May 23, 2013

Levi Thomas

On Tuesday, our littlest boy was one week old. It has been such a sweet week getting to know our newest blessing. Before the details begin to fade from my memory, I want to write down the story of his birth. More for me than anything else. But here it is for all to read.

I guess Levi’s story really starts back in August of 2011. That is when Steve and I decided that one more child wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I had been wanting another baby for about a year, but Steve was not on the same page. I spent that year praying that God would take away my desire to have another baby, if I was not meant to have one. I was starting to feel okay about being done when Steve said that he wanted to have another baby, too. So in August of 2011, we stopped preventing pregnancy and I was sure we’d conceive within a few months. That December, we did conceive but I miscarried that baby just a few short weeks later. It was such a hard time for both of us. Through God’s peace and grace, we got through that rough time and I thought we’d conceive another baby within just a few more months. But as winter turned to spring and spring to summer and Steven started a new school year and we still were not pregnant, I began to think that maybe we were done. Maybe our three beautiful children were going to remain just our three. And I was kind of okay with that. As much as my heart longed for another child, I knew that God knows what is best for me and for my family and I knew that I could trust Him to have the final say in whether or not we had any more children.

A few weeks after moving into our new home, I started feeling very tired and was nauseated often. One Sunday after church, Steve and I stopped at the grocery store so I could buy some fixings for spaghetti. As I reached for the ground beef, the sight of it made me gag and that’s when it hit me – I was pregnant. The next day, I bought a pregnancy test and sure enough!

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I spent my first trimester more sick that with any of my other pregnancies. I remember eating ONE grape and then throwing it up one specifically rotten morning. I felt better in my second trimester but the tiredness never let up. I cannot believe how exhausted I have been for the last 9 months. By the third trimester, I could barely stay awake for 6 hours.

Steve and I found Levi’s name as we were reading through the Bible – we are are reading the entire Bible chronologically this year. In January, when were still in Genesis we found the story of Leah and Jacob. My parents named me for the Leah of the Bible because of how God blessed her. Her third son was named Levi and he became the head of the one of the twelve tribes of Israel, specifically the Levites, the priests of the nation, set apart by God. Thomas is a family name, after one of Steve’s mother’s grandparents.

By the time I hit 38 weeks of pregnancy, had gained 45 pounds, and was down to 4 or 5 shirts that still fit me, I was done. So ready to have that baby. By 39 weeks, my blood pressure was up every time I went to the doctor. I know it was because I was so anxious to hear good news – news that I was dilating, news that the baby’s head was low, that he was coming SOON. But it didn’t happen. And not at 40 weeks, either. By my due date I was starting to get really, really frustrated with feeling SOOO pregnant, being SOOOO swollen, not being able to sleep, and being disappointed every morning when I woke up still pregnant. I had spent the entire pregnancy praying that I would not have to be induced. I was induced with Gabby and Jack and I didn’t want to be this time. I wanted that exciting feeling of starting labor naturally and spontaneously, timing contractions and deciding when to head to the hospital. I don’t know why that was so important to me but I just wanted it. As my due date came and went, I though I’d just take induction at that point. Any way to finally meet this baby was better than him staying in there another week! My mom arrived to stay with us two days before my due date for a two-week stay. I am so thankful for her help, especially during that last week of pregnancy when I was basically useless to my family. She cooked, cleaned and took care of the kids for me. I took long walks and long naps that week.

Finally last Monday, when I was 40 weeks and 4 days, I went into my doctor’s office and was finally dilated 3-4 cm and my doctor was able to strip my membranes. He went ahead and scheduled an induction for that Thursday but assured me that he’d be very surprised if I made it to the induction. Steve and I left the appointment and headed to the mall to walk around. We walked around the mall, since it was too hot to walk outside, for a few hours. That night I had several contractions while we caught up on the last few weeks’ episodes of The Office online with my mom. I went to bed Monday night trying not to hope for labor, as that had left me disappointed too many times in the last few weeks. But around 2:30am, a very strong contraction woke me from my sleep. A few minutes later, there was another one. So, I picked up my phone and using my contraction-timing app, I began to time them. The first were 10 minutes apart, then 6 minutes, then between  4 and 5 minutest pretty consistently. During this first hour, I put laundry away, gathered my hospital bags, set out clothes to wear to the hospital, tried to eat some apple slices and just praised God for his gift. I was so excited to be in labor on my own, at home, in the middle of the night. The way it’s supposed to be!

