluids). We stayed overnight and went home in the morning, once I could keep food down. Poor Paul got hit with the same bug the next day, as well as my sister and mother-in-law. It was a family affair. Upon discharge, our Perinatologist remarked that, since I had hit the 36 week mark, I no longer needed to be on bedrest. So, for the past week I have been taking advantage of getting back to "vertical living" (with caution). My legs and feet aren't really sure about all of this up-rightness, because they have been the source of much discomfort. I get very tired quickly, once I've been walking around, and I have lost pretty much ALL flexibility. I remarked to Paul the other day that I don't know how I am actually going to labor, when the time comes, because my body is so outta whack!

Our next bit of excitement happened today. We had an appointment to remove the cerclage, but since the baby is still breech, they would not remove the cerclage, and attempted to do an external version (ECV) instead. The ECV is where the doctor tries to manipulate the baby into the head-down position. We gave it a shot and he would not budge! The protocol after the procedure is to monitor the baby for a bit to make sure that he tolerated being pushed around and there were no adverse effects. His heart rate following the ECV was great, but we quickly realized that I was having regular contractions that weren't really slowing down. We ended up staying for a few hours so that I could receive IV fluids, which did the trick.

So, we returned home this evening with the friendly advice to, "call your OB and schedule your c-section." I am still swallowing this directive, as many of you know, I am "slow to react" and it usually takes me some time to collect my thoughts about anything. I will not feel like I "failed" if I end up needing to have a surgical birth, but it is a disappointing reality that I had hoped (and still hope) to avoid. Right now, I will just continue to be thankful that Leo is still healthy and growing. Maybe tomorrow I will start seeking peace in the pending probability of a c-section.

Thanks, everyone, for all of your prayers!

Saturday, October 23

His Love Is Strong (in Paul's words @ 36 weeks)

Janell is a tough act to follow. I have never been known for, nor complimented on my writing skills. In fact, my teachers have always said quite the opposite. My excuse for getting a "D" in French class was, "How can you expect me to learn a second language when I still can't figure out the first one?" Though, I thought it was a great excuse in high school, my teacher did not. So, here I am, the boy that didn't start talking until he was four years old, trying to be articulate on his wife's blog.

Push my lack of qualification aside; I do have something to say. Praise God! Not in a cliché sort of way, but really, "Praise God." The same God that led Israel out of Egypt has led us out of this time of trial. The same God that healed the blind man has healed our little boy, Leo. And for this, I praise God.

My good friend, Pete Burds, has continually been reminding me the last few months that God's love is strong. I have heard this phrase a million times in my life, but for some reason, that verse has been my theme the last three months. His love is not a weak or delicate love. His love is strong, and, as it says in Job: "it does not relent." His love is stronger than our fear of the present and the future. His love is stronger than our plans, and stronger than our unfaithfulness. And quite literally, his love is stronger than the grave.

Today is a big day. This is the day we marked three months ago as the beginning of 36 weeks. While still pre-term, Leo would not be considered a pre-mature baby. His lungs are most likely strong enough to breathe on his own, and to be able to come home with us, that is, if he were born after today. 

It is quite hard to express my gratitude towards God and all those who have been there for us. Yet, today marks a pretty big day for Leo and all of his friends and serves as a reminder that "strong is His love for us." (Psalm 117)

Tuesday, October 19

He Knows Best

Yesterday's Gospel was Luke 10:1-12, Jesus instructing his disciples on their mission to go out and be laborers for the harvest. One particular instruction just echoed within my heart this morning as I read over the Scripture:

"...Eat and drink what is set before you." (Luke 10:7)

Immediately, I thought of my dear toddler who is currently in a stage where he is exercising his will when it comes to meals. Most of what I set before him, these days, he refuses. Sometimes, I have the creativity to make his food seem more appealing, or the patience to offer an alternative meal. Mostly, I get frustrated with him. I feel this way for two reasons: The first, because I have prepared food for him that is balanced and nutritious, and the second, because I want to teach him to be grateful for what is set before him. These thoughts led me to realize ways that I may be acting like my toddler in response to what God has set before me. Is it possible that God, like most parents, asks us to "eat and drink what is offered to us" because he has prepared what is best for us and he wants to teach us how to be grateful?
Family picture in our backyard

Throughout this pregnancy, I have gotten myself all mixed up in trying to make careful decisions about everything from what hospital to deliver at, what care-provider to use, what childbirth method we should look into, what type of pre-term prevention we should consider, and so on. In fact, I have made many decisions, only to go back and change my mind once or twice more. Even before my official "complications" came about, this was a complicated pregnancy. I have, many times, refused the simplicity of what is set before me only to find that it was, all along, what was best. As the end draws nearer, and I begin to plan for the cervical stitch removal and post-bedrest activities, things continue to seem complicated.
Our conversations regarding these last weeks are saturated with "what-ifs." What if I go into labor post-bedrest, but pre-cerclage removal? What if  we take the stitch out too soon? What if the baby is still breech when I go into labor? Every other minute I seem to have a new plan to handle all of my complicated "what-ifs." But none of my plans seem to work out...

