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.


Charlotte Grace: A Birth Story

Last night, I cried because Charlotte would never be 11 days old again.  Actually, I sobbed and laughed at myself at the same time for being so ridiculously hormonal.  Each day is so precious to me.  Every second a treasure.  I have never wished for time to stand still so badly.  I feel a desperate need to remember everything…every moment, every sound, every image.  A long time ago, before Callie and Charlotte, I can vividly remember sitting down for lunch one day with a coworker and sighing that I could not wait for the weekend or a vacation or some kind of break…and she said something that stuck.  Don’t wish away time.  She said once you have kids, you’ll never wish away time again.  She was right.

There was a time, not that long ago, that time couldn’t go fast enough.  After months of waiting for Callie, and 35 hours with her that went faster than the blink of an eye, we were left at home, alone, to wait again.  To wait to heal.  To wait to try.  To wait to tell people.  Waiting for Charlotte to grow.  Waiting for the cry.  Waiting to see if she could really possibly be able to stay with us.  Waiting for the answer to our prayers.

On Thursday, April 18th, our wait was finally over.  At 2:42 pm, Charlotte Grace arrived.

7 lb. 3 oz and screaming.

That day began with anxious waiting.  No food after midnight, save for a piece of toast at 5 a.m.  We killed time as the clock slowly crept forward, inching toward Charlotte.  It is not possible to be more ready than we were for this baby.  Her room, complete.  Meals in the freezer, done.  Baked goods for Charlotte’s birthday party, check!  We had lots of time on our hands.  When it was finally time to go, I looked into the back at the empty carseat.  I remembered the last time, when we came home without Callie.  How hard I cried when I got in the car.  It’s so hard not to look back and compare.


At the hospital, it was odd seeing the faces that had cared for me when Callie was born.  I ran into my old doctor, who wished us the best of luck, on my way through the hospital doors.  The nurse that helped me through labor and surgery was there at the nurse’s station and helped me get ready for surgery once again.  As she hooked Charlotte up to the monitor, she looked at ‘the strip’ and told us it looked normal.  Different than Callie’s experience.  We took a picture to document the moment.  So many familiar people, and they all remembered.  How could you not?  And of course, Nurse Cindy was there.  She came down from maternity to give us a hug and wish us luck.  I’m so glad she was there.

And before we knew it, we were whisked away to the OR.  I didn’t remember it this way.  So clean and happy.  It was scary the last time.  It felt dark, even though I know it wasn’t.  It was filled with tension and the hope that everything would be ok, and it wasn’t.  The nurses this time were making cheerful conversation.  The mood was light.  I was put on the table and John was allowed in, a camera for each hand.  We chatted with a nurse about silly things, which helped calm our nerves.  Where were we from?  What do we do?

And then, they told John to stand up.  And we heard the most beautiful sound in the whole world.  Charlotte, crying.  I laughed through my tears because her cry was not what I had imagined.  It was loud.  It was feisty.  It sounded kind of like a pissed-off duck.  And oh my god, was it beautiful.  My doctor proclaimed that she was going to be more of a “Charlie” than a “Charlotte”.  We’ll see what sticks.

charlotte grace

The nurses put her to my breast to nurse, right there in the OR.  And she took to it right away.  My little barricuda baby.  I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was and that she was all ours.  To keep, here on earth, forever.


After spending some more time nursing and bonding in recovery, John got the honor of wheeling Charlotte’s bassinet to the waiting room, where our family and friends were anxiously awaiting a sneak peek at our rainbow.  As he entered the room, they all jumped up and surrounded her with so much love.  When my doctor came through, they cheered.  And then, Nurse Cindy was there to take Charlotte for her first bath.

Dr. Tudder and Nurse Cindy

Dr. Tudder and Nurse Cindy

When I finally left recovery for my room, Charlotte was placed back in my arms, the weight of her filling up so much emptiness.  I fought back the tears that filled my eyes as I remembered the last time I made that trip.  Without Callie.  The sad eyes of the nurses.  This time, there were smiles.  And cheers!  When John and I got married, my bridesmaids decorated champagne bottles to be opened up on our special ‘firsts’.  First house, first New Year’s, first baby…  We had gone through all of those bottles and had put the baby bottle in the fridge before we had Callie.  And there it stayed, until now.  In that hospital room, we popped the cork and toasted to Charlotte in rainbow cups with rainbow cupcakes on rainbow plates under a rainbow banner.  If you had walked by and not known our story, you might have mistook our room for a gay pride parade.  It was the best party I have ever attended.




