Monday, July 30, 2012

Keslee's Arrival

For weeks I had been dilated to 3cm, then 4cm and still he wouldn't come.  Every night I'd make sure my toiletries were packed and my hospital bag was already in the van ready to go. I had had many, many false labor moments where my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart but then they subsided.  I had been having contractions about 10 min apart all night which wasn't completely unusual.  I asked Steve to come into the office with me that morning and Steve's mom offered to watch the girls. This was my 39 week appointment and I was waiting for the Dr. to come into the office. My contractions were about 3 min. apart at the time and she said I was at 5 cm. so she stripped my membranes and encouraged me to stay in the office and get hooked up to some monitors to see how I was progressing.  This time they kept coming and she wanted us to go ahead and check into the hospital.  My contractions were 3-4 min. apart but I didn't want to spend forever in the hospital waiting so we ran back home to Caldwell, left a key for Steve's parents and grabbed Steve his #5 at Sonic and I got 2 Route 44 glasses of ice.  We got back to the hospital at noon and got settled into LDR 7.   On the way, I made a call to a photographer friend of mine Jenn Straznicky.  I was hoping for her to be available to capture some pictures of his birth and so she quickly arranged for a babysitter so she could head up to the hospital.  I told her I'd keep her posted on my progress that it might be awhile.  The Dr. broke my water to help things progress somewhere around 2pm.  I was 7cm at the time.  I rocked on a birthing ball I had brought with me which helped ease some of the discomfort on my tailbone.  My goal was to have another natural birth VBAC like I had with Cayle, my second daughter.  Kylan, my first was an emergency C-section after having back labor for about 5 hours.  Cayle was a VBAC and I had her 15 minutes after we arrived at the hospital.  There was no time for drugs so I just rolled with it and it was truly a wonderful experience.  I was hoping for another FAST delivery!  The pain is GREAT, but manageable if it doesn't last forever.  I could handle another 2.5 hr. labor.

My nurse, Mary Anne, told me that there was something magic about laying on your left side and she thought I'd progress faster if I laid down.  Boy was she right!  I had Jenn come up cause I thought I was getting much closer.  When I laid down, Mary Anne checked me and I was still at 7cm.  The contractions were MUCH HARDER after I laid down and I was rethinking my no-drug plan!  I told Steve if I was only at a 7 that I didn't know if I could handle this pain for so long.  He encouraged me that it wouldn't be long and he was coming fast.  In about 5 minutes, I was ready to push.  Jenn walked in the door right in time and started shooting.  I had the nurses scrambling and they were telling me not to push since the Dr. wasn't there yet.  Ya right, when the kid wants to come, he's COMING.  Don't tell me not to push!  The hospital Dr. came in since mine wasn't there yet, but the lady across the hall was pushing too so the nurses came in to steal the on-call hospital Dr.  Just then, my Dr. came in and took over so all was good.  This birth was much harder than with Cayle and the pushing part was much longer and difficult.  Of course, Cayle was 5 lb. 13oz and it took two pushes to get her out.  After about 15 minutes of pushing, Keslee Cope Canon came into this world at 2:57pm on July 20th, 2012.  He was 6 lb. 13 oz. and 20 inches long.

Seeing this beautiful miracle laying on my chest was amazing, as any mother knows.  My cup runneth over.  Here are some beautiful shots Jenn captured for us...

