Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finding Peace in Parenthood after Labor Woes

I was getting anxious. My due date had come and gone. “It's okay, Dominique. This is your first baby... lots of women are late with their first baby.” At least that's what I heard time and time again. By my 8th month, I had already reached my breaking point. I was praying that my son, Major, would come early. Please, please, PLEASE, GOD! If he's healthy and fully formed, let this baby come early. In a moment of weakness, I even said, “God, it's okay if he's missing a fingernail or two... just get him out of me!” Of course I wasn't serious. I wanted my baby to have ten fingers and toes, and for those fingers and toes to all be dressed with tiny, perfect fingernails.

I was planning a home birth. "Planning" is a hilarious word when you're referring to anything related to pregnancy, labor or motherhood. Am I right, ladies? I can feel you nod in agreement as you read this. "Amen," we all say in unison.

But there I was, trying to plan. Now, let me make something very clear; I didn't go crazy with the idea of planning. I had educated myself on home births, water births, hospital births, c-sections, and ocean births. (Okay, I never considered an ocean birth although it's a REAL THING. YES, YES,YES IT IS! I mean, like, what if a crab crawled up there? Whoa.) No, I didn't go crazy with the planning. However, I knew what I wanted to experience. I knew the setting I wanted to be in, and I knew how I wanted to birth. So I made the decision of planning a home water birth. I hired an excellent midwife, an amazing doula and I took all the classes. This was the first parenthood decision I was making, and I felt great about it.

One night, after attending one of our birth classes, I started crying to my husband, “I don't know if I can do this! DID YOU SEE HOW THAT WOMAN WAS CRYING IN THE BIRTH VIDEO?! WHY DOES IT HAVE TO HURT SO BAD?! Also, I hate you.”

Being the good, kind husband that he is, he assured me that I CAN do this. We talked that night and I felt at ease. I made the decision in my mind that in any case, home birth, water birth or even transferring to the hospital, I would do this and I could do this. I started to think of my birth experience differently. I kept my confidence in birthing at home, but I left the pressure and fear of the unknown at the door. Home birth or no home birth, medication or no medication, I can do this... I can do this... I can do this. I watched natural labor videos, water labor videos, and epidural induced labor videos. Birth wasn't so scary anymore. Instead, the more I changed my mind about it, the less scary it was, and the more beautiful it became.

We arrived at (what I was hoping) would be my last appointment with my OB. She knew how I wanted to birth, and I felt comfortable telling her my birth hopes and plans. Like previous appointments, she would chat with me, check me and send me on my way. I loved my doctor. She was chill, to-the-point, and I never felt rushed.

She walked in. We chatted. She measured my stomach, and then she said, “Hmmm,” and checked again.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Well, you're measuring big,” she said.

“Oh” I said with relief, “Well, I've always measured big.” I looked at my husband, Chance, and shot him a smile, knowing that we were thinking the same thing. “He's a big boy!” I giggled.

“You've grown very quickly since last week. I need to send you to a specialist to have this baby checked out. I need to see how big he could be and we can discuss our options,” she said with concern.

I looked at Chance, but this time with a different expression. I was worried. I felt the fear come over me, that same fear I felt months before when I was crying in the car questioning if I could even do this without freaking the heck out.

We were sent to a specialist immediately. And after the appointment with the specialist, we were sent immediately back to our doctor. Our doctor kindly, but seriously advised us to have a c-section. She said we shouldn't wait another day because the baby was measuring very, very big.

Great. Here come the tears. Tears were pouring down my face as if I were a broken faucet. During the next three minutes, I lost enough snot to fill 1,000 tissues. I called my midwife and then my parents. I was balling all the way home. WHY?! I kept thinking. Why!!!!!???!!!

Some people will tell you that it doesn't matter how you birth because the ending is still a baby. But I do believe it matters how you birth. I believe that certain life experiences help us grow and evolve. I was looking forward to birth and thought it would help me become the mother I hoped to be -- strong, confident, and determined. It was going to be the first thing that I could give my son. And I wanted him to have the best birth possible.

My husband and I wrestled with the decision. Until a few minutes ago, a c-section was the last thing on our minds. I had read all about unnecessary c-sections and the reasons people have them. I thought I would never, EVER actually agree to one!! But suddenly a c-section was strongly recommended by my doctor. My head pounded as I frantically considered my limited options. I had to make this decision very quickly, but I didn't know what the right decision was. Should I go through with this surgery to have my baby? I'd been having contractions for weeks prior and didn't feel much pain at all. Should I try and go against my doctor's advice and give my son another few days to make his appearance​? The pros and cons of both options made my head spin.