After many happy visitors, we approached the day before we could take Charlotte home, Homecoming Eve.  There was a knock on the door and an unfamiliar doctor came into the room.  “The nurse told me there was something wrong with her heart, ” he said.  And just like that, our world came crashing down around us.  My chest tightened as I clutched Charlotte and tears streamed down my face as the doctor asked questions about Callie’s health.  Did we get an amnio with Charlotte?  Tell me more about neonatal Marfan syndrome.  And he listened to her heart and there was something wrong.  Her heart was skipping beats.  He told us it was likely harmless and transient, but given our background they would rather be safe than sorry.  So, they ordered an EKG immediately and an echocardiogram the next morning.  After he left, John and I broke down into sobs.  How could this be happening AGAIN???  We called our friend, Katie, a pediatrician, who promptly drove down from Baltimore to be with us and reassure us.  We needed someone in our corner.  I couldn’t bear the thought that something could happen to little Charlotte and I desperately wanted to take her home with us the next day.  I’m not sure my heart could have taken going home without another baby.

The EKG was shared with doctors at Childrens National, the same doctors who treated Callie.  They remembered us.  And gave Charlotte the VIP treatment.  As quickly as it came, our fears were eased as the doctors told us that Charlotte’s heart issue was benign and very common.  It would go away with time.  Still, we were jittery and our nerves were fried.  Luckily, we have made some incredible connections through our experience with Callie.  Very shortly after getting the news about Charlotte’s heart, we received a phone call from our social worker, Heather, at Childrens who had been such a comfort to us last January and beyond.  She said she had received a note, saying that Charlotte was having an issue and she arranged for us to have a follow-up echocardiogram within a week with her good friend.  So, on Charlotte’s trip home from the hospital we first stopped by the pediatrician who reassured us that everything would be ok and a few days later, we got the best news at the appointment with Heather’s friend, a great cardiologist at Childrens-  Charlotte’s heart would be JUST FINE.  It is a common issue that clears up with time and Charlotte will have a follow-up appointment in 6 months just to make sure.

And so it was that Charlotte came into this world, with joy and happiness…and just a little bit of drama.


In the morning of her birth, before we went to the hospital, the skies opened up and it poured rain so hard that it woke me up.  I couldn’t help but hope that I would see a rainbow after the storm.  I thought Callie would make her presence known in some grand gesture, too obvious to ignore.  There was no rainbow in the sky that morning, but there was a rainbow born that day.  Callie was there in that operating room, I know it.

I know it because I have never felt such peace.  Even though I was nervous, I was WAY calmer than I thought I would be considering everything we have been through.  I truly believe that peace came from Callie.  She was there, lighting up our spirits and hearts.  The peace has lingered since that day.  It has filled John and I with such joy and perspective.  God and Callie sent us the baby we needed.  Charlotte is a good baby.  She only cries when she needs something, but when she cries, it is filled with vigor and vitality.  Reassurance of life and, instead of being stressful, each and every one of Charlotte’s cries reminds me that her life is precious.  I thank God for the noise.  When I am tired, I remember the waiting.  When I feel pain from surgery, I remember the pain of my broken heart.  When Charlotte wants to be held, she gets what she wants.

Because she is only 11 days once.  Today is the 12th day.  What will it bring?

I don’t know, but I do know that Callie has taught me to savor it.  Whatever ‘it’ is.

Right now, you can find us enjoying the present moments, so sweet and so precious, with our beautiful Charlotte Grace.





My dear friend Mabby took these wonderful pictures:


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And, we were the blessed recipients of a beautiful photo session with Erin J. Rexroth.  You can see her blog post here with our images.  I was so touched by the gesture and the care and time she put into giving us such treasured keepsakes.  Enjoy a few below! xoxo

charlottes pic

family picture