The birth of Levi Patrick Hembree

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Levi Patrick Hembree – Named after my Grandma, Patricia, whom we love dearly!

For months I had researched, planned, discussed and anticipated the birth of our son, Levi.  Nothing could have prepared me for the rawness, intensity and above all pure beauty of labor. 

Friday, May 1st, I woke up with contractions that were 7-8 minutes apart and I was excited to get things rolling.  I called my mom and my friend/doula, Niccole, and I assumed I’d be having the baby by the evening.  Boy was I wrong.  I went for a brisk walk to try and get them going again.  Contractions tinkered out mid day and I went for a massage to hopefully have my pressure points trigger labor again.  Again, it was wishful thinking!  By evening, contractions started again, but were sporadic and I realized this baby would come when he wanted, not by my timing.  Saturday morning, there were more contractions like the day before…contracting in the morning, tinkering out in the afternoon. 

Saturday night was different however in that a  HUGE storm rolled through the area.  We were sitting on the couch and I started contracting.  10 minutes apart.  8 minutes apart.  7, 6, 5, 4, 3.  They quickly intensified and I had trouble focusing as the pain tightened around my lower abdomen and my lower back.  We called the birthing center and talked with the midwife on call.  She told us to come in since the contractions were so close together.  I called Niccole to tell her that we were heading in and she told me to buy some time by taking a hot shower because the roads were so bad from the storm.  We headed out to Allen Birthing Center 20 minutes later and as we drove further into the heart of the storm, the contractions intensified and grew closer together.  Nate called Kelly his sister to let her know I was in labor and to send out a mass text to our friends and family so they knew what was going on.  He also called our photographer Ashlee who was going to document the birth.  We approached the birthing center and they were right on top of one another.  I was ready to meet my baby.  He had other plans though as the midwife checked to see how dilated I was and discovered that I was only 1 1/2 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  The falling barometric pressure had caused pre-labor!  Her advice was to go home and get some rest.  A tired body does not labor well.  Defeated, we called Niccole  and Ashlee and told them to turn around and go home, it was a false alarm. 

We tried to sleep that night and the contractions although not as close together as they were ensued throughout the night.  Sunday, tired, hurting and wanting to see my baby, Niccole came over to discuss any fears that I had that might be hindering labor.  The mind is a powerful thing and not only was I exhausted, but there were so many unresolved fears I had of labor, motherhood, etc that I hadn’t let go of.  Take my advice:  resolve your fears early, get LOTS of rest during labor and relax.  Your body will take over and know what to do!  That night was miserable to say the least.  I tried every position I could to ease the pain…leaning over an exercise ball, lying down on my side, having Nate do hip compressions, press on my sacrum, take a hot shower, bath, etc.  At 1:00am, the contractions were 3 minutes apart and we headed to the birthing center again only to find that I was dilated to 2cm.  I wanted to cry as I imagined laboring like this again throughout the night and again through the next day.  Amy the midwife told me that I needed to rest and gave me a shot in my hip to help me sleep.  We went home and I tried to sleep the best I could. 

At 9:00am on Monday, May 3rd, we headed to the birthing center once again and I told Nate that we were not heading home again.  I was determined to have this baby!  Praise God we discovered that I was dilated to a 5 when we arrived at the center.  I was FINALLY in active labor.  A little sleep goes a long way!  I was so exhausted and needed to continue to dilate that Amy gave me a shot of Nubain to help ease the contraction pain so I could sleep.  Again,  a tired body does not labor well!  I went upstairs to the room where I would have the baby and slept for 3 hours.  At noon I woke up telling Nate that the Nubain had worn off and I needed more.  Amy checked me again and I was dilated to an 8.  Things were really moving now!  At that point, everything was a blur.  I remember I started yelling that I had to go to the bathroom and as I got to the restroom my water broke.  The waters had some meconium in it, but not enough to worry the midwife.  She started filling up the birthing tub and I got in as soon as I could.  It was instant comfort since water had been my main form of relaxation during pregnancy.  Niccole came at some point during this time and I was so relieved to have her there.  I couldn’t have imagined having my baby without her!  I labored in the tub for quite some time and Nate helped aleviate the pain with hip compressions and helping me to relax and not be tense.  The corny phrase you hear over and over in the natural childbirth community is “Just let go.” But it’s so true!  My body was designed to give birth and I had to trust in the process. 

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Then began the pushing…no one told me it was time, but it’s amazing how my body just knew.  With glazed eyes, I pushed and rested.  Pushed and rested.  And then I pushed.  And pushed.  At one point I said I couldn’t push anymore and asked Niccole to encourage me.  She helped me to refocus and remember why I chose a natural child birth.  I realized that this baby wasn’t going to come unless I pushed through the pain.  When I felt his head, I was determined to hold Levi and push with all my might.  At 2:35, Levi Patrick Hembree was born into the world.  I was instantly in love and one of the first things I said to him was, “I would have pushed a million times for you!”  It’s true.  The reward of holding your precious baby at the end makes the pain of labor endurable.  There was nothing sweeter than holding my baby boy in my arms.

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The only complication was that Levi’s umbilical cord was short and broke when I pulled him out of the water, but other than that, it was a smooth delivery.  We went home about 3 hours after the birth and began our life as parents.  I have to say, there is nothing quite as beautiful as beginning a new role:  Motherhood.

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Levi and his beautiful conehead. =)


                                                                Nate calling his family.


                                                      7lbs 2 1/2 oz, 20 inches long


                                                      10 perfect fingers and toes.


                    Daddy praying over the newest addition to our family.


                                          The proud and very tired parents. =)


4 thoughts on “The birth of Levi Patrick Hembree

  1. Jen, your story is so inspiring! I am going to take the Hypnobabies birthing course here in Nashville, and hope and pray for natural delivery too! Vanderbilt doesn’t allow water births, but they do allow water labor with the midwives, so I’m going to definitely do that! I wish I could do the entire labor/delivery in water! I am so happy for you and encouraged by your story. Levi is absolutely beautiful! Praise God for your baby boy!

    1. I’m so glad that it inspired you! Natural birth is INCREDIBLE. I feel like you get to experience birth to it’s fullest. I listened to 2 of the Hypnobabies CD’s and really liked them. I’m so excited for you to have a natural labor…you won’t regret it! Miss you!

  2. Wow, how amazing this whole experience sounds! Of course, the pain is not fun, but the reward that came after makes it all worth it. You’ve inspired me to also do a natural birth & a water birth at that 🙂

    His photos came out so perfect! He’s adorable & I can’t wait to hold him one day.

  3. I loved your birth story!! Those first time babies prelabor for a long time don’t they? Mine was just like that too. Gotta’ love that storm. I actually thought about you that weekend b/c of it.
    Congratulations!!! Photos are beautiful!

    Beck – I did some of the Hypnobabies too. Really the only reason why I didn’t follow through to the end was finding the time with a 2 1/2 year old running around. However, I think it is absolutely perfect for a first time mom. With this labor, it truly helped me to focus, create peace, and to “just let go” like Jen said. That is truly truly the key. Although I loved the water, my heart belongs to the birthing ball. That sucker is amazing. Go getcha one!! (aka yoga ball – get the one w/sand in it so it doesn’t move)

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