While the Avalon braced for the snow storm of the century, one St. John’s couple had their hands – and hearts – full as they welcomed one very special delivery
To say life’s been a bit of a whirlwind lately for Kyle Snow and his partner Shaundell Button would be an understatement. Besides becoming new parents, the couple, and the adorable bundle of joy they cradle lovingly on the morning we visit, have become Snowmageddon sensations. Little Levi Snow’s birth story is one this province won’t soon forget.
What was yet to come
Snow begins as momma tends to baby.
“We knew the storm’s going to be big, but we didn’t have any idea how big,” Snow says, before laughing at how that just might be the biggest understatement of his lifetime.
The day we visit, January 28th, is actually little Levi’s actual due date. But babies have a way of making their entrance into the world in their own sweet time. Levi was no different.
Button takes over the tale, explaining how she had seen her doctor the day before the storm, and how he had mentioned bad weather was coming and cautioned her; pay attention to any early signs of labour. The couple, both outside enthusiasts with adventurous spirits, weren’t worried.
“I said to my doctor, ‘that’s OK. We don’t mind a little bit of snow. We’re pretty good with things like that. No big deal.’ Little did I know. Eight hours later, my water broke.”
The couple pulled into the hospital just as the storm started.
‘The first flakes fell just as we pulled up, but things got pretty crazy after that,” Snow adds.
The labour was difficult, all 20 hours of it, made all the more challenging by what was happening outside the Health Science’s doors. The storm and the harrowing conditions it created caused hospital staff to work 40-odd hours straight and nervous expectant mothers, afraid of being caught out in the storm, filled the hospital’s rooms to over-capacity.
Another nail-bitting factor? Treacherous travel conditions meant family and friends couldn’t be close-by to offer support or encouragement.
Still, while not ideal conditions, Levi’s welcome into the world was a special and miraculous experience. “For me, seeing him for the first time was absolutely amazing. Kyle was with me every step of the way, and he was such a great support. It was just incredible,” says an emotional Button. Snow smiles at his little family.
“The hospital staff, they didn’t get to leave, and I’m sure there were staff that were there, by the end of it, like 40 hours. Still, they were all still so fantastic and so helpful. Even though they were overworked and really tired, they were showing a lot of compassion and so much dedication,” he says.
While the couple say they were receiving the best care imaginable, they were still eager to get home.
“Family couldn’t come to visit. The rooms were packed. It was difficult to rest. I wanted to get everyone home,” explains the proud new father.
With the State of Emergency in effect, the couple were advised to stay put. While Snow wanted his family home, he also wanted everyone to be safe. He wasn’t even sure if he could get anywhere near his downtown home. He posted on Facebook’s Snowmageddon 2020 information page asking for images and info on street conditions near his home. He mentioned why he was anxious to get any details he could.
“In the hospital it was like we were in our own world, but we were hearing things like the streets are shut down and there’s fines for driving, so I figured I’d reach out and ask for information,” says Snow. He posted a picture of Levi, indicating the reason why he was looking for information on road conditions. What he received was a whole lot more than simply information. “People started saying, ‘tell us where and when and we will meet you there.’ Others, like 15 people, coordinated a shovelling party so we could get in the house,” says Snow, admitting he’s still amazed by the generosity of strangers.
Button says it still makes her emotional thinking about everything everyone did, especially the father of their precious son. “I went through a pretty intense labour. I hadn’t slept in 48 hours. But, still, it a was pretty amazing experience how the whole story unfolded. Kyle, he just went the extra mile to make sure Levi and I got home safely, and all these people we’ve never met, they were so kind.”
The family is still adjusting to their new reality. The storm and its aftermath meant normal things, like having a baby, suddenly became business as unusual.
Healthy & blessed
There’s been hindrances with the storm and the State of Emergency it caused. From delayed consultations with breastfeeding experts and public health nurse visits to family and friends who haven’t yet been able to travel to meet little Levi, things have been challenging to say the least. Still the parents say they feel so blessed. “He’s happy and healthy and we’re good and so blessed,” Button says.
It’s time for Levi, and momma, to rest. As he cuddles in for some TLC, Levi’s proud pappa shares where his son’s name came from. “Levi, that was the name of a great grand relative. He passed away in the first World War, a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. He never had any children, so he didn’t get a chance to pass his name on,” he says.
Snow’s father owns a store in Pouch Cove also named in honour of the late soldier; Levi John’s. Family, Snow says, is everything.
Levi’s middle name is also a tip of the hat to Snow’s family. “His middle name, Jacob, is after my grandfather on my mother’s side, and it’s also my brother’s middle name, so it’s a family thing and I think it’s cute and the name suites him.”
It certainly does.
Very special snow baby
Button, obviously settling in nicely to motherhood, beams at her son. “He’s certainly very special to us,” momma whispers, before looking up with a huge smile, adding; “It’s just surreal sometimes to think about what’s happened in such a short time. The whole city is gonna be shut down for an entire week, so let’s have a baby. Why not?”
The two new parents laugh for a moment, though not too loudly to wake the now sleeping baby snuggled in their arms.
They move baby to the nursery. Snow watches lovingly as baby gets a little rock from his momma. He smiles. “It all might have been a bit crazy, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change anything for a second.”