Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dominic's Birth Story

It’s January 8th and I’m 36 weeks pregnant. Breathe. We’ve made it! My cerclage is scheduled to be removed today! I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for months now. I haven’t let my fear or uncertainty overtake me, but to say that I am feeling a huge sense of relief to be here is an understatement. Praise God for our answered prayers!
January 21st and I’m 38 weeks. I am 2-3 cm dilated. Our house is clean. The fridge is stocked. My legs are shaved. We are ready for our little boy to greet us with his presence in our arms any day now! Prior to my cerclage removal, I had been experiencing rounds of random contractions, but since it has been removed, my contractions have all but disappeared! I guess we have to continue to patiently wait...
January 28th and here we are. I’m 39 weeks. I’m 4 cm dilated and it could be any day now! Or another 2 weeks or so! It's SO HARD not knowing when it will happen! I have begun experiencing rounds of contractions again. I usually have a couple periods of contractions that last for a few hours every day. They seem consistent for a while, only to slow down and then stop altogether again. I’m trying to walk as much as I can and to get every last little thing done around the house that I can think of. It seems that our little man just needs a bit more time. I keep telling myself that I’m okay with that and I’m trying to savor these last moments of pregnancy… but come on, let’s go baby!
February 4th and it’s my due date. I am still 4 cm dilated. Since my cerclage removal, a month ago, I've been going to bed every night hoping that I'd wake up in the middle of the night with contractions or laying in a puddle of ‘water’ and be off to the hospital to have a baby. Then I wake up in the morning feeling defeated, sore and still pregnant. Very pregnant. Each round of contractions that I experience sends me through a rollercoaster of emotions… Is this it? Is this the start of real contractions, real labor? Will today be the day? I feel like every night, I crawl into bed (well, actually the couch) and cry. I cry because I am physically and emotionally exhausted. My body hurts. I am impatient and it is getting harder and harder to push the fear within me out of my mind and heart.
Emotionally I realize how unprepared I have been to actually carry this little boy to full-term. My body is so tired. I am so thankful, but emotionally, I am exhausted. I need my baby boy in my arms. Having experienced the loss of my sons, Aiden and Jeremiah, I know not to take this pregnancy for granted. Sadly, just because we’ve made it this far, I know that doesn’t mean that we’re 'safe.' I won’t feel 'safe’ until our baby boy is in our arms.

After we lost Aiden and again when we lost Jeremiah, I remember wishing that I could just have one more moment, one more day with each of them, carrying them within me. I can’t help but wonder if God is giving me one more moment, one more day with this baby because he too, will leave this earth too soon… Oh, please, please little one. Please let us welcome you into our arms soon. These fearful thoughts are beginning to consume me.

I keep telling myself that my “Estimated Due Date” is just that- an estimate.  Baby boy HAS to come at some point! He will come. I trust you, God...
February 11th and I am now 41 weeks pregnant. Deep breaths. I still have no clear signs that our little guy is on his way. My contractions keep coming and going. The house has been thoroughly cleaned again. The fridge has been stocked again. We (yes we) shaved my legs again. My biggest maternity shirts are too small. I can barely squeeze into my maternity pants.

I have been reading birth story after birth story in preparation for our birth. I have been trying to be patient and to really have trust and faith in the birth process. Again, this has been physically and emotionally difficult, but I believe that ALL the work that my body has been doing, all these contractions that I have been experiencing for these last few week, will count towards and benefit my labor and birth of our baby boy. My body has been preparing for the wonderful task ahead and it is readying itself for labor. It has been challenging knowing just how to “trust my body” because I feel like my body has been sending me mixed signals for weeks now! But, I will continue to trust in the birth process and trust in my body (even though I feel like it has utterly failed me in the past…).

As the weeks tick by, the temptation to intervene in this process has been on my mind. Good meaning friends and family keep asking if/when we are going to be induced. But, there will be no induction with this pregnancy. As hard as it is to wait, I prefer that this little boy come in his own time and not mine. I just have to remember, I can’t remain pregnant forever!


Dominic Davis Roth was born on February 11th of 2013 at 8:32 pm. 
This is his birth story:

I have written this story over and over in my head. I relive each moment of my labor and Dominic’s birth again and again. As I stare into his big, bold, beautiful eyes, I have so much to say, but so little words can express the wonder and awe of his labor and birth. His birth was challenging, a little scary and overwhelming at times, but it was also the one of the most beautiful and empowering moments of my life. Birth may not exactly be pretty, but it’s how we all came to be here. It might be a common occurrence, but it is a phenomenal one. Babies are born every second, but each one is so utterly unique. Of all the human experiences, giving birth is one of the most sacred moments that I know I will ever encounter.

