Through much of my pregnancy I was scheduled to have my child in a regular hospital. That was the norm, everyone was doing it & so I was going to go along with the normal plan. I went to a regular OB/GYN affiliated with an awesome hospital. However I didn't love the whole experience.
I went to each visit with questions and left each visit still just as ignorant as I came in. It wasn't that my questions went unanswered but each answer was "That's normal with pregnancy" well what is normal??? I've had 2 miscarriages, 1 exactly a year to the day I found out I was pregnant; so there was nothing normal about being pregnant. I was scared and nervous this pregnancy would end as the earlier ones had. And the practice I visited offered nothing to relieve those concerns. Still I trudged ahead with the notion of giving birth in a hospital.
I brushed up on all my hospital birth knowledge via the pregnancy shows and had ideas of what my labor might look like. I had fears about actual delivery the closer I got to delivery. Would I scream too loud? Would I be angry? Would I be able to listen to the music I wanted? Would I have time to eat a hearty meal? So I took a virtual tour of the hospital I was scheduled to give birth in and my thought was "The hospital is too......hospital" When I was about 30 weeks along I had to go to the ER for gas (LOL yes I went to the hospital with chest pains to be told I had gas GEE THANKS) and was sent to the maternity wing, and it was....too hospital. I even heard a woman screaming and I felt bad for her. I felt bad because I knew that would be me and it scared me even more. Watching A Baby Story and the various other baby shows did nothing to relieve these fears instead they just reinforced the notion labor is PAINFUL. Even talking to other mothers I was warned about the pain and just wait until I felt that first contraction that would bring me to my knees. There was not one woman who made me feel like I could in fact deliver in anything other than shear fear and pain.
So one night after watching One Born Each Minute, I perused Netflix for another pregnancy related movie. And I stumbled upon Pregnant in America which chronicles a couple through their pregnancy with no intervention and delivering at home. This was an awesome movie at the time because it opened my eyes to another choice. Now when I watched the movie I was thinking "Crazy white people do this kinda' thing"; they were a hippie like couple. Not too granola but still granola. But their delivery wasn't very smooth and they had to rush their daughter to the hospital only to find out she was ok. So it was a real portrayal of what can happen during delivery whether you're in a hospital or not. Then I found The Business of Being Born and in the opener there's a woman giving birth in her living room in an AquaDoula while her toddler is watching. It was so peaceful and serene and....well it was everything I wanted. And in that moment I decided to give birth at home, in an AquaDoula with a midwife and a Doula. (I'll write another note on how I found my doula and midwife because that's a little lengthy as well) Fast forward to May 5...
So we were having a meeting with my birthing team and my doula reminded me she was scheduled to go away for the weekend. She didn't want to alarm me but if I went into labor she would come home-all the way from Tennessee. Being a road warrior I knew this would be no easy feat and I wanted to ensure she would be there. So I reassured her I wouldn't deliver while she was gone. But admittedly I wasn't feeling 100% and I voiced my concerns. She didn't tell me (probably not to give me performance anxiety) but she told my mother I was in early labor and I would deliver soon. To be very brief I felt like shit on a stick-they say flu like symptoms and that would kinda describe it just throw in some cramps and that's how wonderful I felt. So I went through Friday and the weekend and no baby :) Monday I woke up feeling like shit once again but I told my baby "Ok I'm ready for you to come. Wouldn't it be a wonderful present to Daddy to be born on his birthday" and trudged along. However, Basim wanted no parts in sharing his birthday. He was adamant our child couldn't be born that day because it was bad enough the baby would be born close to Mothers Day, no added sharing was needed. So while I was having cramps there was no major movement. *HEAVY SIGH*
Tuesday morning I woke up feeling WONDERFUL! I mean it was a beautiful day-the sun was shining, it wasn't too hot or cold outside and I felt like I could run a marathon. Since I was feeling better I was laying in bed trying to decide what to wear to work since I hadn't been there since Thursday...and God kindly tapped me on my shoulder and said "No work for you today" But I feel fine, this kid doesn't want to come until the actual due date so I've resigned myself to that and will happily (not really) wait patiently (not really) until this kid wants to come and I might as well live a normal life until then. And God said lay back in bed you need some rest. So I called out of work at 8:30am and by 10:30 I felt worse than how I'd been feeling the previous few days. I had a real contraction-it felt like the worse cramps of my life. I called my mother and before I could really say I think I'm in labor, she was on her way home. She didn't let me finish my sentence and she hung up on me. Ummm hello I'm in labor but I'm NOT dying. And in 3 minutes my mother was running (yes my mother-the one with the bad knees, back, hip...well body) ran full force up 2 flights of steps to see me. And I was sitting on the edge of the bed on the computer chilling. We milled around until 12 when I decided (after more contractions) since I'm having a baby today I need to have a fully functional phone. I called my trusty Sprint friends and was on my way to the store to retrieve a fully functional new phone.
