The Birth of Levi Arthur

Clearly, I was not ready to go into labor yet.

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Just the night before, my girls had been messaging me all kinds of questions about this impending birth. It’s funny looking back - as birth photographers, we’ve always joked about this sixth sense we develop with our clients that alerts just before they are about to go into labor. A sudden urge to recharge all of our gear the night before a client ends up calling us, a clearing of all memory cards…and here they were in true birth photographer form, confirming details with me on the birth and how I wanted everything to go, asking if I was ready, etc.

I walked into our mess of a bathroom, which was in the middle of a remodel, to finish helping my husband tile the new shower. “Jason. What do they know that I don’t? We aren’t going to finish, are we?”

I truly thought I was going to be pregnant until at least a few days before my due date. We HAD to finish this bathroom and get a chance to rest and feel settled. I HAD to make it to Aiden and Jonah’s choir and band Christmas concert that Friday. We needed just one more week/weekend, despite all the pain I was in from my SPD, despite my increasing insomnia and how going to bed at night was becoming a literal nightmare.

Baby had other plans.

I needed a moment. Thank God contractions didn’t start immediately. Was this really it? No way. Not a Monday morning again. It was going to happen at night this time. Wasn’t it?

Wait. This is really it?

I began reflecting back on all of the news and tidbits of information we had been given (or lack thereof) during the pregnancy.

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Your baby has what we call a multicystic dysplastic kidney. You also have a succenturiate lobed placenta…

The voices become distant and jumbled together, as we later saw another specialist who gave us the exact opposite information. Our minds were reeling for weeks. I wanted to believe they had been wrong the first two times. Or that God was performing miracles and things were changing. That our baby was perfectly normal and healthy. But something told me to ignore the most recent information, because it would only be getting my hopes up. Something was wrong with the baby. He (we did not know gender ahead of time) would be okay, but I knew in my heart there were complications. Would he only have one kidney like they originally told us? Was there more…?

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Another check on baby several weeks later not only confirmed the MCDK but showed that the kidney was already beginning to shrink. Seeing as how I hadn’t gotten my hopes up and knew the first couple ultrasounds couldn’t have just been “bad images”, I wasn’t shocked, and this was actually good news for a MCDK baby. It meant we wouldn’t have to worry about it affecting the other kidney or possibly having to have it removed later. The placenta was still unremarkable according to this doctor, so we decided to not worry about complications with that. Succenturiate lobes usually aren’t caught on ultrasounds anyway and are often only noticed after birth.

I started having some contractions. They were really random and while with the last baby I had everybody come immediately after my water broke, before I even started contracting, this time I told everyone to wait. “Nothing is really happening yet…I seriously don’t even feel like it’s possible that I’ll have a baby today!”

I needed a minute.

By 11 AM, I was having contractions that were strong enough that told me this was definitely real (as if the large gushes of water by this time hadn’t been enough confirmation), but they were still so sporadic. Sometimes they were 6 minutes apart, and other times they were 10-15 minutes apart still. But also, I couldn’t stop sitting on the toilet. I texted Veronika.

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This is it! Don’t get scared now (bonus points if you immediately got that Christmas reference).

I was panicky.

This wasn’t like the last time, when I was so over being pregnant that I didn’t care how much pain was coming, I was ready for it. I didn’t want to be done being pregnant yet. I had a to-do list that was still half full, my midwife was out of town for a family emergency, and I for once was savoring the last days/weeks of being pregnant, not yet knowing (but kind of feeling) that this would probably be our last baby.

After showering up and while I waited for the birth team to arrive, I took one last selfie with baby on the inside. Jensen exclaimed, “Mommy, you look SO COMFORBALL!”

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Vanessa was the first to arrive, and I became a little more relieved. My birth team started to trickle in one by one, and soon everyone who was supposed to be here was, minus my sweet midwife AnnMarie. But Jill was taking over for her, and I knew we were still in good hands.

