Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Monday, December 31, 2012

Mike and Ali plus TWO: The day we found out.


I was completely shocked as I gazed down at the second line on my pregnancy test!  Whoa! Wait, this isn't supposed to happen the first time trying! Or, is it? With Eli it took 7 months to get pregnant, which I know seems like a short time to some but to me it felt like an eternity. Everywhere I looked I saw pregnant people and babies.  I prayed and prayed for that second line.  Then in early January 2011 -- I got it! Looking back, I know it was God's timing. And, the extra time allowed for me to teach another year and for Mike and I to get out of student loan debt.

Mike and I had decided that since it took 7 months to get pregnant with Eli we would start trying around his first birthday for baby Stephens #2. Ideally, it would take a few months to get pregnant and our children would be 2 years apart in age (we always wanted to have our kids close in age; they will be 21 months apart). We didn't think for one moment that we would get pregnant are on our first try! I am not even sure what made me take a pregnancy test on the morning of October 18th.  I guess I had somewhat of an inkling. I took the test before I got into the shower. At first I thought the test was negative. I took my shower and when I got out I grabbed the test to throw it away.  I look down at it once more and couldn't believe what I saw. There was a faint, and I mean faint, second line!  But, holy moly, it doesn't matter how faint the line is as  long as it was there -I was pregnant!  I said a quick prayer and thanksgiving and safekeeping and then spent the rest of my day trying to find a creative way to tell Mike -- who had already left for work -- the good news. I didn't tell anyone except for Eli (who did a great job keeping the secret!) until after Mike knew.

Evidence of Baby Stephens #2 on a stick!  Like I said, it is faint but it is there!

After much deliberation, I decided to tell Mike on the phone that our oven was making a funny noise.  I put a hamburger bun on a piece of my great grandma's China and slipped it into the oven.  I patiently waited for Mike to arrive home from work.  It was so hard to not say anything all day!  And, he came home late -- which made it that much worse.  Finally, he arrived home.  He picked up Eli and started to play with him.  I quickly reminded him of our "oven problem" and ask him to check it out.  He started to listen for the noise and I told him to open up the door and check inside.  He did.  He literally took the bun out of the oven and set it on the counter to continue to inspect the oven!  Ha!  Totally Mike -- problem solver extraordinaire!  I recorded this all  on my iphone and started to giggle.  Eventually I said, "You don't get it do you?"  Mike said, "Get what?"  Looked at the plate with the bun and said, "Bun in the oven??? -- You're pregnant?!?!"  I said, "Yes!"

I uploaded the video to youtube and called my parents to watch.  We sent it to Mike's parents and both of our siblings.  Everyone was so excited for us!  It truly was one of the best days!  I can't believe we'll be welcoming another one of God's precious children into the world in June!  We are praying for you daily little one!  Can't wait to meet you!

Here is a link to the video:

Mike and I two days after we found out -- celebrating our 5th anniversary and our expectant child!  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fall 2012 with Eli: 13-15 Months 9.14.2012 - 12.14.2012

***I started this post months ago, got pregnant, felt like doing NOTHING for weeks on end and am now finally finishing it!  Oh the joys of pregnancy! :) Also Just FYI - if you click on the picture collage it makes them bigger so you can see the smaller pictures better!

Now that Eli's 1st Birthday is a just a memory, I wish I could go back to the chaos of planning and hosting it.   Well, maybe.  :)  I LOVED seeing my baby boy run around in his Elmo shirt, pointing at the balloons on the ceiling and having fun with all the guests.  Even though Eli is officially a toddler now, he'll always be my baby -- as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be!  We have really taken advantage of the KC weather this season; the beginning of fall is a beautiful time here in middle country.  We go to parks, play outside, take walks and enjoy the scenery of the beautiful red, gold and and orange leaves.

Upper left = Eli and our neighbor Zach at pint play!  Upper middle = Eli and I and Nate and his mommy Alyssa (my friend from work) at the park!  Bottom middle = Eli with some MOPS kiddos at the park!
In October Eli participated in the annual LS downtown parade.  Last year he was just 6 weeks old and quite possibly the cutest baby monkey there has ever been; this year he was a roaring little lion.  And, absolutely adorable.  I regret not entering him in the 1-2 year old costume contest.  Of course, the other participants thought he was cute but Sammie, the banana split, stole the show again!

On Mike's birthday we went to Garrozo's to take advantage of their free chicken spedini.  It was fun.  The next day we met my family at Chipotle for some burritos and I bought a special ice cream cake for him!