StartTime

EndTime

Duration
(mm:ss)

Freq.
(mm:ss)

May 14, 2013
2:38 AM

May 14, 2013
2:39 AM

00:59

00:00

May 14, 2013
2:48 AM

May 14, 2013
2:49 AM

00:50

10:34

May 14, 2013
2:55 AM

May 14, 2013
2:56 AM

00:45

06:33

May 14, 2013
2:59 AM

May 14, 2013
2:59 AM

00:36

03:54

May 14, 2013
3:03 AM

May 14, 2013
3:04 AM

00:33

04:30

May 14, 2013
3:06 AM

May 14, 2013
3:07 AM

00:38

03:11

May 14, 2013
3:11 AM

May 14, 2013
3:12 AM

00:33

04:36

May 14, 2013
3:16 AM

May 14, 2013
3:17 AM

00:46

04:40

May 14, 2013
3:25 AM

May 14, 2013
3:26 AM

01:20

09:02

May 14, 2013
3:29 AM

May 14, 2013
3:29 AM

00:46

03:44

May 14, 2013
3:31 AM

May 14, 2013
3:32 AM

00:37

02:57

May 14, 2013
3:35 AM

May 14, 2013
3:36 AM

00:48

03:17

May 14, 2013
3:39 AM

May 14, 2013
3:40 AM

00:46

04:10

May 14, 2013
3:45 AM

May 14, 2013
3:46 AM

00:56

05:44

May 14, 2013
3:50 AM

May 14, 2013
3:51 AM

00:54

05:39

May 14, 2013
3:55 AM

May 14, 2013
3:56 AM

00:55

04:39

May 14, 2013
3:59 AM

May 14, 2013
4:00 AM

01:05

04:07

May 14, 2013
4:04 AM

May 14, 2013
4:04 AM

00:39

04:34

May 14, 2013
4:09 AM

May 14, 2013
4:11 AM

01:04

05:46

May 14, 2013
4:15 AM

May 14, 2013
4:15 AM

00:36

05:17

May 14, 2013
4:18 AM

May 14, 2013
4:19 AM

00:37

03:28

May 14, 2013
4:23 AM

May 14, 2013
4:24 AM

01:11

04:43

May 14, 2013
4:27 AM

May 14, 2013
4:28 AM

00:34

04:27

May 14, 2013
4:30 AM

May 14, 2013
4:31 AM

00:32

02:36

May 14, 2013
4:34 AM

May 14, 2013
4:36 AM

01:14

04:19

May 14, 2013
4:38 AM

May 14, 2013
4:39 AM

00:45

03:45

May 14, 2013
4:42 AM

May 14, 2013
4:43 AM

01:06

03:25

May 14, 2013
4:45 AM

May 14, 2013
4:46 AM

00:59

03:44

Around 3:30, the contractions were getting too strong to keep timing on my own, so I woke Steve up. He took over timing, got showered and ready to go. I briefly woke my mom and let her know that we heading out. We left the house around 4:30 and got to the hospital around 5. Thankfully the hospital halls were empty at 5am because stopping to contract in public is no fun. We got checked in and into the triage room and found that I was 6-7cm dilated and ready to be admitted. I got an amazing and wonderful epidural around 6am and Steve and I spent the next several hours hanging out, taking pictures, joking around and even dozing on and off. It was kind of nice.

