Sister’s Baby : Out of Surgery & Doing Well!

Photos taken a few moments before Levi had to leave to be prepped for surgery. My sister’s sweet smile put tears in my eyes!

Levi is out of surgery!

I just chatted with Bethany! :) (Yay! How comforting it was to have a conversation with her!)

Mike is with Levi, now.

The operating room is apparently in a different building connected by about a half-mile of underground tunnels. As soon as he was done, the surgeon ran all they way over to give her an in-person update. How thoughtful?!

The surgeon said that Levi’s anatomy was not difficult to work with and that he was very hopeful about the outcome of the surgery.

Next, they will wait to see if the swelling around the brain goes down (even as I write this, Bethany just IM’d me and said Mike called from the NICU and said swelling looks like it is already going down!) and determine if a surgery to insert a drainage shunt is needed.

Bethany asked the surgeon when she may hold Levi and he said perhaps as early as tomorrow!

It’s definitely not the easiest way to come into the world, and Levi’s not even a day old yet, but so far, things are going in the best possible way for this situation.

We’re smiling through tears over here.

Thank you for your prayers!

If you wanted read more about Levi’s story and to send a note of encouragement to Bethany and Mike, please visit their page at CaringBridge :

Update : My Sister’s Baby

This morning, my sister Bethany gave birth to her first baby, a son, named Levi.

During a routine ultrasound a few months ago, it was discovered that Levi had spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

He had been scheduled to be born Thursday by Cesarean section, but due to contractions (labor trauma would have been dangerous for him) and Bethany’s slightly elevated blood pressure, it was decided to deliver today instead of risk waiting until Thursday.

We are very excited about Levi’s birth – my first nephew!

He is welcomed by parents who have a very strong faith in the Lord and are trusting in God every step of the way.

My parents and my sister Grace were able to go to the hospital in Indianapolis to support Bethany and Mike as much as possible. Mom said he has a beautiful face and seems to be strong, despite his many obstacles. She said that Mike is doing a great job being supportive of Bethany and handling decisions for Levi’s care very well.

Although it’s a tough situation, it does not seem that there were any surprises. Through ultrasound and other prenatal tests, doctors had a course of action in place long before Levi’s birth and did an excellent job preparing Bethany and Mike for what to expect.

Positive signs

  • Birth weight over 7lbs (healthy weight)
  • Has good color
  • Does have a breathing tube but is breathing “air” as opposed to oxygen
  • Right leg is moving
  • Items of concern

  • Hydrocephalus (I’m not sure extent of severity, but it was hoped that it would have resolved itself before birth. Because of the anomaly of the spine, fluid buildup in the brain is a common complication of spina bifida.)
  • The hole in his back is about 1″ diameter.
  • His left leg does not appear to be moving and is turned inward.
  • Bethany

  • Resting after c-section
  • Incision was larger/deeper than normal c-section so as to give more room to carefully birth Levi
  • On morphine drip
  • Beth did get to touch Levi’s fingers for a few moments, but was not able to hold him.

    My mom was able to get some photos through the incubator glass.

    Doctors are waiting until Levi is “stabilized”, and then he will be admitted for surgery to repair the hole in his back this afternoon. This was anticipated. It is possible that the spine repair will help to reduce the fluid buildup in the brain and that a shunt would not be needed. It is also possible that the surgery may help with the use of his left leg.

    UPDATE – 5:15pm

    Bethany just posted on Facebook that Levi went in for surgery around 4:30pm. She writes,

    “Well folks, the countdown got cut short! Levi Morris Bracht has arrived this morning!! I have been away from him all day so far so I don’t know toooo much ;( but he is 7lbs was born at 8:45am(ish). I am doing super, and he just went in to his first surgery! please keep praying, sorry this is short but momma doesn’t know everything just yet!! pictures will be here soon! Thanks everyone!”

    Thanks for your prayers!

    If you wanted read more about Levi’s story and to send a note of encouragement to Bethany and Mike, please visit their page at CaringBridge :

    Photo credit: Elijah Phenicie (my brother) /

    Husbands: How Would You Like Beer Always Stocked in the Fridge?

    What if your wife always kept your favorite beer stocked in the fridge?

    To some wives, it may seem like a crazy thing to do. Buying beer may not something “ingrained” into the way some women think – and it may even require a detour from their comfort zone to go to the beer section of the grocery store or even ::gulp:: to the beer distributor.

    Would it make you feel loved, though, if she did?

    It would let you know that she cared about the things that were important to you after a hard day’s work. It would let you know that she valued your contribution to the household, and that, rather than handing you one more thing for you to do when you get home, she’d find a way to be a blessing to you instead.

    Consider this —

    When you pick up your clothes vs. leave on floor for wife to clean, your actions tell her that you respect her time and personhood.

    When I tweeted this earlier, my Twitter bud @Kuma said,

    “You assume that his leaving [clothes] for wife is a conscious choice. As a single man I can tell you it is genetically ingrained. We will get to it when we need to. It’s just that women’s ‘need to’ threshold is so much lower.”

    I definitely agree with Kuma that leaving laundry on the floor is a tough habit to break.

    To clarify, I do not assume that, just because clothes are left on the floor, although it may feel like it to a lady with lots of housework on her to-do list, it is not usually the conscious intention of a man to stick it to his wife.

    As Kuma alluded, many men may have had well-intentioned mothers who cleaned bedrooms for them since early childhood, and dirty laundry was whisked away as if magical elves lived in the crannies with the dust bunnies. (And yes, dear, if you’re reading this… I am sometimes guilty of this…. especially when the Realtor is en route!)

    Part of what makes relationships special, though, is doing the things that aren’t always convenient.

    In fact, when someone goes out of their comfort zone to honor someone else, it means much more than doing something that comes naturally.

    Sure, it’s just a sock.
    Or, a piece of underwear.
    Or your clerty (kinda clean + kinda dirty) shirt.

    For the woman you’d travel to the ends of the earth to woo, just picking up a piece of laundry shouldn’t be that big of a deal… right?

    Now, for those of you wives who are reading this, before you forward this post to your laundry-leaving husbands, consider all of the wonderful things they already do for you.

    Without any expectations of change, change your own heart first.

    Picking up his favorite beverage shouldn’t be that big of a deal… right?

    For husbands who do clean up their laundry or are considering making this change — know that it is a gesture that is much appreciated. Picking up your clothes is one of many subtle ways to underscore how much you care.

    To make everyday married love work, you have to put love in the everyday.

    Photo credit : Anders Adermark and Jeezny.

    How to Find Balance (When You Don’t Know Which End is Up)

    You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

    Feeling like your life is a bit of a mess at the moment?

    Been there…. more than once.

    Curious what mistakes people frequently make in the midst of hardship and how to prevent them?

    What are some tips for staying organized when so much is coming at you at once… without obsessing?

    On whom should you depend when you need advice?

    Recently, I wrote down five important tips that have helped me to navigate through tough times.

    You can find my post, Five Tips to Keep Your Balance When You Don’t Know Which End is Up, at RealZest : Women Who Think .

    Photo: Close-up Freefall