The first hour or two of everyone arriving, I walked around and talked and laughed with everyone. Jensen had his nerf gun out all morning and continued to ask me to help him with it. He was not shy about shooting all these people in our house, including his laboring mom.

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Obligatory birth photographer/videographer selfie!

Obligatory birth photographer/videographer selfie!

The kids were all over the devices, wanting to take pictures of everything. Audrey got to wear the GoPro (after photo bursting up a storm on my phone), and Aiden got his new Instax camera out which he had just gotten for his birthday. He was very careful about waiting for the right moment, as he only had about 5 shots left to take with the cartridge pack that was in there.

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Jonah decided the baby needed a birthday cake and ran off to make one. I was surprised when he came back in a short time later with a slice of bread with banana slices, granola, and a single candle on top of it.

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Word is, the “cake” didn’t last very long.

I don’t know when it happened, but contractions suddenly became intense to the point of me having to tell my kids to lay off, please don’t bump me, and get away from my birthing ball. The surges were one on top of the other, and I was starting to drift off into my own world and become vaguely unaware of what was happening around me. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, Jen, AnnMarie’s student midwife, had been massaging my extremely swollen feet, and Vanessa was massaging my lower back, which I felt was really getting the contractions going but also felt great as counter pressure when I started feeling everything in my tailbone.

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Vanessa told me to try laying down if I felt tired, so I did for a few contractions. Then I just had to go to the bathroom again, and I knew with the building pressure that we were getting close.

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I need another moment. I’m not ready…





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Okay, it was time to be ready.


I’m ready to meet you, sweet baby.


The pressure on my already extremely sensitive tailbone became so great, it stung with burning intensity, and I needed to cry out. I groaned, yelled, and tried to encourage my baby that I was ready now, you can come out. Unfortunately I wasn’t speaking in the sweet tones I usually talk to my babies in. “SHIT. Come ONNNNNNNNN!”

It felt like this “pushing” phase was taking a long time. Much longer than I remembered with my other kiddos. I wasn’t quite pushing yet, as I didn’t want to rush things and tear. But as I felt inside and noticed baby’s head was a mere inch or two inside me, I wondered how his head couldn’t be coming out yet with each contraction I was having.

It was time to get this over with. Pushing all fears aside…

I started to really focus on bringing baby’s head out, and I began to push with more intent with the next contraction. I felt baby’s head finally start to emerge, and I didn’t stop pushing. I was supporting my perineum, and at the end of the contraction I swiped around until his head fully popped out. There was a moment of relief, amidst this incredibly intense feeling of baby being half in and half out, and I told Jason “OK now. Mirror!” I wanted to see my baby’s face behind me. Jen grabbed the mirror for me, and I was able to see his head full of hair but hadn’t communicated to anyone my exact desire on what I wanted the mirror for. Knowing I’d see that sweet face in just a minute, I waved it away and said “OK, you can take it.” I heard Jonah somewhere behind me say, “Whoa! I can see the baby!!”

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Jill said something about baby being a little purple or blue and so I should try and get him out. I panicked for a short second because I wasn’t having another contraction yet, but then I felt one start to build and I quickly asked Jason to help me catch. He knelt down beside me and together we scooped our sweet baby out, and I brought him to my chest.

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Overwhelming relief. That’s what I always feel in this moment. This time it was not only overwhelming relief, but this amazing sense of pride and accomplishment that I had birthed this baby in a way that felt so…dare I say, easy this time. Not easy as if it wasn’t the hardest work known to mankind. There’s a reason I felt overwhelmed and relieved when it was over. I could already tell I wasn’t going to have a voice for a few days, as my throat was hoarse and scratchy from all the…ahem…yelling.

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But when I say easy, I mean that it felt so natural. I never felt like I lost control. I didn’t lose my mind from the incredible pain/power, whatever you want to call it. I was invested in every part of the process and so focused on my baby and on what my body was doing to bring him to me. It felt so normal. And so right.

