Bella’s birth was traumatic. Yes, beautiful, awesome and amazing -but traumatic. Nothing went as planned. Nothing went like anything I’d ever imagined birth could go. I was emotionally and mentally drained and not just because that’s usually how giving birth goes. I felt bitter for a little while afterwards because I had a difficult time making sense of what had happened. I asked God, “why?” And often, with tears either swelling up or drenching my face. I felt cursed. I felt robbed. I also felt extremely blessed and honored.
Let’s back up a bit so you get a good understanding of why I deem this birth experience “traumatic”. It helps to have the full picture. Well at least it makes me feel less ungrateful if you know all the reasons why I felt so completely blessed and why that feeling totally outweighed the couple hours of labor and birth. I prayed for Bella’s existence. Whether boy or girl, I prayed to experience pregnancy again and I asked God repeatedly for another child. Anyone who knows me well knows how often I’d say, “I want to have another baby; I want to be pregnant”. It became the running joke but really I knew that I was speaking aloud what I wanted to see manifest in my life. I knew without a doubt that my words had power and my prayers did too. Yes, I’d say it was about a couple of years that passed but I knew it was just a matter of time before God would say, “OK, let me go ahead and give this girl a baby, she’s praying my ear off about it” LOL. Can you imagine how proud I felt sharing such a testimony with my friends and family who had known about my desire? I felt proud because I knew that God had used lil ‘ole me to show others about His love and faithfulness.
I have come to realize that Semira showed me true love and Bella showed me God’s love. Why the difference? Because Semira was an awesome surprise and the love she brought to my life was unlike any other I’d ever experienced. I truly understood the love a mother has for her child. And when Semira looked back at me, I knew her love for me was just as true. It was honest, loyal and unconditional. The love of my first born made me feel secure and motivated. Because of Semira, I felt empowered and I truly grew to believe that I could accomplish anything in this life. My prayers for another child came during a season in my life where I looked at Semira and wanted her to have everything I didn’t. I did not have the experience of growing up with siblings and that’s something I’ll always feel like I missed out on. Don’t get me wrong -I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were and have always been an amazing example of love, commitment, strength and faith in God. But being an only child is lonely!! LOL So, I wanted to give my child what I had and more.
Physically, my pregnancy with Bella was beautiful. No morning sickness. I experienced minor aches as my belly grew. The sleep -AMAZING. I’ve always said of pregnancy, that the sleep is the best sleep of my life LOL. I was so excited and walked on cloud 9 most days. I was working every day (I worked all the way up until a week before my due date). I went to the gym and worked out regularly. I really paid attention to my diet, food choices and eating habits. I enjoyed hobbies, worked diligently on my businesses and enjoyed lots of television and lounging around. AND I woke up most mornings around 5 am for prayer and quiet time with God. I read my Bible, prayed out loud and told God all about what I wanted, what I was afraid of and I thanked Him for all He’d done and was going to do. I prayed over my husband, Semira and the baby growing inside me. My heart was so full with joy from the first positive test to the moment Bella was born. I felt like God had truly heard my prayers and pitied my cries.
Emotionally, I felt a little sad for a number of reasons. See, living in New York I’m 14 hours away from my close and immediate family. So, a big part of my pregnancy, I missed being loved on, catered to and pampered. I’m used to having people around, friends over, eating big dinners in the middle of the week and BBQs rain or shine. Compared to when I was pregnant with Semira, I saw how a support system is sooo vital on the journey to motherhood. A committed support system of people who first and foremost love YOU, so you know that they will love your child just as much. So, the loneliness was unexpected and put a little bit of a damper on things. The reason why I include these details, I’ll explain later.
Fast forward to going into labor and Bella’s birth. The day I went into labor, I actually had a doctor’s appointment (the same happened the day I went into labor with Semira ). Unlike the day I went into labor with Semira, when I went to the doctor, I was only 1 centimeter dilated with Bella with no braxton hicks pains AT ALL and no signs of labor starting any time soon. The doctor anticipated days before Bella would arrive and so sent me home with that expectation. Well, within a few hours, I began feeling pain but I didn’t think anything of it other than braxton hicks. I picked Semira up from school and started cooking dinner. But, I noticed that the pain began at about 5 minutes apart. Whoa! What? Is this labor? I wasn’t sure. I texted my friend asking weird questions about what contractions felt like. In the span of an hour, the pain -now contractions were consistently 5 to 6 minutes apart. I texted Paul (who was working in New Jersey) around 8 pm that it was probably a good idea to head home. We took Semira to our family friend’s home and headed to the hospital.
