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Dominic's birth story (Induction for Pre-E + Awesome Self Advocacy + Doula Support = Vaginal birth )

Thank you so much to first-time mom Kayla for sharing her birth story with us! And thank you to Tara for providing doula support during Kayla and Tom's pregnancy, birth and postpartum journey. Join us in our congratulations!

"I never wanted to be induced. That was one of my (many) fears as my due date loomed closer. I had heard that Pitocin would make my contractions far more severe and force the baby out before he was ready. I wanted him to come on his own, peacefully. I was obsessed with his birth being his decision. Birth would be a big adventure for us both, and I promised myself I would be ready when he was. I knew most first babies were born late, so I was kind of banking on those extra weeks. I planned to have extra time, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

On Monday, January 24th, the door of patient room #6 banged open after twenty minutes of waiting, and the cranky, older midwife declared; "You're sick!"

"With what?" I asked, nervously. My immediate thought was Covid, but how would she know that?

"Your BP is high! You told the MA you had a headache this morning. And you've gained 9 pounds in a week!" She yelled at us.

I exchanged a look with Tom as my anxiety spiked. "My headache is already gone. I explained to the MA that I got very little sleep last night and I felt better after drinking some water." I said hurriedly, before adding; "And I do not think I gained 9 pounds in a week. Please let me step on the scale again," I begged, my heart racing and my face flushing hot with frustration.

She looked at my chart again. "Oh." She said shortly. "Well, it looks like you actually gained 9 pounds the whole pregnancy."

I sighed in relief, but felt annoyance over her pushiness while misreading my chart.

"But. We are still having a baby toady." She added determinedly.


"Your BP was high and you had a headache and that means you could be contracting preeclampsia. You're 39 weeks pregnant. This baby is coming out today. Take your pants off. We're doing a cervical check."

Tom and I exchanged a look over her brashness. Despite the sickly feeling in my stomach and the anger of not being asking for my consent before demanding a cervical check, I needed to know if I was dilated as much as she did. Feeling as if I was outside of my body, I passed through the saloon style doors into the changing corner and undressed. I'm not ready. I thought over and over again.

I climbed back onto the table and assumed the position for the painful cervical check. After her check was complete, she admitted that "These are less than ideal conditions for an induction. You are zero cm dilated and you have a very long cervix. An induction will take 3-4 days". I took a few deep breaths and tried to channel a calm attitude, thinking back on everything my doula class had taught us on how to advocate for myself.

"I don't want to be induced. I don't have a headache. The only issue is my raised BP which has been fine all through pregnancy. I have had some family stress at home which I think may be attributing to this. I have slept poorly. I am not ready to give birth without exploring additional options."

The woman frowned and actually rolled her eyes at me in annoyance before agreeing to go consult with the physician in the office for a second opinion. As soon as she disappeared through the doors, Tom and I exchanged a rush of frustrated words before we began texting our doula Tara, hurriedly asking for help and explaining the situation. She helped calm us down and gave us some advice on asking for one more day to see how things went and asking if we could monitor our BP on our own by going into Walgreens or Publix to check on it.

When the midwife returned, she said we could have one more day to see if my BP improved. We would come back the following morning.

Tom and I left the office upset. It felt like a whirlwind. The way she had delivered the information was so upsetting and I was equal parts angry and scared upon departure. When we got home, I took some time to calm down before returning to work. I then made sure my labor bags were fully packed before going to sleep that night. Anxiety rolled through my all night long and I once again slept poorly.

Upon waking the following morning, we threw all of our bags into the trunk just in case and headed back to the OB office. Thankfully, we were meeting with a different provider that day; Denise, who we had met several times and had actually had our very first appointment with when I was 8 weeks pregnant.

My BP was still high, and Denise came into the room to further discuss. She calmly stated that she agreed with Patty's assessment from the day before, and we should head to the hospital for an induction. She went on to explain that, I can wait if I want to, but it would be against their recommendations for a safe delivery. Things can go wrong when BP spikes and it would be much more difficult to monitor my BP on my own at home, and it could spike higher without me realizing which could result in a dangerous situation for me. My organs could begin shutting down and it would be creating less options for a vaginal delivery and could end up in an emergency situation. Being able to calmly discuss my fears with her, and feel like I was listened to, I was ultimately able to gain a better understanding over the situation with Denise. The decision felt clear. It was time to meet our baby.

Tom and I headed home to make a few calls to arrange care for our pup. My sister would be coming over and our friend would be acting as backup for when she went to work. We took Homer for one more walk around the neighborhood with just the three of us. It was a mild, breezy day. My face was tear streaked, despite knowing it was the right choice to go in, I was so worried about delivery. I was also completely annoyed at the thought of a long induction because our PTO is such CRAP here, despite working for the health system. Maternity leave is such a joke. We get next to nothing. But there was nothing to be done about it. We finished our walk and had a quick bite to eat, and by the time we finished lunch, I was anxious to get going. It's time. It's time. My heart pounded, but I was ready.

