On Thursday, January 20th, 2011 Dominic Truth Parker made his entrance into the world at Allen Presbyterian Hospital. After several hours of intense labor and the threat of a C-Section, Dominic arrived just in the ‘nick of time’.
As I look at him now, the anxiety and emotion and pain both physically and in my heart begins to melt away. Dominic was born at exactly 42 weeks and, although I still don’t understand why he took so long in the oven, many of the circumstances leading up to his delivery show me that God had his hand on Dominic through every contraction and push along the way.
So let’s back up to week 40. Up to this point, my pregnancy has been progressing normally and at a low risk level. We arrive to my appointment, check my vitals (blood pressure low as always), hear his beautiful heartbeat, and check to find that I am 50% effaced and 1 centimeter dilated. Again textbook pregnancy.
We walk away excitedly anticipating labor pains any day now. Any day now turns into my due date, which turns into a week 41 ultrasound that leads to a non-stress test a few days later. All tests come back normal. Both mommy and baby are healthy. But still no signs of labor.
Then. Monday January 17th comes and the possibility of not being able to deliver my baby at the Birth Center I had chosen became a reality and the possibility of a C-section is mentioned.
I had loved the idea of giving birth in a non-hospital environment from the time of my first little nephew’s arrival into the world nearly 5 years ago at a birth center. I would not have spent the past nine months going there for prenatal care had I not totally wanted this type of experience. It was an inspiring dream that even I did not fully understand the end result and how it would make me feel. I just knew that it was an experience that I just had to take in.
So here I was on the threshold of 42 weeks watching my biggest fear become a reality. I couldn’t give birth at the place or in the way I wanted.
There was still hope of course. After a long conversation with one of the midwives, it was determined that, although no could truly know for sure why I had not gone into labor, that his bad position was the best conclusion. If we could get Dominic in a better position on top of my cervix, labor would almost certainly be imminent.
We called our chiropractor who fit us in the next day. He did various procedures to help adjust the position of our sweet baby. After this, along with lots of walking and ‘baby spinning’ exercises, we met again with our midwife. In checking me, she found that although I was still only dilated at a 1 that Dominic’s position was much better.
We agreed to a procedure that would basically help squeeze my cervix down using a balloon catheter. During the procedure my body started losing mucus making it much more difficult to perform the procedure but my sweet midwife persevered. Ironically, I was dilated to a 2 by the time the procedure was complete.
My midwife was very kind but honest in communicating that we were indeed running out of time. It was her hope and mine that I would go into labor that night.
Before we left, she suggested we visit the referring hospital. She shared of two different women who had been in similar situations. After they had walked the halls of the hospital and become comfortable with the idea of a hospital birth, they had gone into labor on their own and been able to birth at the center.
We drove immediately to Allen Presbyterian Hospital. We walked the halls of labor and delivery, were shown a room and had all of our questions answered. I found that I could ‘be okay’ with my new birthing venue and we left the labor and delivery hall.
As we walked towards the elevators, a most amazing thing happened. I experienced my very first contraction. And it was VERY DIFFERENT from my previous experiences with Braxton Hicks. It stopped me in my tracks. I had trouble catching my breath and the pain was intense!
From that point on, my contractions became steadier and stronger. We headed home and began our journey into labor. Through out the night they became steadier and stronger but never made it to the required 5-1-1 to call the birthing center.
The next morning the contractions were still steady and we headed to the birth center to have the balloon catheter removed. It was our hope and prayer that they would determine that I was indeed in labor and that we could still birth at the center.
As the midwife checked me she noted yet again that Dominic’s position was much better and that I had dilated to 2 1/2.
And. Then it came.
It was final. I was too far along to safely birth at the center and they would have to transfer me to their doctor: a man I had met briefly prior to an ultrasound 5 months earlier.
No beautiful water birth experience for me. Just a hospital and my body’s destiny in the hands of a doctor with whom I had formed absolutely no rapport whatsoever. My natural birth was no longer possible. They would start the induction process shortly after we arrived at the hospital at 5AM the next morning.