The morning of February 11thstarted just like the many mornings before it with a round of contractions from about 8 am until 11 am. They started about 10 minutes apart and then went down to 8 minutes, then 6 minutes, then back to 10, 12, 8, then 15… you get the idea. They did feel slightly different, but as I mentioned before, knowing just how to trust/interpret what my body was doing had become increasingly challenging. I feel like my body kept crying wolf and I just didn’t know what to think!

I had a scheduled doctor’s appointment for 12:30 pm. At about 11 am, I talked to Tom and told him how the morning had been progressing. I told him that I thought that maybe something was happening and that I may want him to come home from work so that we could drive to my doctor appointment together. We agreed that I was going to take a quick bath and see if the contractions stopped or if they continued. If they continued, Tom would come home. If they stopped, we’d just meet at the doctor’s office as planned.

Well, once again, the contractions stopped. Frustrating! Body: what are you doing???

Gabe came home from school just before noon and we hopped in the car to head to my doctor appointment. As I drove to my appointment, I had a couple more contractions. They still felt mild and were not painful, but again, somehow they did feel a little different.
At my doctor appointment, I was given an exam and to our surprise, I was now 6 cm dilated and had bulging membranes! My doctor asked me if I knew what that meant and I said “No?” She smiled as she chuckled and said that she recommended that we head to the hospital and told us that our baby boy was going to be coming soon! I guess all those contractions that I had been having really were doing something!

Tears quickly filled my eyes as the reality that I was in labor hit me. This wasn’t the way I imagined my labor would look like or how it would physically feel, but nonetheless, this was labor and it was happening! Tom and I hugged and smiled at each other as it set in that it was finally time to grab our hospital bags and to prepare for our son’s arrival. Gabe was excited as we told him that today was going to be the day that he was going to meet his little brother!

We clarified with my doctor that she thought we had time to head back home and get the things we needed for our trip to the hospital. She said that that was fine, but encouraged us to not stop for pizza on the way! Not knowing how quickly things were going to progress, she wanted to make sure that we delivered at the hospital and not on the side of the road somewhere!

So, after we left the doctor’s office, we made the necessary phone calls, grabbed our hospital bags and picked Gavin up from school. We told Gavin what was happening and he stated that he thought today was “the best day EVER!” As we drove to my sister’s house, where Gavin and Gabe were going to be dropped off, they talked about what life was going to be like with their little brother. And once again, they imagined what life would be like if Aiden and Jeremiah were with us.

Tears filled my eyes as we talked about this. I shared with our boys that although Aiden and Jeremiah weren’t here on earth with us for this moment, they will forever be a part of our family and that they are waiting for us in heaven. Through my tear-filled eyes, I told Gavin and Gabe that I believe that somehow, in some way, Aiden and Jeremiah have already met the little boy that we were going to be meeting soon and that they were smiling down upon us...

Tom and I gave our boys big hugs as we dropped them off and told them that next time we saw them, that they would be meeting their little brother! I could hardly believe that this time had finally come!

Throughout all of this, I could finally feel that my contractions were picking up in intensity. I could still talk through them, but they were slowing me down a little bit and they were getting a little longer and stronger. Although the intensity of the contractions was increasing, they still were fairly inconsistent-ranging from 6-10 minutes between each one.

When we arrived at the hospital at about 4:30 pm, the staff was ready and waiting for us because my doctor’s office had called ahead and let them know that we were on our way. We were greeted and headed back to our delivery room right away. When we met with our nurse, we shared our birth plan with her and expressed our desire to have a natural birth, which to me meant no constant fetal monitoring, no IVs, freedom to move around the room, no Pitocin, and hopefully, no pain meds. This definition is different for every woman and I believe that as long as a woman gets to have the birth she wants (whether it’s under the maximum legal amount of drugs or on the floor of her kitchen!) it’s a beautiful and empowering experience.

Based on my previous births and experiences, these things just happened to be important to me. The births of Aiden, Gavin and Gabe were all induced labors- each for differing reasons and with Gavin and Gabe’s births, I ended up getting epidurals. Jeremiah’s birth was a natural birth, but knowing that he was coming much, much too soon, made the experience incredibly frightening and heartbreaking.

