Sunday, August 21, 2016

Levi's Birth Story - Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.

May 18, 2016 - Wednesday

7:30 pm

Jordan and I arrived at the birth center and were happy to see Margaret. She is so easy to be around and has such a positive presence about her. Margaret checked on the baby's heartbeat, felt my belly for his position, and remarked (like every other midwife) about how it seemed like he'd be small. They hadn't been worried about this since Judah was on the small side. She listened to his heartbeat while I had a contraction. She said that my contractions definitely didn't seem intense enough for me to stay. Then she went over our options for medication to help me sleep. We listened to the instructions, slightly discouraged but trying to stay positive.

Then, she checked me and her tone completely changed. Eyes widening, she said, "You're not going anywhere! You're 8-9 cm and the baby's head is RIGHT here!" She was shocked and kept saying that she couldn't believe it. Relief washed over us. I KNEW my body had been doing a lot of work. I don't know if I don't accurately communicate my pain level well or what. It's tough because I wanted them to know as much as possible how I was feeling so they would know what steps to take, but at the same time if I gave into the pain and talked about it negatively then that made it worse. Even throughout the day I didn't want any words or looks of pity from Jordan or our parents as that didn't help me. I don't know if that makes sense but I asked them to try not to do that and they all did an excellent job of supporting me how I needed it. Just like last time I tried to stay CALM throughout the whole thing.

Margaret summoned the nurse to get the room ready -- the same room where I birthed Judah. It felt right to be back in that one, but it also felt really weird. am I here again so soon?! Are we really having another baby?? So many mixed emotions.

She told me that she would break my water and she thought the baby would come quickly after that. She said that the reason I kept constantly having to pee was that his head was so close and that she couldn't believe that my water hadn't broken on its own yet. We had driven my parents' car to the birth center so I'm glad it didn't break on our way!

We were so happy. I felt renewed and excited for what was to come. I knew that I would be holding this still unnamed baby soon and couldn't stop smiling. (Okay well maybe I stopped smiling some during contractions but whatever.)

Jordan called the family to tell them to come and we got settled in the room. I did some squats using the shower bar to see if my water would break on its own. That bar was so helpful to lean on as I swayed through contractions. Margaret came in to tell us that they were having some complications with the other baby who was just birthed and she would have to attend to that for a bit. She wanted me to eat and drink some more before everything intensified. I didn't realize this but Jordan told me later that I promptly destroyed three Gatorades at that time (not big ones, but still, good grief. At least they were G2s). I ate a banana and a granola bar.

We hung out just us two through some contractions and discussed the name some more. Margaret checked on me during this discussion and liked the one we were leaning toward and at that point I said okay -- let's just use that one. We felt better about it than any other one and kept coming back to it even though I knew we may not feel 100%. That 100% feeling was what I had been waiting for, but it just wasn't happening. 

Then I started to get impatient. I was wondering why she wouldn't just come and break my dang water. Well, ANOTHER potential birth had arrived. Baby & Co. has three rooms and now they were all full. With one midwife and one nurse. The nurse said that she had gone weeks without attending a birth and now she had three at one time...crazy! I was like oh yeah cool wow definitely help them but CAN YOU JUST BREAK MY WATER PLEASE.

While I waited some more Jordan brought Judah in to see me before he needed to head home for bedtime. I loved seeing my buddy and got some cuddles in while he was still our only baby. He had no idea his world would be completely different the next time he saw us! My sister in law Caitlin's mom came to our house to be there until I had the baby. She was so clutch because I hadn't even thought about how no one in our family would want to leave do that (of course).

9:00 pm (maybe, not sure)

I got in the shower to help with the back pain and Jordan sprayed hot water directly onto my back. That is like medication for real y'all.

Somewhere around this time, Margaret finally broke my water. She had me immediately do some test pushes and told me I was so close. They left me to finish off my laboring and let them know when I felt the pushing urge. Since I actually knew what that felt like this time I was like okay let's do this thing. 

Things kicked into an even higher gear right away as we were in the home stretch. I mean the contractions had definitely been difficult thus far, but this was the point when there weren't really any breaks, a lot of "help me God"s were said, and my low moans increased. It was SO MUCH LIKE last time, except this time I wasn't as exhausted and out of it. Which partially was nice because I had the energy I needed, and partially was bad because I was much more mentally present and therefore more aware of everything I was feeling. 

Last time they made me do lunges and squats to get Judah in a better position. This time I did them voluntarily because 1) it made it slightly easier to get through the contractions as I would breathe and count through them 2) it felt more like a workout which helped mentally 3) I wanted to help the baby along as much as I possibly could so I wouldn't have to push long. 