And yet my contractions continued getting stronger and more painful. They were now 2-3 minutes apart and lasting a minimum of a minute each time. By 2AM, I begged Marshall to call the Dr and see what we should do. The doctor said we could go on into the hospital. We arrived at 3 and I found myself in a room being pricked and prodded and preparing for the birth of my sweet son!
They checked me and found I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 4. The nurses found no reason to induce and I found my natural birth once again quite possible. We labored through contractions for the most part in the hospital bed. We could hear sweet Dominic’s heartbeat and could follow the intensity of each contraction through a monitor.
With the monitor as his guide, Marshall was a champion coach helping me through each contraction. My sweet mom held my hand through nearly every contraction.
The doctor came in later that day and found that I had increased to a 5. He broke my bag of waters and left me to continue laboring.
Then God sent me a gift in a nurse. She offered me a labor ball and a warm heating pad: two items I would have relied heavily upon had I birthed at the center. And it got me out of the bed.
With renewed vigor I began laboring using techniques I had learned in our childbirth classes. We had music playing and worked through each contraction with increased excitement. In no time at all, I went from a 5 to an 8.
Although I was making amazing progress, I found myself exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed. I decided to take one round of Nubain to help ‘take the edge off’. It made me very drowsy but the pain of the contractions was still very very real. As I worked through these contractions, I received the rest in between that I would need for the journey still to come in birthing our son Dominic.
Several hours passed and I was still dilated at an eight.
It was then that I received the biggest blow yet. The nurse informed us that the doctor would be in to see us in an hour. If I had not progressed to a 10, the next step would a be a C-section.
I. Was. Stunned.
How did I go from a perfectly low-risk pregnancy, one I planned to do naturally at a wonderful birthing center, get to 40 weeks, then 41, to a transfer to a hospital? Why did I experience the high of going into labor on my own and dilating from a 5 to an 8, only to stall for 5 hours and find myself on the outskirts of an operating room for a C-section?
After. All. That.
So much disappointment.
So much I did not understand.
I had many “why” questions for God, but in that moment I could ask none.
I remember praying aloud for God give to us peace and wisdom and to help us.
We tried a few labor exercises that Marshall’s sister suggested for encouraging dilation.
We texted a short-list of people to pray for 2 cm in the next 45 minutes.
And we had our talking points to see what we could do to avoid a C-section.
Our time passed and the doctor arrived at 8:15PM. As he was checking me I could tell he was trying to manipulate my cervix. As he touched a certain spot I yelped in pain. He applied pressure again and asked what it felt like. I told him it felt like intense pain in my bottom and I felt like I should push.
He instructed me to wait for a contraction, then to get a deep breath and then push. I did this twice and something happened. I don’t know how to accurately describe it other than it got me from an 8 to a 10!
All of a sudden, the room filled with nurses who were setting up equipment to prepare for delivery.
I couldn’t quite understand what was going on. I was in a state of shock almost afraid to ask if I was going to deliver my baby vaginally.
I finally managed some sort of, “I get to birth him?” with eyes wide and shock and wonder running through my blood. Their “yes” seemed surreal.
But it was happening!
One nurse told me that I was that I was a rockstar for going at it naturally- giving me the strength and courage I needed for the next part: pushing my sweet Dominic Truth into the world.
Again I was instructed on how to push and by my sixth push, Dominic had crowned!
And. I. Felt. It.
After 3 or 4 rounds of pushing, someone told me to look down and I watched as my sweet baby boy made his grand entrance into the world literally pushing himself out and into the start of a beautiful new life.
At 8:44PM, Dominic entered the world and was placed beside me and Marshall and our family of two blossomed into three.
Dominic is four weeks old today and I still don’t understand why I couldn’t deliver at the birth center or why he was two weeks late or why my labor was so extremely long. But as I watch him sleeping so peacefully, I would without hesitation endure it all again.
God gave us a beautiful gift:
Dominic Truth Parker
Born January 20th, 2011
Weighing 8lbs 7.5 ounces
Measuring 20.5 inches