We made the decision to have a C-section. Was it the right decision? I still don't know. It was such an odd experience. Instead of pushing, breathing, and feeling my baby being born, I walked into an operating room. Instead of being one of the first to see or hold my baby, I was the 4th or 5th. We all know how cesareans go. You listen to the nurses talk about where they're going to go for dinner because this procedure is so common.

After all was said and done, I had so many questions. Did I really earn this? Can I still talk about labor like other women and feel like I have something to share? What if I decided against the c-section? What if my labor would have gone perfectly? Will I regret this surgery later in life? And most importantly, was I a bad mother for copping out?

Something was wrong. The downsides of the surgery were filling my mind. There I was, holding my brand new son and I was still in shock over my labor. I didn't transition well. My labor affected me more than I was prepared to admit. I was in love with this baby, but my “ending” wasn't just my baby. It was how he was born, too. Did I rob him of something? I kept asking myself. Did I rob us of something? Will we not bond the same now?

I came to the conclusion that the reason I was so concerned with my son's birth is because I wanted him to have the very best. And as I realized that fact, I realized also how much I had already loved my son. I was already thinking about his well-being and his story. I was longing to connect to him in anyway I could.

Later in the week, I was laying there holding my precious boy and pondering the last few months. In life, and as parents, we are forced to make decisions. Those decisions will shape us and our children. We don't know if they were always the right ones. We wrestle and struggle with pros and cons, but in the end, we still have to choose a road. We are constantly asking ourselves, "Which road will be best?"

The fact that I wanted to make the very best decision for my child brought me peace, because, you see, I was already desiring the best for him. Those insecurities I felt during my son's birth aren't lingering, because all I wanted from this was to be a good mom. Do I know if the c-section was my best option, medically speaking? No. Do I know if it was best for me emotionally? Nope. But I DO know that I love Major so much, and I don't take parenthood lightly. In the end, my son's birth story, as messy and confusing at it might be, was a blessing. It showed me that I was already a strong, confident and dedicated mother. It helped me take a very close look at my motives. And because of that, I'm going to be a damn good mom.

<3 Dominique

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Matters Most

I'm sitting here and all the things I love most are in the same room. My son, my hubby, and my cat. Yes, my cat. I can't remember the last time I've felt so overly happy. Maybe at lunch when I threw my dieting Paleo ways out the window and ate a slice or two of pizza. Still, it wasn't as sweet as this.

The last few months I have been completely shocked at how this baby has changed me. I was not expecting this, but I guess having low expectations of motherhood, was better than having high ones. I thought I would hate parenthood. And I'm sure down the road, there will be days that I do. I'm sure down the road (or maybe even tomorrow?) I'll have a rough day and want to quit, but until then I am enjoying the simple things in life. I'll squeeze my son and kiss his chubby cheeks as much as I can today. I'll rock him to sleep and sing in his ear, because today... I love that I'm his mom.

I've always loved kids, but it was hard for me to see myself as a parent. I would watch my friends' kids and absolutely love it, but there was something in me that was afraid of having my OWN kid. Maybe it's the life long responsibility of it all or maybe it's that I didn't want to be the one that sent my own child to therapy because mommy didn't have it together. I don't know, but now... those fears don't scare me anymore. Of course I have doubts and concerns, but Major is so worth it.

Major you are so worth it. UGH! You are the cutest baby!!! I can't get enough of your fat self. You are so, so fat and I love it. It's super cute and super hilarious.

Having this baby has opened my eyes to the more tender things in life. I think I've always been an emotional person and “in touch” with my feelings, but having this child has given new life to so many situations. Because life really is about people and relationships. It really is about faith and love and hope. It really is about the real things instead of the rich things. This sappy post is somewhat ridiculous, but so true right now, because I feel so blessed and so, so in love.

<3 Dominique

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Major Smiles

So towards the end of my pregnancy I wasn't doing much. I was so tired and so big (like the size of a whale) that all I wanted to do was sit in my house with the air conditioner on (yes, even though it was November). Yes, I was THAT fat and THAT hot. I'd be like, "I'm so sorry so and so... I can't make it today, I'm just SO tired!"

I want to sock my formerly pregnant self in the face now. Hard. I'd smack that girl so hard if I could.  These days I look at Chance and say, "WHAT DID WE DO WITH ALL OUR TIME BEFORE WE HAD THIS KID?"

