Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mommy & Me Photos

A few weeks ago, before the arrival of our little Sammy, Ella & I had a very special date for a Mommy & Me photo session. Lindsay of Lindsay Brisbin Photography met us at a nearby nature center where Ella and I played and played while the photos were taken. I'll treasure these pictures as our time just as "Mommy & Me" was about to change. My Ella is an incredibly special girl. I'm am beyond blessed to be her mama.

Family: If you'd like prints, please let me know over email!

Sam continues his stay in the NICU though he is improving every day. Today he took two bottles during feedings and didn't need to get anything through his tube for those meals. I was incredibly proud of him! His oxygen is getting better. Those are the two factors keeping him in the hospital - feedings and oxygen. Once we've got those covered, he'll be able to come home. We try not to guess when that will be since it can be quite a disappointment to reach a hoped-for day and not get to take him home. Please continue to pray that he will be able to leave the NICU very soon. This mama is having a hard time not cuddling her two kiddos in the same place. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Imagine all the places these little toes will travel. Through mud & puddles & grassy fields. Along the shore, on Papa & Nana's farm, to the playground with Ella & playing soccer in Kenya. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Photos: Sam Meets the Olsens

Ella's getting good at opening "big sister" gifts
Grandma Olsen
Grandpa Olsen
Auntie Kristin
Auntie Kathryn

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Introducing Samuel Thomas Amani!

I am now slightly more rested than I was early this morning when I first posted about our little one, so I feel ready to share the details of the last two and a half days. (Has it really only been that long already? Amazing!)

Things first began on Tuesday night (May 22) when I crawled into bed at about 10pm and I began to feel small contractions. They didn't really catch my attention, though, since I had been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions (a sort of fake contraction) for about 15 weeks. A few of them did wake me during the night, though. On Wednesday morning I decided to go about my regular schedule and see what happened. While shopping at Target for a few last items for my hospital bag, I had to stop multiple times to lean on my cart and let a contraction pass. In the afternoon, Ella & I went to Becky's to watch Malena & Maira while Becky went to the dentist. At that time, the contractions continued to strengthen and were only about 4 minutes apart. Let me tell you, it was not comfortable having the three little girls crawling all over me while the contractions hit. But it kept me somewhat distracted! After Becky got home, I paged Pete out of surgery, telling him things were getting more intense. I drove the 10 minutes to the hospital (perhaps I should not have been driving at that point, but I wasn't completely convinced I was in labor) and let Pete drive me home. The beauty of being married to a doctor is that he was able to check my progress while we were home. Much to my relief, he confirmed that I surely was in labor and had made it to about 5cm. Yay! We took our time gathering the last things for the hospital and headed in.
with a smile (clearly between contractions)
 After a brief stop at the store to pick up a plant (so nice to have in the room during labor) and a magazine (to fill the time during labor before the actual delivery), we arrived at the hospital at 7pm. I was definitely needing to breathe through the contractions at that point and even got to ride in a wheelchair to the OB floor. I dropped off the cupcakes I had made that afternoon for the nurses and settled into my room. I have to tell you that from the very moment I got to the room, I asked if an order could be put in for an epidural. I've never felt that I'm a mama who needs to go without meds, and I was worried we would miss the window if we didn't get going on it. Shortly after that, Pete checked me again and I was between 7 and 8cm. Things were moving fast! Before 9pm...and before I was given an epidural...I hit the complete 10cm and my window for meds was closed. I have to honestly say that I wasn't excited when I was told I would have to deliver without meds. It scared me, and I really wondered if I would be able to handle the pain. With Ella, I never made it past 6cm and, therefore, never got to push at all. The opportunity for a VBAC had come, and that did make me happy. I wanted to have the experience of pushing and breathing and being coached by Pete. I wanted to have a chance to push a baby into the world the way women have been doing it for years and years and years.

