Pregnancy is an awesome, yet touchy time. Many women will share their horror stories about morning sickness that lasted the entire pregnancy or laboring for 1,000 hours, but mine was easy. In fact, the most difficult part of my pregnancy was finding a black OB/GYN to care for me. That may sound a bit blunt but the truth is that black women are dying at an alarming rate during childbirth because they do not receive the proper care and their voices are not being heard. I knew I needed someone that looked like me who would advocate for me if I were unable to. Luckily, I hit the mother load with my young, black, FEMALE OB!
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I didn’t find out the gender, so it was fun to hear everyone’s theories about my small baby bump. Bump and I were sailing smooth until week 34, when the ultrasound revealed that there was an irregularity with my baby’s waist. Most body parts measured at 34/35 weeks but the belly was measuring at 31 weeks. This discovery prompted bi-weekly ultrasounds. I panicked as most expectant mothers would but now I thank God for that scare because the following scan put me in the best place possible.
Picture this; you go to the imaging center at 11am for an ultrasound. During your appointment, the technician, who is usually very talkative, is quiet and super focused on the screen. She informs you that your baby hasn’t moved in over thirty minutes, which is cause for concern at 35 weeks gestation. She phones your OB and you are sent upstairs to Labor and Delivery for a stress test that should only take about twenty minutes. While you are hooked up to the stress test, you realize it’s been well over twenty minutes and you’re still there. Your baby finally moves and his heart rate drops. The nurse informs you to lie on your side and proceeds to move the baby. He moves and the heart rate goes back up.
You ask your nurse if you should have your significant other come and she tells you not to worry yet. Ten minutes later you’re told that they have to deliver your baby NOW and your loved ones have roughly twenty minutes to get to the hospital. As you scramble to inform your family what is happening, people begin entering your room with clipboards asking you to sign documents that could possibly be signing your baby over to the state (I kid). The anesthesiologist comes in to talk to you about the block that she will be injecting into your spine. Your significant other walks in the room shocked, as the nurses are unlocking your bed to wheel you into the OR.
Sounds like a scene out of an OWN drama show right? Nope, this was my experience as a first time Mom, after an amazingly smooth pregnancy. I was rushed into the delivery room without even receiving a reason why they were delivering my baby five weeks early. I was scared, confused and helpless. While I was on the operating table, I prayed that God would allow me to bring my baby into this world, healthy. My SO made small talk. He was even more confused and helpless as I was. He got summoned to the hospital after being told everything was okay and to stay at work. He was expressionless until we were out of deep water.
At 2:53pm I heard the words “IT’S A BOY” followed by a loud cry. My fear and anxiety turned into joy as they allowed his father to go take pictures of our 4 lb 1 oz baby boy. They presented my tiny swaddled up baby to me for a quick photo op then wheeled him into the special care nursery. I was stitched up and taken into a room to recover. My son was not able to leave the nursery and I was not able to see him until I demanded a wheel chair at 10pm that evening.
After the high of holding my beautiful child for the first time, I was confronted with the realization that I was totally not prepared. My hospital stay turned into a long exhausting nine days. I was moved to another ward because I was discharged but had to stay to nurse my baby every three hours. I was considered a “Boarding Mom” which meant they would continue to feed me, but my treatment was over. Often, my meals never came. I was left to fend for myself while recovering from having my stomach and uterus cut open. My stent at the hospital mentally, emotionally and physically drained me. It was brutal and uncomfortable, but overall I was grateful to be in the same building as my son.
As I look back on my experience, I know that there is nothing I could have done to avoid an emergency c-section but I wish I would have done the following:
1. Ask questions- the few hours leading up to delivery I was clueless. I was told not to worry so I didn’t. That was the biggest mistake, I didn’t find out why I was rushed into an OR until I was discharged. It turns out that my placenta was half the size it was supposed to be.
2. Listen- when experienced Mammas tell you to pack a bag you need to listen. I was completely caught out there and forced to rely on other people to gather essential things for myself and baby.
3. Research- I don’t suggest researching emergency situations so much that you stress yourself out, but I do suggest having a little knowledge of delivering a baby pre-term.
4. Speak up- when you are in the middle of an emergency situation it is easy to lose your voice. If you are feeling overwhelmed SPEAK UP. Although the hospital staff handles these situations on a daily basis, it is your right to know exactly what is going on with your body. It is 100% ok to tell them you need a minute to process what is happening to you. It is their responsibility to educate you about your condition.
5. Rest- your family and friends will be anxious to visit you and your little one in the hospital, but the truth is you need those days to rest. It is totally ok to set boundaries and tell people to hold off on their visit (and keep their germs) while you recover.
To sum things up, January 18th 2019 rocked my world! When I woke up that morning I had no clue I would be welcoming Kaleb King into my life. I am extremely grateful that my outcome turned out well. I have a healthy growing little person to care for, who is thriving!