I think I thought when the pregnancy was over, the fatigue would be over, the backache would be over and the sleep would be sound. WOW. Did I NOT understand that a HUMAN was going to come out of me and demand my every second? I guess I really didn't think about what happens at the end of pregnancy... you get a baby! And then the real fatigue, the real aches and the real sleepless nights begin.

Here's a run down of my last 6 weeks...

Wake up- but wake up from not sleeping. This just simply means actually getting out of bed, because let's be serious- I was awake all night.

Feed him. From my boob... that's still so weird.

He's happy. Put him in the bouncer so I can make an egg and toast... he starts to fuss. Pick him up, walk around until he's happy.. put him back in the bouncer. Finish cooking the already burnt egg. Grab a plate and sit down. I reach for the fork to eat... Major cries. He's bored. He's sick of looking at those stupid toys hanging from his bouncer. He's like, "What the heck, mom?! Just because I'm a baby doesn't mean I want to look at this stupid thing for longer than 3 minutes... don't you see it's a dumb turtle? What else is there to figure out?"

I take him out noting his intelligence. It's ok, Major. You are smart and stuff is boring. I feel bad for you so let's hang out. I try to juggle him while I attempt to eat my egg. It doesn't happen. He gets angry I'm not walking around. So I get up and walk... it finally calms him down.

He cries two minutes later and my egg is cold. He's hungry. I'm hungry.

Fine! I say to him... you can eat first! I lift my shirt and he gasps and gasps until he's getting that sweet boob juice.

I finally eat my egg, while ironically feeding my baby at the same time.

My day continues as chaotic as it started. I rush to the bathroom, fold the laundry, pick up the house in a hurried fashion all as Major sleeps. I'm racing the clock and counting the baby's "ZZZ" just to be sure of how much time I have left. I usually get to the bathroom and half way through the laundry before he wakes up again.

I look at the clock and it's already 5pm. I've accomplished nothing today. Nothing. But he's smiling now and today seems to be juuuuust fine.


Saturday, January 7, 2012


He's here. I can't believe that a baby, a human, GREW inside of me. Like a plant... like a little seed. It's wild. It's the craziest thing I've ever, ever, ever experienced. I don't mean pregnancy and I don't mean birth... I mean a human is now living with me and eating from my boob 24/7 and I GREW that thing. The reality of this miracle is crazy. How can people not believe in something bigger than themselves when this crazy thing happens to them?!

I've been transformed. And I never, ever, ever thought I would be that person. My pregnancy was ok... I mean, I wasn't super sick and I didn't suffer from too many uncomfortable side effects. But for some reason, I wasn't very happy. My pregnancy wasn't exactly a planned one so it was hard for me to handle and I felt guilty for not being "excited." People would ask how I felt and my response was usually "eh... I'm ok, I guess." I'd cry to Chance at night and told him I feared being a bad mom because surely no DECENT mom would be so selfish. I watched my body change (with a little TOO much help from me... I love my fries!), I watched my "plans" slow down and my near future take a drastic turn. I told myself, the only way I'll like this baby is if it's a girl and if it sleeps at night. I'd tell Chance, "I can't picture myself with a boy for some reason."

We found out it had a penis. And I was shocked.

I cried.

I'd say, "I know it's horrible, but I just don't know if I'll be able to do this... I'm not ready, and I don't feel connected to him at all"

I never bonded with Major while he was inside my stomach, but I never resented him either.  Instead, I felt sorry for myself as I gripped tight to my last parentless months. I felt that way my entire pregnancy.

And then he came. He was and is so precious. This infant was here and just wanted to be close to me. He needed me to survive. I was hooked. Obsessed to say the least. My birth didn't go as hoped (more on that later) and my body is still a reck (I'll talk about this, too)... but my precious, precious boy brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart sing. I love his toes, I love his smell, I love holding him and helping him. Everything about him is my favorite.

What happened?

I really don't know. I don't know if it's divine intervetion, or just a natural motherly love, but something is different. You know it's weird, too, because I still can sit here and tell you that I STILL want to follow my dreams, and I STILL have big plans for my life. I don't want to just be a mom, or have my children be my life (not that there's ANYTHING wrong with that- it's a huge honor and responsibility we have!). In fact, I've already enojyed the few freedoms I've been given to leave the house, and I'll probably still post millions of pictures of my cat, but something is definitely different.

So, my fellow mothers... what do you think it is that changes us?

Major, now that you are here... Mommy can't picture life without you. I love you, I love you, I love you forever. You are 4 weeks old and have already made my life so rich. And I'm happy to say, I will never, ever, ever be the same.