“You will be secure because there is hope.” Job 11:18
That is just one scripture and saying that I colored (thanks mommy) while waiting sort of patiently on my beautiful daughter to grace us with her presence. I hope this blog brings peace and empowerment to women who might have gone or will go through the same birth experiences as me. You will see at the end why I call this a redemption birth. I want to start by summarizing my last births so you can get the entire picture.
I was 19 when I had my first son, Christopher. That, in itself, was a challenge. Being a teen mother and going along with what my doctors told me because no one told me I could do my own thing. My pregnancy was pretty “normal.” I had all tests ran. I had a few ultrasounds. At 37 weeks, I decided I was tired of being pregnant and told my doctor the same thing. He said, “At 37 weeks, I can induce you.” Mind you, this was 9 years ago and there wasn’t a big emphasis on full term pregnancies like there is now. I said, “Well, I was 37 weeks yesterday.” He picked up the phone and scheduled my induction for the next day. The short version of this process: be at hospital at 5am, start cervidil to ripen my cervix since I was not dilated, then start pitocin. It took three rounds of cervidil to get my cervix open and the third time the nurse inserted it, my water broke. This was over 24 hours after getting to the hospital. The pitocin was started and increased at standard increments. I had an epidural at 4cm because my doctor was cool with that. I then slept and labored. My son was Occiput Posterior, sunny side up/back of head towards tailbone, so I had terrible back labor and was confined to a bed because of the pitocin and epidural. When the time came of being 10cm dilated, I had to let the epidural wear off so I could feel a little to be able to push effectively. Then comes in all the staff setting up everything, bright light on my vagina with my legs in stirrups, forced pushing for about 45 minutes in 4 different positions while I am begging for a cesarean section. I finally pushed him out after a “you can do it” talk from my son’s father. He was immediately taken to the warmer, wiped off, weighed and measured, bundled up, etc. while I was spread eagle on the bed. I did not get to touch him after he came out. At that time, the staff decided that it was time to let the family in WHILE I HADN’T DELIVERED THE PLACENTA AND MY LEGS WERE WIDE OPEN! This includes my son’s grandfather and all!! I did not get to see my son weighed or anything. Recovery was fine. I had no support or knowledge of breastfeeding and ended up with a nipple shield in the hospital. I only nursed him while in the hospital because I did not know what to do when I got home. The entire process was crazy and traumatic. I knew when I got pregnant with my daughter, 6 years later, that I needed something different.
In 2012, my fiance and I decided to try for a baby girl. I got pregnant right away and we were ecstatic to find out we were having a daughter. We went by the Chinese gender calendar to see if it would be correct. It might be a coincidence but we don’t care because we got our daughter. My pregnancy was again “normal” but I knew I wanted a different experience than before. I had to choose an OBGYN practice with multiple doctors because that is what my insurance covered. (I found out later that my doctor that I had with my son was still in practice but I couldn’t find his contact information) I was terrified that I would have some random doctor that I had never met be at the birth. This is exactly what happened. My fault though because I chose not to see any other OB’s prenatally like the office suggested.
At 39 weeks pregnant, I was working as a bartender at the Memphis Orpheum and had just finished a week long show when I looked at my belly and said, “Alright baby, mommy is finished working and you can come whenever you feel like it.” My feet were also huge after that shift so we both knew it would not be too much longer. This happened on Sunday evening and I woke up early Tuesday morning with regular contractions. I walked circles in my house for an hour before telling my fiance I was in labor. He said, “try to walk some more until we can get the boys off to school.” This was about 3am. I said okay and kept walking circles. About 30 minutes later, I knew it was time to go to the hospital. We woke everyone up and headed there. I was 6cm when we got into triage and was placed in a room a little while later. I was again confined to a bed because I didn’t know I could get up. I hit transition and lost it. Anesthesiology had already told me I was too far along and couldn’t have the epidural and then they changed their minds at 7.5cm and told me they could. The two worse times to get an epidural is too early and during transition. I caved! I couldn’t get on top of my contractions and didn’t listen to my fiance about how good I was doing. Shit hit the fan after receiving that epidural.It went up and down so I felt like I was dying because I could not swallow and was spitting in a bag. After that fiasco, it stalled my labor for about 2 hours (I took a nap during that time). I woke up ready to push. Big lights on vagina again, legs in stirrups, a bunch of staff in the room but only my fiance was there because I did not want to miss her coming out or getting weighed like with my son. The random doctor decided to grace us with her presence, checked me and told me that I was 10cm with a cervical lip and she was going to start pitocin. I yelled at her , NO! She was not happy with me and very rude said to the nurse, “just get her to practice pushing then” and she stormed out of the room. I practiced once and my daughter was crowning. The nurse said I had to stop because the doctor would be mad if she caught the baby. The doctor happened to be outside the room, came in and caught the baby and placenta, and then left. I never saw her again. I got to touch my daughter and see her weighed 🙂 I was able to nurse her successfully for about 3 months until I went back to work and did not pump enough to keep my supply.