So there I was, identical to last time, with my foot propped up on the bed doing lunges and switching sides each contraction. Margaret had told me that supporting my belly with my arms or getting Jordan to do so could slightly help my back pain so we did that some. (Similar to the support I got from the rebozo wrap last time.) I remember telling him to help me sometimes and then I'd be like NO stop it doesn't help WAIT come back try it again okay that's good NOPE NOPE STOP. Poor guy. He was so great and did anything he could. A contraction would end I'd be like PEEL ME A BANANA and it would suddenly appear, ready for me to take a bite. I shouldn't make it seem like I was yelling because I wasn't (that I recall) but there was definitely a sense of urgency with the contractions so close together.

Everything kept getting more difficult and I was still not having an urge to push. Looking back, I should have known to try laying down since that's what started the pushing urge last time, but I was so focused on getting through the pain that I didn't think of it. When I felt like I truly couldn't take it anymore I told Jordan to go get them and tell them it was at the highest level and that I would love to try to start pushing -- urge or no urge.

Here's a funny story that I was not a part of and didn't hear until days later. At this point Jordan went out to the front waiting area where our family was and our midwife Margaret was out there getting a drink or something. Our parents started talking to Jordan about getting us food and what he thought I would want and he FORGOT WHY HE WAS OUT THERE. So I was by myself, for all they knew delivering my baby alone, while they were sitting discussing milkshakes or something. Thanks, guys. Margaret asked Jordan if anything had changed since she was last in there and he kind of auto responded/thought she was referring to their food conversation and was like, "yeah everything's fine." A few seconds later it hit him and he was like NO WAIT she needs you. I never even realized I was alone for all that time because I was so in the zone. Bless his heart. He really is the best, he just had a momentary loss of sanity.

A few things I remember from being in the zone:
  • thinking about the things I was glad I wasn't currently doing -- for instance, one of our BFF's was about to summit an icy mountain wearing 17 layers at the exact time I was having the baby (what a great day for our group text chat) and I wouldn't have switched places with him for anything.
  • picturing Coach Boone in Remember the Titans saying this:

  • listening to the song You Make Me Brave by Bethel -- LISTEN TO IT. I will never hear it again without reliving this birth and probably crying. It was already one of my life songs but this made it even more so. This time I listened to a mix of Coldplay and Jordan's worship playlist for camp.

So they finally came back to check on me and had me lay down to monitor the baby's heart rate and my blood pressure. And there it was. THE URGE TO PUSH. All the sudden I was like okay okay I need to push you need to help me I need clear instructions you need to tell me when to breathe or I won't breathe alright I'm pushing I can't not push. So they went quickly from sitting and entering data into a laptop to rolling me from my side to my back and getting me situated for baby pushing.

Jordan was stationed right by my head as I grabbed my legs by my knees to brace myself. Tearing up he was saying, "You're doing it, you're doing it!" which gave me that extra bit of energy I needed. I started really pushing with the next contraction and they were talking about being able to see his hair. After that contraction I had to take a break from pushing (contractions help push the baby out) and GOODNESS GRACIOUS. I did not remember the intensity of this part from Judah's birth because I was so out of it and it was such an out of body experience. Well this was an IN BODY experience and I felt every bit of it. I resolved to get him out with the next contraction. During this very short break that felt like a thousand years they asked me if I wanted to reach down and feel his head. I was breathing very hard trying not to push and barely able to respond but in a low moan said NOOOOOO. I could not let go of my legs for a second.

The next contraction came. I pushed with all my might. Jordan turned on the song we had picked, Coldplay's "Amazing Day".

And just like that, after about 5 minutes of pushing, he came. After his head came out the rest of him felt like nothing. I remember them telling me to grab him myself but I just couldn't physically do it so they laid him on my chest. Our first reaction was that he was SO small. Our second reaction was that he was SO loud. Really. Really. Loud. Jordan and I looked at each other like what have we gotten ourselves into.

We met our sweet, strong, dimpled, little Levi Jordan Shelley at 10:29 pm on May 18, 2016. He weighed 5 lbs. 11 oz. and was 19.5 inches long.

He continued to lay on my chest and the nurse encouraged us to let him do the "crawl" to breastfeed and it was amazing to see. In other words, I didn't have to even move him, he moved and found where he needed to go and what he needed to do to eat instinctively. We let him eat for as long as he wanted before letting the family come in. They were waiting outside the door also amazed at how loud the little guy was.

My feelings at this point were mainly ones of relief. I kept saying that I was so glad to not be in labor anymore! I was happy to meet Levi but mostly just simply relieved to be done with the birth.

They helped me deliver the placenta and I expected them to stitch me up next which I was not looking forward to. Much to my surprise, Margaret told me I didn't need any and that I hadn't torn at all. HALLELUJAH. This proved to be a huge factor in a quick recovery and for that I am so, so thankful. It was AMAZING how normal I felt due to the lack of tearing. I walked around with relative ease almost immediately. The human body is incredible.