And push I did. For 2 1/2 hours I pushed. Without meds. That was a lot of work! I really focused on putting all of my energy into the pushing, not yelling or crying or cursing out my husband, as I've heard can easily happen. Instead, I felt incredibly close to Pete through the whole experience. He was an amazing coach. When I was discouraged, he looked right into my eyes and reassured me. I found a lot of strength in that. I also found myself talking to Jesus between contractions and pushing. I know He was giving me a great deal of strength. Everything looked like it was going well until we reached the 2 1/2 hour mark. Then our little one started to show signs of dropping oxygen levels and my cervix began to swell a great deal, to the point that it looked like it may actually be closing again. Pete & I jointly made the decision to do a c-section for the protection of the baby. I was taken down the elevator on a bed, groaning the entire way as super strong contractions ripped through me.

Though I ended up in another c-section, the entire experience was far different than when I had Ella. This time I completely dilated, pushed for a long time, tried many different positions, and really gave it everything I had. I got to experience everything I wanted to with child birth. It was time to get our baby out while he or she was still doing okay. So that's what we did.

My mom made it to the hospital just in time to join us in the OR for the section. Pete stood next to me the entire time, looking over the sheet for the moment our little one would enter the world. I felt great peace in those moments before the birth. I was able to pray for the doctors in the room before the section began (most of whom I knew from the residency) and hummed one of my favorite camp songs about seeking Jesus' face. Everything was perfect as I excitedly awaited the announcement of our little one's arrival. And then it came! Pete proclaimed, "It's a boy!" and we were both ecstatic as images of my dear Pete with his long-awaited son filled my head. I announced to all present that our son's name would be Samuel Thomas Amani Olsen as I held back tears of joy. And then I realized how quiet the room was.

The doctors - our friends - huddled around our Samuel on the warming table while I heard only a small, weak, peep of a cry. It was a tiny sound. Though I felt peace, not concern, I asked one of the doctors to take a small step to the side so I could get my first glimpse of our little one. And that's when I saw the first sign. His body wasn't clenched like Ella had been when she was born. Sam's arms were floppy. I asked Pete to bring him closer so I could see him. I longed for the first real view of my son. When Pete held him close, Samuel opened his eyes and looked right at me. And it was in that tiny instant that I knew it in my heart. Was it my mama instinct? Was it the fact that I had been carrying this beautiful little boy inside me for so many months prior to this moment of introduction? I don't know, but it was instantly clear to me. Our little Samuel has Down syndrome.

Samuel Thomas - about 15 hours old

I was wheeled into the recovery room while Pete and my mom and the other doctors took Sam up to the NICU to give him a complete exam. I don't know how much time passed before Pete and my doctor, Maria, came through the door, quiet and serious. My thoughts were confirmed in that moment. In an instant, many things changed. But in that same instant, many things were peacefully confirmed within me. God is good. God has a plan. God created our little Samuel, and we were chosen to be his parents. What an honor.

The last 2 1/2 days have been the beginning of journey down what a doctor recognized yesterday as our "new normal." Samuel remains in the NICU while he works through the transition from the warm, safe place of my womb to the outside world. His oxygen levels have needed the most time to adjust. He was most comfortable in a warm incubator without much handling the first 24 hours. We haven't been able to have him in our room. We haven't changed any of his diapers. And I just got the all-clear to try nursing him. So far he's been getting my pumped milk through a feeding tube in his nose. Each little step he's made forward, we've celebrated. Late last night, Pete sat with me as I held him on my chest. His sweet little eyes looked up at me a few times, completely melting every ounce of my heart. Pete held him for a little while, too, and Samuel eventually fell asleep cuddled with his daddy. It was so hard to leave him in the NICU to return to our room. There will soon come a time when we won't have to leave him for a single moment. We're praying that the time comes very, very soon.