I asked Aiden and Jonah if they were ready to see if the baby was a boy or girl. They had told me they wanted to announce it, but I think they went silent when I pulled baby’s cord aside to reveal his gender. Everyone, especially them, had been convinced this baby was a girl. This was a true surprise.

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I just fell in love.

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Aiden’s polaroid shot from the birth that he was taking in the photo from above!

Aiden’s polaroid shot from the birth that he was taking in the photo from above!

Little Levi, named after my grandfathers “Lee” and “Vi”. Both had passed away in the last year and a half, and this was the first great grandchild they would never get to meet. My grandma later told me “Lee would be in tears if he knew. Well, let’s say he does know.” The name Levi also means “joined together in harmony”.

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I sat down on the floor against my bed so we could wait for the placenta to come. Because of my hemorrhage with Jensen’s birth, we were being extra cautious about my bleeding and wanting the placenta to come out in a timely manner. It wasn’t ready yet, so we waited. Eventually I started bleeding a little heavier again so Jill wanted me to try and get it out. I held the cord and gently guided it downward as I pushed, but nothing was happening. I wasn’t having much for contractions, but every now and then I’d get crampy and what I felt like was one coming, but the placenta wouldn’t come. I moved to my bed and laid down with Levi latched onto me, enjoying his skin to skin time.

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I felt a lot of pressure and really crampy again so I pushed, hard this time because my bleeding had increased. I felt this large mass come out of me - it felt like a large organ/tissue, and so I looked at Jill and asked, “is it out?”, assuming I had finally delivered the placenta and feeling a momentary bit of relief. In the same moment, however, Jill exclaimed something and threw up a bunch of gauze pads toward me.

This is when everything took a turn, and chaos ensued.

The placenta was still inside me, and the largest gushes of blood had just left my body. I began to feel lightheaded, and I could hear Jason telling the kids to leave and telling me to stay with him. Everyone continued to talk to me while they were rushing around, calling 9-1-1, grabbing IV’s, oxygen, and Pitocin, as well as giving me cytotec orally and rectally. I didn’t end up passing out, but even lying down flat on my back, I was close. As soon as the fluids started rushing into my body, I felt a little more coherent and noticed Levi had been taken from me, and I knew we were going to be transferred. Even though I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out anymore, I couldn’t move. I was getting extremely cold and shaky and was in a ton of pain from all the cramping.

For reasons that will become obvious (if they aren’t already), I have a hard time writing this part. Details are extremely foggy. Amidst other details that will be stuck in my mind forever. Irregardless, I’ve had to start and stop writing in this section of the story many times.

I remember first responders showing up within 10 minutes or so. EMT’s arrived shortly after. Questions were answered for them, and they had to lift me onto a stretcher to bring me to the ambulance. When they carried me outside, I was so grateful for our quiet street, that now looked like a crime scene with the flashing lights of the ambulance and the vehicles lining our driveway and road. I prayed no neighbors were home to see this and that my parents weren’t driving by to be thrown into shock at this sight (at this point, we hadn’t even told anyone I was in labor, but Jason was on the phone with my sister, asking her to get ahold of someone to come and watch our other kids while we went to the hospital. Mary stayed behind and took such good care of them until my mom was able to arrive!).

I remember the ride to the hospital being somewhat dull. We were not in a hurry, the lights were not on and we drove as normal. But it was really bumpy and my pain was increasing by the minute. I was shaking, I was so cold, and they had the heat blasting on me, which I told them to not turn down. Jason later said he was sweating, it was so warm. He sat next to me, holding Levi in a bundle of blankets and a little hat I had knit for him that was way too big for his sweet little head.

I remember arriving at the hospital and being wheeled into the ER. This is when details become very blurred. I’ve been reading over my records from when I was there, as well as talking with everyone else from my birth team and Jason to gather the information that I can’t piece together. I was half conscious the entire time. It felt like a really bad nightmare, and I was out of my body, watching everything from somewhere else and answering the questions as best I could while I saw myself moaning in pain and telling them to hurry up. “We’re moving along as fast as we can, hun,” someone said. Who can punch that guy for me?