Recovery was far from normal. My epidural caused a spinal headache. This is because my cerebrospinal sack was pricked and my fluid was leaking through the hole causing horrible migraines when I stood or sat up. I tried to get through it with Naproxen, caffeine, and lying down for a week. At a week postpartum, I caved and went to get the epidural blood patch. It was instantly better but I really did not want to have another needle stuck in my back so that is why I waited a week. My fiance will agrue until he is dead about the next part but I feel like it is crucial to the story. I had bad feelings toward him for a while after our daughter’s birth because I felt like he did not support me enough in labor. I won’t go into details but just know we needed a redemption birth to help our relationship.This birth was also traumatic to me due to the epidural and recovery process. My mentality was not perfect afterwards. Thank goodness for placenta encapsulation though!
After this, my best friend and I decided to become doulas. She had opened my eyes to so many things (she was pregnant with her first child and was having a home birth) but I didn’t apply them to my daughter’s birth. I wanted women to know they have options and support in whatever they decided! I also wanted to know more options if I did get pregnant again.
Well, I got pregnant again! On our 5th anniversary, I took a test and it was positive. This was a surprise to us but we eventually settled into it. We were thinking about trying after we got married (which still hasn’t happened) but we had not decided if it was the right thing for us due to the emotional tole our first daughter’s birth took on our relationship. A month and a half later, I was fired from my nursing job. This caused some major first trimester depression and crying. It was terrible. This lasted almost two months until I found another job. I waited until I was 15 weeks along before I went to a prenatal appointment. This was because my fiance. Brian, and I had some long fights/discussions over the type of care I was going to receive this time. I wanted a home birth. He was not comfortable with that and wanted hospital. I was scared of hospital and knew I was a perfect candidate for a home birth. He wouldn’t budge on his wants. I basically forced my compromise on him early on because I knew I deserved and needed better care than an OB can give me. I found the wonderful certified nurse midwives at the Perkins Alternative Birthing Center at Oschner Baptist in New Orleans and set up an appointment. This was my compromise. Birth center with midwives in a hospital. I would not get my home birth but I would get midwifery care.
The midwives were truly a God send to my mental well being during pregnancy. They listened to all my fears and concerns. They listened to me about my concerns about not having support because of being so far away from family. They listened to me gripe about my fiance because I thought he wouldn’t be supportive (he came through as you will see at the end.) They discussed options with me such a delayed cord clamping and the vitamin k shot or orally. They made me feel like they valued me as a patient and as a women. Even the nurse knew me on a first name basis and remembered information from the previous appointments. This to me is invaluable and can only be received with midwifery care.
My previous births were all “early” so when 39 weeks came and went, I became kind of impatient. I knew that my body was capable of birthing my little girl and she would come when she was ready but I didn’t realize it would be at 41 weeks and 5 days. I worked up until 41 weeks. My patients thought I was crazy. ( I was a home health nurse) My co-workers were supportive and so was my family. I took maternity pictures at 41 weeks on the beach when it was 50 degrees and crazy windy. Those last few days are hard ladies! But they are so worth it. I even went to two Mardi Gras parades hoping to walk her out or at least get my mind off of still being pregnant.
On Monday, Feb 8th, 2016, my fiance called me and said he had a co-worker whose wife took a tablespoon of castor oil and went into labor a few hours later. I knew the reasoning behind castor oil in “late” pregnancies and had actually tried it with my son. (not a good idea when your body is not ready by the way) Basically it stimulates your bowels which can make contractions either start or get regular if your body and baby are ready to go into labor. I told him I wanted to wait until she came on her own but I would keep it in mine. I guess it stayed with me all day because later that evening I went to Walgreens and bought some. I was already having irregular contractions and was just over it. My fiance thought I was crazy for trying it that night because the next day was Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras day and the hospital is in downtown New Orleans. I honestly didn’t think it was going to work. I took a tablespoon in some tomato juice and bounced on my birthing ball until I went to bed. I woke up at 2am and took a major poop and went back to bed.
I woke up having contractions at some point and finally rolled out of bed about 530am. I went and made coffee. I decided to drink my coffee and bounce on my ball for a while in silence before the house woke up. The silence was glorious and contractions were pretty regular at every 5 minutes or so. I also checked the website to see what time and where the Mardi Gras parades were that day. Guess what??! They were all around the hospital starting at 8am. So I decided that I didn’t need to hurry because we were going to be stuck in traffic any way. The house woke up and Brian decided to not go to work because we might be having a baby that day. We all took showers and I cooked a big breakfast. I was NOT ready to go to the hospital since my plan was to labor at home for as long as possible. We decided to get ready but take our time. We ate and packed the car. We left for the hospital around 10am. When we got off on Claiborn Ave, we were immediately behind a parade. We followed them for a little while and my fiance got anxious after we had to stop for too long. I was managing the contractions fine in the car and tried telling him to just chill. He was just ready to be out of traffic. He told a police officer that his wife was in labor and we need to get to the hospital that was two blocks away. The police officer kind of looked freaked out and immediately got us to follow him through a neighborhood, cut through the parade twice, and got us to the hospital safely and quickly. The hospital looked like a ghost town. Since we aren’t from New Orleans, we didn’t realize everything shut down for Mardi Gras. The hospital wasn’t closed but all the clinics were and the guard stopped us to make sure we weren’t trying to park to get to the parade or something.
