Lila Faith: A Birth Story

You guys, Wilburta is here!!  Except her name isn’t Wilburta…

…it’s Lila Faith.

March 26, 2015_lilas_birth

And as one would expect from this pregnancy, Lila came into the world on her own terms.

We had recently heard good news about Lila’s growth.  However, after a later biophysical profile showed that my amniotic fluid was once again on the low side, we decided it was best that I start my maternity leave a little ahead of my scheduled c-section so I could rest and attend the last few doctor appointments before the big day.

On the morning of Monday, March 23rd, we sent Charlotte to daycare and I took advantage of the time to myself to take a long shower, use the hairdryer that had been collecting dust in my bathroom, and do my hair and makeup.  This is going to sound so shallow, but I wanted to practice curling my hair- like a teenager!- to see how long it would take me.  We were the incredibly fortunate recipients of a hospital photography session (I’ll be sure to share!!) and I thought maybe, just maybe, I would try actually doing my hair.  Yes, 48 hours after birth- HA HA HA HA!  I must have been delusional!  Anyway…

As I swiped on some mascara, I looked up at Lila’s ultrasound taped to our bathroom mirror and the word ‘Believe’ written in lipstick.  I had to smile.  When I originally stuck the ultrasound on the mirror, we were so afraid and so worried about this baby girl.  She had come so far, surprising us all, and it would only be a few more days until we got to see her cute little face.  I couldn’t wait to hear how much she would actually weigh at birth.

38 weeks

The morning of Lila’s birth…totally clueless how my day would end!

Our bags were semi-packed, but I didn’t bother to put my toiletries into the hospital bag before leaving for my doctor appointment because I thought the biophysical profile would go just fine like the others.  I had a list of last minute to-do’s and another doctor appointment to attend that afternoon, but I guess Lila had a different plan that day!

At the maternal fetal specialist, the ultrasound technician checked Lila out, told me all looked well, and sent for the doctor to review everything.  As he reviewed the notes, he started to talk about how everything looked good and how we would proceed as planned with our c-section on Thursday, March 26th but then when he took a look at Lila himself he got drastically different measurements for her fluid levels.  After taking them several times, based on his measurements, he did not feel comfortable with allowing me to wait a few more days and sent me straight to the hospital for delivery.

I felt a little nervous about suddenly having to deliver our little one in a matter of a few hours and felt a bit unprepared even though we had been warned of this possibility continually throughout the pregnancy.  I texted John and said, “Don’t freak out, but I have to go straight to the hospital.  Today’s the day.“, which of course is exactly what you say when you want to freak someone out.  ;-) He rushed out of a meeting, grabbed our half-packed hospital bags and met me at the hospital right as I was arriving.

It was a long afternoon of hurry-up and wait but eventually we headed down the hall to the OR and once again, I felt Callie’s calming presence with us there.  I remember asking if they had started yet and they all laughed and said, “Yep! He’s almost to your uterus!” which is just crazy to me because I could not feel a single thing.

Before I knew it, little Lila Faith was out and was carried to the warming station.  She took a few seconds to give a cry which made me so nervous as I asked, “Is she ok?  Is she ok?” but she was!  She gave little bitty kitten cries and was folded completely in half like a taco, with her feet up by her head since she was frank breech for the entire second half of the pregnancy.  Lila will definitely be skilled at the sit-and-reach in PE one day!  After what seemed like an eternity, they finally put her on the scale for the moment of truth…

5 lb. 14 oz.!!!

March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-9

She was a peanut for sure, but she was a perfectly healthy little peanut.  Technically, anything under 5lb. 8oz. is considered low birth weight so after all the worrying and waiting and praying, Lila came into the world squeaking by as a ‘normal’ sized baby, officially out of the ‘runt’ status that had earned her the nickname Wilburta.  And wouldn’t you know it?  There was a picture of a sunshine and a rainbow right there on the monitor of the scale shining over her weight like a little wink from God.

March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-14

A while back, I made some predictions about Lila:

  • “Wilburta” is FINE and because of our history and her little lag in growth back in December they have decided to watch us like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t become NOT FINE.  Which she won’t, because she is FINE!
  • “Wilburta” will be born on her scheduled C-section date.
  • She will be between 6-7 pounds.
  • She will be healthy and perfect in every way.