I think that God was speaking to me through the Scripture this morning. His Words, "to eat and drink what is set before me," really are a reminder that He knows best, and He wants to teach me how to be grateful. My daily bread will be set before me, and it is up to me to respond to God. I hope that I can respond with a grateful heart, no matter what happens in the next few weeks.

There is an Italian young woman, Blessed Chiara Badano, who is well on her way to sainthood. I just came across her story a few weeks ago, and realized how real holiness is. She lived from 1971-1990, and died at age 19 after a few years battling cancer. When she was loosing all strength, and enduring much pain, she would often say, "If you want it, Jesus, so do I." I love these words because they are so straightforward. It doesn't sound overly theological, antiquated or ethereal... they are real words, said by a real girl to a very real God.
"If you want it, Jesus, so do I."

Monday, October 18

37 is the new 36

Well... there's good news and bad news. The good news is that I will be off of bed rest some day. The bad news is that it will not be until after I've reached 37 weeks. Now, for some reason or another, Paul and I had in our heads that 36 weeks was our goal. But this week, both the perinatologist and OB doc said that 37 was the goal, and we should not discontinue any preventative means before then. So, my new Independence Day is Oct. 28th.

Our growth ultrasound this week showed that Leo has caught up to himself, and now all parts are growing within a sufficient percentile. In total, he weighs about five pounds now. This is wonderful news, as there had been some concern about his size, but now we are in the clear.

Don't make fun of our "vintage" TV!
The other night, Paul promised me a "date" after we put John Paul to bed. He made his famous lasagna, a salad and got triple-chocolate ice cream for dessert. Mmmm, my top three indulgences are:
1. Italian food
2. Chocolate
3. Ice Cream

So, needless to say, he covered all of the bases and we had a delicious meal together. I wanted to show off how he thoughtfully covered a plastic Fisher-Price table that was the perfect height for the couch, and decorated so nicely with cloth and candles!
I love my husband!

Wednesday, October 6


We have a food-themed calendar in our bedroom, that serves as an auxiliary to our main kitchen calendar where all family events and reminders are posted. For each month, it displays a photographed collection of different genres of food. A few months ago (July, I think), my pregnancy-induced hypersensitive stomach could not handle looking at raw fish, meat and cheeses first thing in the morning, so, I flipped the calendar to the first month that didn't make me queasy: October. October has a beautiful array of different types of honey. Simple, and sweet! In July, when I set the calendar to October, I thought it would serve as a good daily reminder of my "goal" to make it to 36 weeks.

In my mind, the calendar has since been out-of-order until it dawned on me, this week, that it really is October now! Where did the time go? Of course, there were days where the time seemed to drag on and I just didn't know how I was going to ever make it through bedrest... but somehow, time moved forward, and obviously, much quicker than I anticipated.

C.S. Lewis has a perfect explanation for this: Human beings are constantly restless within the confines of time. Even though we have been living in time since we were created, we are still not used to it. Throughout the day, we find ourselves saying, "Oh my, look at the time! It's gone by so quickly!" or "Will this day ever end? It has dragged on and on!" We loose track of time, try to make up for lost time, think of ways to waste time, and wonder where the time went.
Enjoying fresh air in the backyard
He sure loves being outdoors!

The obvious conclusion is that we were not created to live within time. We were created for timelessness... Eternity. We will never be comfortable in time, because we are not home yet. Only in God is our soul at rest. Only in Eternity.

Now that we are in October, we are on the comforting edge of the safe zone with Leo. If he is born now, he will likely be a healthy boy with a brief or no hospital stay after birth. Each day is bringing us closer to a full-term, take-home baby! I must keep in mind, though, that Leo is made for Eternity. I am doing my best to bring him safely into this world, but our job as parents is much more important than that... We must do our best to bring our children safely into Eternity, where we are all meant to be. And that job makes bedrest seem easy!

Friday, October 1

Days Go By...

I've passed the 33 week mark! Paul and I have started to form a game plan for new baby preparations. With the great help of my dad and my mother-in-law, I've gotten all of our baby stuff out of the garage and into appropriate drawers and closet space. All of the baby furniture and bedding is poised and ready to be set up in the next couple of weeks. We are getting close!

At 36 weeks the doctor will have me off of bedrest, off of my anti-contraction medication, and remove the cerclage (cervical stitch). Now we are all placing bets on when labor will begin after that point. My husband is convinced that labor will start immediately, and we will be bringing home a baby in less than 4 weeks from today. He might be right.
The doctors have assured us that most women do not go into labor right away, and some hang on until 40+ weeks. I haven't decided what I think will happen, but I do know what I would prefer. Ideally, Leo can come around 38-39 weeks, which would give me a little grace period to start moving around, get my energy up, and do a few fun things before bringing home baby. November 10th is the Feast of St. Leo The Great, which would put me at 38 weeks, 6 days.
For all of you that are praying for Leo and I, do me a favor and pray that Nov. 10th becomes his birthday!