Do they realize I am not going to make it? Why are they not rushing me to the OR? Do I need to start screaming, for them to know how real this is? I literally could feel myself slipping away, and I continued to try and hold on and stay conscious. I began to pray in earnest and asked God to please make them hurry, please take this pain away, and please let me live.

My kids need me.

The on-call OB came in to “discuss” what they were going to do, ask some questions, and pretty soon he was telling me something about having to take my whole uterus as a life-saving attempt, if removing the placenta would be unsuccessful.

I don’t remember when it happened, but I passed out somewhere in the midst of all this. Jason had just walked out to let Veronika come back in with us, and they wouldn’t let him back in the room. “Her blood pressure dropped significantly, and she’s not doing well. There are too many people in there right now.”

As I was unconscious, the nurse apparently didn’t know what to do. (according to THREE of the people from my birth team that were in that room). Jill brought my feet up to get the blood flowing back to my head, and I remember coming to (not knowing what happened at that point), with her talking to me and getting me to engage with her.

Eventually I was wheeled to the OR, and all I remember is staring at the lights. Flashing light after light after light as I was quickly wheeled through the halls, bringing me to where I’d finally be free of the pain. Jason did meet us before I went in, but as somebody was telling them where they could go to wait, another voice said, “We have to get going here.” Oh, NOW we’re in a hurry, now that we’re on your time, huh?

Apparently my blood pressure had dropped as low as 66/44 and my pulse was up to 180 during all of this. I was shaking uncontrollably from being so cold and again, in so. much. pain. They lifted me onto their cement block of an OR table, that barely felt like there was enough room for my body, and I couldn’t help but groan and cry out again. I was in a place of never-ending childbirth, all while barely conscious, tachycardic, feeling as if I had hypothermia, and my body in a state of just shutting down.


I welcomed the mask. I silently rejoiced when they had me start to count down.


I woke up and immediately noticed how dry my throat was. I asked for water, which I had wanted and needed before even going into surgery but was denied. “We can’t give you water yet, hun. Would you like some ice chips?” I nodded. They didn’t help.

I asked for water probably ten more times while in recovery, and the ice chips that would come every 10 minutes for me just weren’t cutting it. I had to cough, but everything hurt. I felt like I was going to choke every time I swallowed, my throat was so dry, and I had gunk that I needed to cough up from surgery.

I had lost about half of my blood volume — almost 5 pints of blood and ended up getting two transfusions. My uterus stayed put. As soon as the placenta was manually removed (no D&C was needed), everything clamped down and the bleeding slowed. There was a bleeding cervical vessel that needed suturing, which he said he didn’t know what that would’ve been from other than the trauma.

Jason and Jill came in then, Jason holding Levi again. Up until then, I hadn’t opened my eyes much. I still felt so dizzy, lying there with my eyes closed, and breathing in the supplementary oxygen were the only things that provided any comfort.

Jason reached my side with Levi, and my mental space cleared significantly. I felt like I wasn’t going to die anymore. My baby is here

“We have to go to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee,” Jason started in after asking me how I was doing.

“What? Why?” my mind was racing now, as I realized this nightmare had only just begun.

“Because he…doesn’t have an anus.”

I let that sink in.

“WHAT?” I felt panicky. Ironically, I had just listened to a podcast probably two weeks prior where someone was talking about her son being born with many anomalies, and no anus being one of them. Despite having heard her story, I couldn’t compute what was happening with my new baby. My baby who still hadn’t cried or made a peep and was sleeping comfortably in his daddy’s arms. My baby who had been PERFECT just hours before when I birthed him. Who had breathed and gurgled as soon as his head came out, while his body was still in mine. Who had latched and nursed immediately. Who we knew would only have one functioning kidney, but was supposed to otherwise lead a perfectly normal life. What on earth did this mean for him?

“Is he okay? What are they going to do? When are you leaving? Am I going to get to go with?”

None of these questions could really be answered for me in this moment. Except that I was not going to get to go with that night. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I watched them leave and take my baby away from me, again.

