Levi’s birth began early Sunday morning, 11 LONG days after my due date, with my water breaking. I actually woke up to a gushing feeling at 5:34 am. My eyes shot awake and I darted out of bed to the bathroom. However, after going to the bathroom, the water stopped coming, so I thought, well, maybe it wasn’t my water breaking after all. I was about 98% sure that it was a different feeling than peeing myself… but at this point in pregnancy, you just never know. When my water broke with Jedidiah, the water just kept coming, so it made me second guess myself! I put on an ever-classy pair of Depends flexi-fit underwear and after texting my midwife and doula that my water had *maybe* broken, I decided to try to go back to sleep.
About an hour later (6:39), I awoke again to the same gushing feeling. Again, I rushed to the bathroom (even though I was basically wearing a diaper) and then walked to the shower to note the COAT (color, odor, amount, and time of the amniotic fluid) so that I could let my midwives and doula know. It was all clear, which gave me the all clear. I was certain this time that my water had broken, so I texted our birth team again and let them know that we would, indeed, be having a baby today!
At this point, I was too excited to go back to sleep, plus I was super hungry, and I knew that my 2 and a half year old would be waking very soon. I went out and poured myself a bowl of homemade granola with milk. I had nearly finished when my toddler woke up. Since I was already up, I went to get him out of bed. I told him as I got him out of bed that today was going to be the day that baby Levi would come! Shortly thereafter, the contractions started.
6:54am- super mild contractions began, but by just after 7am, I started timing them (just to see where we were at). I texted our families on a group thread and let them know that my water had broken and that contractions had just started to get under way. Jedidiah’s Nana and Popo texted that they were getting ready and would be on their way over to watch him.
Jedi was still eating breakfast and I began to have a bit of a heavier contraction- one that caused me to pause and breathe a bit more intentionally. He looked at me, concerned, and said, “Mommy, you okay? You okay, momma?” It was very sweet, his concern for me. I told him that I was having a contraction. “A contraction?” he asked. I told him that the contractions were how I knew that baby Levi was coming. He seemed satisfied with that answer and went back to eating his Cheerios.
Then I went to go wake Trent up. I wanted to let him sleep as long as he could… after all, I didn’t know what we were in for as far as labor time would go. I wanted him to be as well-rested as he could possibly be! I went in at around 7:50 or so, and then let him know that my water had broken and that things were starting to get rolling!
It was about that same time that the contractions started becoming much more rhythmic and were coming about every 5 minutes. When I look back at my tracking, I see some longer gaps between contractions, but most of those times, I hadn’t recorded a contraction in between. They were lasting from about 30-45 seconds, but weren’t really intense yet.
Trent got up and began inflating the birthing tub. Jedi played in it for a while (which was okay because we used a liner for the actual birth). He had his snacks in a cup and his show on and he was happy as a clam!
Then Nana showed up and I retreated to the bedroom. I turned on my birthing playlist, got the diffuser going (with Peace and Calming essential oil), and turned on my salt lamp. I labored for the most part standing at the edge of the bed, leaning over my birthing ball, which was on top of my bed.
Trent came back to check on me several times and then made the (very smart) decision to call Shelby Miller, our doula. She hadn’t seen our texts yet so we quickly briefed her on all that was happening (and later were scolded for not calling as soon as my water broke). She had asked how I was coping so far and I told her that I was still doing okay, but I knew she had about a half-hour to 40 minute drive to get here, and that I would need her by the time she arrived.
Not too long after, my midwife, Nikki, called to see how I was doing. I was mid contraction when she called- she told me to put the phone down so she could listen and then pick it back up when it passed. I had two contractions during our short phone call, and as we hung up, she told me that she was getting ready to head my way, just in case.
Shelby arrived at a pivotal moment, right as things were intensifying yet again. She came in for one contraction, talked me through it, then I had to pee, so I got up to go the toilet. I had barely sat down before I got really nauseous and did a quick flip around so I could vomit. Shelby came in with a cool towel with peppermint oil and wiped down my face and neck and told me that, although it didn’t feel good, it would really help things keep moving. After that, things are kind of a blur. I didn’t make it out of the bathroom very far before the contractions started coming in waves. They were getting VERY intense, and I sincerely mean this… without Shelby there, I would not have coped well at all! She reminded me how to breathe and helped me to “sink into” each contraction. She reminded me to let my body relax so that the contractions could do their job and to envision my baby moving down to meet me. I stayed there by the side of the bed for contraction after contraction. Often they came without much of a break at all between them… sometimes it was 10 seconds, sometimes it literally felt like one ended and another began immediately afterwards. I do remember one time where there was like a minute break and I turned to her and said, “Gosh, I finally feel like I got enough of a break to catch my breath.” And then it picked right back up.
