Fast forward three months after my birth story, I now have a precious healthy baby boy. Leading up to delivery, nerves of excitement filled my mind as well as many questions about what my birth story would unfold. Like all mothers, my birth story was a unique one. I’m happy to share along with three lessons I learned.
Birth- Noun|the start of life as a physically separate being
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I learned about the bleak challenges that effect Black women’s maternal health prior to learning I was pregnant. For example, African American women are three to four times more likely to die during or after delivery than are white women. During my pregnancy, I tried to stay away from the dark truths in articles surrounding the mistreatment of black women during pregnancy and delivery in fear that they would cause me to be in a constant state of panic. Slightly educated, however, I made it a point to make my pregnancy as blackity black as possible. I wanted a black doctor, a black nurse, my black family, and black Jesus to surround my every milestone. Sadly though, all blackity black everything did not ornate the sudden emergence of my precious baby boy.
Break it Down, B:
We wanted a black women physician because we hoped we would gain more empathy and understanding towards our fears and our excitement. We learned later the doctor we chose had a nonchalant attitude. I wonder now, if after so many years in the medical profession if people become desensitized to the humane aspect of their jobs, but I digress. Sadly, as time and my belly grew, the nonchalant attitude of my doctor did not change.
Luckily, during the process we met another doctor. What I did not know before having a child, was that any doctor in the practice could deliver my baby. The person who would help bring my child into the world would be based solely on scheduling. After learning this fact, I made it my duty to set appointments with all of the doctors in the practice. I really liked one. We’ll call her the “lit doctor”–she was also black. Talking to her put my mind at ease. She was kind, considerate, sharp and funny. Secretly, I hoped she would be the person to deliver my son.
Now we are getting to the meat of my birth story. My last day before maternity leave was Friday, November 1st. I kid you not, I had my first contraction walking to my car leaving the building. It’s like my body knew labor and delivery was safe to occur. In my mind, I was having another bad Braxton Hicks cramp because I called the nurse a few days prior to confirm. I carried on business as usual. I went to the grocery store and everything. Me and Shnuggah were going to have burgers and fries that night. I remember buying more cheese. My cramps kept growing and I pushed my cart through the store like I didn’t have a baby ready to make an entrance. My mom called later and I told her what happened. Her response was crisp: “Yep. You’re in labor. Go to the hospital.”
With no bags pack, Shnuggah and I scrounged up everything we thought we needed and flew to the hospital with burgers and fries in steaming zip lock bags.
On a Friday night, we check in to triage. I was a half centimeter dilated, and they sent me home. What I didn’t realize at that time was, my body would have to work to get me dilated. That work meant days of painful contractions. So, I labored at home from Friday until the wee hours of Monday morning. Around one o’clock my son said, “Alright ya’ll Imma head out”. Literally.
My birth story is coming to an end. Sunday around 1:00 am, it got real. I could actually feel Langston kicking and moving to get out of my body. He was moving about in manner that caused me great concern. I could feel my baby was uneasy because the pattern of his moment grew more faint and unpredictable.
We finally get admitted into a room. Because his heart rate kept dropping during contractions, I had to lay on my side. Laying on my side made the contractions feel worse, so I repeatedly asked if I could reposition myself.
The doctor on duty at the time of my admittance, happened to be the nonchalant primary doctor. When she came in the one time to check on me I asked her about my laying position and her words were, “do whatever the nurse tells you.” Once again, she seemed not to care. But God. Her shift was scheduled to end at 7:00am and it was about that time.
At 7:00 the Lit doctor came in ready.
She comes into the room to check on me and my baby with a vibe that raised the energy. She was concerned Langston’s heart rate was dropping during every contraction. For a moment, we could even see his heart rate go flat on the monitor. It was scary. They attempted to monitor Langston’s heart rate closer by implanted in “internal monitor.” Chile, I got flipped over like a pancake and twisted like a pretzel when they tried to put that monitor inside me. It was awful. In that moment I felt more like an object than a person.
My birth story is now taking an unexpected turn. The discomfort of them trying to place the monitor plus contractions weighed heavy on my mind and body. I became frightened. I started to shiver and panic. At that moment, the doctor said my son’s heart rate had dropped too low and I had to be rushed for an emergency Cesarean Section (C-Section). I faintly remember the doctor asking me for my consent, but I was so afraid of what they were saying and how I was feeling, I complied and said yes.
Moving along, I’m in the operating room. Shivering, cold, panicking, and shocked. I see people in blue moving all around me in a scurry. Scrubbing arms, putting up drapes, making decisions for me and my baby. I was terrified. One doctor ask the lit doctor what kind of anesthesia to use, she recommended I be put to sleep because my body was in shock. I hear them all reassure me everything is going to be okay. Then, it went black. I was sleep. I don’t remember any dreams. Just black.
The next thing I see is the sweetest site. My man holding and talking to my newborn son two feet away from me. My son was born at 7:31am November 4th.
Til this day I have my questions about the emergency C-Section. I don’t know if the birth would have when smoother if I had just taken the epidural. I don’t know what happened to the fourth hamburger. And I still don’t know if my primary doctor genuinely thought all was well or if she just dismissed my concerns.
What I do know is I learned these lessons:
1.You Cannot Control Everything
I wanted to have a natural birth. In fact, I planned to push my baby out without the help of an epidural and I did so, until an emergency arose. I wanted to deliver on my due date because that would have given me time to finish his blanket and get a mani pedi before delivery. I did not want a scar left on my body. In fact, I was so set on having things my way, I read no literature about Cesarean births because I just knew it would not have one. The joke was on me because I had no control over how my baby would make his entrance, and it was okay. The flow of things were perfect. He came out healthy and I did not have to have things my way.
2. God is Faithful
We came into the hospital at one am. Initially, the primary doctor I wasn’t as comfortable with was on duty, but soon after the Lit Doctor was scheduled to take over. The moment she clocked in, she took concern for me and my son and acted swiftly. Had it not been for her sharpness, who knows what would have happened. The Lit Doctor came in at 7:00am and my son was born healthy at 7:31. God is the only reason.
3. The Body is Fragile, but life is precious
Since having my baby I’ve read more about Black women and maternity health. The stories and statistics are alarming. The literature in conjunction with what I have experienced myself further proves how fragile the body is. We play superwoman a lot and often forget our bodies need love and relaxation just as much as the mind. I use to complain about my body and is imperfect features. In truth, it is the body that saves. It was the body that kept my son safe during the 9 months he lived there. Maternal health is no joke. The body is indeed fragile, but because life is precious it’s vital we take care of the vessel before, during, and after labor.
Currently, to my right, my handsome son is sleeping peacefully. Soon, he’ll wake up smiling as he always does. He’ll be eager to kick and coo and show me so much love and joy. I could not ask for more. He is perfect. My love and my heart has grown so much due to his presence alone. My birth story was not perfect, but the outcome was. Upon his arrival my family and I cheered, loved, and celebrated. We’ve been celebrating since.
As for my body, I am recovering slowly. I learned today, that I can’t job into harsh exercises and diets as I planned. She, me wanted to be sexy in 6 months, but deep scarring says different. For now, I’m taking it easy and my baby is loving the extra curves.
“As I started learning more about working in the NICU, I realized that a baby’s health is related to the health of the mother, and that the health of the mother is related to her community and to the circumstances of her life”Wanda Barfield
- Black women are 2 to 6 times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy than white women, depending on where they live.
- When the baby wants to come out, it will come.
- God is faithful.
Thanks for reading!
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