Many people have asked where we came up with his name.  "Lee" is Steve's family name that has been passed down for 5 generations now.  "Kess" was a name from my side of the family.  Peter "Kess"ler Williams was a fighting Texas Aggie Class of '70 and graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.  He was commissioned into the Marines as a 2nd Lieutenant and flew A4s during the Vietnam War. In 1973, he was doing maneuvers with another pilot in the Bermuda Triangle area when his plane had a malfunction and crashed into the ocean.  His wing-man saw the whole incident and radioed it in as it happened but the plane and his body were never found.  He was honored at Silver Taps, an honored tradition at A&M honoring fallen alumni.  He was awarded with several medals for his service to our country.  "Cope", Keslee's middle name is after Steve's grandfather Richard David Cope.  "Papa" as we call him was a brother to 2 sisters and father to 3 daughters, so his name was not passed on.  Papa has played such a key role in Steve's life and shares his passion for hunting and his love for his ranch in Bronte, TX.  Some of Steve's best attributes I believe come from this beloved man, like his gentleness and patience as well as his brow bone. :)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people that have prayed for us during our journey of sorrow and joy.  Words can't express our gratitude for you interceding for us at the throne of God.  Your love and support for our family is what the body of Jesus Christ is all about.  To our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for holding our hearts and bringing us comfort and peace and abundant blessings through the miracle of our children.  I know you hold my other 3 babes in the palm of your hand and I'll see them again some day. And to my beloved husband, Steve, for his continued understanding, love and strong arms to hold me.  You are forever and always the love of my life and my soul mate.  "You will always be the miracle that makes my life complete.  And as long as there's a breath in me, I'll make yours just as sweet.  As we look into the future, it's as far as we can see.  So let's make each tomorrow the best that it can be."

The Journey

The past 2 years have been filled with much sorrow and heartache for our family as we have lost three babies.  Back in March 2010, we found out that what we thought was going to be a healthy pregnancy was nothing more than an empty sac.  For reasons I didn't understand at the time, I was not able to bond with that baby early in the pregnancy and then to find out that the baby was not there, I realize it was God's way of protecting my heart.  My body was not passing it on its own so we scheduled a D&C at the hospital.  It was March 19th, Steve's birthday.  The grieving process for that was very different because my Dr. said it happens sometimes that there is something wrong with the DNA and it just doesn't form a baby.  So instead of mourning over the loss of a "baby" it was more the sadness of a loss of expectation.

We moved on and continued to try to have another baby after healing from the surgery.  We became pregnant again and I started bleeding this time.  At our 6 week ultrasound, the sonogram revealed 2 sacks this time!  We were pregnant with twins.  Our anxious excitement at the thought of having twins turned to disappointment as we saw that once again a sac was empty.  Although we were perplexed on how the same thing could happen twice in a row, we rejoiced in the fact that one of the babies looked very healthy and had a good, steady heartbeat.  The Dr. and the sonographer couldn't see any reason or explanation for the bleeding so I was put on extra progesterone.  The bleeding continued for several weeks and still the ultrasounds showed that the baby was healthy and growing.

(The sonogram above shows the empty sack on the bottom and the healthy twin in the top sac)

One morning as I lay in bed, I felt a sharp pain and went to the bathroom.  My body had passed the baby and it lay lifeless in the palm of my hand.  Words can't even begin to describe the pain in my heart as I looked at my child.  I could see his hands and feet and eyes.  It was the most painful moment of my life.  The hope that we had that this child would survive had died.  It was Feburary 18th, 2011, my brother's birthday.  Months of mourning and sorrow followed his loss. Even though it was too early to detect his sex, we felt in our hearts that it was a son.  The Lord gave Steve the name Elijah because God came down from Heaven to take him away to be with Him. We buried him on our land under two beautiful oak trees and had a small ceremony with our daughters.  We didn't tell them that it was a burial but that it was just a way of us saying goodbye.  I knew they wouldn't understand at this time why.  I sang "Be Still" and "Amazing Grace".

"Hide me now, under Your wings. Cover me within Your mighty hand.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm.  Father you are King above the flood.  I will be still and know You are God.

Find rest my soul, in Christ alone.  Know His power, in quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm.  Father You are King above the flood.  I will be still and know You are God."