With this birth, I was hoping to overcome the fears and weaknesses that had filled my spirit from each of my previous birthing experiences and instead fill my spirit with one of strength and power. I am happy to say that both our nurse and our doctor not only respected my wishes, but they helped encourage me as well.
As we discussed our birth plan, I got changed and hooked up to be monitored for a little bit. I was having contractions that were about 5 minutes apart at this point, but they were still pretty mild.
The doctor who would be delivering with us came in and introduced himself and we talked about our options and our hopes for our delivery. He offered some suggestions to help encourage active labor to kick in. One of his suggestions was to break my bag of waters, another suggestion was to let Tom and I have some private time alone! Ha! Our nurse just asked that we let her know and to put a ‘DO NOT DISTURB' sign on our door if we chose to do this!

Even though we had hesitation in augmenting our labor, Tom and I privately discussed our doctor’s suggestion(s) and we decided to break my water to encourage labor along. So, just before 6pm, Dr. Gaziano ruptured my membranes and told me that I was now 7cm dilated. It was amazing to me that my labor had progressed along so far without having yet felt the pain that I associated with labor and birth. That was soon to change!

Almost immediately after my bag of waters was broke, the intensity of my contractions picked up. The waves that were hitting my body were definitely labor now and although I could still smile and talk between them, they were getting very strong. I tried to stand and walk around our hospital room for the first few intense contractions that I felt, but quickly felt the need to use the bathroom. Having read so many birth stories, I knew that this was a common feeling to have. Although I knew that I didn’t necessarily actually have to go to the bathroom, I thought that maybe sitting on the toilet would feel good so, I proceeded to the bathroom.

Once I was there, the pain of my contractions hit me like a ton of bricks! I quickly realized that sitting on the toilet was not going to be very comfortable and was not the place I wanted to be. Tom helped me out of the bathroom and back near the bed where our nurse had brought me a birthing ball to try to use. Again, I quickly realized that the sitting position was not going to be a good position for me. My body wanted to be upright and elongated through my contractions. I tried several different positions but everything hurt! Our nurse raised the bed to its highest position and eventually we realized that what was most comfortable (can I even call it that?) was me standing and leaning over the edge of the bed.

As Tom supported my weight, I tried to breathe through each contraction. Nothing really seemed to help at this point. The pain was so intense! I remember looking down at my legs and feet as I was having contractions and realizing that I was standing on my tiptoes! As I continued to try to breathe through each contraction, my legs literally shook beneath me. I begged Tom to keep holding me and supporting me, because I didn’t feel like I had the strength to keep myself upright.

I was having a hard time believing how quickly things were progressing. It was like WHAMMO!-intense, transition style contractions were flooding my body. I told our nurse that I was feeling a TON of pressure. She asked if I wanted to get back in bed and she could examine me again. It was 7pm at this point and when she checked me, I was 8cm dilated.

Once I was back in the bed, the urge to push hit me. Our nurse told me to make sure NOT to push as my body wasn’t quite ready. I remember thinking that the feelings that were flooding my body were so instinctual that I should just let my body do what it wanted to do, but I also felt like I should listen to what our nurse was telling me. So, I fought the urge to push with everything that I had within me. As I was fighting with my body, fear began to creep in. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to do this anymore. Fighting with my body’s natural urge to push was too intense- excruciating even. I wish I would have just listened to my body.

Before I was in labor, I had these visions of laboring gracefully and breathing, humming and moving through my contractions like a warrior woman. In reality, I’m not sure I was exactly graceful. At times, I felt small, weak and scared. My body made noises that I have never heard before and during many of my contractions I simply wanted to give up and I was quickly losing faith in myself that I truly had the ability to do this. I knew that I was in charge of everything that was happening as I was laboring and this was simultaneously empowering and terrifying!

Sometime after 7pm, during these incredibly intense contractions, while I was fighting every instinctual urge within my body to push, a part of me gave up on my plans for a non-medicated birth. I knew I still did not want an epidural, but fear got the best of me and I asked for a shot of fentanyl to help take the edge off. The fear and uncertainty that I was actually going to be able to finish laboring filled me so much that I decided I wanted a little help. I needed a little relief!

I tried to fight my fears and during my contractions, I reminded myself that this pain I was feeling had a purpose. With each contraction I tried to visualize our baby moving further and further down. I could feel him moving down! Our nurse suggested I try to blow away the pain. Let me tell you, I blew and blew and amazingly, it helped! Again, I visualized the pain leaving my body as I blew it away. After each contraction, I told myself, “That one is done and I never have to go through it again.”

