Levon's Birth Story
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH
Monday began with a phone call. At 3:18 am I picked up an incoming call from Kenzie’s Aunt Julie, “Kenzie has passed.” Monday, November 29th at 3:15 am Kenzie left us. I had spent the better half of Sunday by Kenzie's side with her loved ones all helping to guide her along through this transition. I had been stirring in bed the hour before the call. It only took me a moment to spring out of bed, gather my things and head for the door.
I ended up at Pam’s house just before 4 am. Her closest people, we hugged, we sobbed, we told stories, we laughed, we held Kenzie’s hand one last time, and we kissed her softly. We were grateful that peace had found her. At last. I placed scents that reminded me of the forest in her oil diffuser and we listened to Adam Hurt’s “Earth Tones” Album Aaron chose for her. The banjo Kenzie loved. An hour to delight in everything she ever was.
An open casket burial on the property meant preparations for the body she left behind would follow. I was both honored and challenged to take part in this process. A number of details that will never leave me and solidify that Kenzie lay here to rest now, forever. I left her side to make calls that would spread the word to her web of friendships that she was no longer with us here. I squeezed Aaron, and then Pam, and then, I left.
I stepped into my doorway and slipped into my bed. Rest, it’s what I needed but what a tall order. Zack was watching the girls downstairs. I could hear their laughter and chaos as I lay there unable to sleep and unable to process the past 24 hours, the past month, the past almost eleven years that led me here. After an hour or so, I made my way downstairs. I wanted to be wrapped in the love of my littles. I wanted to be home and in the mundane far away from the adrenaline filled space I had been swept into.
I would go to milk my goat, feed the girls lunch only then to notice a consistency in what no longer felt like braxton-hicks contractions. At noon there began a familiar yet subtle ache that could be the call of labor. It will begin now. So much for an attempt to slow down. I focused on the contractions long enough to know there was plenty of space between them and I didn’t need to give them anymore of my attention.
There was the cliché nesting that happened that day. Not a moment without movement, cleaning the house, getting out Christmas decorations, tending to my girls and so on. I reached out to my midwife. There was little concern for labor progressing that day but I wanted to keep her in the loop. I wanted her to know what I was feeling. She was right there when I needed her and that is all I needed to know.
I didn’t put my legs up until late that evening. Zack and I eventually would relax on the couch with the fire roaring filling in conversation of our dear Kenz. The babies were already down for the night. We found a moment to sway to her album, that banjo. Oh, could I feel her all around. I cried on Zack’s chest and he on my shoulder. We are going to miss her. I went to bed trying to relinquish control of my contractions, what the night and the next couple of days could potentially bring. You see, Kenzie’ wake would come on Tuesday, burial and celebration to follow on Wednesday. What would become of me, my baby, and of all of this?
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH
It was a blessing that I woke up to a Tuesday morning. The day of the week that my littles are sent to grandma’s and grandpa’s house. Bless them. I was consoled knowing my girls would be in a happy place hidden away from the pain of it all. I wrestled the girls to get ready while moving through contractions here and there. The waves were stronger than the day before but STILL with plenty of space between them. I tried not to think much of it. Later in the morning than usual but off the girls did go.
I went up to milk my goat immediately after in hopes that I could get myself to Pam’s house before Kenzie’s wake would begin. I had left Pam’s the day before without my goodbye to Kenzie. I had walked right out the door. What was I thinking? There were endless' what if’s. There was a lack of control. How would I wrap up my story with her and when would a new one begin?
I made it to the wake 20 minutes early. The timing was just what I needed. Kenzie was carried to her casket by her close friends and family. Contractions would be mixed in. More hugs and tears from her people. I had a chance to hover over her lifeless body one. Last. Time. And I spoke to her. All I could express was my relief at her finding peace now, her ease now. Her pain was carried away and I was thankful for that. And that I was so very proud of her. You did so good Kenz. I lightly fixed her bangs, consumed one very last moment with her in physical form and swiftly headed for the door.
I threw myself into the day tying up loose ends. I ran errands all around town and landed back home. Meanwhile, contractions had grown stronger yet kept their distance from one into the next. My midwife and I had talked back and forth a couple of times throughout the day. I was able to gather by evening that labor would keep coming until Levon arrived. But when and how long would that be? Prodromal labor with my third baby was not what I had expected.
We decided to let the girls sleep in their beds that night instead of sending them off to their grandparents house. What would be, would be. We got them down early. Lying exhausted on the couch, contractions became more painful around 7 pm. I started heading to the bathroom more often and was officially clearing out. Too much information here but a clear indication for me that things were beginning to shift in my favor. By 10 pm I decided whatever sleep I could possibly get would be best. My births were usually run by hormone induced boundless energy. This time rest was necessary. We were headed closer to our baby boy. I lay in bed half awake, half asleep moving through pain ten minutes apart or even longer. I would get up, run to the bathroom, return to bed, rest, contraction, repeat.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1ST
By 2:30 am I was tired of this charade. I was unable to cope with the contractions laying in bed. I woke Zack and we made our way downstairs. It was silent go time. Contractions were hitting strong and Zack and I both knew our roles, nothing needed to be said. A number of lights were turned on, I would time contractions as best as I could and prep my atmosphere. Zack would be responsible for setting up the birthing tub and getting a fire going in the living room. I was only able to time a few contractions but long enough for Zack and I to feel things were escalating with less time between each wave. We had our classic bicker dispute to call the midwife. Every birth I need to be convinced it’s time to call in help while Zack, on the other hand, is always worried we aren’t going to make the call early enough. It didn’t take me more than the next contraction to switch gears and call in our midwife Jennifer Scott. It was 3:15 am. Jennifer answered immediately despite coming off of a couple of births in the previous days. She didn’t question me, she let me know she would be there shortly.
