Monday, June 5, 2023

Dom Dom Dom Dommmmm (to the tune of Beethoven's 5th)

*Grammar note*: I wrote most of this using speech to text, because 5 kids. There are definitely some errors.

Remember how the last time I wrote one of these I joked that it would be the last blog entry?  Well, joke's on me!  God had a bigger and better plan in store, and that was in the form of our little Dom Dom.  

This birth story is going to be more like a pregnancy story, as this pregnancy and birth was in the context of year full of changes and loss in our family. The birth story is not complete without speaking to this loss.  We found out that we were pregnant in January of 2022.  It was a bit of a whirlwind realizing that we would soon be keeping up with 5 kids!  We announced to my mom, mother in law, sister’s family, and brother’s family while celebrating Zilla’s birthday. Later that night, we spent part of the evening talking to my mother in law about what it would be like for her to live with us and 5 kids. The plan was for her to move into the home we had bought together as she moved towards retirement.  She certainly thought we were a little ambitious, but was also excited for the journey.  I was excited to have her closer in the coming years. 

The pregnancy moved forward as normal.  We explored the idea of a home birth and birthing center birth with much excitement but ultimately, when Jason’s job offered a pregnancy benefit of paying $0 if we birthed at his hospital, decided we would move forward with that plan.  I was a little meh about this decision but also on board. I have, after all, done this 4 times and was well aware of how my births go. 

In May, we received the most difficult phone call of our lives. Nina, my mother in law, had asked us to call her. I was certain that she was calling to let us know she was ready to make the big move to Dallas to begin her life here with us. But instead, she let us know she had been going through multiple tests exploring lesions on her lungs.  We soon learned she had lung cancer. Over the next month Jason traveled back and forth between Dallas and Houston helping to transport her to and from doctors and care for her as her health declined.  We lost her in June and it was devastating. I’ll never forget holding Zilla in my arms as he cried when I told him we were going to make a trip to Houston to say goodbye to her. She was his person. 

Meanwhile I struggled with God, wondering why we were losing such a wonderful woman, whom my kids absolutely adored.  In all honesty, there were times I was angry. From afar, and without the chance to see Nina myself, I wondered why we weren’t pursuing treatments faster or more aggressively. It was harsh and certainly came from a selfish place, but I simply didn’t want to lose her.  But with prayer, God softened my heart and helped me to see He did not want longsuffering for her.  And in this I became open to the idea of my own sadness and grief. I so desperately wanted her there for this pregnancy, this birth, and to be in Dom’s life. She’s been a staple in all the others, it was hard to let go of this vision. But slowly I offered God this hurt and trusted He knew what to do with it better than me.  If the deepest moments of grief, spared suffering for Nina, well then it was worth it.  

I’m getting off track, but I say all of this because I remember people checking on me about how pregnancy was going and truthfully it was like my pregnancy was just happening in the background. I would tell people that I was pretty sure one day the baby was just going to fall out and I was going to be like, oh yeah, well hang on kid life isn’t slowing down.  Dom, of course, had other plans once he got here, but that’s a whole separate post altogether. 

In the midst of the loss and transition, I wanted to do everything I could to keep Nina a part of our journey so that Dominic would have a sense of knowing her, even without having met her. It’s why we ultimately gave him the initials DLF, so that it could be something they shared.  And as the day of his birth approached, I continually reflected on the role she played in welcoming our other kids into the world, especially the ones who were born in Michigan, and wondered what it would be like without her calming presence. You see, I am what some people might describe as an anxious person, but Nina just never seemed frazzled by anything. It was a nice and quite frankly needed balance in my postpartum wild hormonal state.    

Week 40 of pregnancy rolled around and terms like “induction” started getting brought up.  I was starting to get that anxious feeling. My husband’s hospital was not known for being the most “non intervention” friendly hospital around and because of the high volume of patients they see, take more of a one size fits all approach. The NP whom I had been seeing each appointment leading up to Dom’s birth kept gently letting me know that many of the things in my birth plan may not be allowed and they would almost certainly want to induce by week 41.  I was, admittedly, a little bitter that my very likely last birth was going to be stressful and possibly everything I didn’t want in a birth. Not the end of the world, but I was not feeling the most optimistic. 

At 41 weeks I waddled into a MFM appointment at 9am where they checked for progress and they “clocked” me at 3cm and the midwife insisted I immediately go to the hospital for induction with a cocktail of medications. I was crushed but also not ready to give up advocating for myself.  I asked her for a membrane sweep as this had previously jump started labor for 2 of my previous births and was hopeful my body just needed a little reminder that it was time. She reluctantly agreed, but said that I needed to go straight to L&D to start meds after the sweep.  I told her I needed to go home first to switch cars with my mom but would come back, though I preferred to wait 24 hours to give the sweep a chance to work seeing as she hadn’t given me any compelling medical  reasons for getting the baby out asap. She looked at me rather suspiciously and stated “well I will have to put in my chart that you are noncompliant”.  It was….uncomfortable, and quite frankly I felt like I was being threatened in some weird way. 

I called my mom and Jason on the way home in tears. The idea of induction medications scared me.  After 4 pregnancies I really didn’t want to throw in an unknown. I just wanted to do what my body knew how to do.  Jason and my mom both encouraged me to just listen to my body. Jason was fully on board with waiting 24 hours despite her “threat” and my mom was willing to help any way we needed it. They both encouraged me to call my NP and discuss the situation with her, so I did and left a message. 