Top left is Eli with his neighbor friend Zach.  Zach really loves Eli.  He is so sweet to him and gives him lots of hugs.  On the Merry-go-Round is Eli's friend Quinn.  They have been friends since Eli was just 10 days old -- they saw each other weekly at breast feeding class.  She is such a sweetie and so darn cute!  Bottom center is Kate, Eli's first cousin!  Bottom right is my friend from Graceland and her two sons Eliot and Emerson.  They came to KC from CA and we had a nice visit!

The bottom middle pictures Eli is wearing a clown custom that I wore when I was one!  My grandma Bennett made it for me!  How cool!
We headed to California for Thanksgiving.  Mike's family sure knows how to cook an amazing feast.  We had prime rib, turkey, and ham; as well as all the fixings!  I was happy that Eli went to bed before we ate so Mike and I could really enjoy ourselves.  Speaking of going to bed, while we were there Eli kept his MO sleep schedule: he went to bed at 4:30 and was up at 3:30 (6:30 to 5:30 MO time).  It was brutal.  Mike and I took shifts, but even that was hard.  We had to force ourselves to go to bed at a decent hour (which wasn't hard for me since I was 8 weeks pregnant and wanted to sleep all day anyway).  Mike was good to me and let me rest often.  Besides being tired, we had a great time.  Eli enjoyed his grandparents, great-grandparents, aunt, uncles and especially his cousins!  He liked to spa, bounce house, and cool new toys.  He wasn't the cuddliest little guy -- he mostly just wanted mama which makes me feel bad especially since Mike no's family only gets to see him for a couple of short visits through out the year.  But, talking with friends this behavior is fairly normal.  He'll even act clingy around Mike and my parents sometimes.  Its always nice to see Mike with his brothers.  They have a very special bond that neither time nor distance could hinder.  I am excited for Eli to have a brother or sister to create that with.

Upper left/bottom middle = Eli and his friend Nate for a play date at his house, they loved crawling on top of his train table!  Upper right = Eli and his cousins Taylor and Connor.  Bottom left = Eli and Quinn for a play date at her house sharing her chair so nicely! Bottom right = a walk with our neighbor kiddos Chloe and Zach!

In early December we met with our parents as teachers representative.  We talked with her about how early Eli wakes up (between 5 and 5:30) and she gave us some strategies to prevent this.  They worked!  We also talked to her about how cranky he his when he wakes up both from naps and in the morning.  :(  She said she has five children and her youngest is the same way and she is four!  FOUR!  Oh my, I don't want years more of this!  However, she asked how we are waking up??  I am good (I've always been more of a morning person) but Mike really struggles so I guess we can blame him for this one! Ha! No, but she did say that some babies (and people) just have a hared time waking up!!  Looks like Eli is going to be one of these -- joy!  She said that Eli is one target with all of his social, physical, and cognitive goals for his age range.  Yay!  We were concerned because he only really says mama but she assured us that for a boy this is quite normal.  Hopefully he'll gain a few more words by the time he is 18 months.

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Eli is curious.  He is a builder and a destroyer.  He likes raspberries and popsicles.  He loves bath time and pouring water out of the bath.  Argh.  He likes music and bops up and down to the beat.  He wants to be held while he points to different objects around the room and you explain to him what they are.  He is fussy.  And, clingy.  He loves outside.  He likes balls and can throw them.  He makes a vroom sound when playing trucks.  He gives hugs and kisses all the time now.  Daddy taught him how to play hide and go seek.  He is always the seeker.  He loves to hear the garage door and squeals as he runs to greet dad.  He is needy.  He cries more than I like to admit. Sometimes I think I can't take it anymore.  But, then I look at my precious blue-eyed blondie who has the sweetest squinty eyes when he smiles and my heart melts!  He is my son and I am his mama.

I love you Elijah Michael Stephens!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Update on SCH/No more milk.

I started to bleed again early this morning and called my doctor who scheduled an ultrasound for 9:45.  Mike and I went in and saw our little babe wiggling around, doing flips and turns, kicks and punches.  It is SO amazing what a child looks like at almost 15 weeks-- completely human!  She even told us that she could tell us the sex of the baby but I opted out.  I am just too stressed out right now.  Mike really wanted to know but ultimately, I didn't, so we still don't know if baby is a he or she?

Our baby at almost 15 weeks!  XOXO baby!

