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!


  1. You had me tearing up throughout this post! Absolutely loved the video put together by your brother-in-law. And jeez, you looked amazing right after having Levi! Congrats again on your family of four!
    XO Elisebeth (

  2. Amazing story and awesome video!! Reading this brings me back to having my 2 boys (ages 4 and 19 months). Labor with my first was a bit of a blur, long and out of it. Second time more aware of every pain but had a little more energy that time as well. Giving birth is such an amazing event and everyday through parenting I feel that I learn more about God and his relationship with us and grow closer to him

  3. I am pregnant (22 weeks) with my first, and silly me read this post and watched the video at work! I had a hard time not bursting into tears... SO beautiful!!!

  4. I love your enthuiasm and writing style. I am looking forward on reading the next hub. Rated up.

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