The next month I was sent to an infertility specialist, Dr. Allon, who sent me to the lab to have 16 vials of blood drawn. The testing revealed that I had some blood clotting disorders.  There are many, many different factors that help your blood clot.  My disorder specifically was that I have an elevated Factor 8 and low protein C.  This disorder tends to appear more after you are 30 years of age which is why I had no problems during the pregnancies of my two daughters.  My cousin also went through several losses before finding out she has the same condition as I, just a different mutation.  After I was diagnosed, 2 of my other girl cousins underwent testing which revealed they too have blood clotting disorders.  So out of the 5 of us girl cousins, 4 of us have undergone testing and all tested positive for the same condition.  My maternal grandmother had a late term miscarriage/still birth which I believe may have been caused by the same condition, although we'll never know for sure.  My mother had my brother and I before she was 29 so even though she was tested recently and shown to also have the same condition, it didn't effect her pregnancies in her youth.  Dr. Allon instructed me to notify him as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test and he would prescribe for me to take Lovanox injections daily (a blood thinner) and that I should take a low dose aspirin daily for the rest of my life to help my blood flow.  It was strange, knowing that this was the cause of all three losses and it was like I had to go back and mourn the loss of the other two children since I knew now that it was my body that had killed them and not just some DNA mistake.  My body had treated them like a wound and the blood flow through the placenta clotted and prevented them from growing and surviving. That was April.

All while this was going on, we were building our home on our land.  On November 23rd, 2011, the day before Thanksgiving, we finally were able to close on the completion of our dream barn house.  And that morning I had a positive pregnancy test!  I called Dr. Allon's office immediately and he had the prescription filled by the end of the day.  Steve and I prayed in the car before we left for the Title Company.  He prayed that God would watch over us and continue to bless us as we begin this new chapter in our lives, to which I added, "and this new chapter of having a new child."  He looked up and said, "REALLY??" We both were ecstatic and little anxious as well.  On Sunday, my oldest daughter, Kylan, accepted Jesus into her heart!  It was a week of great rejoicing and Thanksgiving indeed!  I went in for HCG levels testing on Monday which showed promising results.  Continued blood tests and sonograms showed a healthy baby.  And no bleeding this time.  I guarded my heart a little because I was afraid of another loss, but I had to pray continually that the Lord would allow me to open my heart to love this little life.

At 16 weeks, we went in for another monthly ultrasound and found out that we were having a Baby BOY!!!!  We were SO excited and my fears began to subside, although it was months later until I stopped checking myself for blood every time I went to the restroom. 


God was so good to continually give me reassurance.  My Dr. didn't believe me, but I felt him moving at NINE WEEKS.  I felt the girls at 13 and 12 weeks so I knew it might be possible, but certainly unlikely.  But God gave me that gift to give me peace.

Months went by and he grew and grew.  We anxiously awaited his birth and couldn't wait to hold this healthy breathing child in our arms.  Here is the story of his birth...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Elise and Matt's Wedding

We started out at the cutest old Baptist Church in Navasota, TX. It was JUST like my home away from home church in Raleigh, NC except with blue carpet. I loved how they kept the old rock and incorporated it into the inside of the church. It made for great backdrops for pictures without having to worry about the harsh noon lighting outside. After the ceremony we moved to the Hilton Hotel in College Station. Elise and Matt were so cute to watch and I never had to pose them or tell them how to snuggle. They were so smitten and in love and it was a beautiful thing. Oh, and I loved the sweet getaway car!

Jenny and Pat's Wedding

Jenny and Pat's wedding was such a joy to capture! It was full of tender, sweet moments that I will never forget and it was an honor to be the one to get to photograph their special day. The Greenbranch in College Station was a beautiful backdrop for the evening and of course the beautiful couple made the pictures stunning! 

Becca's Bridals

Kaitlin's Bridals

Caley and Lucas' Wedding

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kiley's Bridals

We shot Kiley's bridals in Gruene, TX which is my dream backdrop. I love old wood, tin and rustic character and Gruene provided all that. A big thanks to one of her friends/bridesmaids/AND hairstylist, Joi, for helping me out on our shoot! I had a great time and love the shots we got!!

Congratulations Jason and Kiley!! I'm so excited for y'all to start your new life together and to see what your future has in store for you both. Love you my kindred sister!

This was so funny.  Some random guys came out of the Hall and posed with Kiley. 

Inside the old General Store