By 10am, I was still only at 7cm so the doctor broke my water. Labor had slowed down with the epidural and breaking my water and a little Pitocin in my IV helped things move along, again. By 11am, I was ready to have Levi. I pushed for about 45 minutes to bring his head down. This was SOOO much longer than I had pushed with my last child. I was surprised at how long it was taking. At about the one-hour mark, we were getting close and the doctor came in and got set up. I pushed for a while longer – time was lost on me. Minutes felt like hours. Finally, the doctor told me, “One more good push like that and his head will be out.” I felt relief rush over me. I knew as soon as his head was out, it’d be one or two more pushes and we’d be done. The next contraction came and sure enough, Levi’s head came out. Part way. Doctor told me to stop pushing while he pulled and yanked. With my eyes closed in pain, I could tell he was clipping Levi’s umbilical cord. In the back of my mind, behind the pain and behind the need to push, I knew that his cord was wrapped around his neck and the doctor was cutting it. He told me to push again and as I did nothing seemed to happen. That’s when the whole thing becomes a blur to me. I know the doctor was yanking and telling me things like, “Okay, big push. Now just a little push. Stop pushing. Just a small push….” And I was aware that two nurses were over me and pushing HARD on my stomach. I remember hearing myself scream in pain. It felt like an eternity. We later found out that the problem was shoulder dystocia (link to definition). Steve later told me that he watched as the doctor grabbed Levi’s head with both hands and pulled violently while both nurses used both fists on my abdomen to push the baby down and Levi was yanked from my body. Finally, Levi was out. I took a deep breath and tried to crane my neck to look at the baby they had laid on my chest. As quickly as I felt relief, it was gone. Levi was quickly picked up and taken to the warming bed behind Steve who was standing silently at my left side holding my hand. I realized that I hadn’t heard Levi cry. I turned my head toward Steve, my rock-solid husband. He put his face close to mine and I asked in a soft whimper, “what’s wrong with him?” I could hear the tears in his voice as he assured me that nothing was wrong. Later, Steve told me that he could not bear to turn and look at Levi. He saw him being born – bluish-purple, completely still and seemingly lifeless. It was at this point that our attention was drawn to the still frantically working doctor and nurse working on me. Through a lot of medical terms that sounded foreign to me, I did understand that I was hemorrhaging. Steve told me later that he could see the blood and watched as they put a shot in my thigh. As they worked to control the bleeding, we heard behind Steve’s shoulder a loud, strong cry from our little boy. It was the most beautiful sound we’ve ever heard. A few short moments later, the doctor assured Steve that I was fine and he could go look at his son. Steve didn’t move from my side. After a second suggestion by the doctor, I told Steve to please go see our son. And he did. He took pictures of Levi as he watched his skin slowly turn from purple to pink, as his very bruised forehead was covered with a pink and blue striped hat, as he tried to open his swollen eyes. Steve compared our son’s face to a UFC fighter’s; swollen, bruised. He had burst blood vessels in his eyes. The doctor asked the pediatric nurse several times if the baby was moving both his arms. He was quite concerned that Levi’s shoulder had been damaged during his violent birth. But Levi’s arms were fine. He weighed in at a whopping eight pounds, seven ounces. My biggest baby by a far. After everything had calmed down and my nurse was putting information in to the computer, she asked the pediatric nurse if she had noticed the time of birth. The pediatric nurse told her that it hadn’t been important at the time so she would estimate 12:08 and they went with that.

Thirty minutes after his birth, he was bundled up and brought over to me and I was finally holding our fourth child. Over the next 24 hours in the hospital, Steve and I sorted through the emotions of the delivery. There was probably only about ten minutes of fear and worry, but it took us quite a while to recover emotionally.

Over the first few days of his precious life, Levi’s swelling went down and his bruising healed very quickly. As each day passes, I can see a little more what our boy looks like. He is already chubby, with big, round cheeks, and rolls on his thighs and arms. He is starting to sleep for slightly longer stretches at night. He’s up from 1 1/2 hour stretches to about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, which is wonderful for me. He nurses like a champ and is the best burpper I’ve ever had. He will stop nursing, let our a big belch, then continue to eat. He grunts and coos and makes such sweet little noises. He loves to be snuggled close and is my first baby to accept a pacifier.

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The last nine days have been so sweet and I am so thankful to our gracious Lord for the beautiful blessing he has given us in Levi Thomas.

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