"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure." Psalm 71:14-15

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Clara Jo's Birth Story

Since Levi was born, I've turned into a birth junkie in search of answers as to what happened physiologically during my first labor.  I've read countless articles about labor and progression of labor.  However, everything I experienced during my first labor, and everything I read worked against me.  If I were just a normal laboring mom timing contractions, this birth story would have a very different ending.  But alas, here goes.

One of my main reasons for wanting a home birth was to reclaim my healthy view of birth, and to birth without fear.  In preparation for my labor, I bought the Hypnobabies home study.  I was horrible about listening to the tracks and practicing; I'm not sure it worked.  But I digress.  I can say that for the most part, I was very calm and relaxed for most of the labor.

I was having what I thought were crampy like contractions on Sunday night, February 9th.  When I woke up Monday morning, my contractions were about 12-15 minutes apart.  I took it easy that morning, ate some breakfast, and called my boss to tell her I thought I was in labor.  I called Matt at work to ask him to drive me to the chiropractor for one last "I'm in labor" adjustment around lunch time from Dr. Paxton.  By then my contractions were about 10 minutes apart, and still very manageable.  We picked up Levi from school on our way home.  When we got home, Levi took a nap and so did I.  I made the mistake of "working hard to establish labor" with Levi and by the end I was exhausted.  I knew that since I was in early labor still, I needed to rest as much as possible.  So I laid down, dozing on and off, most of the afternoon.

Earlier in the day, I alerted the birth team that "today might be the day".  My best friend Meredith was supposed to provide childcare for Levi, because we wanted him to be there.  Our photographer, Melody Hood, was going to photograph the birth.  My friend, Kristen, was set to be my doula.  And of course, Michelle Ray was our midwife.  Around dinner time, the contractions had reached 6.5-7.5 minutes apart and stayed that way for a few hours.  I was texting and calling Michelle periodically, but because I was still able to go about my daily tasks and talk normally through the contractions, we really didn't think that I was "serious" about labor yet.  Every birth junkie and well trained natural birth practitioner knows to judge labor progression by the emotional signs (laughing, talking, normal activity, etc) rather than the time span between contractions.  I think it was around 9pm or so when I went to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug.  That thing was gross.  I never saw mine with Levi.  But there again, that can happen days before a birth, so that's not really a sign either.

I had convinced myself that because Clara was in the same position that Levi was in during labor (spine on the right side of my uterus), that my labor with her was going to be long like it was with Levi.  My labor established itself as "active labor" fairly early on in the day with Levi and I was "serious" about labor and the strength of my contractions for over 12 hours before I got my epidural.  Because my contractions had been fairly mild all day, I had convinced myself that I was in for the REALLY long haul and not to get too excited too early.  Then my contractions started to space out again.  I knew that with second and after babies that labor could start and stop several times, and because I didn't feel that labor had established itself as "active" I thought that when they started to space out that night that they labor may stop and let me sleep and start back in the morning.  Michelle told me to lay down and try to rest, so I did.

I laid down about 10:30pm.  Once I did, I felt like my contractions were still pretty far apart, but they got MUCH more intense.  In hind sight, this would have been the time to call Michelle and tell her to come.  I tried to stay in bed, but the contractions were too intense, I had to get up.  I looked at the clock, 11:45pm, as I got out of bed.  I came into the living room and stood in front of the fire, talked to Matt, swayed back and forth, did some belly lifts trying to get Clara to turn, and labored through about 4-5 contractions.  I looked at the clock again, 12:05am.  For whatever reason, I still did not feel the need to call Michelle.  I didn't believe labor was actually "getting serious" because the contractions had gotten close and spaced out again so many times during the day on Monday.  Instead, I called Kristen, my doula.  I told her that things were more intense but I still wasn't sure if it was time to call Michelle.  She said she would grab her bag and be right over.

Again, this would also have been an excellent time to call my midwife.

Kristen arrived at the house about 12:25am on February 11th.  I was moaning through some fairly intense contractions, telling Kristen I was a horrible Hypnobabies student because I didn't think my anesthesia was working.  Because I was convinced that Clara's position was going to cause me to have a long labor, Kristen and I decided to try to get her to turn.  Kristen did some Rebozo belly sifting with me.  Meanwhile, Matt was in the living room reading his birth partner Hypnobabies literature about belly lifts and getting a baby into proper position for birth.  At the bottom of his reading material there is a big disclaimer, "Do not do this unless you are where you will give birth. If you are having a home birth, make sure your birth attendant is with you."  And he walks back to the bedroom to find us doing belly sifts.  Oops.