Samuel's warm little bed in the NICU

I'm now packing and getting ready to head home...without my sweet little boy. First we'll try nursing, though. Pete & I will both be back very often to rock Sammy and I'll nurse him. Miss Ella is excited to see him, too. We tried having her visit him in the NICU two days ago, but it was all a bit too much for her. We're praying Samuel will be discharged on Monday or Tuesday, though we have to keep a very open hand about that in case anything unexpected pops up.

Please pray with us for our little Samuel. Pray that his oxygen levels will get to a good place so he can breathe all on his own. Pray that he will quickly adapt to nursing. Pray that he'll get to be home with us in the next few days. And please pray for Pete and I as we learn what this new beginning will entail and how all of this will draw us forward. Thank you!!

It's a BOY!

Samuel Thomas Amani Olsen has arrived! Our little bundle was born on Thursday, May 24 at 12:06am. He weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long. We were pleasantly surprised that he decided to make his appearance two weeks early, especially because Ella was a week late. The whole process of his arrival was much different than what I experienced with Ella, but I won't include the details quite yet. First, I need a little more rest.

There are so many things I want to tell you about Sam - what his name means, how he has deeply touched our hearts in his first two days, and the beauty and peace we see in him - but I just can't do it eloquently at such an hour. (It's currently 1am and I have some cuddling to do before getting more sleep.) I promise to write of those things very soon. So please check back for more of Sam's story and some very adorable photos. They are on the way!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baby's Quilt is Finished!

It's nice to have this little quilt finished before our wee one arrives in the next couple weeks. I tried to make it gender neutral, which isn't very easy with these fabrics. I fell in love with these, though, so I wanted to make it work. The back is the green & white you see in the bottom right photo. I can't wait to cuddle our little bundle in it!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Photo Friday: The Week

I meant to post these two days ago, but it didn't quite happen. So here are Friday photos on Sunday! Just a bunch of pictures from the last week.

Before you take a look at the pictures, though, vote in the right sidebar on whether you think Baby Olsen #2 will be a boy or a girl. There's not much time left and I'm super curious to see what you think!

A morning walk discovery: a worm!
Ella took this photo of the little worm
a pink pedicure
cuddling with her puppy after a bath
it was a hot day...
but Miss Ella insisted on mittens
my happy little purchase of the week :)
put it on the calendar! this mama straightened & curled her hair. it's been a long time since that's happened
Mama Bex dropped these off for the baby. Ella quickly claimed them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homegrown Night Out

Two weeks ago, Mama Bex & I met up downtown to see our brother Jake and his band, Dead Guys, play at Homegrown. Homegrown is a week-long music fest that happens every spring at bars and restaurants all across Duluth and Superior with about 150 local musical acts.

This was actually the first time I've seen Jake's band play live. (Jake's the lead vocalist.) I LOVED it. They are definitely a group that was made to be seen live.

Zac, Josiah, Jake
 No, it's not typical to sit on the floor of a bar at a show like this, but this mama's back needed the break. Not a whole lot of dancing going on for me.

Thankfully, Mama Bex joined me, so I wasn't sitting all alone. What a good sis.

Here's a recording of Damn & Blast that Jake wrote. (Damn & Blast is a quote from C.S. Lewis)

To check out a couple Dead Guy recordings, click here.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent a birthday card for Ava last week. Her parents had hoped to come back home to Duluth on her birthday where a few of us had planned a quiet birthday party with her friends. Unfortunately, she was rushed back to the hospital that morning for an emergency surgery to remove fluid that had built up on her brain. She remained in the hospital over the weekend and had a surgery yesterday to place a shunt to handle the fluid that continues to put pressure on her brain. Later in the week, she may have surgery to get a feeding tube placed in her tummy as well as a trach. Jeff & Janell are really asking for healing of her throat so she regain her ability to swallow and not need the trach. And of course, we're always, always praying for a miracle.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Photo Friday: When the Cousins Come to Play

Ella's cousins, Malena & Maira, spent the afternoon and evening at our house on Monday this week. The girls always have such fun playing together!

adorable since Malena never sucks her thumb unless she's around Ella


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