We went to labor and delivery to register and check in. Only about 2 other couples in there -all clear, right? Nope. At about 10 pm I was in active labor and the one person responsible for registration wasn’t very motivated by my bent over body and me actually telling her I was in labor. She kept asking me if my water had broken (not a sign of active labor btw). She wasn’t giving me any updates and I was convinced that she had not alerted any nurse or doctor of my condition.
I was in soooo much pain. I could barely stand. I could’t sit. I couldn’t talk. I kept going back and forth to the restroom. I was vomiting, I felt like I had to ‘go’ but couldn’t (TMI, sorry) The other couples in the waiting area confirmed that they had been waiting for a long while before I arrived. But, they looked like they were there to check in for scheduled inductions and c-sections -no one else was in labor. They felt sorry for me. And attempted to console Paul. We felt helpless.
UNTIL suddenly the doors flung open and a woman and her husband came rushing in. The woman in a wheel chair, sweating, crying, in pain -she and her husband were met by a nurse that came running from the back. The nurse went directly to the woman and began wheeling her to the back UNTIL the nurse caught an eyeful of me in gut-wrenching pain and this time ON THE FLOOR. He said to Paul, “I’m coming back for her next”. And he did.
Side note: I bet you’re wondering why the other woman got waited on so quickly?? She had gone to the ER. The ER saw that she was in labor and called ahead to labor and delivery. That’s why the nurse came running from the back.
Ok, the nurse came and got me and wheeled me to the back. At this point, I’m out of my mind in pain. Then guess what -there’s literally no room for me to be seen. Two nurses and a doctor pull a curtain, instruct me to take my clothes off so that I can be examined. They think they have time to strap me on to a monitor, evaluate the baby, do an ultrasound, hook me to an IV etc. Nope. A nurse takes one peak and yells to outside of the curtain, “I can see the head, I can see the head!” I almost had Bella in the waiting room. I had been pushing her out all; that time.
I’ll skip the part about how the nurses panicked and Paul had to tell them to calm down and not panic in front of me. There was no time, I was about to deliver. There were no rooms to deliver Bella, they were all full (hence the long wait in the waiting room). They had no choice but to wheel me into an equipment filled OR and do the best they could.
I was screaming at this point. Screaming. Uncontrollably. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t lie still. My body was in immeasurable pain. I felt like I was breaking into pieces. I was crying. I was screaming asking God “why?” I called on Jesus. Seriously. No, I didn’t curse, I didn’t scream at Paul. In fact, I clung to him! Literally. I clung to him and he was my tower of strength. My husband, my king was there, calm, loving, strong and comforting. Looking back on it now, I believed that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit to be everything to me that, that moment was not.
I gave birth to Bella within minutes of FINALLY being acknowledged. No drugs. No pain medications, no Tylenol, no epidural. I literally went from my couch at home to pushing a baby out. No water. No ice chips. And yeah, I know -women have been giving birth naturally since the beginning of time. I get it. But it was different for me because it was unexpected. The pain was unexpected and frightening. I hadn’t mentally or emotionally prepared for that much pain or for the labor and birth happening the way it did. I felt everything. I felt her tiny body being pulled out of mine. It was a beautiful mess.
Paul didn’t get to cut the umbilical cord. I didn’t get to hold Bella immediately and experience ‘skin-to-skin’ and her naturally rooting and breastfeeding the way nature intended. I missed all of that. Bella was also given formula in the nursery without my consent and even though I’d said several times that my plan was to exclusively breastfeed. The hospital experience and not planning or even considering the unexpected robbed me. It was me and Paul and thank God for His grace, mercy and love for us. We brought our beautiful Bella girl into the world.
All of this is why I became a Doula. Read more about my personal mission to make sure less women have the kind of experience I did at VALERIETHEDOULA.COM.