I stood up to go to the bathroom and felt a TON of pressure.  I ran my hand down the front of my belly, and there was Clara's spine...right in position for birth.  All I could think was, "Uh oh."  I looked at Matt and said, "Call Michelle.  She needs to come, now."  That was about 1:00am.  Matt gets on the phone and calls Michelle, who lives at least 45 minutes away.  He also calls Meredith (in case Levi wakes up during any of this) and Melody and told them to come as quickly as they could.  Then he calls Michelle back.

Cut to me.  I can feel Clara descending.  Michelle asks to talk to me.  She told me to check myself and see what I feel.  My calm response, "Hang on, I gotta wash my hands."  She asks, "What do you feel?  Is it a head?"  Nope, it was a bag of waters.  Then I sat on the toilet and it WAS a bag of waters that broke.  Then I felt intense pressure and Clara coming down.  I yelled at Matt that Michelle needed to get here now.  His reply, "Hun, she hasn't left her house yet."  Me, "She's not gonna make it and someone's gotta be here to catch this baby!"  Matt asked Michelle if he should call 911, she told him to go ahead.

Now I had heard of this phenomenon called "involuntary pushing", like if a pregnant woman were in a coma and went into labor, that her body could deliver her baby without any conscious effort from her.  I now believe this to be true.  When I realized that my midwife might not be there to catch my baby, I obviously did not make any effort to actively push even though I had the urge.  I also did not fight what my body was doing because that would have REALLY HURT.  So I just "relaxed".  I put this in quotation marks because I was relaxed as one can be while screaming bloody murder.  I really think my emotional state would have been different and I may not have screamed AS MUCH bloody murder if Michelle had been there.  But there was nothing I could do to stop her arrival once Clara decided to come.  I would not describe it as painful, just very intense pressure.  My body literally expelled her on its own.

We laid down the plastic table cloth on the bedroom floor, and Kristen was ready with her gloves to catch Clara (who started to crown before anyone arrived).  Matt was on the phone with the 911 operator and proceded to tell me to lay on my back, to which I responded "EFF HER!" (not abbreviated).  Greg the firefighter walks in (while I'm screaming again) and starts asking, "Ma'am, is this your first baby?  How far apart are your contractions?"  My response (in a not so nice yelling manner), "STOP ASKING ME QUESTIONS!  THERE'S A HEAD COMING OUT OF ME, JUST CATCH IT!!"  I look and the second firefighter is covering his mouth laughing in the hallway.  So Greg the firefighter decided he was going to "check" to see how close she was to arriving without telling me, to which I responded "DON'T TOUCH ME!!"  I think Kristen said something like, "You can just wait for the head."  I yelled out, "Somebody get Matt, he's gonna miss this!"  Two contractions and involuntary pushes later, Clara was born.  I looked up at the clock right in front of me, 2:00 am exactly on 2/11/14...HER DUE DATE.

THEN the ambulance personnel arrived.  Meanwhile, my daughter is wet/cold/screaming and they laid her down on a chux pad on the hard floor while wiping her off with another chux pad.  I'm [still] yelling, "Give me the baby.  She's cold.  Her body temp is dropping.  Give her to me!"  Greg the firefighter & Crystal the EMT "We need to clean her off."  Michelle on the phone to Crystal, "PUT THE BABY ON THE MOTHER'S CHEST!!!"  As my sweet doula waits patiently with a clean, fluffy towel to give to us after Clara is with me.  When they finally gave her to me, she stopped crying...obviously.  We got her dry and a fresh, dry towel to warm both of us up.  Then here comes Greg with a cord clamp.  I calmly put up my hand and said, "Don't clamp her cord yet.  Just wait for the midwife, she's almost here."  I didn't want to explain the research on delayed cord clamping to Greg.  He looked confused.  Luckily he just accepted the "Wait for the midwife." instruction as something that made sense.  I think he and Crystal felt like they needed to be doing something, so they just kept suctioning her mouth.  Whatever.  In retrospect, I think Kristen would have done a fine job catching her but I digress!