Due to Covid, when we got to the hospital, Tom and I were separated. This was a surprise to us. He wouldn't be able to join me until I got into my own room, which actually took a few hours. THANK GOD, I had calmed down before arriving at the hospital. If I had come straight from our appointment with that cranky, old midwife from the day before, I would have been totally beside myself at being separated from him, even for a short while. Instead, I was able to calmly and patiently hang out in the waiting room. I appreciated that I wasn't in labor at the moment, because they took so long to room me. I was as comfortable as a 9 month pregnant person can be, and scrolled on my phone while I waited. I told our immediate families where we were but also told them it would be a few days before we gave birth so we would give them updates when convenient for us. They all wished us good luck.

Finally, it was time to go to the room where I would deliver my baby. I was put in a wheel chair and enjoyed the ride up to my room, 3319 which was beautiful, huge, and luxurious looking with natural sunlight streaming through the windows. Before I even sat on the bed, the transport girl got a call. There had been a mistake. They needed me in a different room; 3314. There wasn't enough staff and I was too far away. The girl apologized and wheeled me away down the hall to the smallest, most inconvenient room on the whole floor. When I met with my first nurse, Marlene, she exclaimed, "Darling, I would have refused to leave that room!" She had a hard to place accent, but gave me Edna from The Incredibles vibes. I laughed and admitted that I would have refused had I known what a downgrade they were giving me. She assured me I would not be giving birth in that suite and they would get me into a better suite as soon as they could. I knew it was going to be a long induction so I wasn't too worried, though it was very difficult maneuvering around the room. There was no sink or mirror in the very tight bathroom. It was kind of a ridiculous room to even have built.

Marlene gave me a Cytotec pill at 4pm on Tuesday, January 25th to begin the induction. I was to let the pill dissolve in the side of my cheek and I would get an additional pill every 4 hours for about a day. Then I could either receive Pitocin, (no thanks) or have a sort of balloon inflated in my cervix to create more of a natural dilation. I expressed interest in the balloon and was told it would be uncomfortable, but it sounded better than the Pitocin to me. Tom joined me in the hospital room shortly after. We enjoyed listening to the warble of his heartbeat on the monitor and he even got the hiccups which were really cute to listen to. We enjoyed dinner in the hospital (Tropical Smoothie) and watched reruns of The Office on tv. As it got later in the evening, there was no sign of switching to a different room and there was nowhere for Tom to sleep in the mess of the room I was in. The nurses changed over and I met Patti as my new charge nurse who seemed tough, but kind.

Tom and I discussed and I suggested he go home to hang out with Homer and get some good sleep tonight. We had a long road ahead of us, and one of the things we learned in class was to let the partner get good sleep so he'd be able to support me better through the marathon of birth. Since I would be having such a long induction, I figured it didn't make sense for him to stay. But the later into the evening it got, the more weepy I got. Patti came into check on me and I was crying, still insisting that it made sense for Tom to go home. She took control and got me into a new suite with a bed for him. 3311. The suite was not as nice as the first one, but had good vibes and was an obvious improvement from the last room I'd been in. She said now there was a place for him to sleep and he could stay. I tried to resist, but realized I was too upset for him to leave and he didn't want to go anyway. We called Jamie and she said she had already planned on staying with Homer anyway so everything was taken care of.

Tom and I settled in to try and get some sleep. He is so easy-going and supportive. He calmed me down, we watched some Family Feud, and then tried to get some sleep. He quickly fell asleep on the pullout bed. I laid in the hospital bed and tried to read my Kindle. My emotions running high, and my lack of sleep going on two days, I knew I was in trouble. I needed to get some sleep so that I'd be well rested for giving birth. The bands of the monitor were so uncomfortable. I couldn't move without getting them knocked off so I tried to lay very still. There was something our birthing doula's class had told us to ask for called the Monika which is a wireless monitor and was supposed to be so much better. However, due to covid and supply chain issues, there were none on site. Tom had asked EVERY SINGLE NURSE he saw about them since we'd arrived, and they all had said they were completely out. I almost asked him to stop bothering them, thinking they were going to hate us, but he said that it couldn't hurt to ask someone new, you never know what they might find. (I love this man so much.) When a nurse named Andrea with sparkly strands of hair had checked on us earlier that evening, she had thought there had been one around when Tom asked her. She ran out and found it and brought it back, but we then learned that the machines themselves were in practically every room. What was missing was the sticky pad that held the wireless monitor in place. Our excitement faded, but it was still nice of her to try.

