What does life (in Kenya) look like with a new baby boy?
We are still trying to figure the answer to that question out, but we are learning! We wanted to break our answer into three parts for you: An African Birth, Eat Sleep Poop Repeat, and Balancing Baby & Ministry.
– AN AFRICAN BIRTH –
Levi’s birth went well – at least, it’s the best (and only!) one we’ve experienced so far! He was born at Aga Khan Hospital. We’ve never been inside a maternity ward in the U.S., but Aga Khan really felt as close to an American hospital as we could imagine. We had our own room and plenty of helpful nurses on duty to help.
Shanna’s water broke on Saturday at 6:30am. Labor pains didn’t kick in until 7:30pm, while we were headed to the hospital! She labored for 5 hours with very little progress and a lot of back pain. So, at 1:30am, Shanna opted for an epidural which ended up speeding up the delivery. Less than three short (or LONG depending on who you are) hours,Levi was born at 4:10am!
We stayed in hospital two more nights to rest and recover. We had a few visitors, ordered out for lattes and burgers a few times, and struggled through the learning curve of feeding Levi. Weary from all that had happened, we dragged ourselves into the door of our house late on Tuesday night.
– EAT, SLEEP, POOP, REPEAT –
To be honest – the first few weeks were tough. Really tough. We quickly learned that caring for a newborn is around the clock business…changing and feeding him every 2-3 hours took its toll on us! After consulting fellow moms, lactation experts and friends, we finally got into somewhat of a rhythm. Yes, the “eat, sleep, poop, repeat” rhythm!
Some friends in the community offered to bring us meals during those first few weeks… WHAT. A. BLESSING. We’ve cooked for new parents in the past, and now we were on the receiving end – which allowed us to see what a ministry it is to care and cook for those who just had a baby!
Levi is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. He outgrew his newborn clothes around his 3rd week of life and we are trying to soak up each moment because they are so fleeting, you can almost see him growing bigger with your own eyes!
– BALANCING BABY & MINISTRY –
Thankfully, in Kenya mothers get a THREE MONTH maternity leave and fathers get two weeks! Having Nate home those first few weeks was so important, especially since we are far from family. He was such a servant and loved on Shanna and Levi well.
If you’ve ever worked in youth ministry, you know September is one of the most crucial, eventful months. Our goal was to get everything (Covenant Groups, SUMMIT high school youth, and MOUNTAINEERS middle school youth) up and running before Levi’s due date. It was a mad race to an undefined finish line!
Nate has since picked up the full load of heading up youth ministry this semester, as Shanna is on maternity leave and a few other Bluesky staff and volunteers have moved away. Nate is currently leading three Covenant Groups, Sunday night high school youth, monthly middle school youth, monthly church “youth service” and nearly all other aspects of our ministry. (Even making homemade hummus and guacamole for Sunday nights!)
Shanna decided to intentionally step back and focus mostly on being a mom this semester. We also chose to seek out other locations for bible studies, to allow our home to be a resting place for our little family of 3 until January. Shanna has continued to lead her 8th grade girls’ Covenant Group this semester and has visited youth programs a few times with Levi. Next semester, she plans to split her time with Levi and youth ministry by going part-time. (20 hours per week)
We are so blessed to have Levi James Mast in our lives. He has been worth every sleepless night and tear shed. Thank you for your prayers and support!
***Mark your calendars: We will be visiting the U.S. November 16 – January 11. We plan to spend the first half of our time in Medina, Ohio and the second half (starting Dec. 20th) in Rome. Georgia. If you would like to meet Levi and catch up with us, let us know by emailing Shanna firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to get some time with you!***