Josh & Danielle Files | Kenton Levi’s Birth Story | Personal Post

We welcomed our second child into the world on February 19, 2017 & IT’S A BOY! He’s 9 days old today & he has been a joy! He is sweet & laid back so far. Josh & I both said from the beginning of this pregnancy that we had a feeling he was a boy & we were right. Even though you’ll most often find weddings, engagements, and things of that sort on our blog, we do also share personal stories & we love having this blog as a journal to look back upon & see the fun & joy we’ve had throughout our marriage and family life. Just a warning if you’re usually here for the wedding photography goodness, there’ll be talk of birth in all of its glory in this post so turn away now if that’s not your thing.Youngstown family photographer

Leading up to the day of Kenton’s birth, I had been having contractions for weeks. They were mild and irregular so I knew it wasn’t active labor, but they did start to get increasingly irritating even though they weren’t painful. They were just kind of annoying. There were a few times that we were out & about & I started to think to myself, “What’s my plan of action if these start becoming the real thing?!”

The day before Kenton was born, Josh, Tenley, and I went to Josh’s parents’ house for a cookout. . . strangely warm February weather allowed us to be outside by a bonfire for a bit. Our sister-in-law Lisa asked when I thought I’d be having the baby & said, “You’re due in just a few weeks.” I said, “I won’t make it that long. It’ll only be a few days probably.” There had been a few signs from my body that labor was imminent, which is why I thought that. (They’re TMI so I won’t list them here). We ate & talked & Tenley played with My Little Ponies & Barbies that used to be her Aunt Jessica’s (Josh’s sister) and a Thomas the Train that used to be her cousin Aiden’s. I was having a lot of braxton hicks contractions, but, like I said, I had been having them for weeks so I didn’t think too much of it. We left and headed home.

Shortly after getting home, we put Tenley to bed & then decided we wanted to go to bed, too, because we were both tired. Before falling asleep, we talked for a bit & I told Josh, “We don’t have everything ready for this baby. I feel so unprepared.” He assured me everything would work out & we’d get it all ready in the next couple of weeks before the baby was born. Not too long after that, Tenley woke up & decided to come into bed with us. Around 11:45 p.m., I was awoken by my very, very hard belly. I immediately got out of bed because it felt uncomfortable. I walked around in the kitchen and hallway for a few minutes and got a drink of water to see if the contractions would stop. They kept coming. I thought to myself. . . “Hmmmm, what should I do? Is this the real thing? I’m only 37 weeks 4 days so surely I’m not actually in labor, right?” I knew, but I was in denial. I didn’t want to be the “false alarm lady.” So I started looking at the time when each contraction came & I realized that they were coming very consistently every five minutes.

At that point, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer to tell people I was in labor. If you’ve been following along with us since our daughter Tenley dramatically joined our lives, you’ll know that I had an extremely quick & intense labor with her & she was born into Josh’s arms at home even though we had planned to go to the birth center for her birth. Because of my history of fast labor and the fact that the birth center had closed temporarily until they could find a new location within the required distance of a transferring hospital with a labor & delivery unit, Josh and I had decided to have a planned home birth with this baby.

I was truly looking forward to laboring & delivering our baby in our home. Any time that I visualized the birth of our baby at home, feelings of calm & peace overcame me. We realize that home birth isn’t for everyone and that a lot of people find it strange or believe it’s unsafe or for weirdo hippies, but we don’t believe in that stigma. For low risk moms who meet the criteria, home birth is a beautiful, safe, empowering, valid option, and we were so glad that we had that option available to us. Birth is natural & beautiful & we identify with the midwifery outlook on birth- that it’s a natural process & women’s bodies are built for it. (Don’t get me wrong- I completely understand that medical interventions are necessary in some circumstances & I’m thankful for modern medicine when it’s needed!).

As I realized that my contractions were regular & progressing, I went to Josh and woke him up. I said, “Hey, I’m pretty sure I’m in labor. I’m having contractions every five minutes.” He got right up & came out of the bedroom to talk to me since Tenley was in our bed sleeping. At that point, I was still kind of in denial that it was actually happening. I didn’t go into labor with Tenley until I was 40 weeks and 1 day so I thought 37 weeks and 4 days was just too early for some reason. I said, “I should probably call Jennifer and let her know what’s going on to see what she says.” Josh readily agreed. He loves that he delivered Tenley looking back on everything with her birth, but he didn’t want to expand his midwifery resumé with this baby.