Although I had requested a shot of fentanyl, it was taking forever to find a vein to put in an IV and I had to keep laboring on my own and I had to put my doubts aside. Just knowing that eventually relief was coming helped. I didn’t know when the relief was going to come though so, I knew that I had no choice but to trust myself and leap into the unknown. I started to pray. “God, please help me. Please fill me with your strength. Please! I am so scared and this hurts so much. I know I can’t do this without you. Please lift me up, hold me in your arms and help me through this.” I began to focus in a way that I never have before. A part of me felt like if I didn’t get on top of and in control of the pain I was feeling, I quite literally might die… at the same time though, I felt safe. Incredibly safe.

I was grunting and groaning, roaring even, through every contraction and urge to push. It’s like I became some primitive form of myself. Instinct was taking over. I wasn’t really thinking anymore, I was just doing. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fight the urge to push much more. My body was beginning to push on its own and there was such a huge relief in those few seconds when it did.

At some point, I remember getting nauseas and feeling like I was going to throw up. Finally at 8:21 pm, at least an hour after I had asked for some pain relief, my IV line was in and I was given a shot of fentanyl. Although, it did take the edge off of the next few contractions I had, I was still grunting, groaning, and blowing through each one like I had been before.

The next thing I can remember was Dr. Gaziano asking me if I was ready to deliver our baby boy. I wasn’t quite sure if he was serious or not! I remember thinking, “What?!?! Everyone has been telling me to NOT push for the last hour and now you WANT me to push?” He told me I could push with the next contraction. I tried to, but because my body had been resisting this urge for so long, I wasn’t able to really give a good push. It took one more contraction for me to switch gears and to finally allow my body to do what it had been wanting to do for what seemed like forever! With this next contraction, I gave several large pushes and to my amazement, could feel our baby boy's head come out!

Dr. Gaziano then told me to stop pushing so that we could slowly ease his shoulders out. He guided me through a series of little pushes and then asked if I wanted to reach down and deliver our little boy. I looked down between my legs and for what seemed like much longer than it really was, I saw our son’s gorgeous face looking up at me, eyes closed, arms moving slowly. This moment will always be imprinted firmly in my memory, as will the overwhelming feeling of love and pure joy as I reached down and brought him up out of my womb and into my arms where he took his first breath. In complete amazement and awe, at 8:32pm, Dominic Davis was born. We did it!  What an amazing moment to actually reach down and deliver my own son! 
I felt a tidal wave of love hit me and all I could do was hold onto our little precious baby boy. I couldn’t believe he was finally in my arms. Our eyes and hearts locked together and at that moment, I could no longer imagine my life without him in it. As I held him, everything else around me stopped. The pain and fear were gone. Nothing else in the world mattered. All awareness of anything else faded into the background. I had my precious, slimy, absolutely perfect little boy in my arms. I was completely in love.

I looked up at Tom and saw tears in his eyes. I know that he was just as in love with this little guy as I was and I couldn’t have felt more overjoyed. Our baby boy was finally here. All the pain, fear and uncertainty was worth it. Going through labor mostly un-medicated was physically, the hardest work of my life, but I did it!

Our nurse covered us in warm blankets and helped wipe our baby off. I just stared in wonder at him. At our request, the umbilical cord was not clamped or cut until after it had stopped pulsating. About five minutes after delivery, Dr. Gaziano showed me the now fully drained cord and clamped it. Tom cut it and shortly thereafter, I delivered the placenta. I had one little tear and received one stitch.

Our new baby boy did not leave my chest for hours. He was weighed and measured a couple hours after his birth. Any vitals that were needed were taken while he rested in the comfort of my arms.

The whole labor was a whirlwind. Dominic Davis was born at 8:32pm on February 11th, after less than 3 hours of active labor! He weighed in at 6 lbs, 14 oz and measured 21 ¼ inches long. He was perfect!
Sitting in bed later that night, after Gavin and Gabe had come to visit their little brother for the first time, I quietly thanked God for being so good to us. We have been through so much heartache and unimaginable loss, but God’s faithfulness still remains true. I poured out my heart to Him and thanked Him for giving us another little one to love. I thanked Him for giving us the strength and hope to go through another uncertain pregnancy. We did not let this uncertainty or fear deter us. As I carry the memory of Aiden and Jeremiah with me, I rejoice in my boys and the power that God gave us women, that God gave me, to bring life even after unspeakable pain.

We are all in awe. We have spent the last week snuggling in our bed together, getting used to the new normal of having a newborn in the house and giving everyone the time that they want holding Dominic and being next to him. There has been little talk of the things that are needing to be done around the house or distractions from the outside world. For now, we are in our own little love cocoon. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 We are so very blessed.