Sunday, August 30, 2015


Lauren: Posing for her baby dedication photo.
[Photo credit: Dad]

Joining with Jodi from Practising Simplicity with a portrait of our daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Lauren's baby shower

Since we moved to this area during the last trimester of my pregnancy and knew very few people here before arriving, we didn't really expect to have a baby shower for Lauren. The one person we did know before we moved here was a friend of both of ours from Southern, Kelsey. She invited us to her small church plant, which we visited a few times before Lauren's birth and eventually decided to join. Although the members were extremely friendly and welcoming, we never imagined they would give us such a special welcome into their church.

Just a couple Sabbaths after first bringing Lauren to church, we stayed for a potluck after the service, and during the meal Kelsey and the wife of one of the head elders, Suzanne, told us that they really wanted to plan a baby shower for Lauren and us. We were so surprised and delighted at the sweet and thoughtful idea, especially since we were so new to the church and hadn't even transferred our memberships yet.

On Sunday afternoon, August 23, we met at Suzanne and Mike's house where they and about 15 other church members gave us the sweetest baby shower/welcome party. We started the shower off with introductions, and by the time we got around the circle of people we felt like we were at least a little bit more acquainted with the members who had been able to come. Next Suzanne's daughter, Ashley, led us in a few fun games. Then those of us who wanted to do a craft gathered at the dining room table where Kelsey showed us how to make cute fabric flowers that could clip onto baby headbands or later (when she has more hair) can be worn as barrettes. Once everyone had made one, they gave them all to us to wear on Lauren. After the craft, we had delicious refreshments (Lauren woke up around then and also had a meal) and then after eating, Jonathan and I opened gifts. Then we all just visited for a while at the end of the shower until people started dispersing.

It was such a nice baby shower and we were so thankful for the generous idea of our kind, newly-found church friends. Thank you so much, Loomis SDA Church, for the sweet baby shower for Lauren! We so appreciated it and all the thoughtful gifts you gave our baby girl!

Suzanne burping Lauren after food and during present-opening
Kelsey playing with Lauren
(I neglected to tell them they could take the bib off Lauren for these pictures...)
Ashley holding Lauren
The whole group

*Like a new mum trying to get to an event on time, I was scurrying around our apartment just before we left for the baby shower and put my camera down near the door only to forget to put it in the diaper bag before we left... Thankfully Ashley was able to capture some pictures of the afternoon on her iPad and graciously sent them to us. Thank you so much, Ashley, for getting some great shots of a special occasion!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Lauren: Watching the cameraman.
[Photo credit: Dad]

Joining with Jodi from Practising Simplicity with a portrait of our daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Lauren's pre-birth story

I started writing Lauren's birth story but then realized that a good chunk of it actually took place before we even checked in to the hospital for the induction. In order to keep her actual birth story shorter, here is her pre-birth story.

The week of Lauren's birth - and the several weeks preceding it - were a blur of OB appointments and hospital visits, where we sometimes stayed for hours, once stayed overnight, and always came back home to a chaotic apartment filled with boxes and suitcases, disheveled kitchen cupboards, and clothes lying all over the place. My life and apartment were unorganized, and now my pregnancy was unorganized as well.

On Monday, June 29, I went in to the hospital for a scheduled non-stress test. It was going very well and the nurse supervisor, who had just come into my room near the end of the test, was about to unhook me from the monitors and let me continue on with my day when one last automatic blood pressure reading went off. That one was through the roof. We can argue all day about if the nurse just coming into the room had any effect on the reading or not, but the fact is that although all the prior readings had been in my late-pregnancy normal range, that last one worried the nurse and she left to call the on-call doctor (which was the same doctor who had been on-call the Thursday before when I had ended up staying in the hospital overnight to do a 24-hour urine test) to find out his opinion. I knew instinctively I wouldn't be leaving the hospital any time soon. The nurse soon came back to tell me that the doctor wanted me to stay the night again, and have more blood tests and another 24-hour urine test done to see if any of my levels had changed from my stay the week before.