So I'm in the Sprint store and I'm having MAJOR contractions. I mean the kind that are so painful you don't want to do ANYTHING. But I'm in public so I can't scream and make a scene, so I start walking and breathing.......I should say POWER WALKING OLYMPIC STYLE because that's how fast I circled the store. And it wasn't one circle...it was a million. At some point in my circling, a woman asked if I was in labor-ummm I'm in the middle of a contraction I can't talk to you (my thoughts) I just feverishly nodded yes and kept walking and then she said "Why aren't you on your way to the hospital????" Again I was in the midst of a contraction and no voice was available. Once I could breathe again I told her I was delivering at home-garnering the typical response "Girl you're crazy you better git (yes GIT) to a hospital" I just kept circling until my contractions simmered down a bit (2 hours later) and then decided to make my way home. Let me just say that my trusty Sprint friends had lots of jokes for me and were adamant that I wasn't allowed to give birth on their floor. But first we had to make a pit stop at Churchs for their infamous .99 chicken Tuesday deal-hey you know black people like their chicken LOL. But as I was walking out the Sprint store I got hit with THE worst contraction and well that plan went out the window. I just wanted to go home RIGHT NOW!
As we drove home I think Basim drove over EVERY pothole and bump known to man because it was soooo uncomfortable and that's being generous. I walk in the door & Basim is focused on getting me something to eat which is wonderful. But I was having MAJOR contractions and had NO interest in food. I screamed at him I wanted/needed to walk and he needed to walk with me. (my other then pregnant friend told me not to walk alone in case something happened to me like my water breaking or my blood pressure dropping & me passing out etc) Basim was busy trying to figure out what we should eat, I was pissed and in pain & off I went on my walk. I walked 2 blocks before calling him just to tell him where I was at and he was welcome to join me much to his chagrin. I was focused MAN! I was walking and breathing and telling myself "I am working in tandem with my baby" Basim is PISSED because I'm so far and he is still hungry (the man loves to eat and if he's hungry he's HUNGRY) Now I called my mother on my way home from Sprint so she could meet us but she wasn't there when we got there and I was off walking....... So we're walking down the street (we look more like a dog dragging a man with me being the dog because I was STRIDES ahead of Basim) and my mom goes FLYING by; in an emergency my mom can get to you in under 10 minutes no matter how far she is from you so when I say FLYING I mean FLYING (the only reason I knew it was her is because I heard PRAISE 103.9 BLASTING) and I'm trying to wave to get her attention (mid contraction) to no avail. So I turn to Basim and bark for him to call her & let her know where I'm at but Basim refused. His reasoning was my mother would arrive and figure out we weren't there & she'd call us; however I knew she would arrive to an empty house & panic. So we're arguing and walking back towards my block and she calls frantic. So I calm her down, POWER WALK up the street, finish arguing with Basim and get a major contraction. Along with this contraction I get the worst hot flash of my life (to date) so I run up the stairs (yes all 9 months of me went flying up the stairs) rip off all my clothes, throw on some shorts and a wife beater and head back out the door. This time my mother is in tow struggling to keep up with me. I'm walking with no direction in mind just walking to keep from feeling the pain and my poor mother is running to keep up with me LOL So she starts barking directions for me LEFT...RIGHT which I would walk in that direction-walking in the middle of the street, never looking to see if a car was coming or anything...just walking. I walk up my driveway to the next block and LAY on a brick oven that appears to have been used for composting-I didn't care I laid on it the pain was so intense...I walk back down the street and LAY on my air conditioning unit-STILL DON'T CARE and remain there for what seemed like forever.