Ok, so I was wrong about a few of them- but not by much!  She was born three days before her scheduled C-section date at 38 weeks and 1 day and she missed the 6 pound mark by 2 ounces.  Not bad, not bad at all.

As with Charlotte’s birth, we had an amazing nurse who let me breastfeed Lila right there on the operating table and I cried as I watched this teeny little bundle of perfection hungrily nurse.  While pregnant with Lila, we just tried to get from one appointment to the next.  We never really got to think much about what it would be like when she was finally here.  Once she arrived, the relief of having her safely in our arms was so satisfying and fulfilling.  She was a dream realized and a prayer (or millions of prayers!) answered.  It felt so good to do all the little joyful acts of being her mommy and daddy…finally!

March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-19March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-22March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-25March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-27March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-28

Once again, we were surrounded in the hospital by the most amazing nurses, many of whom had been there with us with Callie, and then again with Charlotte.  I am so thankful for their loving care of us, especially to Nurse Cindy again…our special earth angel.  Our family and friends were there to help us celebrate with another rainbow party for our second rainbow girl.  Watching Charlotte meet her baby sister for the first time was such a surreal moment.  All of a sudden, Charlotte seemed so grown up and big!  She was a little freaked out by all the commotion, but with time she is coming around to the idea of having a baby sister.  ;-)

March 23, 2015_lilas_birth-35

With the roller coaster that we have been on throughout this pregnancy, I fully expected Lila to be a total handful, but she has surprised me with how easy-going she is.  She is totally like “What was all the fuss about guys?” just like I hoped she would be.

March 30, 2015_lilas_birth-4

Thank you for following along in our journey and for all of your support and prayers.  We are so thrilled and relieved to be able to hold Lila Faith safely in our arms and to grow our family once more.

Blessed doesn’t even begin to describe it.

38 weeks!

*This post is dedicated to a special friend (and her amazing family) who is brave and strong and is totally owning every second.  Love you.*

Pshew!  We are here at last friends.  38 weeks!!

When I woke up on St. Patrick’s Day, I felt so happy and positive for our measurement check later that day.  I just *knew* it was going to be a good one.  And sure enough, little ‘Wilburta’ shocked the doctor by having a huge growth spurt!  Not only did she catch back up to the 28th% overall, but her little bitty belly got back into the 20th% for the first time since 20 weeks back in December!!  Just to put that in perspective, at our last appointment it was <2%!

She is now considered a normal/average sized baby!  Can you believe it?!?  The doctor was so stunned and said he never expected us to get this far or for her to grow so much.  There are a few little things they are continuing to monitor so I’ve gone ahead and started my maternity leave now, but, you guys, I’m not even worried about it.  She will arrive later this week and we can’t be more thrilled to meet this little wonder- this little girl who has given us such a roller coaster and tested our faith.

I have to admit something.  Despite hearing for months and months that our baby was going to be born early and small, I refused to buy any preemie clothing.  I felt like if I did, I would just be giving up on the hope that the doctors would be wrong.  And I just couldn’t do that- give up hope, that is.  But then, after our last appointment at 36 weeks when her growth had slowed so much, I caved into the fear and bought some just in case.  I told myself that we would just donate them to the NICU if we didn’t need them.  It was just a precaution, just to be prepared for anything.  Those thoughts helped a bit, but I couldn’t help but feel this tremendous guilt for buying those outfits.  I felt like I was letting myself and my baby down by allowing that doubt to creep into my heart.

I did.  It got to me.

But I’ve learned now.  This little girl is following her own path, her own growth curve, and my goodness gracious have we overanalyzed her every move along the way.  I won’t be doing that anymore-  I have no control over any of it anyway.  God has taken me to some pretty scary and awful places so turning over the wheel is not easy, but I think that this journey to baby #3 has taught me to stop asking “Why?” so much.  To just trust.  That is faith.  That is believing.

I think I may just keep those little onesies as a reminder of what NOT to do.  Never, ever, ever give up.


When I was pregnant with Charlotte, we had a theme song.  This time along, we have found one too.  Every time I hear One Republic’s “I Lived” it just resonates with me.  The lyrics always stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of those lessons our sweet Callie taught us about life- the same lessons I want to teach Charlotte and Baby #3.  When I listen to it, I remember to not give in to my fears, my worries, and my doubts.

Instead, I remember to own every second that this world can give.