When I called our midwife Jennifer, I said, “I just woke up to contractions that are coming consistently every five minutes.” She asked me a couple of questions and also asked how painful my contractions were. I honestly hadn’t even considered that up until she asked. I answered, “Hmmm, I guess they hurt.” She knew my history with Tenley’s birth & said, “I’m headed your way right now. Please call to update me with any progression and I’ll be in touch.” Suddenly it hit me: this was real! I was in labor. I was going to have my baby soon & we were going to find out if the baby was a boy or girl. Ahhh!  I had been pacing all around the house as I was on the phone, which is a habit I’ve had since I was about 12 years old talking to my friends on the landline since we didn’t have cell phones back then.

I told Josh that Jennifer was on her way (she had about an hour and fifteen minute drive) and asked him what he thought we should do about Tenley sleeping in our room. It was a little after midnight at this point and I didn’t want to wake her up if we didn’t have to. I said we could call my mom & have her come get Tenley and take her to her house. This was the original plan since we didn’t want Tenley at home when the baby was born. We thought she was a bit too young to understand everything & we didn’t want her getting upset that her mommy was in so much pain. She came to one of my ultrasound appointments early in the pregnancy & was very perturbed that the tech was putting something on my belly. She just kept saying, “Mommy. . . no” with tears in her eyes. So we thought that witnessing a birth would be too intense for her & that she wouldn’t understand what was happening. My parents only live two houses from us so that was really nice; we knew they could be here within minutes.

I called my mom and woke her up. I told her the baby was on the way & that Tenley was sleeping & we weren’t sure what we should do with her. We talked it over as I paced around the house and decided that Mom would come over & be at our house in case Tenley woke up. Obviously, I needed Josh to help me & he wouldn’t be able to take care of Tenley in the event that she woke up. It was not part of the plan to have my mom here during the birth, but because it was the middle of the night & we thought Tenley would be wired & not go back to sleep if we woke her up & grandma took her to her house, we decided to change our plans & have mom be there during the birth. A few minutes later, Mom was at our home & she was amped up. She gets very hyper and has lots of nervous energy when faced with stress. I could tell she was trying to act calm even though she wasn’t calm in the slightest. When she asked me during a contraction if she should dust or something, I just raised my eyebrow and thought to myself, “Only my mom.”

At this point, contractions were getting closer together & were a lot more intense pain-wise. The best way that I found to deal with the pain was to continue to pace around the living room & kitchen. It felt good to keep moving & I also know that gravity helps baby move down, which is the direction I most definitely wanted baby to keep on moving. Josh was sitting on one of the couches talking to me in between contractions & helping me time them with the Full Term app on my phone. Mom was sitting on the other couch talking about how she had to breathe weird during labor since Lamaze was the thing back then.

I changed my clothes because I was really, really hot. I could not stop sweating. We had the heat cranked because we wanted it toasty for when the baby was born so I dealt with it, but I was so warm! For sentiment’s sake, I put on the same nightgown I was wearing when Tenley was born. I hadn’t thought of it or planned to do that until that moment, and I was really glad I did. Mom got me a cold washcloth to rub on my face & hold on my neck and that was nice.

I’m a private person when it comes to pain. I would almost always rather deal with it on my own than to involve others. That’s why during most of labor, I focus inwardly & handle it silently. I read in Ina May Gaskin’s book that visualizing labor contractions as waves that you ride that propel you closer and closer to meeting your baby helps with the pain. I also had a few mantras repeating in my mind during contractions. One of those was a song I sang to myself in my mind- “Like a tidal wave crashing over me rushing in to meet me here, your love is fierce. Like a hurricane that I can’t escape tearing through the atmosphere, your love is fierce.” That kept playing in my mind during each contraction and it kept me focused on how God would get me through the pain of labor & how much closer I was getting to meeting my baby with each contraction. It was the perfect song to have going through my mind; I didn’t purposely have it ready in my mind or anything, but it came to me in the moment. A few weeks prior at church, we sang that song & it brought tears to my eyes as I thought of Jesus’ love for us as he suffered on the cross.

Another mantra that floated through my mind throughout labor was “You are my refuge, you are my strength.” Repeating these over and over to myself and reminding myself how strong I was really helped ease the mental game of labor.

As I continued to walk around the kitchen and living room, suddenly there was a huge gush of liquid. My water had broken. Just like with Tenley’s labor, my water breaking made the contractions much more intense & kept labor speeding right along. I texted Jennifer to let her know about my water breaking & she called me back to see how everything was going & let me know where she was. I was really hoping she’d make it before the baby came, but I also knew that God was in control and that we had gone over everything just in case Josh had to deliver the baby.