At this point Nikki had arrived (a little after 10am). She had Trent and the rest of the crew getting the birthing pool filled up and she was listening to baby’s heart tones. I don’t remember much, but I do remember overhearing Nikki tell the guys out front that they had forgotten to put the liner in before filling it up, so they were busy scooping out water so that they could fill it appropriately. Nikki asked me if I thought I could give her a urine sample, so I went back to the toilet and tried to pee… but these contractions were SO INTENSE!!! Shelby was right by my side and told me, as much as I’d want to fight it, that I needed to really sink into the toilet with these contractions. She was right… there was nothing I wanted to do less than to sink into these extremely painful moments, but it really did help move things along! All of a sudden, the contractions started feeling different and I realized that baby was crowning. I think at this point, I was involuntarily pushing. Anyways, I REALLY didn’t want to have this baby on the toilet, so I asked to move to the birthing pool.
Little did I know that it wasn’t ready yet. They had been filling it, but with HOT water, since the hot water usually runs out and then it’s easier to fill it up with cold water at that point. So Nikki and Shelby walked me out to the living room and I basically posted up against the couch while everyone else was trying to get the water temperature right. At this point I was literally dripping sweat, and my legs and arms were shaking from the intensity. Again, I involuntarily pushed, and I remember both Nikki and Shelby coaching me to let him out gently. So I tried to reign it in and do little pushes. I still couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t in the pool and I was near tears in asking, but I said, “Can I PLEASE get in the water? I REALLY want to be in the water.” I think everyone thought I was crazy at this point. Baby was already out to his eyebrows and ears (but of course I didn’t know that) and truthfully, I don’t think anyone thought I’d physically be able to climb in the pool like that. But Nikki said, “I try not to ever tell my momma’s no, so if you feel like you need to get in the pool, you can try to get in.” Well, apparently I was bound and determined to finish pushing in the water, because (with Nikki making sure his little face didn’t come out) I climbed into that pool like a boss. It still wasn’t full, but I was able to kneel in the water and lean over the side. Then I pushed again and I heard Nikki tell Trent to “keep pulling,” and then he was out! Levi arrived at 10:37am. I don’t even know how I was as calm as I was, but I just turned around and reached for our baby boy! Trent was able to catch him and he passed him into my arms. We sat in the water for a while, talking to and admiring our little Levi.
I had realized, while up against the couch, that our birth photographer had not yet arrived. Joy walked in the door about 4 minutes after he was born, absolutely mortified that she had missed the birth, but she was still able to get photos of us with him in the tub. We stayed there for a few more minutes and then Nikki wanted to get me back to my bed. So we all got up. Trent held Levi (who was still attached to me via umbilical cord) and the ladies helped me walk/shuffle down the hallway to my OWN bed, and crawl in. They put baby back on my chest and let us have some time to bond. We let the cord pulsate until it was completely finished and then delivered the placenta. Joy took some pretty cool photos of him still attached to it and then Trent got to cut it. Then I nursed baby Levi for the first time.
In all the hustle and bustle, I hadn’t realized that Jedidiah was still outside playing with Popo. Nana told me that he kept asking to see me, and that they were trying to keep him distracted, but he didn’t even KNOW that his baby brother was here yet! I wanted him to meet his baby brother, so Trent went out and brought him in. At first I think Jedi was just overwhelmed with all the people in our tiny bedroom (2 midwives, a doula, a photographer, Nana, Yi-han, Trent and myself), but then I told him that his baby brother was here. It took him a minute to take it all in, but I saw his little lips turn into a shy smile. He climbed right up in bed with us and looked at his baby brother. He was so proud!!! I’m so thankful that Joy was able to capture some of the tender moments between Jedi and his baby brother!
After I nursed, I let the ladies do all of their weighing/measuring/testing. Trent held the scale as they measured baby Levi at a whopping 9 pounds 14 ounces!!! I guess that’s what being 2 weeks late will do to you! He had plenty of time to fatten up! He was 22 inches long and he was 14.5 cm at his head, shoulders and waist! No wonder Nikki told Trent to “keep pulling” as he was coming out! Normally, once you get the head out, the baby just kind of slips out… but when he’s long and the same size all the way through… I guess you gotta keep pulling!
All in all, once my contractions started, my labor was 4 hours long (5 hours from when my water broke). I was never checked to see dilation, my midwives and doula could tell what stages of labor I was in just from listening to me and watching me. Despite having a very large baby, I had no real tearing (two super small tears that didn’t need any repair and are already back to normal). And, even though it was very intense, I am SO very happy with my birthing experience. My birth team was amazing… EVERYONE was amazing! Joy, despite being horrified that she arrived late (she’s NEVER missed a birth), captured all of the most important moments (and everyone else on their cell phones captured the rest), and I can’t wait to do a separate photo blog post when I get all of the birth photos back from her!
Leah Tamez Kunz
June 3, 2018 at 6:57 pm
This is so BEAUTIFUL, Angie! Thank you for telling us your story.