When I went to research the song origins and music video to include in this post, I was blown away.  One Republic’s lead singer, Ryan Tedder, originally wrote the song for his son as a message for him about how he wanted his son to live his life, living it to the fullest. I couldn’t have said it any better.  And the video…

Well, just watch.  Dare you not to cry.

Now, go.

Go crank this song up in your car and drive around with your windows down.  Feel the sunshine and be glad.

I’ll see you on the flipside with news about this little rebel!!

Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay

Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I’ll say…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

36 Weeks Update

March 02, 2015-5

36 weeks!  There was a time that I didn’t think we would make it this far.  I’m in awe of how quickly time has gone by, while still seeming to creep at a snail’s pace at the same time.  How is that possible?

Since my last post, we had a great measurement appointment at 33 weeks- ‘Wilburta‘ climbed up to the 30th percentile in overall weight!  I remember feeling like that was pretty darn huge compared to all of our other visits.  But on Wednesday at our 35 weeks measurement check, however, her growth had slowed quite a bit.  She dropped down to the 16th percentile with an abdominal circumference of less than 2%.  Since she had still managed to grow a bit though, she was given the green light to stay put for a little while longer.  The doctor said this slow down in growth may be an indicator that the end of her stay inside my tummy may be drawing very near.

So, just enough good news to keep marching forward…just enough drama to scare us half to death.

To be honest, now that we are at this point in the pregnancy I’m not scared of her being born a little early.  We’re only a week away from what is considered full-term and the doctors have reassured us that she will do very well if she were born this very day.

What is really scaring me, however, is her staying inside of me.  This may sound backwards, but I just want her out.  If something about my body or placenta isn’t giving her what she needs to grow adequately, I am really frightened that something bad will happen in between my appointments and that I won’t know- or be able to do anything about it.  I can remember feeling this way with Charlotte too, even though she never gave us any reasons to be worried.  It was just a natural consequence of losing Callie and meeting so many other women who have lost a child and hearing their stories of stillbirth.

There is a certain fear that I have held about pregnancy in the third trimester as a result ever since- this feeling like I am a walking death trap for my baby.  If you haven’t been there then you are probably scratching your head on that one, but I know damn well that the women who have been there know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  It’s not fun.  It’s not cute.  It’s all business.

I miss that innocence of feeling with all certainty, without question, that my body is a safe haven for my baby.

We are scheduled to have a C-section at 38.5 weeks on March 26th.  That is less than 3 weeks away!  We could use all your prayers and positive energy that our baby continues to grow until that date.  I’d also really appreciate prayers that if for some reason she stops thriving that we will know right away and be able to get her safely into our arms.  Lastly, please pray that God takes away our anxiety and replaces it with peace in our hearts.  We’ve been busily preparing for this little one’s arrival and trying to have fun with it.

And that’s what we’ll continue to do!


32 Weeks: An Update

32 weeks!  Little Wilbur (or maybe we should say Wilburta to be more gender-appropriate?) is doing great!  We have been making weekly visits to the maternal-fetal specialists, having weekly biophysical profiles (BPP’s) and bi-weekly measurement checks.  So far, Wilburta has continued to grow and in my non-medical, very educated opinion I think she has gained some ground (although the doctors will never give me the satisfaction of saying that).  She is in the 27th percentile overall!!!  Woot woot!  Even though some of her individual measurements remain on the small side, 27th percentile overall is not bad at all if you ask me.

When I taped Wilburta’s ultrasound photo on our mirror after our first scary visit, I wrote the word “believe” underneath of it in lipstick.  It was a physical reminder to believe that anything is possible.  But I have to admit, it was really hard to believe in believing.  Make sense?

Hope was easier for me.  I hoped.  I wished.  I prayed.  But in the back of my mind, all I could hear were the doctor’s words:  She will be born early.  She will be born small.  I couldn’t quite get past that fear to allow myself to believe that he really could be wrong, to believe the best case scenario…I guess, because he didn’t really give us one at the time.

However, as more time has gone on, Wilburta has made “adequate” growth each time…nothing tremendous, but she’s slowly growing and growing.  The doctors say she could go the whole way if I keep doing what I’m doing, but with every visit they have always left me with that little kernel of fear.  Seriously, there has always been something every single visit to worry about.  After they measure her and she’s grown, I’ll say “That’s good!  I think?” and then they will say something like “Yes, but the blah blah measurement is still blah blah”  followed by at least one other worry-inducing statement such as “Change your appointments to Wednesdays or Thursdays so we know your doctor will be on call if we have to send you straight to delivery at your next appointment.” or “The baby made adequate growth, but your fluid levels are borderline low.  Come back in 2 days and let’s check on that.”  I go in to these appointments just bracing myself for bad news, trying to not let my hopes get to high.