My contractions got stronger and I started feeling nauseated. I knew I was in transition & I knew it would be minutes before I would feel the urge to push. Jennifer still wasn’t at our house yet. Josh called her just to see where she was and she was six miles out. It was going to be close. At this point, I no longer wanted to deal with the pain alone; I needed Josh’s help and support and strength. We held onto each other in the middle of the living room and I stared straight into his eyes during the worst of the pain so I could feel his love and strength. I probably hurt his arms a little bit, but I haven’t asked him about that so I’m not sure. After a couple of very painful contractions like that, I heard the door open and Jennifer entered. She wasted no time at all & got everything prepared so I could bring a baby into this world. No more than five minutes after she arrived, I had to push.

I was thinking to myself, “I need to get down on all fours right now.” Just as I thought that, Jennifer said, “You can get down on all fours if you like.” I said, “Yes, I would like to do that” very calmly. At one of our prenatal appointments, we had discussed that Josh would like to catch the baby if possible. The game time decision, though, was that he’d stay up by my face and encourage me and help me because I really wanted him there. And Jennifer was helping in her own way using her expertise by applying counter pressure as I pushed and letting me know when to push and when to hold back so I could gradually stretch to bring the baby into the world. Jennifer was a calm & reassuring presence. I feel like she’s truly meant to be a midwife & she’s right where God wants her to be; we’re really thankful for her!

While I was pushing, I felt completely and totally in control. It was empowering. Because of how quickly Tenley had come out & how I realized that had caused me unnecessary pain and a tough recovery, I wanted to ease this baby out a bit more. In between contractions once I was on all fours, I wanted to feel the baby’s head as it crowned so I would be able to visualize everything and connect what was going on in my mind with the feeling of it actually happening to my body. So I asked if I could feel the head and Jennifer guided my hand to do that. I was very encouraged and recharged with excitement once that happened and I focused more on what I needed to do to get my baby here and less on the pain I felt.

Josh was the best help I could have imagined and I felt connected to him like never before as he held onto me and reassured me. His presence always brings me strength, but there’s something even more monumental & awe-inspiring about experiencing the miracle of bringing a life into the world with your husband by your side encouraging you. I could see the overwhelming love in his eyes & hear how proud of me he was in his reassuring voice.

With a push, baby’s head was born. Josh peeked back to see in between contractions as I rested & later on he told me how silly baby looked with his squished up face that had just came from his home in the womb into the world. As we all waited for the next contraction to start, I thought about how in just moments, we’d meet our new baby. I was so happy. At this point, things were pretty primal. Childbirth hurts, as you may have heard or experienced yourself. I found that it helped me to grunt and make noise as I was pushing. The crazy thing is that Tenley slept through it (and she’s a light sleeper!). The next contraction came on & I pushed out baby’s shoulders & body. The feeling of relief and rush of emotions I felt was almost indescribable. It was euphoria, excitement, happiness, and accomplishment. And I was overcome with love. I collapsed down a bit onto my forearms in a wave of happy tears. (There are other photos of this moment just after we met our son, but we’ve decided not to share them here because I’m a bit too exposed in them).Youngstown family photographer

I looked at Josh & he was smiling really big. I asked if it was a boy or girl and he smiled and paused and said, “It’s a boy.” The baby was a little gurgly with some fluid in his throat that he was trying to clear so Jennifer used the bulb syringe & I heard the most beautiful sound- a cry. I reached down & got to bring my baby to my chest and talk to him. The first thing I noticed was that he was sucking in his bottom lip & that he had rolls on his chin. I said, “Hi Baby. You’re so chubby.”  He was a breathtakingly beautiful sight. I just held him close & stared and stared and stared. I felt like I could stare forever and still not get to see him enough.

My mom had gotten to witness everything. Tenley didn’t wake up until she heard the baby crying. Then mom went into the room & talked to Tenley for awhile until we were ready for her to come out & meet her brother. During the next 20 minutes or so, Josh and I got to hang out together on the couch as the baby nursed & we prayed together over the baby’s life & thanked God for the blessing of this beautiful soul and a safe and healthy delivery. We were overwhelmed with love & the miracle that had just happened. We confirmed that we wanted to name him Kenton Levi and then we told my mom it was time for Tenley and Kenton to meet.

When Tenley saw Kenton for the first time, she was concerned about him having some goop on his head from being born. She said, “Hold it” and “clean him off.” Since it was 2:30 in the morning, we decided Mom would take Tenley to her house to try to get some sleep. It was the first time she’d been away from us overnight & she didn’t fall asleep until 5:30. . . yikes! Then she got up around 7:00. Oy. Newborns have a way of throwing off schedules for a bit.

My dad helped us out that night, too. We realized as I was in labor that we didn’t have any newborn diapers. We cloth diaper, but not until a few weeks after birth when they’ll fit & the meconium bowel movements are over. Earlier that day, I had ordered some diapers online that were set to arrive in a couple of days, but that wasn’t going to help us immediately. Like I’d said to Josh before we fell asleep that night, I wasn’t prepared. Thankfully we have family nearby who love & care for us & were there to help us! Dad did a midnight Walmart run for diapers & he also thought to pick up some cookies, which everyone at our house appreciated.