We went to labor and delivery for them to assess me and make sure I was in active labor. I had been 3-4cm for about a week and was 5cm when I arrived. They phoned my midwife and Kate headed my way. They hooked me up to the monitor to get a quick reading of her heart rate and let me walk around until Kate arrived. I leaned on the nurse’s desk breathing during contractions while they filled out my admission paper work. Brian and the kiddos stayed in the waiting room until we got into a room. I wasn’t able to go to the birth center because they didn’t have enough staff to manage L&D and the birth center so we went to L&D. The cool thing about L&D at Oschner is they have huge tubs just like the birth center. My midwife was still my care provider and the nurses were outstanding in following my birth wishes. I wore a cute dress from Target to labor in. They did intermittent monitoring with a hand held monitor every 30 minutes so I never had to stay in bed or keep the strap on my stomach. I was able to eat and drink as much as I wanted. I ate a huge piece of pizza for lunch. I walked around the unit with my daughter. I bounced on my ball. Everyone left me alone 🙂 My sister headed down from Southaven to be with me and help with the kids. She made it about 30 minutes before my water broke. I texted my best friend, Elizabeth, “this shit hurts” at one point during the day. She responded with some encouraging words and pictures because she is awesome like that and is the best doula ever even over texts!
So about 4pm, I decided that I needed to relax in the tub because my contractions were getting hard to manage and I kept having to tell myself to relax. The tub was so beneficial. I changed into my swim top, closed the curtains, put some yoga music on Pandora, and floated around. It made my back pain go away and my contractions more manageable because I was able to let my body relax and do its thang! I was floating on my back talking to Brian and felt a pop. I looked down and saw my water breaking. It was so cool to feel and see it happening! I looked at my fiance and said, “It’s game time!” He said, “it has already been game time.” We both laughed.
My sis took the kids out of the room. My midwife had them set everything up in the room. I made sure it was only going to be her, my nurse and a baby nurse in the room. I did not want a bunch of people in there. She made it happen. I got to all fours eventually because that is what felt better. My midwife was at my head giving me sips of water and Brian was at my butt waiting to catch his daughter. I had FOUR contractions during transition. I roared like a dinosaur during the peak of each one and Brian kept telling me, “You know this is what happens. You can do it. It is almost over. You are doing great.” Kate was cheering me on also. They asked me a couple times if I was pushing and I said, “I don’t know.” Everyone left the room after the fourth contraction and my body starting pushing involuntarily. I was thinking, “Oh My gosh! Women’s bodies do actually push babies out without us trying.” “Oh my this is amazing.” “You are doing it Brandi. Your daughter is almost here.” I think my brain and body was just waiting for the perfect quiet moment with just Brian and I (like I wanted) to push our daughter out. I became really quiet at that time. The only thing I said was, “She is coming.” Brian quietly told the midwife and she came back to my head to watch Brian catch her. I felt my daughter moving through my tail bones and out. I did not have the ring of fire because I was in the tub. Brian caught our daughter at 621pm. I had the moment of relief for about a minute where time stood still in between being pregnant and not. Then I twisted around to sit down and Brian handed me our beautiful daughter between my legs. It was all so clear. I looked at Brian and said, ” I fucking did it!” I gave him a huge kiss and almost cried. I then high-fived my midwife and told her, ” I told you I would do it!” I also said she smelled so good and was elated with joy!
I delivered the placenta about 3 minutes later in the bed and finally felt the after pains everyone says you have after multiple babies. We had an hour and a half skin to skin. She nursed about 30 minutes into the skin to skin after daddy had a chance to hold her and take a selfie. She nursed for about an hour. After the hour and a half, she was having a hard time getting her temperature up and I needed to pee so they took her to the warmer and I got cleaned up. I walked to the bathroom, which I couldn’t do after my previous births. I cleaned myself up and then stood by the warmer while they assessed her. While I was in the bathroom they weighed her and had me guess. I was way wrong. I said 7lbs 4 oz and she was a whopping 8lbs even. My biggest baby yet! She was 20 inches long and had hair. None of the other kids had hair until they were one. I knew I had heartburn for a reason. The nurses commented on how I was handling everything after labor. I told them it is amazing the difference your body feels after having a drug free natural birth. I was on cloud nine. I remember everything so vividly unlike my other births.
So now, why do I call it my redemption birth. I needed a healthier mindset postpartum and knew that my birth experience needed to change for it to happen. I actively sought out changes. I researched my options. I talked positive about everything. I only looked at positive birth stories. I told myself I could do it all the time. I needed to trust Brian again. I needed to know Brian could support me through another birth. He came through big time and he deserves a ton of credit. I could not have done it without him and my midwife encouraging me at the end. I have seen a huge change in our relationship since Scarlett’s birth for the positive. I feel more empowered than ever! This birth was exactly what I prayed for. I hope that this very long story gives just one mother encouragement. If so, then I have done my job!
I would love to hear your stories. Share them or what you think of mine in the comments!