Somehow we have already experienced an entire month with our precious Levi. In one sense, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month, and in another, it feels like I gave birth a lifetime ago. Any parent of young children understands that paradox. The days are never-ending but the months and years fly by. As exhausting as these newborn days are, I know how fleeting, how brief, they really are. I know that I’ll be looking back in 20 years—which will feel like 20 minutes—and they will have been the best years of my life. I miss them already.
I’m thankful to be able to say that Levi’s birth was much less eventful (is traumatic too strong a word here?) than James’s was, but even still, labor and delivery are wild. They’re transformative, magical, brutal events. So, without a moment more preamble, here is the story of how I gave birth to the newest love of my life.
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was beyond uncomfortable, so I was really hoping to deliver by my due date. But both of my boys seem to like hanging out in mom’s tummy for as long as possible. They’re comfy cozy in there, and given the state of the world, I can’t blame them. I had an ultrasound appointment at my doctor’s office when I was 40 weeks and 5 days. Ultrasounds have been really tough on my anxiety ever since my miscarriage and I had a cyst on my placenta this time around so when the doctor said my amniotic fluid appeared low, I started to worry. It was low but not critical so she said we would schedule the induction for the following day. But as I drove away from the office, she called and told me to head straight to the hospital.
First, I was supposed to get a Covid test at a site near the doctor’s office so I called Daniel on my way there. He scrambled to arrange child care for James. His sister was on standby but lives over an hour away and we were supposed to be at the hospital within an hour. He called my step dad, who was working from home, and he was kind enough to come over right away. But then my mom found out what was going on and left work immediately to fly over.
We got to the hospital a few minutes late but I was so hungry so we stopped in the cafeteria first. I had a chicken caesar wrap and then we went right upstairs to check in. It was my first time going “out to eat” in over six months.
We started with a pitocin test to see if the baby would handle the induction. One of my least favorite aspects of being induced is being strapped to all the monitors. When I’m pregnant I have to pee every 30-45 minutes and always get so embarrassed asking the nurse to help me remove all the cords. I’m just slightly uncomfortable the whole time. The baby was handling it well so we started cytotec at 6:30 pm when I was 1.5cm dilated.
My first night of induction (yes there was more than one sadly) went ok. I had a chicken pot pie for dinner from the hospital room service which my mom found hilarious when I told her on the phone. She couldn’t believe I wanted a heavy meal like that but having something hearty sounded good. Daniel and I watched some pregnancy themed movies on his laptop. We started with Baby Mama which held up and was really fun and then we watched Due Date which wasn’t nearly as good. I tried to get some rest but Daniel only had a chair because we weren’t in a delivery room yet, just an observation room so he was up most of the night.
We were moved to a delivery room the next morning and continued with the cytotec. Not much was happening so they suggested a foley balloon. I think I’m someone who handles pain pretty well but I found it really difficult. About an hour later when I was peeing for the hundredth time, the foley balloon fell out which suggested I was coming along. At my next cervical check the doctor stripped my membranes, which was just a horrific experience. I found it so excruciatingly painful and she just kept going even though I wanted it to stop. I was only 3cm dilated at this point.
I started to get really scared. My experience with James was such a difficult ordeal that left me with some trauma about delivery. I began to wish I just was having a C section than going through everything again. Our nurse was really reassuring and we decided to start pitocin in the afternoon. That afternoon we watched Friends and some Darcey and Stacey on TV. The pitocin was gradually increasing but I didn’t feel much yet. Just mild discomfort. They started to increase in intensity in the evening.
Anyone who has given birth knows that your experience depends heavily on your nurse. The doctors pop in every few hours but the nurse is who you mostly see. I didn’t really feel like I had a good vibe with our nurse on the night shift the night before. She wasn’t as warm as I’d like. So I was disappointed when I had the same nurse when my labor started to really kick in. But I realized something important. During labor, being warm isn’t as important as being competent and reassuring. She turned out to be the perfect nurse for labor, while my other nurse was perfect for pre labor.
I was in a lot of pain by 9pm. I didn’t want the epidural too early because I was worried it would slow things down too much. I asked my nurse about the right timing and she told me I’d know when the time is right. If I wasn’t sure, it probably wasn’t the right time. I found that answer really annoying at first but again, it turned out she was right.
I decided I would try to make it 10 more minutes then decide, at the end of the 10 minutes I’d see if I could last ten more. I made it 30 minutes and then decided to cut the time limit to 5. After 35 minutes, I knew it was time. The anesthesiologist came in and like everything with me and labor, it didn’t go smoothly but ended up ok. He had some trouble placing it and had to call for help. My lower back is always sensitive and it was hard for me to hold in the right position especially because he was giving confusing instructions. He kept telling me to “fold my back like an accordion” then I’d try it and he’d say louder “No, like an ACCORDION.” Daniel tells me to move my back like an accordion about once a day now. My wonderful nurse told me all about her life and kids while they were trying to put it in to take my mind off it. And Daniel’s attention was mostly focused on the Celtics playoff game but I did catch a glimpse of his horrified face when he was looking at what they were doing. He promptly followed with a big smile and thumbs up. After the epidural I went to sleep.
I woke up at about 6am with the most INTENSE pressure. My first thought was that my bladder was about to explode (at our hospital they don’t give you a catheter that stays in; they insert a catheter and empty your bladder every 3 or so hours). I didn’t know what to do. My nurse came in, emptied my bladder, but the pressure didn’t let up. She checked my cervix and sure enough, I was at 10cm, ready to go. I was surprised by how uncomfortable the urge to push was. It’s a sensation of I NEED TO PUSH NOOOOWWW and I can’t wait a second longer but also this thing is way too big to push out of my body. She immediately called for the doctor but he wasn’t available so a resident came in. He was a young ER doctor doing a delivery rotation that night. He had never delivered a baby, great. I couldn’t wait. I was about to disobey the orders and just start pushing on my own when I looked over and saw Daniel brushing his teeth. At the time it seemed pretty crazy but he assures me his breath was really bad.
I pushed once and saw that the doctor looked more scared than me. I think my nurse noticed and she called for some reinforcements. The charge nurse came running in for my second push. And then the OB came in. He put on one glove as he was getting in position, and as he was putting on his second glove I pushed with all my might and WHOOSH he was out. I heard a big, hearty cry as my perfect little Levi came rushing out onto the bed. The doctor quickly scooped him up, placed him on my chest, and the whole world changed. My body tingled from my head to my toes, my heart was in my throat. I looked at Daniel, with tears in his eyes. Oh Levi, here you are, I thought. The newest, freshest love of my life. I love youuu, I told him seven hundred thousand times in a row. Eight pounds five ounces of pure, gorgeous love. And then, he pooped all over me.
In the month since, there’s been a lot more poop—and I mean a lot—but there’s been even more love.
I’m so happy he’s mine :)