After Tenley left, it was time for Josh to get some skin to skin with Kenton. They went & hung out in our bed as I got a shower & Jennifer and her assistant cleaned up the birth area. Following my shower, Jennifer did Kenton’s newborn assessment and got his stats. When she told us he was 22 inches and 9 pounds 1 ounce, I was floored. I knew he was big when he was in my belly, but I never would’ve imagined he was THAT big. He also has very long fingers, toes, and arms. Maybe he’ll be tall despite his mom’s height! When I looked at his long & chubby body, it was honestly hard to believe that he’d fit inside of my belly. . . and that I’d pushed him out.Kenton Levi Birth_0008birth storybirth storyhome birth story home birth story The newborn onesie we had laid out for him didn’t quite fit. He pretty much went straight to 0-3 months clothes.home birth story

We’re all so in love with this blessing in the form of Kenton. He has been such a laid back and relaxed baby. I am in awe of the beauty of God’s creation and know without a doubt that I was part of a miracle when I got the privilege of bringing him into the world. We sometimes still can’t believe he’s ours!

Here are a few photos from Kenton’s first week earthside!home birth storyThe sunrise the day Kenton was born:home birth storyTenley got to open her big sister gift from Kenton.home birth storyhome birth storyAnd then she got to hold her brother for the first time.home birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyOh, these two. There are going to be too many heart melting moments for me to handle.home birth storyNorris looking underwhelmed with everything.home birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyHe looks SO much like Tenley as a newborn!home birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyMy sister Angie got to stop & cuddle him for a bit. home birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyThis is my grandma. The great grandkids call her GG.home birth storyThis is my mom. Tenley calls her Grandma Shishi, which is a long story.home birth storyhome birth storyThis is my dad. Tenley calls him Papa Bear.home birth storyThis is Josh’s mom.home birth storyAnd Josh’s dad.home birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyI’m proud of my body & every stretch mark.
home birth storyhome birth storyThis is my Aunt B.home birth storyThis is my Aunt Robin.home birth storyhome birth storyhome birth storyKenton is a blessing straight from heaven & our lives will never be the same! We’re grateful. God is good.

If you liked this blog post, you may like:

Tenley Kay’s Birth Story

Our Pregnancy Announcement

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  • February 28, 2017 - 3:56 pm

    Megan Garnes - Oh of course I got all teary reading this, birth stories always make me weepy! Especially when pregnant as well. What an awesome delivery, you did so great! And those pictures of Tenley holding him for the first time are just beautiful, her face just lit up! I’m sure they will be great friends/siblings. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2017 - 7:58 pm

      Menning Photographic - Thank you, Megan! We’re excited to see you with your new little girl! She’s going to be oh-so-loved with all those siblings!ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2017 - 6:19 pm

    Jenny A Wehr - Crying tears of Joy and rejoicing with you at this miraculous little gift from heaven . I thought he was a boy….. I have prayed for you all as well as Kenton for these months. I am beyond overjoyed with you that he is healthy here and whole. What a sweet 9# bundle. There is NO descrepancy he is your child as he and Tenley resemble one another so much ! God Bless your family as you are such a remarkable young couple and you have such a witness for Christ and his love.
    Thank you for your ministry , thank you for sharing your love with us , as I am privileged to call you friends.ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2017 - 7:58 pm

      Menning Photographic - Thank you so much, Jenny! We’re so glad you’re our friend. We really appreciate your prayers! Love youReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2017 - 9:16 pm

    Amanda Roth - So encouraging! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! It has helped me get excited to meet my little man soon!!!ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2017 - 7:57 pm

      Menning Photographic - We’re so excited to see photos! He’ll be here soon! :)ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2017 - 10:15 pm

    Kate Flowers - I’m so “in love” with your family! *sigh* Precious, priceless & God given. You all are amazing. God is so good. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2017 - 7:56 pm

      Menning Photographic - Thank you so much, Kate! Love youReplyCancel

  • March 1, 2017 - 11:44 am

    Debra Nelson - My daughter, Jennifer, was your midwife…my heart is so full of pride, right now, as you describe your birth and her part to make it a wonderful day!! Thank you for your story…it is a wonderful start to a wonderful life that your child will have and he will feel and know God’s blessings throughout his life!! God’s blessings to you all….Jennifer’s mom!!ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2017 - 7:56 pm

      Menning Photographic - Thank you for the kind words! Jennifer is a lovely person & we’re so glad we got to know her & she was here for the birth of our son. :)ReplyCancel

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