Updated: Mar 1, 2019
How the birth of my son led me to the path of becoming a doula.
Let me take you back, way back, back into time, OK, maybe not that far back, but let’s go back 12 years. When, I was only 24-years-old, newly engaged, a Pace University graduate, and felt as though I knew exactly what I wanted out of life.
Engaged, pregnant and scared
Six months into my engagement, I get pregnant - well damn, now what? My fiancé was over the moon, and I was hysterically crying thinking how can we take care of a baby?! We just moved into this cute Mill Basin, Brooklyn apartment and we spent money like it grew on trees, we had no savings, and I mean we were still babies!
Those thoughts were soon replaced with a wave of morning sickness and I mean I could not move without throwing up. I was the Executive Assistant to a CEO and one evening while I was in his office discussing travel arrangements, I ran out of the room and threw my head into a trash can to throw up. I had to let my job know I was with child at that point. Unfortunately, my morning sickness only got worse for me and I had to talk to my newly found Obstetrician (OB) about some relief methods.
Harpo, who 'dis OB?
I was not quite comfortable with my OB, a older black male, who advised me at the first appointment to not get too excited about my pregnancy because it may not be viable. I mean...really? After he took my medical history, which consisted of me having LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) and CRYO (surgery using the local application of intense cold to destroy unwanted tissue) done on my cervix to remove pre-cancerous cells at the age of 16. Since I had LEEP twice and CRYO once, the OB felt my cervix was probably “incompetent” and would not be strong enough to hold a pregnancy. He then recommended it was best for me to have a cervical cerclage done – to have my cervix sewn closed.
I was committed to having and spoiling this baby so I told him to proceed with the cerclage. I was not trying to lose this baby because my stupid cervix didn’t know how to do its job. I was told that a cerclage was an outpatient procedure, that I should expect mild cramping but should be able to go home the same day. Cool, I would take a little time off from work and return in a few days. Or at least that was the plan. But, NO! Mr. OB did not explain that after I had this cerclage placed, I would need to be on bedrest for the REMAINDER of my pregnancy! UMMM WHAT?? I was barely 3 months pregnant. BEDREST??!!, What does that even look like?? And sir, I just got this fancy new job 3 months ago, what am I supposed to tell HR??
Sadly, because I could not provide my new job with a return date and had only been there a few months, I could not remain employed. I was told when I was ready to come back to work, they would try to find placement for me.
Great, so, now I am engaged, pregnant, unemployed, on bed rest, and planning a wedding because, my fiancé was convinced I would be okay, and we were still going to have a HUGE WEDDING.
I was depressed the remainder of my pregnancy. My family supported me, but I couldn’t do anything and was treated like a fragile egg. Luckily, the morning sickness finally went away and I ate everything in sight; 60 lbs worth.
Late in my 3rd trimester, the cerclage was scheduled to be removed and I was told to be prepared to give birth at anytime, because you know, my cervix was incompetent and all (insert eye roll here). I moved around for 2 weeks without the stitching and my baby was not trying to evacuate the premises. After a weekly appointment with my OB, he told me that I was 2 cm dilated, and that I could have the baby soon. So, my husband and I (we got married at City Hall, but still had the big wedding after I had the baby) waited on the couch impatiently for contractions. I got tired of waiting and said let’s go to the hospital and see what they say. When we got to the hospital, I was still 2cm dilated but they let me stay. They also asked me if I wanted an epidural and I said, "SIGN ME UP PLEASE!"
Side note: I didn’t have any formal child birth education, I figured I have seen enough women breathe through contractions on TV shows that I could figure this out.
Let's have this baby
I remember being in the hospital room with a whole squad of family members - all waiting and ready. I was so drugged up that I did not feel A SINGLE contraction. Everyone was reading the monitors to let me know there was another contraction; I felt nothing. I thought that meant I was Super Woman and that the delivery would be CAKE!
HA! NOPE. The nurses and OB told me to push when they saw that I was having a contraction on the monitor. I had no idea what I was doing, I started to pee and poop on the table and completely mortified myself. The OB began to get frustrated with me, and yelled at me to push, yet I had no idea how. I remember thinking isn’t my cervix supposed to be incompetent? This baby should have fell out already! The OB had the nerve to yell at me “if you didn’t have that tongue ring in your mouth, you would be able to push”. Excuse me!? I do know a lot of curses flew out of my mouth at that point, but still no baby.
The OB had his hand in me as though he was stuffing a turkey, trying to get my baby out. Then he said something about a vacuum - WHAT??? The noise of that vacuum was so horrifying, I definitely felt pain at that point. Not regular pain but pain that felt like I was going to die! Shoot, I was about to cut myself open and deliver my own baby.
Thank God I delivered a healthy 8lbs 8oz baby boy, vaginally and vacuum assisted. I remember they placed him on my chest and he just looked at me, he never cried. My first words to my son were, “damn you are heavy”. I remember one of his eyes were red and I was told that was because he had a traumatic birth.