Birth and Mama Birth

Vince is our rainbow baby.

Rainbows are symbols of grace and hope after a storm, and a rainbow baby is a term for babies born after a couple of experiences a loss. We suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy after years of trying to get pregnant and thanks to IVF, Vincent was conceived.

I’d NEVER thought I’d write a birth story and especially share it.

Reading other women’s birth stories gave me a deep respect for the female body and made me feel safe to trust that my body knew what to do. The stories gave me the courage to speak up for what I wanted and educated me on how to prepare my mind and body for the epic event.

The purpose of me sharing is to inform and inspire you on your journey to motherhood. I debated writing all the details since my labor was 48 hours and filled with unexpected twists but if you asked me if I’d do it again my response, “absofreakinlutely.”

I see labor as birthing a baby and a mother. There is a moment in labor that there is no way out except to walk through the blazing fire. You’re tested in ways beyond your imagination, but you’ll survive and have found a strength that you’ll be able to call on again and again. There is nothing like holding your beautiful baby in your arms for the first time.

The lessons from this experience have solidified who I am and the work I want to do in the world.

The health of the baby is, of course, top priority, but it goes hand in hand with the health and well-being of the mother. Enlist in a support team of family, friends, a doula, and other mothers so that you can heal and recovery because it truly takes a village.

The pressure we put on ourselves to have an unmedicated birth, to return to our pre-pregnancy body overnight, the expectation to bounce back to normal after six weeks is ludicrous.

Ask for help, tell people what you need, let others take care of you while you take care of your baby, let the house get messy, lean on your partner, sleep when the baby sleeps (if you can), take a shower in the morning, visit a pelvic floor specialist, have healthy meals delivered and take more time than you think you need. My recovery was long, and I didn’t feel like myself for at least six months.

Remember your body is made with Divine intelligence, it knows what to do without instructions. You can and will birth your baby.

Now to the birth story.

My dream was to have a natural birth without meds.

To be clear, I wholeheartedly support whatever birth plan you choose – whether it be without medical intervention, assisted with an epidural or a planned c-section. I also hope that you’re compassionate and kind to yourself if your labor doesn’t go as planned.

“Each birth is as unique as every orgasm” – Charlotte

To prepare, we hired the incredible doula, Charlotte Scott from Labor of Love, took an in-depth natural birth class at the Atlanta Birth Center, and I devoured birthing books like Ina May Gaskin’s, Active Birth and Mama Natural.

We were open to being flexible but had no clue the twists and turn that were in store.

39 Weeks

At my 39 week check-up, the midwife starting discussing an induction date.

I only wanted to be induced if the baby or I were in danger, which wasn’t the case. Since the baby and I were healthy, I pushed back. I knew when I woke up in tears the next morning, I had to follow my gut to wait until my body, and the baby was ready.

For most of my life, I questioned if my body was broken. I always worked hard to keep my body healthy and was devastated, ashamed and saddened when we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. I’ve now learned that my body is far from broken, it just needs a bit more nurturing, and that’s okay. That’s my normal, and I’m fortunate to have learned how to take care of myself beyond exercise and dieting.

So we switched practices at 40 weeks.

Thankfully Charlotte connected us with Dr. Brad Bootstaylor at See Baby Midwifery. From that day on we got the care we needed – mentally, physically and spiritually.

The plan was not to tell anyone we were going into labor but since we hit our due date, calls and texts were coming in – “is the baby here yet?”

It was stressing me out, so sent a message to my friends that was going dark and would reach when the baby arrived. It gave me a sense of relief, and I could focus on us.

Week 42 and Counting

The new midwives and Dr. B showed no worries about the health of the baby, so I continue to meditate, walk and breath. To ease our minds, we decided if we didn’t go into labor by Wednesday (42 weeks and four days), I’d be induced.

Sunday my mom and I went for a hike since I felt good and I noticed I started to lose my mucus plug.


Monday came the bloody show with contractions other than Braxton hicks which I had been having for a few weeks.