They had weighed and measured Levi and performed a quick newborn exam while I was in surgery. He was 8 lbs. 15 oz. and 19 inches long. I had told Jill while I was in labor that I thought this baby was 8.5 or 9 pounds. Moms. Just. Know.

When they walked away, I immediately felt ill and borderline on death’s door again. I need that skin to skin, just as much as my baby does right now.


I need my baby…


When they brought me into a room in labor and delivery, my dad and nephew were there waiting. We talked for a bit, and I finally blurted out, “You know the part of childbirth when you get to finally hold your baby and then all the afterbirth pains that you experience don’t even matter because you have your baby in your arms? This isn’t fair. I am having all this pain, and I don’t have my baby, and I can’t do anything about it. And he has to go to another hospital and probably have surgery, and I can’t be with him. This is the cruelest thing. I am getting out of here ASAP. I need to get to him.”

My dad told me I needed to heal myself first. But he doesn’t get it. This mother’s love, attachment, instinctual need for that baby’s skin to be against mine right now.

Yet, I knew he was right, in a way that felt so wrong. But I knew I had to prove to the nursing staff here that I could leave.

I tried to rest and sleep that night, but I continually checked my phone for updates from Jason. All night, we both were in and out of sleep as he’d be updated from staff at Children’s about the plans. Levi was taken for an x-ray that night, which showed that his esophagus did indeed go all the way to his stomach. Positive update #1.

Jason finally got to hold him again the next morning. Positive update #2.

Ultrasounds were done on Levi’s head and kidney, and those looked good. Positive update #3.

An echo on his heart showing everything was normal there was positive update #4.

Maybe the surprises were over? Could we finally breathe and start to take this all in? It was time for me to break out of this place and get to my baby and husband.

My mom was still home with the other kids, and my dad came back that morning with the plan to bring me home, pack a few things for us, and take me to Milwaukee. After 3 failed attempts to get up and walk to the bathroom myself overnight and that morning at the hospital, I finally gained a little more strength each time and proved to the nurses that I could take some steps and stay standing for 5 minutes without losing color in my face and almost passing out. Luckily that was good enough for them, and they got me out of there shortly after noon. A wheelchair would be my home for the next few days, but at least I was upright and conscious.

My dad helped me into the front door where I immediately had to take a seat and didn’t have the strength to move again until it was time to go back to the car for our hour and a half drive to Children’s. I said goodbye to the kids and told them I’d see them soon. Aiden immediately had asked me when I arrived if I was okay. I told him I was just fine and needed to get Levi to be okay too so we could all come home together. It would be 4 long days before that would happen, but we had no idea the whole time we were gone, how long we would be gone. And it felt like years.

I slept on the car ride, and as soon as we arrived, my heart started pumping faster (in a good way - my pulse had finally normalized earlier that morning!). Jason met us down at the entrance of the hospital and wheeled me upstairs to the NICU where Levi’s room was. I stared at my sweet baby, tube down his throat, IV with a brace on his arm, and tons of other monitors all over him, lying in his little hospital “bed” under the heat lamp, not making a sound as a nurse was checking on him. Tears welled up again, and they got him all situated for me to hold him. I moved from the wheelchair to the rocking chair, and they put him in my arms - he was awake, and he immediately locked eyes with me…and smiled.

We stared at each other, and in that moment, everything was okay.

The plan was for him to have surgery the following morning. He would need a colostomy, as he was still too little to create an opening for the anus at this point. That surgery would take place sometime between the ages of 3-6 months old. After that surgery, once the anus was healed, he would then have another operation to close up the stoma and reroute everything to finally function as normal.

It was a lot to take in. Baby steps. “So when can he get this tube out of his throat that he keeps gagging up?” That had to be the most uncomfortable thing for him right now, and I wanted it gone so badly.