I put on my pj's and told them to send the family in. Jordan's younger brother Joseph and his wife Caitlin were there with both sets of our parents. We called/Facetimed our other siblings and told them all his name. For both births, telling them the name was one of my favorite parts. I will never forget seeing the joy of our family. They cheered and were SO excited to meet him. My dad had mentioned the name Levi as a suggestion during the pregnancy and he did a victorious fist pump in the air.

Levi had stopped crying at this point and they passed him around while I chugged more Gatorade and realized how hungry I was. The Shelley side of the family went to our house to relieve the babysitter and my dad went to get us some biscuits. I was already wanting to go home to sleep but we had to stay there a few more hours for them to make sure both Levi and I were stable and healthy.

I took a WONDERFUL shower and remember standing there feeling so happy to not be pregnant or in labor. I knew I had a lot ahead of me but at this time the Lord truly filled me with peace.

Levi absolutely hated being checked out, measured, and weighed and cried his head off some more. Jordan and I relaxed in the big, comfy bed while eating our food and then I fed Levi again. I remember thinking, "Already? I should feed him again?" and it hitting me how often newborns eat. It's crazy how quickly I had forgotten.

My parents went home, the nurse pushed on my stomach a million times to help my uterus start the process of getting back to normal (ugh), and they went through all of the check-out info with us. They told us they would call us the next day and visit our home the day after and helped us out to the car. We put his tiny body in the car seat as best as we could and made our way home at about 2:30am. Some people may think this is crazy but it was perfect to me.

We jumped right into our routine of being in our room with Levi beside our bed sleeping. I went to sleep happily without my pregnancy pillow, so glad to have my husband beside me again.

And just like that, we were a family of four. :) All praise and glory to the Lord.

Here is the video Jordan's brother Joseph made from Levi's birthday. It's something I will always treasure.

More posts to come about Judah meeting his little bro, the first weeks with Levi, and life with two babies!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Levi's Birth Story - Part 1

I prayed for a short and easier labor and delivery this time. I knew that the Lord would help me do it again regardless, but I still prayed.

I prayed for a full night's sleep before the birth. I prayed for the labor not to be all in my back again.

The Lord said no to these prayers.

BUT, God. God not only gave me the grace and strength for a tough birth again, but He said "yes" to things I didn't even know to pray for.

I'll start with Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

Tuesday is the day of the week when my mom, a.k.a. "Nana", comes over to hang out with Judah while I go to appointments/run errands/work/rest my formerly weary pregnant self. On this Tuesday (at 38 weeks) I was feeling SO TIRED and as I told my mom, "over it" physically. It was quite difficult to pick up Judah and I couldn't play with him on the floor anymore. I was so glad she was coming that day. I had so many things to do, but when she got there I decided to take a much needed nap. The whole pregnancy I had trouble actually going to sleep for a nap but that day I totally zonked out.

As in Judah's birth story, this was helpful later.

I needed to wrap up some before-baby stuff, such as shipping off the last order of Lettered Pine signs for a while. I also got a pedicure which was glorious. I was craving McDonald's that day (mainly the sweet tea) and ate there by myself. While I was sitting there, I started noticing some weird crampy feelings that felt a little different than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having. Hmmm. But they went away and I continued on with my errands.

That night Jordan had a basketball game and his parents came to visit from Greensboro. Again, the weird feelings came. I didn't say anything, but wondered if it meant something. After the game Jordan and I went to our Tuesday night small group and the cramps returned again. Then again later as we talked Jordan's parents when we got home. It was always when I was sitting down and being still.

Before bed, when Jordan prayed with me and we said our goodnights, I told him, "I think it will be tomorrow." Which may not be the best thing to tell your husband before he tries to go to sleep. (Sorry, babe.)

We had been sleeping in separate beds for a few weeks since my giant pregnancy pillow and large self were taking up the majority of the bed and I was getting up to go to the bathroom multiple times a night. So he headed to the guest room and we tried to get some sleep.

11:30 pm

It was taking me a little while to fall asleep and as soon as I got comfortable -- there it was. A real contraction.

"Nope. Noooope. That was just a tease. If I ignore it, I can just go to sleep. Then they can start back in the morning if they want. It was probably nothing. How long has it been since I felt it? Too long. So it probably wasn't real. Okay. Sleep time. OH GOOD GRIEF ANOTHER ONE IS HAPPENING. No. No. No."

If you recall in Judah's birth story, the timeline went like this: went into early labor around dinner time, real contractions started around midnight, never slept, labored all day, Judah was stuck, missed another night of sleep, finally born in the morning after 30+ hours. So one of my main concerns was actually getting sleep this time. But that was not meant to be. Again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

1:30 am

After a couple hours of laying there trying to sleep in between contractions, I decided to get up and take a shower. I thought maybe a change in position and the hot water could slow things down, but the contractions continued to increase in intensity and frequency. After the shower I started to actually time the contractions. (I suggest the BabyCenter app for this! So helpful!)

