April 11th-17th is Black Maternal Health week. You may be asking yourself, why is there a whole week dedicated to such a specific group? Well I'll tell you. Its because women of color, black women specifically, are 4 times more likely to die due to maternal health and birth complications. It's no secret that there is a grave disparity among ethic groups when it comes to health care (and just about everything else).
In observance of this week, I've decided to share my birth stories with you. And even though I have been incredibly blessed to have delivered three healthy and beautiful black little boys, each birth had its own share of unique events to say the least.
Quentin. My firstborn. I had Quentin when I was 18 years old. And the funny thing is, my mother told me I was pregnant before I even knew that I was. I worked my entire pregnancy...all the way up to the day he was born. It was an early Saturday morning, around 4:30, and all I could remember was the feeling that I had to take the go to the bathroom. I would try and go, but nothing would happen. I wasn't in pain, and my water didn't break, so it hadn't occurred to me that I may be in labor. After about the 5th time of trying to "use the bathroom" I eventually got my mom and told her what was going on. She told me I was in labor and all of my insides instantly went numb. At the hospital everything happened so quickly. I dilated at a constant rate until I reached about 9 centimeters (the ideal pushing threshold is 10 cm). So the doctor had me trying everything to make it to that last centimeter. So here I was, in full term labor, walking around the hospital, up and down hallways and bouncing on big ass exercise balls. Mind you, this whole time, I'm not medicated, meaning I didn't have any epidural. It still amazes me how little I felt...until it was time to start pushing. Then, that's when the pain came, and hot shit did it come on hot! But thankfully Quentin was out in 3 pushes! Till this day, Quentin was the quickest birth I've ever had. Total time? From the time I "had to use the bathroom" till the time he entered this world, it was a whopping 4 hours! I wish I had more photos and videos of the times I was pregnant with Q, but I don't. I don't even have any photos of him in the hospital. Let's just say the day he was born, was the happiest day of my life, because my teen pregnancy was definitely not a time for friends and family to be happy for me (but I understand).
Now Ja'ron? He's a totally different story. The first difference? I evicted him! I was so uncomfortable this pregnancy that as soon as I was considered term, I used the castor oil and orange juice trick to speed things along. I drank the baby popping concoction at 9 the night before, and went into labor at midnight. My water didn't break this pregnancy either. I remember being highly disappointed. Call me immature, but I reeaallyyy wanted to know what it felt like. Was it really like peeing on yourself? The second difference? I asked for epidural the second I crossed the threshold of the hospital doors! I don't know what it was about this pregnancy, but the pain was completely unbearable. While sitting in the hospital bed, awaiting the time when I could push, my midwife and the doctor kept coming back and forth into my room to check on me. "His heart rate is dropping every time you have a contraction." At that moment, I could have just died. "He may not be strong enough for a vaginal birth and we may have to start considering an emergency c-section." I did die. I broke out in tears. Lord please let him be okay is all I thought over and over again in my head. The hubs of course, was there trying to keep me calm because I was a nervous wreck and this was the worse time possible to fall apart for Ja'ron. Long story short, I did end up delivering him naturally. And the reason for his heartbeat dropping? This little knucklehead was playing with his umbilical cord and had it in his fist! Total hours of labor? Almost 12. And for laughs and giggles, I'll let you know a little fact. Right before we were moved to my labor and delivery room, as my midwife was helping me out the bed...I fell! The epidural took FOR-EV-VER to wear off and I didn't realize I was still numb. Good thing she was there to catch me before I hit the floor!
BabyLevi was right on time! As in, he came on his due date. Now since I've done this whole pregnancy thing a couple of times before now, I skipped some of the before-you-give-birth-steps like visiting the hospital. SO imagine this. It was the day it was go time. Chris and I (while breathing in a heavily labored roar) got to the hospital and couldn't tell which door to enter through in the women's building. We quickly figured it out, got to the door, and it's locked. Not opening, or sliding, nothing. So there we are, me in labor, and Chris looking around with the biggest WTF face ever. Thank goodness a random guy just so happened to be coming around the corner just about the same time we were coming up, and he keyed us in. We get in, and see that where we need to be is on the second floor. We hop in the elevator. And believe me when I say, this had to be the slooowest moving elevator I had ever been on. We finally get to the right floor, get checked in, and guess what I said? EPI-DUR-AL! Fast forward, the anesthesiologist had to literally be found. When he got to the room, my nurse sat me up. I was pricked, then taped to get ready for the shot and then BOOM, my water breaks! In my head I'm like, YES! It finally happened! And yes, it feels exactly like peeing on yourself. The anesthesiologist was clearly aggravated that he had been called him off his lunch and wasn't even able to finish the job. As soon as my water broke, I stopped panting. I stopped rocking. And I got real calm. And in a low voice I said, "he's coming". Chis said it freaked him out how calm I got. And as soon as I said that, Levi was there 6 seconds later. The anesthesiologist stood there for like 3 seconds staring, then packed up all his stuff that he had just took out, rolled his eyes and left. It's a lot funnier the way Chris tells it to me, but you get the idea. He was not happy. But I was. BabyLevi was simply perfect!
Three births. No complications. No defects. No hospitalizations. No foul play. No long term damage. No nothing. Simply three, perfectly melanin boys. I'm blessed.