While the nurse set up the bathroom in my room to start the urine test, I texted Jonathan and he arrived a few hours later. By that time my blood pressures had gone higher and higher, and each time the next BP measurement was drawing nearer, no matter how much I tried, I was unable to relax myself enough for the BPs to go back down to my normal levels. After a couple more hours of Jonathan and me trying in vain to bring them down in an attempt to have the on-call doctor let me go home, I was done. I knew staying in the hospital was keeping me from achieving lower BP readings again, and I knew that these sustained higher ones were not beneficial to either me or my baby, although the baby's heartbeat still looked great. The nurses kept telling us the on-call doctor would be coming in soon to talk to us, but soon kept getting pushed back, and finally they said he would be coming in the evening after seeing his last patients of the day. Anxious and frustrated, I told them I was going home. The nurses were surprised and dismayed. They tried to talk me out of it, but I was so absolutely done lying in that hospital bed, having my baby constantly monitored, and having blood pressures taken every half hour. I knew it wasn't a popular choice, nor the recommended one, but I also knew that if I stayed, induction would be pushed and I wasn't ready to make that decision without the counsel of my own doctor, who was still out of town until Wednesday. I agreed to bring home the equipment to continue to take my own 24-hour urine test and that I would bring the sample back to the hospital the next afternoon and get another non-stress test. After signing papers saying I was checking out against medical advice and listening to the come-back-in-immediately-if... speech yet again, we headed to the lobby where I waited while Jonathan brought around the car. The nurse assigned to me for the afternoon waited with me and walked me out to the car, telling me even at the last minute when I was belted in that she wished I would stay, that my insurance might not cover the cost if something happened while at home after I'd left against medical advice, and that she really hoped I'd have my baby in my arms by the time she was scheduled to work again on Wednesday. I wearily nodded, said goodbye, and we drove off into the late-afternoon sauna-temps traffic.

I took my BP again immediately upon arriving home. It was still high, but I was still worked up. After lying down on the couch for awhile and still having a high BP when checking again, Jonathan convinced me to have a bath. When I got out of the bath and checked my blood pressure again, it was back down to my regular readings. I laid low, lounging on the couch for the rest of the evening.

Early in the afternoon on Tuesday I headed back to Folsom to return my 24-hour urine sample to the hospital. The nurses took the sample and set me up in a room for my non-stress test. Although I was nervous for the test after what had happened the day before, my blood pressures that day were much better, back within my normal levels. Unfortunately, once again the nurses were concerned with my BPs and called the on-call doctor. He also wasn't too impressed with them either and wanted me to stay in until he could come talk to me. I knew that he, too, would want to admit me and start an induction. Jonathan came to the hospital in the afternoon and not long later, the nurse assigned to me came in to the room to ask me if she could put in a saline lock, just in case I had any seizures. I told her I would really rather not have one, as I was hoping to be able to leave later that evening. She was very nervous about this and tried to convince me to let her put one in. When she finally realized that I was serious, she told me she would leave all the equipment in the room just in case I changed my mind or if my blood pressures got really high again like the day before. She put the basket of supplies on the counter by the sink and laid out several different paraphernalia before leaving the room. A few minutes later she was back, this time with an armful of padding, which she proceeded to fasten to the sides of the hospital bed. I was quite surprised since no one had done these things the day before when my BPs had been much higher, nor the night the week before when I'd ended up staying overnight. In any case, I let her continue on as I knew it would make her feel better about me not having the saline lock in.

Once she was done and left the room, Jonathan and I visited until the doctor arrived to talk to us. He had a kind bedside demeanor and gave us a nice explanation of why he thought I should agree to an induction, which we appreciated. After talking to us, he said he would let us think about it for awhile. We talked it over and decided that we still wanted to wait one more day and talk to our own doctor when she got back. When we told the nurse, she was surprised by our decision and told me how concerned she was for me, but in the end she took off all the seizure pads, had me sign discharge papers, gave me the speech of things to watch out for once again, and let us leave. We left the hospital in the evening and I was relieved when we finally got home, but also worn out. We took some time before going to bed to get a hospital bag ready in case our doctor wanted us to go back in to the hospital in the morning. Then went to bed for what we imagined might be our last night alone in our apartment, and very likely the last night as just the two of us.

