Thursday, January 19, 2023

Penelope Grace

On December 16th, 2022 our family grew! Penelope (Penny) Grace Johnson came into the world at 6pm in Vienna. Her arrival was less than ideal and also quite different than we imagined, but nonetheless we were and are thrilled that she is finally here. We had planned for a relaxed c-section on December 21st, but God had other plans! In the weeks leading up to her birth, we were all sick with the flu. Maya was the first to develop a resulting infection (pneumonia) and go on antibiotics. Then I (Bethany) developed a severe ear infection (with was accompanied by 1 week of very compromised hearing) and then Nate also got an ear infection. The same day Nate started antibiotics and 24 hours after I did, I unexpectedly went into labor (starting overnight with contractions and some bleeding). We were all already sleep deprived and depleted because of the sickness and coughing quite a bit. Nevertheless, it was apparently time. Since I had already had 2 c-sections before for various reasons, my doctor insisted that she did not want to risk trying for a natural birth, so when I went into labor and when they determined at the hospital that my water had broken, they prepared for a c-section just a few hours later.

Penny was born healthy and of course, that was the most important thing. But the week prior to the birth and the 2 weeks after were some of the most difficult I've ever experienced physically. Recovering from surgery while being sick and coughing was incredibly difficult. Add sleep deprivation, challenges with nursing, hormones and a painful sinus infection that developed a few days after we got home from the hospital...and the combination of it all was quite overwhelming. As I look back, though, I can see how God provided for us during that time. Although Penny arrived early, we were able to find friends to care for the kids and the dog for the weekend very quickly. Everyone we asked was able to say yes right away! A few weeks before the birth, my midwife asked if I would try to find someone else because she had the dates wrong in her calendar. God provided just the right person - a midwife specializing in c-sections who I clicked with right away. She really helped care for me during and after the birth and was a very compassionate, caring provider. Once my parents arrived a few days after the birth, they stepped in and took over so much at home - laundry, cooking, playing with the big kids, baby holding, dog walking...they took the load off so we could recover. And having the whole experience finally come to an end and resolve itself made me really appreciate my health and the energy I had afterwards. I am still enjoying it! After my parents left, friends have been bringing us meals since then and that really helped with the transition to doing life on our own. Overall, we have so much to be thankful for and reflecting on it now is a good reminder to me of that fact.

Here are a bunch of photo highlights from these last few weeks (not in chronological order...that was too tricky to figure out. Sorry!) Enjoy!

A photo of Penny today. After concerns about her weight gain at the beginning, things are definitely working great now because her cheeks continue to get bigger!

Penny is 1 month!

Penny and Loki - becoming friends

Nate with all of his little ones

Ellie is a great biggest sister!

Maya loves being a big sister!

Penny's first outing to a new year's market at the palace

Newborn snuggles...

"Best Christmas Ever"

The girls' first meeting at the hospital

Photos from our newborn photo session:


  1. Beautiful pictures! You have a lovely family! Jeff and I look forward to meeting you someday! (Hannah's mom)

  2. PTL! Your 'story' reminds me that though He never promised the road would be all roses, He is faithful to keep us

  3. and give us more grace, and joy, and appreciation of His provision and presence than we'd imagined! Be superbly blessed!, Ginny

  4. What a story! Praise the Lotd that He supplied the help you needed and that you are well after weeks of pain and infections!

  5. Congratulations, praising God for this new precious gift/child! I have two sisters too. :) Continuing to pray for you all and those you are reaching/ministering to. Sue Laeupple, MN

  6. So sorry for all the sickness and unexpected changes though, but I too am so thankful for God's, and your friend's and family's help though to endure when needed! Sue, MN

  7. You are truly blessed with a beautiful family. ♥️🙏

  8. I am so sorry for the illness and unplanned early birth. I can only imagine how you all felt, wanting to be excited and yet not feeling well. So glad that your parents were able to be there so soon after the birth. Penny is beautiful and I am praising God with you for this beautiful gift. She reminds be of Ellie as a baby. Hugs to you all. Celeste

  9. Awww! she is so beautiful.

  10. so glad you are able to look back and see all that God's hand provided. so sorry you went through so much! Glad things are normalizing and so thankful for your parents, who were there to help so completely! Praying for this little one to bring much joy to all of your hearts, and lives, and for God's continued blessing on all of you!
    Love from Lynchburg!

  11. sorry this is Donna Jeanne


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