Tuesday morning contractions started I started having contractions every 10 minutes throughout the day but were moderate. We planned to labor at home since it’d be more comfortable than at the hospital and to avoid medical interventions.

Tuesday evening my contractions became more intense, five minutes apart lasting a minute. I waited as long as I could before waking Jason, and we headed to the hospital around 2 am.

Only to be sent HOME.

I was dilated two centimeters, 80% effaced and zero station. The baby was in the pelvis, and my cervix looked good, but I wasn’t in active labor until I hit five centimeters, so they said I had to leave and come back.

First-time mother mistake – I was embarrassed! The doula was on her way already, and I had forgotten to call the doctor who would have told me to stay home. But it worked out since we checked into the Sheraton which saved us driving in Atlanta traffic to the hospital come to go time.

Labor increased in intensity at the hotel

My contractions were strong, two minutes long and five minutes apart for hours. I was able to rest in between, but I thought the longest contraction I’d have was 90 seconds, so it was a rude awakening. Charlotte recommended different positions to ease the discomfort of the pain labor and massaged my aching body and diffused peppermint oil to help with nausea.

Water can help with the intensity, so I got in the shower. Instantly Moby “Nature of Things” began to play in my head – I even sang it in the shower which let my body relax a bit.

My contractions continued to be strong, I was vomiting and moaning but kept going back to something my yoga teacher, Bryan Kest always said “this is only temporary” and as I dug deep for courage and strength.

Fighting the contractions make them worse, so I did my best to surrender, trust and let go. I repeated the mantra, “let go.”

We took a walk for fresh air, and the movement intensified my contractions. I popped back in the shower, but this time the water didn’t soothe the power of the contractions. They were coming hard and fast, I was throwing up, and it was time to go to the hospital.

I was only at five centimeters! My heart sank, and I didn’t know how much more I could handle.

Breaking Point #1

Wednesday evening hit and my contractions were still averaging two minutes every five minutes. Exhaustion from being up over 24 hours while in labor was settling in.

With a heavy heart, I decided it was time for an epidural but first a cervical check. Seven centimeters!

We had a renewed sense of hope because I heard that if you can get to seven, you were almost there, so we decided to move forward without it. I learned a lesson to tune into myself for answers because in hindsight I would have pulled the trigger.

The Birth Tub

On the plus side, at seven centimeters I could use the birth tub. It was after midnight, and the water gave me a chance to somewhat rest between contractions. Five AM hit and Charlotte recommended we switch it up.

The movement out of the tub caused the contractions to rage. Charlotte suggested a series of movements to try to better position the baby which were grueling. I was angry, exhausted and losing faith.

The nurse rechecked me – 8 ½ centimeters – WTF!

Breaking Point #2

I was losing it and am so thankful to Jason and Charlotte for being my pillars of strength. It was hard on Jason to see me in so much pain without being able to help. It was time for the epidural.

It would allow us all to sleep. The women giving me the epidural said ‘welcome to the club’ which I hated. I didn’t want part of that club.

Jason stood in front of me and held my hand as they inserted the needle into my back which gave me a major case of the heebie-jeebies.

Decision Time

They hooked me up with monitors galore, and I asked for them to wait to insert the catheter until we knew the epidural worked (a tip from my sister Rachel). Good thing I did because I still felt contractions on my the right side. I spoke up, and they fixed it. It felt weird being confined to bed and numb from the waist down, but it allowed all of us to get some much-needed sleep.

Thursday late-morning they rechecked me – nine centimeters only. We had options:

A) Dr. B could manually stretch my cervix to ten centimeters, break my water and I could start pushing since the baby was low enough.

B) We could have a c-section.

We can come this far, and since the baby was still monitoring healthy, we choose A.

The catch – Dr. B said he’d be taking me off the epidural for pushing.

I honestly didn’t know if I had it in me. I thought I had given it my all when we opted for the epidural and I couldn’t imagine feeling the labor intensity again. But the human body and mind can summon unthinkable energy and strength.