On the morning of Wednesday, July 1 (Canada Day!), Jonathan called our OB's office bright and early at 8 a.m. to make an appointment to see her. We wanted to tell Dr. Haskins what had been happening while she was gone on vacation and get her opinion on what she would recommend moving forward. We finally heard back from her office just before 10 a.m. and her receptionist told us we could come in to the office at 3:45 p.m. for an appointment. We were surprised that it took the office so long to get back to us, and also that the doctor was fine to see us later on in the day, but were grateful on both accounts as it reassured us that she probably didn't think our situation was dire since she wasn't asking us to come in right away. With the appointment made, we continued on with our day. We added a few more items to our hospital bag, and Jonathan was able to set up a time to test drive a car around noon. When we got back from the test drive, we relaxed for a bit, ate a meal and then did some final chores before heading out to the doctor's office. We brought with us everything we wanted to have at the hospital since we weren't sure if Dr. Haskins would send us right over to the hospital after our appointment to be induced or not.

At the appointment, my blood pressure was amazingly low for what it had been most of the past few days, 136/92. I was so surprised since the day was warm and we had driven to the appointment in our car that still had no working A/C. The nurse taking my BP told me she had been instructed by Dr. Haskins to have me lie on my side in one of the exam rooms for 5-10 minutes after taking my initial blood pressure and then would take my BP again and see if it had changed, but because this initial BP was so good, she asked the doctor if I needed another BP taken. Dr. Haskins said no, so we went straight to an exam room to wait for her. A few minutes later, Dr. Haskins poked her head in and told us she needed to go across the road to the hospital to catch a baby who was nearly ready to be born, and asked if we could wait until she got back. We really wanted to talk to her that day and said we didn't mind. We moved back out to the waiting room until Dr. Haskins came back in about half an hour and then went back to the exam room for our appointment.

We had a great talk with Dr. Haskins and were so glad that we had waited to see her again and discuss things with her before just going ahead and being induced like we had been recommended to do on both Monday and Tuesday evenings. Jonathan and I mentioned that we'd ideally like to wait as long as possible before inducing so that the baby could continue growing and maturing as long as possible, but Dr. Haskins told us that actually, in pre-eclampsia patients, even ones with just mild pre-eclampsia, babies usually actually lose weight in utero rather than continue to gain since the blood vessels in the placenta can constrict, which means decreased nutrient flow from the mother to the baby. Once we heard that, our reservations about induction lessened dramatically. We were still nervous about the procedure for several reasons, but we certainly didn't want this baby - already small at the 25th percentile in an ultrasound the previous Thursday - to get any smaller. Dr. Haskins also told us that the stress of pre-eclampsia, while potentially harmful to mothers, actually often helps babies' lungs mature and babies usually do great after delivery. Then she talked to us about the different options we had, and gave us her suggestion, which was that in this situation, even though the only thing amiss was my blood pressures, she would recommend induction sooner rather than later, before anything drastic might take place that could potentially mean even more interventions and/or health risks to me and/or the baby.

Next she checked my cervix, which was 2.5-3 cm dilated and really soft, "like warm butter on a summer day." (What a visual! Jonathan said he remembers her saying I was 95% effaced, but I don't recall that. I might have been thinking about the soft butter comment at the time, though.) Dr. Haskins ended up stripping my membranes in an effort to try to kickstart labour naturally, and then told us to discuss what we wanted to do while she went to do a quick ultrasound for another patient. Jonathan and I talked and finally decided that if I would ultimately need to be induced, we might as well start it going sooner rather than later since Dr. Haskins was going to be the on-call doctor for the next three days and we would prefer her being the doctor to be with us during delivery. When Dr. Haskins came back, we told her we would be fine to go in to the hospital the next morning to start the induction. She told us she thought that was a good decision, and called the hospital right away to see if they had a time slot and scheduled the induction for 7 a.m. Thursday morning. She said she would be at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. to check on us. We left the office around 5:30 p.m. and went home to eat supper, relax, and get some more last-minute things done, and then went to bed a bit earlier than usual to ensure a good night's sleep before our lives would suddenly be very different.

Next up: Lauren's birth story

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Lauren: Snuggling with Dad.
[Photo credit: Mum]

Joining with Jodi from Practising Simplicity with a portrait of our daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Day camping at North Forks Campground

On Saturday, August 8, Lauren celebrated her fifth-week birthday with her first "camping" trip. Some of the young adults from our Loomis church and our parent church, the Granite Bay church, spent that weekend camping in the mountains a couple hours out of Sacramento. Our friend Kelsey decided to just drive up to the campsite on Sabbath morning and come back that evening and invited us to come along. We were a little bit wary about taking a longer drive with Lauren, but decided that it was high time we ventured out and expanded our baby-comfort-zone. I dubbed the event "day camping."

