Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Remembering Special Moments with Levi on the Eve of His Second Birthday!

In case you missed Part One, you can find it here.

April 5, 2016, 8:25 pm

One of the most incredible, wonderful nights of my life was when this boy arrived. It was not an easy labor and delivery, but we were both healthy and well, and that mattered most. I was so exhausted but I just stared and stared and cried and cried. I could not believe that we had a brand new baby. Couldn't believe it he was finally here!

I remember thinking that I didn't recognize him. What a weird thing, right? But it's true. I guess I had an idea of what he would like formed in my mind, and he didn't look at all like that. I didn't think he resembled his big brothers in the least, though everyone else kept telling me that they saw a resemblance. Later on, we figured that poor Levi was incredibly swollen from all the extra IV fluids that I had needed- my feet stayed swollen for two months! TWO MONTHS! I never imagined such a thing. His face was puffy for weeks and weeks, too. I was already wondering what color his eyes were because we hadn't really seen them well yet.

Levi had just started wailing and I couldn't keep from laughing- it had been SO LONG since I had heard a newborn cry and I was so happy thinking of all the things I'd have the chance to relive. Pure bliss right there. I think it was shortly after this that I nearly passed out, but I was still so happy.

Being born is hard work. He would fall asleep with his mouth gaping open and make the cutest little snorts and snores. The kids LOVED it and laughed so hard when he did this.

This was our very first breakfast together as a family of SEVEN! I was overcome with gratitude because several dear friends had dropped off flowers and food for us. It meant so much to me. I still tear up when I think back on our time adopting Isabelle and how none of our friends reached out to us, in any way.  It broke my heart and still is painful to think about today. I try to be the friend that I wish I'd had all those years ago.

Oh how I wished time would stand still for a little while. I spent hours and hours holding him and soaking him in. I don't regret a moment of it and I sure wish I could go back and feel that new baby skin one more time!

 If you're like me, then you love reading birth stories. Levi's entire birth story is here.

Ten perfect little fingers...
 ...and ten perfect little toes

There's a story behind this floral bathrobe.
I saw so many gorgeous maternity and newborn sessions with Moms wearing these pretty robes and knew I wanted one, since this was not even a thing when the boys were born. I was so excited the day the robe came in the mail. But, I also know myself, and I would not have been happy with any of the pictures because all I would see are flaws during such a vulnerable time. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: my body swells allll over and the weight does not come off quickly post partum. I do regret it, a little, but we didn't have the money in the budget for a photographer either. So I do really cherish these simple little selfie images of mine.

 This might have been the EXACT day the robe arrived, ha ha!

Five or six postpartum. Learning to give myself grace and savoring every little thing.

Levi's sleeping habits have been somewhat traumatic these past two years. #notevenkidding Things started off pretty well and we got smug, thinking, hooray, we FINALLY got a baby who likes to sleep. Yeah. The joke was on us for sure.

Levi did sleep well when he was small enough to settle into his baby pillow, but once he could roll and it was no longer safe, he had a HARD time transitioning to a plain mattress. I kind of wish I'd just coughed up the money for a dock-a-tot. It might have saved us a little sanity.

 So he slept in our bed. A lot. He seemed to hate his crib, even for naps.

What I wouldn't give to hold that little squish again!

He has always liked having his head covered, too. This used to scare me when he was small, but it's better now. That's a big reason why I made him his lovey, because it was small enough to not be hazardous if he put it over his face, which he STILL does.

Daddy STILL does this. Levi wakes up between 4 and 5 every morning, I nurse him for a few minutes, and then he goes back to sleep. In our bed. That man has clocked in an awful lot of hours sleeping on the floor there.

But he gets the best wake up call on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

When Levi was fifteen months old, we moved his crib out of our bedroom. I can't even begin to tell you the torture that awaited us every single night when it was bed time, so we figured we had nothing to lose by trying. That boy slept for nine hours straight the very first night! WHAT!! We were averaging 45 minute stretches before making this change. Brutal.