At this point I now have company and my friend are chillaxing while I'm dying (that's what it felt like) thanks guys! But I realized I was having back labor so I'm doing everything I can to move the baby OFF my back. Now this mostly means I spent 4-5 hours on the yoga ball. Now this wonderful event started at 10:30am and by 7pm I am praying I will deliver soon so I have my mom call the birth team. I know my midwife & doula are about an hour away so I want to make sure I give everyone time to get there. I'm sure my friends can chime in with their funnies about their time during my labor but I don't remember all that happened-other than the contractions while I slept.
Fast forward to 11pm and my midwife checks me and says words I dreaded hearing at the moment. "Ok so you're 2 cm dilated" in my mind I was DEVASTATED. You mean I labored all this time and I'm only 2 centimeters OMG I don't say much I just lay there. I'm PISSED because I was hoping for a short labor. I remember my doula suggesting I move since I've been sitting on the yoga ball still, she asked had I had food or beverage (which I hadn't) and proceeded to help me get up. I HATED her at that moment because I knew moving off the ball meant I was going to have another contraction since every time I got off the ball I had a nasty contraction. But I managed to get down the steps and ended up laying on my living room floor. I remember her giving me something to drink and then asking if I wanted lay in my bed. I just nodded my head NO (but I had a lot of four letter words in my head) and made myself comfortable on the floor. At which point, my midwife laid next to me & told me she was going home because it was still early and I would be in labor for a while. She told me not to worry because it's normal for a first time mom to labor for 18-24 hours and that if anything changed she would be back. She assured me it wasn't my fault and she could be at my house in no time (although in my head I was like you live an hour away) I was FURIOUS! This SUCKED! I did NOT want to be in labor forever. In the minutes between my contractions I fell into the deepest & best sleep ever but the contractions were INTENSE! Somehow I ended up back in my mothers bed.
Now my lovely birth team member Rev. Charisse Tucker was given the task of keeping track of my contractions because we downloaded an app but no one could really figure out how to use it properly and there were three phones going to keep track of the contractions. So my doula, Heather Harbin, would tell Rev. Tucker what time it began and what time it ended. Now I MUST give it to Rev Tucker because she kept an AWESOME record of my contractions-how long in between each contraction and how long each contraction lasted. She did all this by hand. Now she will have to chime in with her account because her story is also quite funny. But she tells me she was able to predict when I would have another contraction which was always preceded by a deep snore and she would feel bad because she knew what was coming next.