We met Kelsey at a Park-and-Ride lot not too far from her house, switched Lauren's car seat over to her car, and started into the mountains. Since Lauren had had a quick top-off meal at the Park-and-Ride, she did great on the drive up, falling asleep soon into the drive and not waking up until just a little bit before we arrived.

We got to the campsite in the late morning just in time for church service around the campfire. We enjoyed the singing, the Bible thoughts shared and the following discussion, and then were introduced to those we didn't know. After church time ended, we launched into lunch preparation, which was, of course, haystacks, the good old SDA standard. It was a tasty meal and there was plenty for all. We talked and visited in the afternoon, enjoying the warmth of the campfire and lounging in hammocks.

Later in the afternoon, the majority of the group wanted to take a short hike down to a nearby river with a waterfall and deep swimming hole, so we decided to join them. I put Lauren in my ring sling for the first time outside of our home, and we followed along behind those who knew the way. The hike was short and easy until we got to an overlook right near the waterfall. Then it was a steep descent on a dirt trail to the river below. I was nervous about the hike down while carrying Lauren and wearing shoes that didn't have really grippy soles, but Jonathan stayed right ahead of me and helped me over some of the larger rocks and steep sections, and we made it down fine. When we got to the river, Jonathan found a route across and took his camera over to leave with the rest of our group. I followed along behind as far as I could go without help and then waited for Jonathan to come back to help me across the last bit. But before he returned, a young man in another group started towards me. "We watched you come down and we were really nervous for you," he said, with an obvious drunken drawl. "I don't want you to fall so I'll help you across," he continued and held out his hand. Just then, he lost his footing on the slippery rocks in the riverbed and fell onto his bottom in the cold water. He sprang right back up again, but I wasn't too excited about him helping me. Luckily, Jonathan was almost back to me and Lauren by then, so I politely thanked the man for his offer, but said that my husband could help me the rest of the way across. The three of us made it to the other side without getting wet or having any mishaps or falls, thankfully. We enjoyed watching some of our group jump into the icy water of the swimming hole and watching one couple's energetic dog jump into the river to retrieve sticks. Before too long, the sun started to sink behind the cliffs overlooking the river, and we gathered our things to leave. Jonathan helped me back across the river and then stayed behind me as we hiked back up the steep trail.

Ultimate trust... sleeps while Mom is crossing rocks and streams
He was fetching quite a large log - almost pulled him under sometimes
Some folks went in
Our first "camping" adventure as a family as 3 :)

Once back at the campsite, we helped to prepare the supper of fire roasted potatoes and corn on the cob and some other dishes. It was delicious! As the sun set and night started to fall, we realized we had made a silly mistake, especially as two Northerners; we had forgotten to bring along pants and sweatshirts or jackets. I had a thin sweatshirt along, but that was extent of our warm clothes. We felt silly for already forgetting that not everywhere in California is baking hot and that it does get cold in the mountains, especially at night. Thankfully, I had brought some warmer layers and several blankets for Lauren, so we bundled her up and Kelsey lent us a quilt that she had stored in her car. We cuddled up together as we listened to a sundown worship thought, but when worship was over, we were quite ready to leave, both because of the cold and the mosquitoes which were starting to come out. We bid the overnight campers goodbye and headed back up the road to the highway. We did have to stop once to feed Lauren just before getting on the highway, and she was quite unhappy for about 15 minutes before we got back to our car, but we managed to make most of the trip without too many trials, thanks to some nice music on a CD Kelsey had. We made it back to our car, comforted Lauren, and headed home.

Weird fruit/berry we spotted on the trail
Lauren gets some snuggles with Kelsey
Mosquito protection
Cuddling to keep warm as evening approaches
Warm fire at the campsite

All in all, it was a great day out in the fresh air and woods, and it was so nice to finally venture out of our house with Lauren and explore a little bit outside of the city. Thanks so much, Kelsey, for inviting us "day camping" and for driving us there and back!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Lauren: Snuggling with Mum.
[Photo credit: Dad]

Joining with Jodi from Practising Simplicity with a portrait of our daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Lauren: Being a baby is exhausting. :)
[Photo credit: Mum]

Joining with Jodi from Practising Simplicity with a portrait of our daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.