Jason had put a request in to get a room at the Ronald McDonald house. There was only one small couch aside from the small rocking chair in Levi’s room, and neither of us had slept much the night before. I held my sweet Levi the rest of that afternoon and evening, but by 9 PM, Jason and I decided we should try and get some rest. I planned on getting back to Levi’s room early the next morning before his surgery.

We took the skywalk over to the Ronald McDonald house, and I finally sat and showered for the first time since I was in labor the morning before. Had it really only been a day?

The process of showering and making it to bed, even with Jason’s help was a long one, and when we finally got in, Jason and I silently held hands and immediately fell asleep.

I woke up often throughout the night. I was pumping as much as I could, but while we slept here, I only had the manual hand pump and it wasn’t working as well for me as the normal electric one I’d been using. Visions of my supply drying up and never being able to nurse my baby started filling my head, and at some point during the night I became too stressed to sleep anymore. By 6 AM, all I could think about was how I had spent one more night “away” from my baby, and I had somewhat of a mental breakdown. I started stumbling around the room, grabbing onto the wheelchair and walls to steady myself to get dressed and brush my teeth and get out of there back to my baby. When I couldn’t get the wheelchair opened up, I sat down and bawled as I thought about my poor baby going into surgery in just a few hours.

Jason was sleeping through all of it, as his alarm hadn’t gone off yet because our plan was to head back around 7. By the time I started opening up the door to leave, he woke up and jumped out of bed to quickly get dressed and help me out. I don’t know what I was thinking. I never would’ve been able to make the long walk/wheelchair myself through the skywalk again to get back to the NICU, but I was a mess.

As soon as we walked back in Levi’s room, he was sleeping just as contently as he had been when we left, naked under the warmer still. However, I immediately noticed his belly. “Why does his belly look so big now all of a sudden?” I knew he hadn’t been born with that much chub and didn’t normally have a round belly.

A nurse came in shortly behind us and helped me adjust all of his monitors again so I could pick him up and hold him skin to skin until they had to take him for surgery a couple hours later. They told us, “I don’t know if you noticed, but his belly is becoming quite distended, so it’s a really good thing we had this scheduled first thing this morning!”

We received a few text updates during his procedure, and surprisingly the two hours went by pretty quickly. Everything went completely normal, and they wheeled him back in by us in his room for recovery, where they spent a lot of time all around him for the first hour or so. I’ll never forget the little raspy, soft cry/moan sounds he made as he was coming off the anesthesia, but it also was a huge relief that he had been extubated, and he no longer had a tube down his throat to gag on. We continued to get great news from here, saying he was doing so well that they could try starting some feedings the next day. At this point, we were told they’d start by bottle so they can monitor how much he’s taking in and make sure he’s handling it well before we would try nursing again.

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Jason went home that evening to relieve grandmas and grandpas and be with the other kids for a couple nights. We did a couple dry runs through the halls to and from the bathrooms and food places, and he stocked me up on meals from the Ronald Mcdonald house before leaving. Turns out, I am not skilled at wheeling myself around, but I figured out that I could use the wheelchair as my “walker” (AND use the seat of it to carry my junk around), and while I’d be out of breath by the time I’d get to my destination, and I couldn’t feel my extremely swollen feet and legs, I was able to make it work for the next day and a half.

I slept in his room for the remainder of our stay and continued to pump throughout the night. My supply was steadily increasing each time I’d pump, and I was so anxious to start nursing him. The next morning, as the NICU team came around to his room, his surgeon was explaining to everyone about the plan to start feeding and then paused and looked at me for a moment before saying, “or do you just want him to try and go to the breast right away?”

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My face must’ve lit up like a Christmas tree.

I said, “YES, of course!!” and she immediately gave our nurse a list of things to do so we could start to nurse.

She pointed at Levi and said, “Okay little guy, now don’t disappoint me!”

Monitors came off, Levi’s catheter was removed, and he was finally stripped down to only one IV in his foot, and he was placed in my arms again. This time, I could better snuggle him. This time, he was allowed to find comfort and nourishment in me in the way it should’ve been from the beginning. We were given privacy, and he latched almost immediately again, as if we hadn’t missed a beat.

