My first birth ended in a cesarean operation due to a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia at 29 weeks. I was hospitalized for a month and then I was told my baby’s heart rate was in distress which led to the operation. It was not as simple as it sounds. Read the full story here.
After having my cesarean I felt defeated but not broken. I took that as a sign for me to embrace more of 'ME' and learn more about the human body and whether or not I really had a chance of giving birth the way our bodies are meant to. I DO NOT agree with "Once a cesarean, always a cesarean.” This is not true for everyone and more women can be successful in a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) if given the chance to a trial of labor. Trial of Labor is allowing the woman's body to naturally go into labor without interventions.
I was enjoying motherhood to my little Nebu and learning every step of the way. I began studying and watching videos on VBACs, reproductive system, health & nutrition, process of labor and birth, cesarean operation, labor process in hospital, birth centers and home, breastfeeding, differences between Midwife and OB/Gyn, labor assistants, differences in nurses, how to take care of your body after birth and infant care, and more. I was ALL in! I also studied different cultural aspects of birth.
My husband and I were comforted with a reconnection to our African ancestry and had found a family of 'like minds'. We accepted and now practice our original customs and way of life.
With all this new found information and applying my tribal foundations, I was ready to have another baby. We discussed it and felt it was a good time. In 2008, our son was almost 2 years old and we knew we wanted him to have a sibling close in age so they could grow up together, like we did with our siblings.
I also read that the minimum amount of time to wait before attempting a VBAC is 18 months, any time before this there could be complications but it's only a possibility. If you wait the full 18+ months, then your odds of having a successful VBAC are greater.
In about a month, I was pregnant! I am so fertile; it doesn't take long at all...LOL I was elated and worried what our new OB would say about me attempting a VBAC. I chose this OB because he had previously worked with my family members and they said he was a good doctor and he assisted in VBACs before. I was also considered high risk due to the cesarean, so it was more out of precaution. He was African American too and that put me more at ease because previous doctors I was seen by, of other races, were not so courteous to me or body. However, I didn't know how this doctor's treatment towards me would be either, even though we were of the same race. At our first visit, I was still nervous at what he may say but once we started going over my options, I felt a flood of relief. Of course, at every visit he asked if this is what I wanted and every time it was a YES or really HELL YES!
As my estimated due date drew closer, we began to discuss how my labor would be handled and what we can expect from him and the staff. We told him our birth plans; to come in as soon as we knew labor had begun, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding right away, as little interventions as possible (but can be reasoned), music, minimum lighting if possible, no shots, less traffic in and out of room, etc.
Of course we went to the hospital a few times thinking I was in labor. I was given a shot to slow contractions so that I would make it to my due date. I was around 38 weeks at the time, so I allowed it. I didn't get this far in my first pregnancy so I definitely wasn't rushing 'baby girl' out!
On the night my labor began, naturally :-), FOR REAL this time, (39 weeks and 1 day) there was a clear sky and the stars and moon shined so bright. It was the clearest I had seen in a while; a perfect night for birthing some would say. My labor began around 11 pm (Tuesday) with sporadic contractions that were manageable, at first. I was creating a hole in our living room floor, trying to ease my labor pains. We decided to leave for the hospital around 2am. We had to drop our son off at my mother's and while we were in the car, I let out a loud moan and I hear my little Nebu say "It will be alright Momma" the words of babes are so sweet, that made my heart skip :-)
The car ride to the hospital was not a fun experience at all!
3 am (Wednesday) We finally arrived and were taken to a room to check in. We set up our radio playing African music and the 'Om' chant and hung our ancestral prayers on the walls. I was able to walk for about 2 hours before being confined to the bed for monitoring. Some hours later, one of the nurses did a cervical exam and I was 6 centimeters. After that, I said to myself, "You know what? Since they got me in this bed, I'm going to get that darn epidural, at least I can get a nap in." So, I got one.
When attempting a VBAC, some doctors hold off as long as possible on giving an epidural because it can mask the pain of a uterine rupture. In my case, I waited long enough so I could get one, if I wanted. The epidural helped a little but I could still feel the contractions. I was able to sleep for a while though. The epidural did slow things down but I needed a nap, and I had labored over 12 hours...
I was really glad they weren't bothering me much at all about attempting the VBAC or that I had been in labor for a while and really just let me be. I think it was the power of our ancestors keeping the negativity OUT.
Well a full day had passed and it was around 8am (Thursday) I began to feel pressure in my bottom. A nurse came in and did another exam and I was fully dilated. YES! She left out to call my OB to let him know my progress. My husband and I took the time to prepare ourselves for the birth listening to the 'Om' chant.
My OB arrived and asked if he could check me himself and I was ready to push. There was a bit of excitement in the room because my goal was very near and the nurses were excited too. There was a Caucasian nurse in the room by my side coaching me but when I looked again wasn't there anymore. Once again I think my ancestors kicked her out after the ordeal of our first birth. My husband noticed that at the time of the birth we had an all Nubian staff present in the room, which was a complete 180 from our first experience. The only Nubians I saw during my first birth were either cleaning my room or bringing my meals...smh
I began pushing and was having trouble at first because of that darn epidural. I couldn't really feel how to push so I had to listen to the nurses and OB on when to push. At one point I said I couldn't do it but my husband and nurse assured me that I could and she was almost out. Every time I pushed she would come out and slide back in when I stopped. My OB suggested an episiotomy (a cut to widen the vaginal opening) since her head had been in the birth canal a while and maybe she was having trouble coming out, of course I was on my back too. I took a few minutes to really think it over but I really felt I could do it without that, but I agreed. There was a sense of urgency to make that decision too. Once he made the incision, I pushed as hard as I could and she was out and on my chest.
“I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!”, was all I could think. I was in shock, I couldn't really think or do anything else but look at her and say WE DID IT! I was pushing for probably 20 minutes and she was born at 11:10 am. That was soooo easy, is what I thought next (yea with an epidural), LOL, it really was. You think you can't do but you really CAN. YOU CAN!
I bonded with her for a while until the placenta was birthed and they took her to clean and measure, still in the room with us, which didn't take too long but long enough. I began breastfeeding right away and she latched on like a PRO. I was surprised that was so easy too. We didn't allow them to take her anywhere without my husband present and she stayed with me the entire time during our hospital stay.
During this hospital experience everything was different, from the staff, to how I was treated, even how my husband and I were together. No longer feeling lost and bewildered on what would happen next. We enjoyed the company of the nurses too. Everyone wanted to know what we were listening to, what our prayers meant, and just about us.
I thank my husband, MYSELF, and my ancestors for guiding me and for instilling within me the wisdom to seek more, ask questions and help others do the same.
Birth in this country has sadly taken a downward turn from it being a natural, beautiful process to being medically dramatic with unnecessary interventions.
Pregnancy is not a medical condition. It is a NATURAL condition that SOMETIMES needs medical attention.
Let us help each other give birth back to the Mother, so that she can make the decisions on her care and how she wants to give birth; even for those who need medical assistance. We can help them ask questions about their options for the best care to fit their needs.
A stable family sets a solid foundation for a strong community.
And of course this is NOT the end of my birth journey. I went from there to have 2 successful home births…..