Meanwhile, I started to feel consistent contractions. I didn’t want to get too excited because I had had false labor in the past, and my last sweep involved a short stint of false labor followed by the real deal the next morning. So I was cautiously hopeful. My mom left for a funeral and Jason anxiously watched me pace around the room. As long as I was up and walking or bouncing on an exercise ball the contractions were coming strong and consistent. Eventually they were coming close enough together that I told Jason we should head towards the hospital, as it was a 30 to 40 minute drive.  On the way there the contractions lightened up and I was worried I had jumped the gun.  The last thing I wanted was to walk into L&D without strong contractions and then be told I have no option but to start induction. Because of this, we decided to walk around the hospital for a little while prior to reporting to labor and delivery. My contractions were coming back and getting progressively stronger. I began to stop walking during contractions and Jason asked if perhaps it was time to get checked in.  I agreed and we headed to L&D. 

The nursing team was very confused when I arrived because I was supposed to go straight there for induction but had gone home and was now contracting on my own. Uncertain of where I should be sent, they decided to put me in a triage room. I was told Jason would have to wait until I was admitted into a room before joining me. It was a busy afternoon and all of the labor rooms were full, so I was told it may be a while. It was around 2pm. 

By some happy accident, Jason found his way back to the triage room and the nurse was kind enough to let him stay. She started the external monitors on me, told me they usually require mom's to stay laying back but since this was #5 she decided I knew what I was doing and as long as they were getting a reading I could move around. Unfortunately, the way my belly grows in pregnancy makes it very hard for the monitors to stay in place unless I'm completely still so she had to make frequent trips in to readjust. Thankfully, she never requested that I just stay still, because that wasn't going to happen.

It was about 2:30 at this point. A midwife came in to check me and I was 4cm. Stop me if you've heard this before, but I was disappointed by this number. At this point the contractions were STRONG.  I was doing ok for the most part and Jason and I had started praying a Rosary. At about the third mystery they let me know a room had opened and I was being moved to the labor and delivery room.  It was as they were moving me in the wheelchair that the contractions started feeling extremely painful. It was about 2:45.

Once we arrived to the room, it was very difficult to transfer to the bed. The new nurse was attempting to hook me up to the new external heart monitors and I was having none of it. I told Jason I was going to need an epidural because these contractions hurt way too much for being what was surely only 5 or 6cm. Afterall, they had just checked me and I was a 4. Rather than questioning this statement or agreeing, he simply told me the baby was probably about to be here. I thought he was bonkers. Jason started calmly but firmly mentioning to the nurse that she should get a doctor to the room rather than fiddle with the monitors on my stomach.  Soon I was loudly mentioning how I was feeling a lot of pressure. A lot. The nurse was frantically paging a doctor to get to the room.

At 2:58 Jason sent a message to friends and family that I was pushing. I distinctly remember the nurse continuing to try and get the monitors wrapped around me. I am pretty sure I swatted her hand away and told her it wasn't going to happen. There would be no heartbeat found near my stomach area, the baby was in the birthing canal. At 3:05, Dominic arrived. 

I did my customary apologizing to the L&D nurses for yelling at them and anything mean I had said.  The nurse who had been trying to get the heart monitor around me told me there was no need to apologize and that was the most amazing birth she has been a part of and told me I was incredible.  The nurse who had helped us in triage came by to see if I had really already given birth. She looked at me and said, “nah girl, we don’t do that around here. That’s wild.”  Jason and I joked that if the two nurses compared notes about me they would think it was two different people and I sent my sister a text to describe the great distance between triage me and transition me; 'polite, Rosary praying' me very quickly became 'frantic, hitting your hand away' me.   An hour or two later my NP called me back to see what questions I had and I let her know they were no longer relevant because he had arrived. She was floored. 

I also realized just how in tune my husband is with me. Honestly, it is humbling to realize how much he trusts my body to do this whole process, even more than I do myself. Looking back I see how he didn’t ask me at any point to question myself or speak over me, but at the same time he knew when I was truly in labor, when we were definitely in need of checking in, and when I was in transition and ready to push.  I don’t know if he felt calm internally and maybe it is just in comparison to how wild I felt at times, but he just seemed so sure.  He later told me there are obvious tells that I have, especially when it is pushing time, which is why he started to urge the nurse to get a doctor. Anyways, I really love it and love him.  

We were moved to the maternity ward and it was a mostly typical hospital stay. Compared to our Michigan births, there was much more in and out of nurses which wasn’t my favorite. It seemed like once an hour. I was very very ready to go home. 

When we arrived home the kids were all so excited. We had brought home a baby doll for Bethany and she was so proud to sit by us with Dom Dom while she took care of her baby.  And a huge thank you to my mom who picked up all of the kids on Friday and made sure people got to and from baseball obligations the rest of the weekend. We couldn’t have done it without her! 

I truly can’t believe our little guy is 8 months old already. Some of our favorite nicknames for him are: Dom Dom, Dom Bombadil, Tofu, Dominator, Chunk, and Chungus.  We love you so much, little guy and we know your namesake is praying for you daily. 

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