I cried. But this time, I was overwhelmed with relief. And so.much.love.

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Jason came back the next day, which was now Friday, and I was sure we’d be going home that weekend. No one would really even hint at a timeframe for us, but the way they were talking made me think it for sure wouldn’t be more than a few more days, and I was hoping and praying and manifesting that it would be Saturday. I just needed to be able to bring him home again. I needed to be with all of my kids again. I needed us all to be back together again.

There were a lot of ups and downs over the next 24 hours, and it was causing me more stress than I ever thought possible, but we had a few amazing doctors that were really pulling strings for us there, and we finally were given the go ahead to be discharged around 6:30 PM on Saturday night. We had told them we don’t care how late it is, we wanted to go home to be with our other kids and sleep in our own beds.

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We were shown how to empty and change Levi’s colostomy bag, and by discharge time we felt pretty comfortable with it (as long of a process it still was at that point). We would have to follow up with his normal doctor in a few days and come back to Milwaukee in another week and a half, but we were just beyond elated to be going home. Levi was going to have a bit of a long road ahead with a couple more procedures. One when he is a bit older, between 3-6 months to create the anal opening, and another procedure a couple months after that to close up the stoma and reroute things so that everything would then be functioning as normal. We would also be keeping an eye on his kidney and had scheduled another ultrasound for a couple months later in Milwaukee with his urologist. He also would need to have an MRI before his next procedure on his spine, to make sure something with that wasn’t fused together before they would do his next operation. Apparently it can be another common anomaly with everything else he had going on.

Another anomaly Levi has which wasn’t discussed much but was just pointed out to us and checked on, is that he has a bifid scrotum. Basically, everything with that area is normal, functionally, and this is just a “cosmetic flaw”. This is something they told us many parents choose to have fixed, as it’s an “easy” procedure, but all I could think about was how much he’s been through already and I will probably never choose to have this touched. We don’t circumcise, so why would we decide to put him through any other kind of unnecessary alteration surgery? If he decides he wants to have it done when he’s older, great. But I would not be making that decision for him and putting him through more as a baby.

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Coming home was euphoric. I can’t even describe how amazing it felt to finally bring our baby back through those doors into our place of safety and comfort, where he had been born. I had told my mother-in-law to keep the kids up, and greeting and hugging them was the best feeling ever. Jensen was glued to my side for the next several days, and that night we immediately climbed into my and Jason’s bed with the baby, and Jensen immediately fell asleep, snuggled up next to me. Jason carried him to his room, and my head didn’t want to leave the pillows ever. Again.

Sweet euphoria.

My midwife, AnnMarie had wanted to come back for a home visit with us when we got home so we had her come that Monday, one week from when Levi had been born, and Mary and Veronika came back to take some more pictures and video for us as well. AnnMarie had suggested we do a sort of re-birth scenario so that we could…just, start over.

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Ever since being told I had a succenturiate lobed placenta, I had been anxious to see what mine looked like. I hadn’t even gotten to see it. Let alone get pictures of it (apparently it was heart-shaped). That had been stripped away from me as well, along with my postpartum bliss, my newborn, and everything else.

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Jensen had said he wanted to cut the cord when the baby was born, so that was going to be his job. But amidst the chaos, the kids were not around during that time and Jason had quickly cut it, and I wasn’t even aware of it happening. This rebirth was just what I needed. Annmarie tied a little crocheted “cord” around me and then around Levi, and Jensen got to cut the cord.

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AnnMarie did an exam on him, and we weighed him again. He was at 8 lbs 10 oz this time, so not quite back up to his birth weight but definitely slowly gaining again.

Jason poured some sparkling grape juice for all the kids and everyone, and he later opened up a bottle of wine. My first glass in a loooooong time, and it felt so good. This is what my postpartum was supposed to be like. Relaxed. In my own bed. Baby and me undisturbed.

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This was our beginning to a beautiful forever.

Laura Kralovetz