3:30 am

The contractions were consistent and I had to stand up and sway through them. Last time they weren't like this until much later, so it made me think that this could really be happening. I decided to head over to the guest room and wake Jordan up. He was pretty foggy at first but knew that I meant business when I couldn't talk through them at all.

4:45 am

I called the birth center. I wanted so badly to wait until actual daytime hours but I was afraid that this kid would come much faster and they had told me to call when the contractions were 6-7 minutes apart since this was my second baby. (I seriously know at least four people who have had their second babies in the car or at home in the past year and a half because they came so fast, so I was NOT taking any chances!) At this point the contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and lasting around a minute each. They told me to come in and I would see a new midwife whose name I didn't recognize. Jordan called my parents and asked if they could come over to be with Judah and they came right over. Yay for parents who are only 15 minutes away!

5:30 am

Having contractions in the car was no fun. Thankfully we live less than 10 minutes away from the birth center. The new midwife (whose name I frustratingly can't remember) was super nice and didn't make me feel badly at all about it being so early. She checked me and the baby and I was disappointed to find out I was only 4 cm dilated and 60% effaced. BUT, the baby was in a good position which was encouraging to me after how it was with Judah. I had back labor again, but his  head was actually engaged and ready, so that was a relief to know. She told us that a room was ready if I wanted to hang out there without actually being admitted. The tub was extremely tempting, but we decided to go back home.

6:30 am

We got home and turned on a 30 for 30 documentary to distract me (the one about the Magic team with Shaq. I love Shaq.) Jordan dozed off and I continued to sway through contractions and eat.

If you read my advice to myself for labor I knew I should eat well and try to rest as much as I could to help me later on. I ate lightly all throughout the day -- toast with peanut butter, bananas, smoothies, a sandwich. I also drank a LOT of water.

It was good to see Judah when he woke up, but my mom stayed to play with him while I retreated to our bedroom to try to rest. The contractions slowed WAY down at this point. This was both frustrating and helpful -- I wasn't progressing like I wanted, but I was also able to kind of rest. I mean, they were still difficult to get through, but I tried to conserve my energy as much as possible. I remember thinking maybe I'll have him by lunchtime. That'd be nice. Nope.

The timing gets fuzzy here, but Jordan's parents came at some point in the middle of the day. Just like last time, I was SO glad for them to be there for Jordan. Instead of him having to talk to me about being anxious or voicing any concerns, he was able to lean into them for that support. We've learned that Jordan gets really nervous when I'm in labor to the point where it physically affects him and he is sick on his stomach, poor guy. He was sweet to not convey this to me and to be strong, but he told me that it is really hard for him to see me in pain like that.

During labor at home

The next midwife on call, Margaret, called to check in on me. We had her for our first appointment this pregnancy which was the only one Jordan had gone to at the birth center. We had both loved her and that was encouraging to know she would be the one there when the time came. She told me to continue to rest and that sometimes things slow down for as much as a day before they kick into high gear and it's baby time. It helped to know that this was normal, but at the same time I was like noooo let's just do this thing.

5:00 pm

Sometime in the early evening Jordan and I took a walk. I thought I had been resting long enough and could NOT lay down through any more contractions. It was a cold, dreary day for May but I had to get outside since it wasn't raining at the moment. We walked through the neighborhood at a snail's pace, but I would power walk through contractions. We were still discussing names and testing out how they sounded. We were even throwing in some new ones, which was scaring me. Were we really this close to having our baby and didn't have a name? But at least it was something to talk about.

My sweet grandma brought dinner for everyone and my brother in law and sister in law arrived. I was glad to see them (and Judah LOVED it) but it also got me thinking that I needed to hurry up and have this kid. I didn't want everyone to have to wait around like last time. I took another shower for the hot water to soothe my back a little. I would've stayed in there forever if I could have.

We turned on another 30 for 30 about Jeremy Lin (so good) and ate dinner. I stayed in the room with them mostly and preferred for them to ignore me and continue talking when I had contractions. The contractions had been consistent again for a few hours, but they were still 6-7 minutes apart. I knew I wasn't at the end of labor, but I also knew my body had done a lot of work since that morning. TMI -- the urge to pee would NOT go away.

6:45 pm

I called Margaret. She said she was about to call me and tell me to come in and get checked before she left (they had just had a birth). I told her how things were going and she said that it didn't sound like I was ready to stay there and she would probably just give me some medication to help me sleep, and then hopefully I would wake up in crazy intense labor. Even though it wasn't what I wanted, it was good to have a plan.

So Jordan and I headed to the birth center again. And that's where Part 2 will pick up. :)

Arriving at the birth center


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