I said I’d push for one hour.

Dr. B said he’d be back. I thought I’d still be partly numb while they drugs wore off. No. A five minute, massive contraction hit.

I could feel my legs again and lay on my back was not an option. The nurses thought I was nuts, but I flipped over so I could be on hands and knees.

Jason and I were both losing it. I cried wondering if I would be able to continue and contemplated pulling the trigger on the c-section. Charlotte reminded us never to make big decisions during a contraction. Where was the freaking doctor!

Dr. B was returned and manually dilated my cervix to ten and broke my water during a contraction.

The pushing was a new ball game. With each contraction, I bore down and gave three hard pushes. Jason supported my head, put cold towels on my neck.

We moved to a squat bar then to standing squats which I preferred. I used Jason for support and gave it everything I had. After an hour and a half with tears in my eyes, I said it was time for plan B.

Dr. B pulled out on the last stop.

He said he could help the baby get out with forceps in 5 minutes.

Forceps and c-section were two interventions I wanted to avoid. I was worried about my pelvic floor tearing and the strain on the baby.

I told myself, “you can do anything for five minutes.”

The Magical Part

Laying down was TOUGH. My body screamed, and my pelvis felt like it was breaking apart. I felt the ‘ring of fire’ as the forceps entered my body and prepared myself to push with all my might at the next contraction.

One, two, three pushes…do you have one more…YESSS…I could feel the baby coming out.

Come catch your baby!”

Dr. B said to Jason who acted on cue. It wasn’t his plan, but it was such a special moment. As they raised the baby to give it to me, I shouted: “it’s a BOY.” They placed him on my chest and for the first time I got to see his sweet face.

I met eyes with Jason – we did it, our little boy was finally here.

Vincent Denez Dominas
Born 7:17 PM September 14
8 pounds 11 ounces and 22 ½ inches

We’re so in love.

BIG Thanks

Jason – You. Are. My. World. You’re the one that keeps me sane, calm and reminds me how to be strong when I feel weak.

Charlotte Scott and Labor or Love – I got an intuitive hit when I read your profile on the Labor of Love site. Tears came to my eyes, and I knew we were making the right choice with hiring you. You’re motherly energy as exactly what I needed. Labor of Love thank you for creating a space where mama feels empowered about their births. Our birth class with Teresa was terrific.

Our friends and family – All your calls, texts, gifts, food and prayers. We felt the love and are forever grateful for lifting us up when times were dark and celebrating with us now that Vincent is here.

Dr. Bootstaylor, See Baby Midwifery and Atlanta Medical Center – Dr. B, your calm, present demeanor made us feel confident with were in good hands. Thanks for taking us on at 40 weeks, going above and beyond our expectations.

Few other words of advice for mamas

I’m not here to preach and I’ve only done this one time but wanted to share what worked for me in case it helps you.

Acknowledge the fourth trimester and rite of passage to motherhood. One week in bed, one week on the bed, one week around the bed.

We take great care of ourselves while pregnant and once the baby arrives all of our attention is on keeping our babies alive but don’t forget about you. Set a game plan now before the baby comes. Don’t push yourself and take as much time as you need (like 6-12 months) to get back to speed.

My recovery was hard – I had a second-degree tear, became anemic from blood loss and had complications with my stitches which lasted for three months. Throughout this process (and from now on) be gentle, loving and compassionate with yourself.

Don’t try to be superwomen, ask for help. If you don’t want guests, say so. And if you have guests, have them do chores while you take a shower and sleep.

Talk about how you’re feeling and go to therapy if you’re overwhelmed or feeling down. Hire a postpartum doula for extra support, check into a physical therapist that specializes in the pelvic floor so you can strengthen your lady parts beyond kegels. If you can treat yourself to a postnatal massage with someone who specializes in Mayan abdominal work and I highly recommend a closing of the gates ritual.

You’ve got this mama. Best of luck!