With each passing hour, I wished more and more that there was a working Monika. The straps began to cut into my belly. Patti had been pulled to help with another birth, and a young, red haired nurse named Kayla had been pulled into care for me. Naturally, I love meeting other Kayla's so I sleepily chatted away with her. She was in the room every few minutes because baby boy would not stop kicking the monitors off of my belly. Every few minutes she would be back in the room, mumbling "lordy, lordy, lordy" in her soft, southern accent as she tried to adjust the monitors again. She would come in, adjust the monitors to hear his heartbeat, and then the door would close, I'd picture her walking down the hallway to wherever the observation screen was, turning right around, and minutes later, my door would softly swing open again with her soft sighs as she came and began fighting with my monitors.

She told me that most babies might kick for 45 minutes but eventually go to sleep. We were going on 4 hours of him kicking off my monitors and I have to say, I felt so vindicated! The past month, I had been complaining over his nightly rave in my belly. I KNEW he was partying way more than your average baby. Despite this validation, I was still in a fair amount of misery. It was impossible to sleep with the constant interruptions, and as I mentioned before, I was already deeply deprived of sleep from the past few nights.

Then, my savior arrived. Andrea with the sparkly hair had retrieved a Monika patch all the way from Cape Coral Hospital just for me! She completely changed the course of my pregnancy. Once they put that patch on around 2am and removed the scratchy monitor bands from my extended belly, I was FINALLY able to get some sleep. However, that sleep was short lived.

Around 4am, I started feeling strong contractions. I was surprised as I hadn't expected to feel them so quickly into the induction. When RN Kayla checked on me, I asked how frequently I was having them. She said around every other minute. I asked if this was normal as I was expecting contractions to occur every 5 minutes during early labor, but she confirmed it was normal with an induction.

The contractions were breath taking. But our labor class had instructed to try to sleep through them and let husband sleep through them as well because this was just the beginning. I didn't manage much sleep but did drift in and out while reading my kindle and practicing my breath work which we had learned with our ice contraction exercise. I tried not to focus on my fears as I sensed birth becoming even more real with every contraction. For months, I had worried about everything from death during delivery, to stillbirth, to baby switching. I'd allow myself to acknowledge my fears but then chose to redirect them. All of that was out of my control and I wanted to focus on calm and happy thoughts. Every now and then, I'd hear the echoes of baby cries throughout the halls, and it filled my heart. All of this pain would be worth it soon. My baby would be here and we would all be whole.

Around 8 am, Tom woke up and I filled him in. I was SO HAPPY he had ended up staying overnight in the hospital. (Thank you, Patti!). I went to the bathroom and there was a tiny bit of blood in my pee so I thought my water might have broken. It turned out it hadn't, and after another painful cervical check, I was dismayed to find out that I still had not dilated at all. "All of these contractions have been for nothing!" I rasped in aggravation. The nurse told me that wasn't true. She asked if I wanted pain meds. I said no. In the same breath I got another contraction and I changed my answer to "Fuck it. Yes."

In my pain and exhaustion, I had forgotten that when talking it out with Tara and creating my birth plan, I realized that laughing gas sounded better than pain meds. I'd taken oxy whatever before when I got my wisdom teeth out and I had hated the experience. The pain stays, you just feel like you're not in your body and I found that feeling deeply uncomfortable. I didn't remember until it was too late and the meds were administered. The administering provider told me that most people felt the effects in twenty minutes, but if I was really a light weight, I might feel them ten minutes or sooner. He got to the end of his sentence and I was floating into space. Guess I'm a lightweight. Tom and I had just finished watching the second season of Euphoria which is a heavy drug use show. I fell back against the bed saying "I feel like Rueeeee" (i.e. the main character in the show) and immediately zonked the F out.

I woke up 45 minutes later to my water actually breaking for real this time. I was soaked. They checked my cervix and I had dilated 5 cms in less than an hour! They said I could get an epidural and I called Tara to talk it through. We had talked about trying to wait but with each teeth chattering contraction occurring every other minute, I was over it and ready for the drugs.

Tara arrived while we were waiting for the epidural. Sitting on the bed waiting for the epidural was the peak of the pain. The anesthesiologist pissed me off by trying to make small chat while I was writhing in agony. I couldn't speak. He proceeded to administer the epidural mid contraction for some ungodly reason, and he admonished me for shaking. Sir, if I could go back in time and slap your face, I still would. Stop sending me those feedback surveys because I do not have anything nice to say about you. But man, I tell you, when that epidural hit … it was bliss.

My legs went numb, and I knew they would, but it was still freaky. I believe they also put Pitocin in the epidural to help dilate me the rest of the way. They explained that I would not feel any sharper contractions because the epidural was in effect so I was totally fine with this. Finally out of pain, I quickly fell asleep. Tara and Tom spent the next several hours rotating me every 30-45 minutes to keep baby in a good position. After each rotation, I would happily fall back asleep. Around 5pm, OB Jessica who was close to my age and had conducted my first ever cervical check in the office a few weeks prior came in and asked for consent to perform another check. I was so happy to see her on call for delivering my baby. She had a great sense of humor and would have put me at ease if the drugs hadn't done so already. With the epidural, the cervical check was pain free. I was 9.5 cm dilated and she said we'd start pushing in one more hour.