So I'm laying in bed having horrible contractions and Heather is laying on my left and my mother is laying behind me. They're both telling me wonderful things about how awesome a job I'm doing and repeating my mantra "I am having a baby. I am working in tandem with my baby to have a baby" (i think that's what it was not sure exactly) Heather is resting while I'm resting and my mother is stroking my back. Around 2am I had a NASTY NASTY NASTY contraction which made me JUMP out my position. In the midst of my contraction I had to pee (my mother's only request for having the baby at home was to not mess up her floors. No matter what happened we were not to mess up her floors) Now this was a contraction like no other!!!! I was able to get through all my contractions because Heather kept telling me to ride the wave and my mom would tell me it's almost over. But this contraction WOWSA and I couldn't stop peeing on myself. So I'm hanging off the edge of the bed peeing all over my mothers floors and I kept saying "Mommy I'm so sorry I f***ing up your floors" which she kindly reassured me it was ok. Now my mother turns to Heather & asks her if that's my water breaking and Heather tells her to smell it. So my lovely mother leans down and wipes some of the fluid onto a rag & smells it. But she doesn't really know what she's smelling & thrusts it into Heathers nose for her to smell & she confirms it was my water breaking. Now after all the water (throughout my prenatal visits my midwife would tell me how wonderful my fluid intake was because the amniotic sack was so full. I was drinking 20oz of water per hour while I was at work each day and 32oz cups at home so I had A LOT of water) I still had to pee. So I went into the bathroom and peed. As I was sitting on the toilet I had the urge to push, I kindly grunted I was pushing. At some point, Basim came into the room during my contraction and he accompanied me to the bathroom. So Basim is trying to pull me off the toilet so I don't keep pushing because remember my midwife left. Heather is texting Kate (my midwife) furiously trying to see where she's at & slowly trying not to break down. Now while Heather is wonderfully trained and very good at what she does, this was her first home birth & her first time working with Kate. She was so excited because Kate was her midwife and she is a strong advocate for home delivery. So Heather is getting nervous because I think she realized I would be delivering soon and was worried Kate would miss it. So I'm sitting on the toilet and I'm pushing and Basim tells me to get up and stop pushing. I grunt I can't get up but I have the urge to push. Now Basim decides to let me hang from his neck so he puts my arms around his neck and lifts me up but as he's lifting I'm dropping down because I still have the need to push. Now this urge to push wasn't a mental thing but something my body was automatically doing. There was nothing I could do to stop this urge but ride that wave. So I bark to everyone that I want to get in the pool (the AquaDoula) and I look at Basim desperately because OMG I HAVE TO GET THIS BABY OUT! And I'm pissed off!!! My contractions are getting stronger and I just want this to be over. In my mind I simply refuse to be doing this and promise myself I will have a baby before 6am. Heather texts Kate and confirms it's ok for me to get in the pool (AquaDoula) and I RIP my dress off and in the pool I go. Right before I get in the pool I cry to Basim that I want him to get in with me because I can't do this alone. (This is known as transition and it happens around the time when you feel the angriest, like you can't do it anymore and when a lot of women ask for drugs because the contractions get so strong. However it is right before you're going to actually deliver the baby normally in less than 2 hours time) Basim quickly excuses himself goes into the bathroom to change into his trunks and gets in the pool with me.
Let me just tell you that water was HEAVEN! (when I first got in) And Heather is freaking out! She's on the phone with Kate almost screaming "WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!?!?" and I'm thinking some choice words equating to the same thing. Then Heather says "What should I do if the baby comes out????" and in my mind I scream "You take the damn baby out!!!!!!!!!!!" I'm pissed so everything that's said pisses me off. But I also know Heather is a doula NOT a midwife; she has no experience in delivering babies other than her own. She's nervous because she doesn't want to mess anything up and it's not under her scope. So Kate is calming Heather down, telling her she's maybe 10 minutes out. We tell Heather to tell Kate to park behind our house because there is NEVER any parking on our block. So Kate gets there in what felt like hours and is banging on the door. Heather runs out the front door & is frantically trying to find Kate (my neighbor said she heard Heather screaming Kates name) and we tell Heather that Kate is at the back door. So Heather runs up the steps (you enter my house on the basement level and the living room is on the second level) and runs to our patio door to open it and we all yell "THE OTHER BACK DOOR" Heather hauls ass down the steps & lets Kate in. She's giving Kate a brief on everything that's gone on since she left and how the contractions have been going on.