I had a revelation this weekend though.  I realized that there is a HUGE difference between “hope” and “believing”.  Although I’ve been scared and worried about little Wilburta, I haven’t lost hope that she will be ok.  Never once.  The hope has always been there.  But believing it- well that’s another story.  That deep down knowledge that everything will be ok has escaped me.  I guess it has ever since we lost Callie.  It’s kind of difficult to have faith and believe again after something like that because your fear of being wrong has been justified in the most horrible way.

It’s so hard to believe in something that you have no control over.  It’s even harder when the experts give you reasons not to believe.  It’s scary because it’s not in your hands.  I think the hardest part is just handing it over to God and saying “Here is the deepest desire of my heart- please transform my hope into faith.”  What a battle that is!

Somehow, though, I’ve crossed over.  Despite all the worrisome visits, the good but never-quite-perfect reports, I have decided that everything will be ok.  In fact, here is what I truly believe:

  • “Wilburta” is FINE and because of our history and her little lag in growth back in December they have decided to watch us like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t become NOT FINE.  Which she won’t, because she is FINE!
  • “Wilburta” will be born on her scheduled C-section date.
  • She will be between 6-7 pounds.
  • She will be healthy and perfect in every way.

You know what?  I don’t even think she needs to be called Wilburta anymore.  She’s not a runt in my opinion. She’s just doing things her own way and when she comes out she will be like “Um, what was all the big fuss about?”

I’m not sure when or how I turned the corner, but I have.  Yesterday, I saw a rainbow in the clouds and it just cemented all those hopes I mentioned above into firm beliefs.  What is the good really of believing anything else?  I could be wrong, but why stress over that?  It does me absolutely no good and it robs me of all the joy and excitement that we should be having over this little one.

So, I’m done.  I’m done letting fear break my spirit.  I’m done stressing over what could be.  It is not for me to decide.  It is not for the doctors decide.

Nope, it’s between our baby and God now.

And, I believe in them.

Three Years

Pay It Forward

We celebrated Callie’s 3rd birthday in heaven yesterday.  I always wonder what she would be like if she were here with us today.  What would her little personality be like?  What would she look like now?  For now, we will have to wait and wonder.


Today marks three years since our little angel went to heaven.  I wanted to share a poem that a sweet friend wrote and shared with me.  We have never met, but she we share a positive outlook, little angels named Callie, and the sweet rainbow gifts that our angels have given us.  It’s beautiful.

Livin’ in the Light You Left Behind…

It’s so hard to explain it
Almost impossible to describe
Just how warm it really feels
Livin in the light you left behind

To some you were a baby lost
A tragedy they might say
But to us you’re our sweet Callie
A beautiful daughter that couldn’t stay

It’s no doubt we’ve cried an ocean
Because we had to say goodbye
But it doesn’t mean your life doesn’t bring us joy
Livin in the light you left behind

You were a precious dream to hold
Now our hearts hold you safe and sound
We can only see you in photos or sweet memories
But there’s no doubt that you’re around

We feel you every single day
You never leave our minds
You left us a lifetime of grateful hearts
Livin in the light you left behind

You sent us your precious little sister
She reminds us so much of you
In her face, her smile, her sweet spirit
She’s a miracle just like you

You’re our sunshine angel
She’s our rainbow, in her we find
That hope is always possible
Livin in the light you left behind

You are our sweetest gifts
Our babies, our precious little girls
The pride and love you bring us
Compares to nothing in this world

She’ll always know her sister
And how you changed our lives
How you made us parents, helped us find peace
Livin in the light you left behind

Because now we live so truly
The glorious ordinary fills our days
Your time here on this precious earth
Has changed the world in so many ways

Oh what we wouldn’t give for one more kiss
One more snuggle, just one more time
But your love will last a lifetime, while we’re
Livin in the light you left behind

We whisper out your precious name
And we know that you’re right here
Your sweet and happy little soul
Reminds us not to fear

We know you’re safe in heaven’s arms
So until the good Lord says it’s our time,
We’ll be swaddled in your sweet angel love
Livin in the light you left behind…

~for our sweet Callies~
dawn helen jansen 11/11/14


Thanks for all the message, yellow, and acts of kindness.  It really brightens our day.