Matt likes to joke that even in the throes of labor and after giving birth, that I was totally in charge of the room and everything that happened...just the way I wanted!  Meredith arrived just after Clara is born.  All she said was, "Wow, that was fast!"  Then Melody arrived.  Both later stated that they nearly lost it when they pulled up to the house with 2 police cruisers, 1 fire truck, and 1 ambulance in the driveway.  Matt never got a chance to call them back after the initial "Come as quickly as you can." call to tell them what was going on.  Poor Melody said she might need a cardio work-up for the possible heart attack she had.  THEN Michelle came in and took over, I could finally relax.  ;-P

The poor EMT was so confused as to what to do in a normal birth situation.  She admitted that the only births she had responded to were 4lb, trouble breathing, no prenatal care, crashing babies.  She said something about transporting me and not knowing whether she could discharge me to the midwife's care without transport.  Matt's response, "She's NOT going to allow you to transport her or the baby.  There's nothing wrong with either of them."  Crystal had to get the ok from her supervisor on the phone to discharge two perfectly healthy individuals, bless her.

After all the strangers left my house, everything was just as I imagined it would be with a home birth!  I nursed Clara for the first time in my own bed.  Kristen and Meredith brought me food and juice and made me laugh.  Melody took awesome pictures and may or may not have held Clara before Matt, woops.  Clara made a big poopy all over my belly and Michelle was trying to clean me off.  I didn't realize Matt hadn't held her yet and I handed her to the nearest person so we could get both of us a little cleaner.  Matt totally busted Melody with, "Are you holding my daughter before me?"  Melody's all like, "No, that didn't happen.  No, not at all.  Here she is!"

Anyway, they made my herbal sitz bath in my tub where I got cleaned up.  They brought Clara to the tub where she immediately calmed down.  While I was in the tub, they changed the sheets on our bed and put towels and sheets in the wash.  Once I got out, Matt and I laid in bed while Michelle did Clara's newborn exam on the foot of our bed and told us how healthy she was: 7 pounds 2 ounces, 19.5 inches long.  Then Michelle and Kristen packed up to leave after a few hours of hard work!  Melody and Meredith stayed for us to wake Levi up, because yes he slept through everything!

Matt says that waking Levi up and bringing him into our bedroom was better than any Christmas morning ever.  As my sweet boy rubbed his eyes at 5 O'early in the morning, Matt said "Levi, who is that with Mommy?"  Levi said, "CLARA!"  He immediately wanted to hold her.  It was the sweetest family moment and I will never forget it.  I'm so glad Melody was there to capture it for us.  Once I get the DVD of pictures, I'll add some to this post.

Although it wasn't the peaceful, intimate home birth we planned.  It was lovely, and quite a fun story.  I delivered my baby safely, in my own home, and had the support of the people around me.  Oh, and I was totally in charge!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Breaking Radio Silence

So obviously being a full-time working mother to a toddler severely impacts the frequency with which I update this blog.  But this most recent radio silence was purposeful.  I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 on Saturday, June 8th, two days before I started my new job on Monday, June 10th!!  Woohoo!  We were certainly planning for baby #2, just not at that exact moment.  :)

If you've read my posts from Levi's first year about my struggles with breastfeeding, or one of several  reflective posts about his birth and the trauma we all sustained, it's not hard to figure out that I had PPD (postpartum depression).  Although, I never really addressed it or admitted it until it was practically gone a year later.  I did enter therapy to address my residual trauma surrounding Levi's birth and all that came with it in the fall of 2012.  I also started attending ICAN meetings, a support network of women recovering from C-sections.  These 2 steps had a profound impact on my healing, how I viewed myself, and how I viewed birth.

You see, growing up I always had a very healthy view of birth and women's ability to give birth.  My awesome mom is a former Lamaze instructor and had a natural birth with me.  My view of birth was always, "Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without drugs and interventions.  I can do it too."  I've never been afraid of birth, EVER.  I viewed it as a totally natural process, not a medical situation.  And honestly, MOST births aren't a medical situation.  If left alone, most births will progress normally and naturally with a positive outcome.

In a therapy session about 1 year ago, I was discussing my first labor and birth and how I felt at each stage.  I reflected that while I was at home, I was totally relaxed and comfortable, not scared at all.  As soon as we left home for the hospital, I was scared.  And every decision I made after that was made in fear.  Every intervention that I didn't want but agreed to, was because I was scared.  I was on the other side of Levi's birth feeling like a victim, and scared to face birth again, scared I would be a victim of our birth system feeling bullied again.  Then I looked at my therapist and said, "I don't want to go to the hospital next time.  I want to stay at home.  I want to have a home birth.  I was comfortable at home.  I feel safer at home than I do in the hospital."  I couldn't believe I said it out loud.  It was such a relief, like a weight was lifted off of me.