I spent the time before her arrival lighting every candle. I made sure my space was clean, birthing supplies were in order and then I started the kettle for coffee and tea. Before long it was 4 am. Baloo, the dog, alerted us that the midwife was here. The moment she arrived I was entering a phase where I needed deeper focus. There was no more walking around when contractions would hit. I would make my way to the coffee table by the fireplace in the living room every time. I would place my hands onto the table pushing down and swaying my hips side to side. I would breathe deep. I would move with the storm that I was in.
Another midwife, Kelly, arrived. The two would quietly prep what was necessary around me, making sure to be my support as each contraction would present itself. We checked the baby's heartbeat. Strong. I sipped on tea. I would often head to the bathroom. The midwives made hints that they thought the boy was near. I wouldn’t have known as much. But I hit another wave sitting on the couch and had to spring up to use the coffee table for support. I guess this one was telling because Jennifer told me I could get into the birthing pool if I felt ready. I didn’t want to, not yet. Another wave crashed before I knew it. There was depth felt here. He was heading down. One last bathroom trip, and I would agree to the pool. I could feel my hands vibrating. Transition. The blessing of experience, how it brings clarity and allows for more effective contractions throughout the labor. It was so rewarding stepping into the pool for both pain relief and as acknowledgement of how far along I was in the process. This is where my baby will be born. Here I was stepping into the birthing tub in my living room. The fireplace was alive and the room quiet. My girls sleeping upstairs. Nothing felt better in the moment. Immediately, I found a space for some of this pain.
I was grounded and also working with everything I had within me. I had my Kenz lingering beside me and I would feel every last sensation in my body that would lead me to my baby. Every contraction held so much potential. I didn’t want to dismiss a single second. Mantras would float through my head and encourage my progress. The most clear was “what’s the rush?” These were words Kenzie and I shared throughout the years, words she spoke to me on our last day spent together. A stringing of a few words that now ran through me with more power than ever before. I felt the agony from the happenings, I felt the agony from the current waves crashing but even so...
What. Was. The. Rush?
Zack and I would cross arms and grasp one another’s hands. Creating resistance he would pull while leaning back and I the same as each wave hit. Together we would bring Levon closer to us. Jennifer would place pressure on my low back to make it all bearable. Kelly would capture it all through a series of photos on my phone from a distance. She was there for anything extra we could possibly need. My eyes closed between such close contractions. Here I was catching my breath, listening to that album, that banjo, playing throughout the room. Peace emanated while co-existing with all of the pain. I was able to fit in a smile to Zack. There was more presence than ever before knowing our boy would be born at any moment. The heat in the room turned up. I needed a cold wash cloth thrown around my neck. Rocking between contractions and rest from a squat to butterfly pose. Invite in space.
I started to become more mindful of his head. One last heartbeat was heard on the baby. Strong. It was time to push. Next contraction, a deep squat, my water burst, rest, another contraction working baby’s head out. From a place I felt I was able to navigate to then feel the sting, the ring of fire. I lost my breath. Jennifer's words were firm and soft, “Hayley take a deep breath.” I breathed a big deep inhale, big deep exhale pushing out Levon’s head surpassing the hardest current in the storm. With only a moment to rest and another wave to begin again. One last push and Levon made his journey to the outside. Jennifer unraveled the cord and helped me grasp my boy from the water. I lifted him up to my chest.
It’s all over.
There was bliss wrapped in mourning but more importantly, there was a celebration of two lives in that very moment. The gift I will never forget that Kenzie gave to me and Zack. Her passing would lead me back to the light. I birthed a healthy and vibrant baby boy. This would be the beginning to this healing journey we are on. The romance in the music that lay behind the scenes. The tears in each of our eyes. The boy in my arms. This sealed in the magic.
Kenzie led me to you, Levon Oaks Parker.
It was Wednesday 5:45 am when Levon arrived. I missed the burial and the celebration for Kenzie that very day. It was anything but easy to not be there. I can’t fixate on what will never be when I was given so much that day. What a gift. I sat in that truth knowing how clearly Kenzie spoke to me of the cycle of life. I am one of the few who have been in a position to feel this. I will hold onto it.
My midwife said it best in capturing my birth story and the connection between my bestfriend and my unborn child, what led him earth side.
“As if planned by some higher power. So that for a moment two beautiful souls crossed over, one coming and one going. They passed each other, maybe held the other, gave him a little kiss on the forehead and sent him on to the light.”-Jennifer Scott
“You will have the right moments always. And they will be real and they will be yours.
Learn to trust the moment. Trust now.”-Kenz