Callie’s Due Date

Callie's Birth Story

3 years ago today, wearing yellow on Callie’s due date.


I woke up this morning with one crystal clear thought.

Today was Callie’s due date.

Right before that thought had been a dream.  But really it was a memory…

I sat in my first grade classroom, concentrating so hard on whatever it was that seemed so important at the time that I didn’t realize I was pressing my stomach into my desk.  Inside my belly, Callie pushed back against the desk so hard that I was scooted back a few inches in my wheeled office chair.  I thought that was pretty funny at the time and told her I was sorry for squishing her.  I can remember seeing that yellow striped sweater like it was yesterday.

She seemed so strong, so healthy, so… alive.  Just right there beneath the surface.  Ready to be born.  Ready to live.

Later, after she was born and fighting for life, the doctors, trying desperately to understand how such a large issue could have gone undetected, asked me millions of questions:  “Did you receive prenatal care?”  “Did you take any drugs?”  “Did you feel any decrease in movement?”.   I could answer all of the questions confidently, although slightly offended, except for the one about movement.  I was so busy and stressed right before Callie was born that I wasn’t paying attention that much.  I knew I didn’t NOT feel her move, I had countless videos of her squirming and kicking in my belly, and she certainly had a lot of hiccups (which apparently didn’t count, who knew?)- but it caused me so much agony that I didn’t know for sure if there had been a ‘decrease’ in movement.

However, I did remember that push.  I remembered her pushing me back from the desk with strength and vigor and, perhaps, a touch of annoyance. At least I had that.

After I woke up, the memories from that day three years ago kept flooding in, taking my breath away with their clarity.  I read an article about car seat safety recently written by the parent of a child who passed away in an accident.  She said that the people who tell you that time heals have never lost a child.  I couldn’t agree more.  It doesn’t heal-  it still hurts just as much.  But I guess it is different after three years in some ways.  Time has allowed this loss to become a part of our new lives, our new normal, our new reality.  We have had time to learn who we are now and how to navigate the world.  But it doesn’t really make it any easier-  just different.

This is a stupid thing to be angry about, but this morning after collecting myself, I found myself supremely jealous of people who can use the TimeHop app on Facebook with carefree abandon.  Stupid, right?  It’s a neat concept- being able to see exactly what you posted on this date for the past couple of years- but the thought of seeing posts from three years ago and beyond fills me with sadness.  I’ve never been able to bring myself to do it.  It would be like reading about a stranger.  Who is that girl?  The girl who thought having babies was cute and fun.  The girl whose biggest worry was how perfectly perfect her lesson plans were or having things checked off of a checklist.  Who is that???

Nope, not for me.  I’m ok right here in the present.  I’m not that girl anymore…I have been changed forever.  Consider this post my TimeHop for the day.

Today is all I have and all I can count on…even when my ‘today’ is hard.

If you are thinking about Callie too, please wear yellow on the 27th and 28th to remember her.  You have no idea how much it means to us when people say her name and honor her life.  It truly means the world.  Please do an act of kindness.  Give a hug.  Spread some love.

It’s nice to know that, because of her, the world is a little bit better and a little bit more sunshiny.

28 Weeks! Another Update…


28 Weeks!!  Woot wooooooooot!!  We are in the third trimester :-)  So happy and thankful to be here.

Since my last post we have had another measurement check on little Wilbur.  She continued to grow, making what the doctor described as “adequate” growth.  There was a very slight slide in her percentile, but she remained the same number of days behind.  He was happy with the fact that she was continuing to grow and make progress.  However, one of her measurements slid below the tenth percentile so we are now having to make weekly visits to the maternal fetal specialists.  We will alternate weeks between biophysical profiles (BPP) on the baby to check on her well-being and measurement checks.  Today will be the first BPP and I have no doubt that it will go well…she’s an active, strong little thing.  The next measurement check will be next week.

All of the doctor appointments can be a little tiring, but we know she is being closely monitored and that can only be a good thing!  The doctor seemed a lot more optimistic about her getting to full term last week so that was really encouraging.

We just have to keep on doing what we are doing and staying positive!

Thanks to everyone again for all the messages and for checking in on us :-)