When I found out we were expecting baby #2, I already had a relationship with the midwife I would hire from attending ICAN meetings.  I personally knew at least 5 people that had HBACs (Home Birth After Cesarean) with her.  I trusted her and knew that she had the knowledge and experience to deliver my baby safely.  I felt that my best chance at the healing birth I wanted was to surround myself with care providers who wanted me to have it as much as I did.  I knew that by hiring Michelle, if I ended up on an operating table with another C-section that I really needed to be there.

Matt and I discussed home birth at length.  We decided that it would be best to not tell anyone our plans except for the people that would attend the birth.  We knew that home birth is a bit taboo for some people, and HBAC is something that many people are not comfortable with and feel is not safe.  We wanted our decisions about the next birth to be ours and ours alone.  We did not want anyone else's voice or criticisms rattling around in our heads influencing us.  And we certainly didn't want to spend 9 months defending our decisions or hear negative comments from people who had never researched the safety of home birth like we had.  So, we decided that it was nobody's business and we would keep it to ourselves.  We did feel bad about having to tell boldface lies when anyone asked us directly which hospital we would be at, but as time passed we knew we made the right decision.

That is also why I refrained from blogging during my pregnancy.  I knew it would be disingenuous to blog about the pregnancy and say nothing about our plans about the birth, because I've been so open discussing our last birth experience.  Thus, the radio silence.

But that's not why you're here.  You're probably here to read about how it went...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Second Anniversary of the Worst Day of our Lives

Today is our son Levi's 2nd birthday.  Matt and I agree that he is the greatest blessing in our lives short of our marriage to each other.  He brings us so much joy, laughter, and pride.  Words cannot express the richness his presence adds to our lives.  We know that as parents we are extremely lucky to have such a happy, content, sweet, brilliant, healthy child.  We take none of this for granted.  There are so many couples who are not as lucky, and we know that.

However, neither one of us likes to reflect on the day our son was born.  It was not an enjoyable day. It did not go as we planned or desired in many ways.  When we do talk about that day, we aren't reminiscing about our first moments together as a family.  We are usually "processing" what happened to us in a therapeutic way.  In fact, I've been in therapy for some time now addressing my birth trauma.  I look back at this blog post and shake my head.  I was in such denial about my experience and feelings about it.  I was really trying to be ok with what happened to me.  I thought if I kept saying it over and over again that I would believe it.

But the truth is, what happened to me that day is very different from the story I told.  After much reflection, I realize the mistakes I made in agreeing to interventions that made my labor more painful, and the interventions we were coerced into when Matt and I were at our most vulnerable.  I've done a lot of reflecting on my labor itself and it's almost as if I had 2 different labors, one at home and one in the hospital.  At home, my labor was intense but I was relaxed.  I remember different things I did during the labor, but I don't remember many specific things and time passed very quickly for me.  I was even able to rest and snooze between some of my contractions.  The only reason we went to the hospital when we did was that there was quite a bit of blood (more than I expected) at one trip to the bathroom.  I flipped and thought about ruptured placentas, when actually it was just a few burst capillaries from my dilating cervix.  Oh how I wish we would have stayed at home longer, because my "emotional" labor cues were not telling me it was time to go to the hospital.  I went because I was afraid, and I was never able to relax and trust my body again after that.

My "second" labor in the hospital was chaotic, anxiety-filled, and much more intense, partly due to the hospital environment and procedures and partly due to the interventions.  Even though we had taken the time to "pre-register" and fill out all of the necessary paperwork, they INSIST on asking you all the same damn questions again when you arrive while you are having painful contractions and trying to relax.  ARGH.  Hospital policy states that you must wear a fetal monitor a minimum of 20 minutes every hour.  I had a mobile monitor, thankfully.  But instead of leaving it on, which might have been better in the long run, every hour my Labor and Delivery nurse was putting the thing on/adjusting it to keep the heartbeat as baby moved around/taking it off.  This constant touching me was extremely distracting and made my labor more painful.  Every time something broke my concentration, my pain was horrendous.  When I was able to stay in the zone and concentrate, Bradley doesn't lie, the pain is cut to a fraction.  Your body tensing up and fighting against the contraction is what makes labor so painful.  My labor became significantly more painful after they broke my water.  The bag of water helps to cushion your body from the contractions.  I believe I had so much back labor because Levi was having to rotate into position.  The ideal position for start of labor is head down with the baby's spine on the left side of your uterus.  That way the baby turns 1/4 clockwise turn to go down into the birth canal.  Levi was in this ideal position until about 37 or 38 weeks.  He rotated overnight to have his spine on the right side and never went back.  Instead of babies turning 1/4 turn counter-clockwise to come down, they have to spend much of the labor effort to turn 3/4 turn clockwise.  Having their skull pressing on your spine during this turning process is what causes such intense back labor.  If I had been thinking clearly (haha) I would have realized that breaking my water would make it more difficult for him to turn and make my labor more painful.  Hindsight really is 20/20.