The whole time I have the urge to push and I'm trying to push-Heather reminds me NOT to try to push the baby in one push instead I need to stretch my vagina so I don't tear so I need to push a little and then let the baby go back up. And I'm trying to listen and breathe. However I'm screaming and breathing; my team is reminding me NOT to scream because I'm not helping myself. They're telling me to pull the scream from my diaphragm and to make my grunts & screams deeper. This is PISSING ME OFF! I want to say YOU DO IT DEEPER! Instead I just do it. They tell me to HEHEHAWHAW but that was one thing I was NOT going to do! I'm breathing and grunting-let me just add this is how I got through every contraction. I think I shocked Rev Tucker with how long I could hold a note because WOW!
AND THEN THE BABY CROWNED............
They say when you crown you feel "the ring of fire" but it should be more like the DEATH RING! As soon as I felt it I mentally said NOPE NEVER MIND CANCEL THIS KID! EVICTION CANCELLED! OMG it was in that moment that I start doubting myself. There was NO WAY I could get through that pain. It burned and hurt all at the same time (HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE) And I still have the urge to push but I'm fighting against it. I would close my legs and cry. So my mom is holding my hand telling me I can do this, Basim is stroking my hair telling me how much he loves me & he's proud of me, Heather is reassuring me my body is meant to do this and I can do it and Rev Tucker is reminding me how to breathe. As Kate is running up the stairs to my room; the head comes out while I'm fighting with my mom & Basim to close my legs. Kate had enough time to drop her bag, throw her hair in a ponytail, put gloves on and spread my legs to see the head protruding. My mom barks at me I can't close my legs because the head is RIGHT THERE! I have NO interest at all! I yell "TUCKER PUT IT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" My body is making me push, people are PULLING my legs apart and I yell at the top of my lungs "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" This NO started off very deep...I'd say lower than bass and took itself to a high soprano-think Mariah Carey's high note and that's the note I hit. As I'm screaming No the baby is coming out and he SHOT out! He shot out of my vagina across the pool & Kate almost missed catching him he was so quick. And I think my mom hands him to me and says "It's a boy!"
You would think the story and the funnies end here but they don't LOL if you know me everything can be funny.
So someone places him on my chest but his umbilical cord is short so he doesn't go as far as they were trying to put him and it hurt like hell. I'm looking at this baby who is chilling on my stomach and I can't believe I just did this. I just had a baby. It's finally over....and then he started crying and flailing his legs. OMG I could feel it pulling my placenta, which makes me remember I need to push that out. And in that moment I remember Heather telling me about when she delivered her youngest daughter. She told me how Kate told her she would feel better once she pushed out the placenta and she pushed so hard it shot across the room. So I'm trying to push my placenta out in the same fashion. And then I felt a gush of blood. When I miscarried in 2009 I had blood POURING out of me and that gush instantly took me back to that. I instantly pop up and say "I have to get OUT! NOW!" But again I'm not supposed to mess up my mothers floors, so I'm standing trying to figure out how to get out the pool now filling with blood and not mess up her floors. And everyone is telling me to wait until they can get something (I don't remember what it was) and I am trying to get out the pool, hold the baby, not have him pull the cord, not look at the blood and not slip on the floor as I get out.
I hop out the pool and then look around like where can I go?!?!?!? Kate leads me to the bed and lays me down, they're trying to dry both of us off and the baby is FLAILING. So while most folks are excited (which I was but....) I kept thinking PLEASE tell this kid to relax because this HURTS. I think someone put him to my breast to suckle but my mind was focused on pushing out the placenta so he could move without hurting me. We opted not to cut the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsating and Basim cut the cord like a proud father. And finally I looked at Kate at said "Can you please massage the placenta so I can push it out" and she obliges. Now when Heather told me about pushing her placenta out & it shooting across the room I was expecting mine would come out with ease & grace. NO ONE MENTIONED I HAD TO PUSH IT LIKE I PUSHED HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pushing the placenta was like giving birth all over again BUT once I was done I DID feel a million times better.
It was then I was able to marvel at what I had just done. I looked down at my sun and in that moment I became a mother. Full blown....I was responsible for another life. Someone trusted me with a child. It was in that moment my life truly began.