About a month ago, I finally made the leap to putting Levi in his crib at nap time and he has done great! For the first time ever, I can take cute sleeping pictures of him in the light because it was always too dark before. I just can't quit watching him sleep. Can you blame me? So cute!

We've had some big health issues and scares, too. Levi seemed to have problems digesting dairy so I had to go dairy free for a long time. It didn't really seem to help him, though, and he was often in pain and had the worst green diapers. Compound that with a diagnosed failure to thrive at one of him home appointments, and I nearly lost it. I cried and cried and cried, begging God to please not take away my baby. I think I was sure he had leukemia or something devastating like that. I remember those awful nights being so terrified that something was really wrong, and it broke my heart for mothers who truly are facing that with their babies. It seems so unfair and cruel. Even now, I can't think about that fear without tears flooding my eyes. He started to improve and then he took another turn for the worse.

Tiny two month old Levi was rushed to the ER when the labs came back positive for a rare type of bacterial pneumonia. That was a horrible, horrible night. I meant to write all about it but I'm not even sure if I ever did. The meds worked quickly and we were so thankful. We were home about two weeks when the poor guy got a rotavirus- that recovery took several more weeks. I was heartbroken for him. It seemed like so much to have to deal with. He was around five months old when things finally started improving with his tummy problems. That's probably a big part of why I didn't blog much then- caring for him took all my time and attention, as it should, but I also wasn't sleeping more than three hours a night if I was lucky- it was pretty bad.

We landed in the ER before 5 am on the very day he turned eighteen months old. I was SO scared. I'd heard a strange noise from his room and when I went in to pick him up, he was shaking. Then he went limp in my arms, and he was burning up. He'd been fine the day before! I rushed him into our room and turned on the light and I couldn't get him to open his eyes. They kept rolling back in his head. I panicked inside but somehow remained calm enough to call Bill and then my Dad, who drove down and we rushed him to the hospital. He was limp in my arms the entire way, about ten minutes. I was absolutely terrified. They admitted him right away and he became responsive shortly after. I saw so much fear in my Dad's eyes, too, even though he tried not to let on- this baby has his heart and he couldn't bear the idea of something wrong. Everything turned out fine, but what a day!

We felt led to find a new church a year ago, and though I NEVER would have imagined it, we returned to the church we had left five years earlier. Levi struggled with the nursery a LOT. It has taken nearly this entire year but now he only cries for a few minutes but then plays and lasts the entire service. It's only an hour and fifteen minutes, and Bill usually picks him up a little early, but he's such a big boy now. This was last May or June after I'd seen his number flash up on the screen, and it was such a lovely day, we went outside for a little walk.

Our mornings together are generally quiet, and I just love them. I wouldn't have thought that I would cherish this time quite like I do. Of course not every morning is a dream, but most of them are, and I know how quickly this time goes by.

Lots of mornings, he likes to help me with errands or around the house. ha ha ha ha

I knew Levi would have the greatest big sister and brothers, but I didn't anticipate just how incredible watching their bond would be. It is the most precious thing I've ever been part of.

Okay, I think this is probably the longest post I have ever written. I can't help it! I want to capture all these thoughts because I won't remember them later. Here are some of my favorite pictures ever...

 (I saved that sailboat outfit, one of my favorites =) )

 this is so special to me because I made this for Ethan's first Easter - I NEVER would have imagined that I'd ever have another baby boy to wear it all these years later!

And this was exactly one year ago, the night before his first birthday. I'd been prepping for his party all week long and I think I'd stressed him out. Poor baby.

There's a smile! Last night as my little baby boy.

I'm already dreading tonight. I can't stop crying just thinking about it! It's bad, ha. I know we'll have a wonderful day celebrating, but these milestones are always hard on us Mamas. I've been planning Levi's Second Birthday for a couple months now, but I cannot commit to the cake! Argh! I loved his Wild One jungle party- such a fun, exciting and happy time! It's supposed to be freezing cold and possibly snow tomorrow, but we're going to celebrate big time all day long. :)

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