But the most regrettable part (that we had any control over) was allowing my midwife to talk me into getting an epidural.  I had no idea at the time the emotional price I would pay for that decision, and the ripple affect it would have on my birth.  I knew how much I wanted a natural birth, had always wanted a natural birth.  I grew up with a mom who had a natural birth with me and went on to become a Lamaze instructor.  I said my whole life, "Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without any drugs, I don't need them either.  My mom did it, so can I."  When you get an epidural, you are forced to lay on your back.  A woman's pelvis is smallest when she is lying on her back.  The only reason this has become the birthing position of choice in modern hospitals is because it is most convenient for the care providers to see what is going on and "catch" the baby.  Apparently, it was just too taxing for a middle-aged male doctor to get down on the floor when a woman was giving birth, so they started strapping her to a table on her back.  But I digress.  Because of this unproductive birthing position, and the fact I couldn't feel what the heck I was doing when I was pushing, Levi never moved down past my pelvis.

But what I've realized since his birth is that coercing me into an epidural was totally unnecessary, medically anyway.  The only person that intervention attempted to serve was my midwife.  Once I took a job as a medical social worker it hit me: if she doesn't see patients, she doesn't get paid.  She had a full day of patients scheduled on Monday.  She approached me about getting an epidural at 1am in an attempt to speed my labor along so that she wouldn't miss billing for any patients the next day.  I thought it was odd that she never missed any of my scheduled appointments in 9 months from attending a birth.  **RED FLAG THAT YOUR MIDWIFE IS NOT REALLY SUPPORTIVE OF THE NATURAL LABOR PROCESS**  Levi was never in any distress.  His heart rate never faltered, not even once.  There was never a medical reason to intervene.  I even told them, in as many words as I could muster, that I was starting to feel him in my bottom.  That is the tale-tell sign that the baby is moving down into the birth canal and it is time to push.  I was almost there, but instead I trusted that my provider was acting in MY best interest instead of hers.  That is not a mistake I will ever make again.  She knew my birth plan.  She knew what I wanted.  And she came to me in the most painful part of labor, after I had been in transition for 3 hours and in labor for nearly 24, and told me "I don't think you can dilate the rest of the way without an epidural."  In my world, I needed someone to tell me that I COULD do this, to remind me that God created my body to do this, because I wasn't so sure.  Instead, she told me in so many words that she didn't think I could do it.  And that crushed my spirit.  That was the end for me.  Matt was terrified by how much pain I had been in and how difficult it was for him to watch.  He just wanted it to be over.  He said it was my decision, and so I quit.  I will regret it for the rest of my life.  That decision was the biggest factor in not giving our family the best birth we could have.  That was the reason that my first time holding my son looked like this:

instead of like this (9 hours later):

You might be wondering what my midwife could have done differently.  Well, she was hardly in the room at all except to check my progress what I can only assume was every hour.   She never suggested any natural remedies to help with dilation, such as changing labor positions.  She only suggested unwanted interventions, such as breaking my water and an epidural.  She's the midwife and I'm a first time mom, she should have suggestions of what might be helpful since this wasn't her first rodeo.  I've learned that laboring on the toilet can help open up the pelvis and bring the baby down to put more pressure on the cervix to dilate.  That might have helped.  In stead of suggesting a C-section right away after 2 hours, she could have given me the option of turning off the epidural and letting the feeling come back in my legs to change positions for pushing.  I didn't know that I could ask to turn off the epidural once I had it.  I was never given the option.  As much as I would have hated going back to feeling contractions, I would have done it to avoid surgery.

