The Birth of Levi.

Our son, Levi Hudson, was born 3.5 weeks early on December 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm. I had been having some contractions the entire week leading up to his birth and had called my doctor numerous times, wondering if I should go to the hospital. She told me if they were not regularly 5 minutes apart or less and if my water had not broken, that there was no need to go to the hospital just yet–that it was just my body preparing for labor.

I had a doctor’s appointment the day I was 36 weeks along. My doctor checked my cervix and found that I was already 3 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and Levi was already extremely low. This was crazy, but exciting news! Especially to know that I hadn’t been in pain the past week for nothing! She sent me home to wait out the labor process.

Brian and I (at 36 weeks) “waiting for labor” on Thanksgiving Day!

Three days later, I was at work and I had to walk across the street to our other building to drop something off. On the way back to my building, I suddenly felt as if I was leaking. I wondered if my water had broken, but it wasn’t a large “gush” or anything like I had been expecting, so I had my doubts. I went inside and immediately found one of my older co-workers who I knew would give me some sound advice. She was eating lunch at the time–great lunchtime discussion right? “So when your water broke, what did it feel like? A gush or a trickle?” Hah! She told me she was pretty sure my water broke and that I should head for the hospital; it was about 1 PM at the time. The only problem: Brian wasn’t supposed to get off work until 3:30 PM. He had just started working at Starbucks the month before, so I wasn’t sure if he was even able to leave early like that (Starbucks is very strict about their scheduling).

I texted Brian and told him to call me as soon as he possibly could. About 5 minutes later, I spoke with him and he told me I needed to head to the hospital and that he wouldn’t be too far behind me–maybe an hour. An hour?! Levi could be here in an hour! Haha, little did I know…

I stalled at work a bit longer. My phone was nearly dead, so I was charging it there a bit before I left. I was also making my rounds and saying goodbye to all of my co-workers. It was a surreal feeling as I suddenly realized that it was my last day–November 31st, 2012. I made sure the two girls in the office (one of which would be taking over my job) didn’t have any last minute questions..all the while they reassured me that they were fine and they urged me to go. So finally I did (my contractions were not bad at all at that point, so I was easily able to drive).

I pulled into the valet parking area at Norton Suburban Hospital around 2:30 PM. The valet asked how I was doing that day and I said, “Well, my water just broke.” The look on his face was priceless. I’m sure he doesn’t see women in labor driving themselves to the hospital very often. He was so nice and helped me carry my bag up to the labor and delivery triage, where they did a few preliminary tests to make sure I was actually in labor. It turns out that only one of my “bags” of fluid had actually ruptured…and even that “rupture” was the size of a needlepoint. It took the nurse three tests to even confirm I was leaking amniotic fluid–I’m sure she thought I was crazy. But I knew. I certainly hadn’t peed! Once she was actually able to confirm that, I could be admitted. Luckily, Brian showed up within the hour as well! It was time to have our Levi…or so we thought…

Around 6 PM I was upstairs and settled in a room. A nurse came in to check my cervix and I was about 4 cm dilated at that point. I was told that I could only have popsicles from that point until the baby was born. Popsicles?! Had I known that bit of information, I certainly would’ve stopped at Wendy’s on my way to the hospital! I was already starving for dinner! Our friends, Anna and Ethan, came to visit after they both got off work. Anna had been telling the baby he had to come a couple of weeks early (because they were travelling home for Christmas) and on a weekend (because she worked full-time, like me), so that they could be there for his birth. Looks like he was listening!

The doctor started me on Pitocin a few hours later once they had checked my cervix several times and was still only 4 cm. It wasn’t ideal–I would’ve liked to progress naturally–but it was necessary. Because my water broke earlier that afternoon, it was getting more and more risky the longer I wasn’t progressing. The baby was at risk for infection. The Pitocin was definitely kicking in and I was definitely starting to feel the contractions. I gave the word that I was ready for my epidural. Around midnight, my anesthesiologist was ready to administer that and Ethan and Anna headed home for the night.

From that point, I slept a solid 9 hours comfortably. 9 hours while in labor! It was fantastic. I woke that morning and I was refreshed and excited and ready to meet my Levi! Another nurse came in around that time and checked my cervix again. “4-5 cm.” Seriously?! The doctor advised breaking my water “fully” to hopefully speed things along (at that point, I was still only “leaking”). I agreed. She came in around 10:30 AM to break it and told Brian, Ethan and Anna (who had returned early that morning), that they needed to leave the room for a bit. They decided that they were hungry anyway, so they were going to get some breakfast from Panera (yea, and I’m stuck with popsicles). It was totally fine with me–I was resting and watching the cable TV I didn’t have at home.

My nurse came to check my cervix again around noon, just as Brian and the Crowders were returning from breakfast. “Alright, are you ready to have this baby?” she said. Well, yes, of course, I’ve been ready for 21 hours now. Wait, what does she mean by that?! “How many centimeters am I now?” I asked her. “You’re 10! It’s time!” Looks like breaking my water did help to speed things along, because in a matter of 1.5 hours, I went from 4-10 cm. Holy cow.

Brian, Ethan and Anna came back in the room and I told them they were getting things ready for me to push. I’m pretty sure none of them could believe it either! Ethan said, “wait, so you were 4 cm for the past day and now all of the sudden you’re 10?!” Hah! Brian and I were alone in the room shortly after that and all I could do was cry. All of the sudden, this was really happening and we were about to have a baby! Plus, I didn’t realize until that moment how sad I was that our families weren’t there to celebrate in person. I was an emotional wreck! But, I made all the last minute phone calls and sent all the “it’s time” texts and pulled myself together. Time to get this Levi out of my belly!

So my delivery room was hot. And Brian had only drank Dr. Pepper for the past two days. And we’re pretty sure he has some blood sugar disorder or something, because he nearly past out once I started pushing. He swears it wasn’t the fact that he was about to have a son–he just got really dizzy. To the point where my doctor actually made him sit down with a cold wash cloth on his head, while she fanned him. I have to admit, it was a pretty funny sight. Once “my team” got all of the supplies set up and situated, I started pushing around 12:40 PM. It was hard work! But I was expecting that. At 1:38 PM, Levi Hudson Mathews (5 lb, 15 oz and 20 inches) was here.

I have to admit, I was just so anxious for Levi to get here (and for the painful contractions to cease), that I wasn’t extremely nervous about the fact that he was only 36.5 weeks gestation. I hadn’t even prepared myself for the idea that he might have breathing difficulties or have to stay in the NICU for several days. But after 21 hours of labor and anticipation, when Levi finally arrived, he was having trouble. His breathing was extremely shallow–so much so that he could only make small whimpering noises instead of fully crying. Once they cleaned him up, weighed, and assessed him, they laid him on my chest for 5 minutes to see if that would help him. When they saw that it didn’t, they quickly took him to the NICU to be put on oxygen. To say that that was an emotional experience would be an understatement!

Levi spent 5 days in the NICU while he continued to gain strength, learn to breathe on his own, and combat jaundice. It was an extremely difficult few days as I was discharged from the hospital and Brian went straight back to work. My mom and I would visit him in the mornings and afternoons, and Brian and I were able to spend good time with him in the evenings. On December 6, Levi was discharged from the NICU and joined us at home–and our lives have been forever changed!!

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