We were pleased to be with at the OB's office with an expert sonographer -- rather than at the ER with someone who only had general knowledge.  Baby looks perfect!  Everything that she could look for this early in pregnancy looks absolutely normal!  Even the kidneys!  Praise God!  However, she did find a pretty sizable subchorionic hematoma.  What exactly is a subchorionic hematoma (SCH)?  It is a blood clot between the baby's membranes and the uterus.  There a plenty of risk factors that go along with it which include: miscarriage, premature birth, and still birth (if the clot causes the placenta to rupture).  These risks are fairly low -- as low as 15% (but I have seen up to 30%).  Yet, still very scary.  My SCH is fairly close to the placenta and could be causing the edge of it to rupture and bleed some.  Or, it could be the clot itself releasing the blood.  The sonographer had a bit better of an outlook than our doctor and said she seen women with SCH go to full term.  :)))))))  But, continued that by no means are we "out of the woods."  

My doctor was sick so she didn't see us but the OB nurse practitioner said that I should not pick up Eli, strain to use the RR (sorry, tmi) and stay on modified bed rest.  She doesn't want to agitate the hematoma or cause another one.  She fairly suspects that my stomach bug and all of the heaving I was doing may have caused the first bleed.  So, my parents (God bless them),  are taking shifts over at my home to help me out with Eli and household maintenance.  

It is a with a VERY heavy heart that I mention she also recommended that I stop nursing immediately due to the contractions it causes that uterus to have.  I asked her about this because I remembered talking briefly about it in my bf support group.  Usually breastfeeding during pregnancy is completely safe but if you are at an increased risk of miscarriage it can irritate the uterus furthering the risk.  I feel absolutely horrible for my little man who loves his mama's milk so much!  I know that he has enjoyed breastfeeding for 15.5 months but I don't feel like he is ready to give it up just yet.  He signs for milk plenty through out the day and I love looking down at his contented face sucking away.  I know that weaning should be a slow, compassionate process but in our case it is going to be pretty abrupt.  Poor little man.  I feel like crying.  But, I know this is what is best for baby and me.  Say a prayer for Eli please.

Thank you to everyone who has said prayers for this our little babe!  It is humbling to know how many people care about us (and even people who don't know us at all!) and trust in the Lord!  Mike and I know that He with bless us!  Continue to pray!  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Prayers Needed for our Little Babe

Disclaimer: Probably shouldn't read if you are pregnant and tend to worry.  Most people choose to keep these kinds of things between themselves and close relatives and friends but I believe the more prayers the better!  And, we need them!  

Mike and I are asking for all of our prayer warrior friends and family out there to say a prayer for our little  babe.  It is amazing how things like this can make your realize how much you already love your 14 week 4 day -- 4.5 inch -- 2.5 oz baby who we got to see for the first time today.

At 4 am I woke up to a fair-sized pool of blood and, of course, my first thought was that I was likely having a miscarriage.  Mike and I prayed; I called my doctor who told me to go to the ER.  I continued to bleed.  We woke Eli up and headed to St. Luke's East.  I was examined and told that my cervix was closed -- which is a good sign.  They did a sonogram and the baby was moving around and had a heart beat of 146.  As you can imagine, I was thrilled to hear the heart beat and see our little miracle.  They sent me home with a diagnoses of a "threatened miscarriage," and told me I had a 50/50 percent chance of miscarrying.  I was discharged with the instructions to call my doctor when their office opened.

This afternoon we went to see my doctor who said that the ultrasound results looked perfect for where I am at in the pregnancy.  However, she said that with the amount of bleeding I had, coupled with how far along I am in my pregnancy -- just entered the 2nd trimester -- it is very concerning.  She said that I should prepare for a possible miscarriage.  She also said that in her whole practice she has never seen anyone with heavy bleeding in their 14th week make it to full term.  Usually the babies are born preterm with complications, if not a miscarriage sometime between now and week 24.  She continued that if I make it to week 24 -- 2.5 months from now -- that there is a chance of helping the baby.  But, if the bleeding continues -- which is likely -- and I start to contract with pain that there will be nothing they can do but deliver a baby who has no chance of living but a very short while (minutes to hours).  This information was a huge blow and I almost broke down in the examination room.

There are three possible causes to the bleeding -- in order of likeliness:

1. Subchorionic Hematoma
2. Placenta Abruption
3. Placenta Previa -- she feels this is very unlikely due to the ultrasound

Doctors orders were to stay calm, rest often, keep to limited activity, etc -- pretty much "modified bed rest."  As you can imagine, my anxiety is through the roof as I am trying to digest this information.  However, God is so good and I know His will is purposeful!  Mike and I said a prayer on our way home from the doctors and God extended a few minutes of His perfect peace to me.

God answered our prayers when we found out about Eli's Hydronephrosis at 20 weeks gestation.  God answers prayers.  He listens to us and loves us more than we can imagine!  He has the power to heal this pregnancy and grow this baby to full term -- we know that and that is what we are asking for.  Please join us in that prayer!  Thank you!