Onto Levi's birth story:
Right before Easter weekend, I whipped up some final caps and outfits for little man because I thought he might be on the way early, and I just had to have a bunny hat in case. You know, priorities. ;) The contractions never amounted to anything, but they got quite strong and lasted several hours each time, often all during the night. Of course. All along, I had the option of a scheduled c-section but I was really aiming for a natural labor and delivery.
Earlier, around 37 weeks, my doctors were getting slightly concerned about baby's weight (he had no name, not even a contender, until the 11th...or rather 28th... hour!) and scheduled me for an ultrasound to check. Baby boy measured in at a whopping 7 lbs 13 oz, Caleb's exact birth weight- how funny is that? The technician kept apologizing that she couldn't really give me any good pictures because his head was so low and pressed tightly against my pelvis. Wasn't really news to me. ha ha I'd been hoping for at least one pic, but nothing that day. The doctors said everything looked perfect and we could progress with the plan for a VBAC.
The rest of the pregnancy truly flew by. We had our big trip to Florida, the baby shower, friends' showers and parties...all kinds of things to keep me busy and occupied. Suddenly it was time to pick an induction date in case he didn't arrive by his due date because then he would be too big and it would be too risky for both of us. The first options given were late March, but I desperately wanted it to be April. Who knows why? I've never had a spring baby, and April sounds so springy. Although I was not so secretly hoping to avoid April Fool's Day as his birthday, but really, what can you do? No need to worry, he wasn't going anywhere.
We decided on April 4th, one day before my due date, to try to get things rolling. First things first, I needed an IV in case of the need for another emergency c-section, and that was scaring the pants off me more than the thought of delivering this baby. I hate IV's. Hate them. They burn and itch, make my hands go numb, and generally make me queasy all over. The one I got that night was no exception. Horrible! (I ended up getting a new one in the next day because it got all stopped up. Lucky me.) I'd also tested positive for the Strep B (?) think, so I needed a steady dose of antibiotics for little one's sake. My body didn't tolerate the meds well either, so they flushed them more, which increased the amount of swelling considerably- I still can't wear most of my shoes and flex my ankles at 10 weeks postpartum!!! Crazy!!!
I was thrilled, however, that my wonderful OB wanted to try some newer options instead of simply hooking me up to the big stuff right away. This may sound shocking to you, and I apologize in advance (if you're taking a sip of something, swallow it first because it may make you die with laughter/horror, in which case you'll be wearing that drink), let your mind ponder this gem: cervical balloon. Apparently someone discovered pressure points on the cervix and...ugh, never mind. But it worked! Contractions picked up and I was 4cm by midnight. Bill had gone home, since we thought we'd have until morning before any action happened, to stay with the kids and get everyone ready for school the next morning. But the nurses told me I should call him, so I did, and then we put in the call to my Mom around 12:30 to come to the house. My Dad answered and I'll never forget how grumpy he sounded, which isn't like my Dad at all. Hello? Having a baby here! You should anticipate middle of the night calls when you are the call people. ha ha
Bill arrived back at the hospital around 1:30 am. I was trying to be brave and all, but I think I was relieved having him there. And then of course, everything stopped. So frustrating! I made zero progress for the next ten or so hours. I was trying to remain positive, but I was feeling tired at this point, having been in the hospital since early evening the night before and basically getting no sleep all night. My nurses were such sweet and caring people, and I was later told that everyone enjoyed hanging out in my room- it sure helped me having everyone congregate in there with me! We told stories and laughed, and they were so encouraging when contractions did periodically come, because when they hit, they hit hard. Wow. But still no progress. I knew it was time for the big P by then. It wasn't what I'd wanted, but I was at peace with it.
I was relieved that baby boy's heartbeat stayed regular and strong. This had been the problem with Caleb, and ultimately why I was rushed in for the c-section, so that was a huge relief. The Pitocin took effect pretty quickly, but then that, too, seemed to stall out. My parents stopped by to visit, and we ended up chatting with a nurse who grew up living just around the corner from our house. When they left, things picked up again, and I was feeling hopeful. I was checked after several more hours of even more intense labor, and nothing. Nothing! Not even one cm! I admit, I was getting discouraged after having been positive and upbeat - mine was the party room, after all ;) - for so long. A midwife that had been hanging out with us suggested breaking my water, so I knew if that happened, baby was coming one way or another within the next twenty four hours.
Within a half hour, the intensity of the contractions skyrocketed and I could barely speak. I remember feeling extremely anxious and nervous about how well I could tolerate them if they lasted for hours and hours more. I didn't want to give in to panic, but I think I was teetering close to the edge. I was having trouble forming coherent thoughts and I couldn't catch my breath because there were so few breaks in between. I don't know if that freaks the average person out, but it was doing a number on this asthmatic, ha. I distinctly remembering wanting someone to punch me really hard and just knock me out. I actually begged Bill to do it. Sadly (or wisely), he refused. It all sounds rather melodramatic now, but at the time, in the height of that pain, I didn't think I could get through it. I had been praying and conversing with God all day long, feeling so grateful and excited, but at this point I was simply delirious with pain. I may have asked God to 'take me home' once or twice. That embarrasses me to write, but that's what agonizing pain will do to a girl I suppose.
Fiiiiiiinally, I made it to 10 cm but the doctor said I still wasn't quite ready to push. When he left the room, my sweet nurse told me that if I needed to push, then to push. And then things got really real fast. The doctor was called back in and I could begin to push, but then the doctor would tell me to stop for a minutes because the baby was getting caught up. I'm really not even sure why at this point, although I know the intense pressure was what caused the blood vessels around his sweet little eyes to burst. I think part of me wishes I had taken pain meds because I cannot remember what exactly was going on as he was born. My body was done, my mind was obviously not far behind, ha. But both finally got it together enough to bring perfect little Levi Matthew into the world at 8:35 pm Tuesday night. To this day, I cannot adequately express that moment. Such relief and tender, indescribable joy. The instant this sweet little miracle was placed on me, so many wounds in my grieving heart were soothed. How I had ached for another child. The years we spent trying to adopt again, the babies that we said goodbye to because they would not be joining our family. That pain goes deep, its roots reach far and wide. But here was this precious gift, someone I never thought I'd know, because I never envisioned God allowing me to carry another child. We are not ruling out adoption in the future, but for right now, my heart is quite happily full. =)
all packed and ready for the hospital
(I found those printable on Pinterest- they were so helpful to see during labor!)
about an hour before leaving for the hospital
from a few days prior, but a view of the front
so excited to meet this baby!
and here he is, perfect and healthy
this squishy face!
Exhausted, feeling like a truck had run me over, but oh so very happy
I was afraid Isabelle would never get back to sleep if she came to the hospital that night, so we had Ethan stay home with her; I've regretted that a little bit, but they both met Levi early the next morning
His hands are still so expressive, and in constant motion
one completely smitten Mama
captivating his Daddy
look at that face!
cheeks and chins for days...such a sweetie!
I had dreamed of a newborn "swaddle photo"
it was snowing and dark, so I laid the blanket on the couch by the window and did my best
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.