My C-section was nothing short of what I would term "medical rape" because of how I was coerced into interventions I didn't want, the reasoning behind the coercion (non-medical reasons), and the actual process of the surgery.  I had a strong reaction to the epidural drugs.  They made me shake and shiver violently, even before I began pushing.  The rate at which they have to increase it to perform surgery, I shook so violently I questioned whether they should be cutting into my abdomen.  I went from a dark labor room where I was experiencing all the natural, primal, protective hormones of a birthing woman, to a stark, bright, sterile operating room strapped down with my arms out like I was on a cross.  I was no longer able to instinctively protect myself and my baby, and it was terrifying.  All I wanted to do was feel him on my chest, to smell him, to kiss him, to nurse him.  Instead they brought him all wrapped up like a burrito so that I could barely touch him.  He was terrified as well.  He was so scared, you could tell by his cry.  He couldn't feel me or hear me.  Instead of entering this world slowly and peacefully, he was jerked and pulled out by his head and neck.  Have you ever seen a C-section?  I have, and it's a horrible way to be born.  Don't get me wrong, they are necessary in some cases to save lives.  But mine was not.  Mine was the outcome of undesired interventions and a greedy care provider who wanted to make money off of my birth and a full day of patients.  And I don't think the emotional trauma I have suffered or the price I paid with low milk supply, trouble breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and marital stress was worth her rescheduling a few appointments.

But that's only part of our story.  Matt hates that I didn't get the birth I desired, the pain it has caused, and the situation that caused it.  But for him Levi's birthday is about a different experience.  For him it was "waking up" in an ambulance with the realization that he had had a seizure and was on his way to a hospital across town from his wife and new baby.  For him it was appreciating the suggestion of the EMT to take a picture of him holding his new son with his phone, because when he woke up he couldn't remember the birth (he does now).  For him it was texting me to ask what time Levi was born, how much he weighed, and how long he was, because he couldn't remember.  For him it was knowing that he wouldn't be able to drive for six months, and that he would have to take anti-seizure meds for the rest of his life.  For Matt and for me, thinking about Levi's birth means acknowledging that this moment,

our first moment together as a family, happened 9 hours after Levi was born.  And that is NOT how a family should be born.

But on this day, Levi's 2nd Birthday, we focus on him.  We celebrate who he is, and dream of who he will become.  On this day, we celebrate our precious, handsome, bright, funny, verbose, book-loving, kiss-giving, amazing little boy.  We celebrate where he is now, and we try not to think of how he got here.  At the end of the day, we both admit that for a moment our thoughts turned to the events of 4/4/11.  We hope that some day the bad memories will become foggy and the precious memories will remain.  Until then, we celebrate TODAY.

***Regular therapy with a trained counselor and finding a supportive group of women who understand has been key to helping me cope.  I found the support I needed in my local chapter of ICAN.  If you are dealing with birth trauma of any kind or finding it difficult to recover emotionally from a C-section, I encourage you to seek out a chapter near you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Levi!!

Yes Levi is ONE YEAR OLD!! YES it's been that long since I blogged about anything!  Our little man turned one on 4-4-12.  He weighed in at a whopping 19 lbs even :)  We had dinner with cupcakes on his REAL birthday.  Levi immediately picked up the cupcake, flipped it over, took 3 bites out of the bottom, & proceeded to throw the rest on the floor bit by bit.

For Levi's big birthday bash we decided on "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" for our theme since Levi loves books, and this book in particular.  The invitations were precious, and done by my girl Ashley.  Aren't they so cute?!

Of course after many years of "retirement" my mom, G-Mom made the cake!

I got most of the decoration ideas from Pinterest.

I didn't have the time or the inclination to do the entire "menu" from the book.  So we served BBQ from a local place, plus had the fruit that the caterpillar ate Monday -Friday and the "nice green leaf" he ate on Sunday for people to make salads.  The rest of the cards of all that he ate on Saturday were just for decoration on the table.

I had a friend of mine take pictures, which was a big load off of my shoulders.  She did a great job and it was one less thing for me to worry about.  We had her come early and do pictures of Levi with all of his grandparents (and my godmother).

Levi and "Binda" (my godmother Brenda)

Levi with Grandma and Grandad

Levi with Gramps and Nana

Levi with G-Mom

Levi with Mommy and Daddy

Matt and I went back and forth on what to get Levi for this very special birthday.  I still have the Jenny Lind rocking chair that my parents got for my first birthday, Levi loves it.  We decided that every little boy needs his very own little red wagon...

Levi and his buddy Franklin (they are 10 days apart)