I wanted to stay awake and get ready for baby's arrival. I fought against the drowsiness of the drugs and listened to a meditation. My excitement and anxiety grew in equal measure. Did you know that your brain doesn't actually know how to distinguish between anxiety and excitement? By choosing to say "I'm excited" you can trick your brain into forgetting your abject terror. Neat trick. I was truly excited though. I felt ready. I felt happy. He was so close and it was time to start our journey together towards our very first encounter of being united as a family.

At 6pm, Jessica arrived along with what felt like a whole room full of nurses and providers. Tara held one leg and Tom held the other as Jessica sat on the table between my legs which were decidedly less numb than before. Normal me would have been entirely self-conscious, but between the drugs, the anticipation, and the knowledge that this is how it's meant to be, I didn't think twice. I did tell Jessica, "I know everyone says that the last thing your birth provider is going to care about is if you've shaved down there, but I've got to admit, this is the longest my leg hair has ever been in my life". It's hard to shave when you can't reach your legs. Jessica joked about not even having an excuse, but having leg hair so long that she felt it blowing in the wind while she was pumping her gas the other day. Tom and I will probably laugh about her for the rest of our lives.

I was instructed to push during the contractions, which I could now feel once again, though they were slightly less painful than before. I don't know how long into pushing I was, when I suddenly felt really nauseated. Tara gave me a facecloth with peppermint oil to help and it subsided for a bit before returning full force. "I think I'm going to be sick" I gasped to the nurses. Then I burped. "Oh," I laughed. "I guess it was a false alarm."

It was not, in fact, a false alarm. 30 seconds later I violently began spewing vomit. I hit Tara and it was puddling on the bed. I apologized "for going full blown exorcist" but they cleaned everything so quickly and efficiently and laughed with me through it. Oops. The beauty of birth I guess.

With every contraction, I pushed and pushed with determination. I was tired, but after sleeping all day thanks to the epidural, I was empowered and ready to meet that baby boy. Tom saw his head and Jessica yelled, "we've got a blonde, and he's got a LOT of hair!".

After months of throwing up in my sleep from acid reflux, I was happy to hear that the hair was the reason for it as I had suspected and hoped. Tom excitedly yelled that he could see his head and then shot me a guilty look. In one of our birthing classes, they had gone over this exact scenario and advised against doing this because it might make me, as the birthing person, think it was almost over when we still had a long way to go. I met his guilty look with one of excitement and his turned to shared excitement as well as relief. I knew where we were at. I would not be dismayed at having a lot more to go. I was ready for wherever this birth took me.

By 707pm, with a final push, our baby boy was born. I pushed for just over an hour and I felt like a portal between worlds. They gave him to me and he was bluish and the worries of him being still born briefly flooded back. But then he moved, and he wailed, and he was so beautiful. I looked into his face and the names that Tom and I loved flitted through my mind. My brain lingered on Leo for a moment, before falling to Dominic. "Does he look like a Dominic to you?" I asked Tom and he enthusiastically agreed. Dominic Maddox, weighing in at 8lbs, 1oz, and measuring 19 inches. Our beautiful, blue eyed, blonde, baby boy.

Retrospectively, it's funny how I went from expecting a late birth, to expecting a long induction, to holding my baby two days before his due date after only 15 hours of labor. Time never did what I thought it would. Two months later, I'm finally writing this out and it still feels like yesterday. We're going to be chasing time for the rest of our lives in one way or another. It's human nature. But I'm savoring every single moment I have now. Especially the tough ones. I know that someday, when I'm old and shriveled and achy, I'd do anything to travel back to these moments. I am so incredibly thankful. And I already can't wait to have another!"

From our doula Tara:

"I had the pleasure of getting to know Kayla and Tom as both their birth and postpartum doula. One of the best parts of this work is watching new parents grow in their own abilities and confidence. Kayla was a great example of this. She was a strong advocate for herself when an induction was unexpectedly in their midst. She bravely worked through the emotions a decision like that brings. The birth fairy was kind. It didn’t take long for Kayla to get into active labor and by the end of the day she was holding her beautiful baby in her arms. She persevered again when breastfeeding was difficult. Kayla continues to find her way through. Coping when things don’t go as planned and always finding the next best thing."

Please join us and furry "big brother Homer", in welcoming

Baby Dominic

born January 26, 2022

Congratulations Kayla and Tom!

All our best,

Tara + the entire Mindful Birth Doulas team


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