According to the Center for Disease Control, the state of Mississippi ranks #1 in the nation for: births performed by Cesarean Section, babies born with low birth weight, preterm birth rates, and infant mortality. These are terrifying odds for a pregnant woman to walk into and to go up against. To tackle this feat at all takes courage; to do so completely Natural? Well that takes audacity.
Below, read the audacious account of 1 mom giving birth–Naturally— in a Mississippi Delta Hospital.
Dr. Jerk told me that I would bear witness to devastation and miscarry.
Yet there I was–waddling right into week 41 of my pregnancy.
I was overwhelmed with emotions: happiness, nervousness, frustration–I had planned everything and didn’t know anything–an entanglement that was bound to birth confusion amidst the predicament of, well, hormones.
I was tired, I walked two miles with forty-five extra pounds on my fluffy ankles.
I stopped at my favorite corner store, Myers, because I deserved a treat. Another day had gone by. No signs of my little princess. I napped and decided that more treats would aid in the agony of waiting. My then husband’s recliner was my new favorite place. I kicked back with a cold coke and an insanely large bag of sour skittles and decided to write.
3 a.m. and I felt what I believed to be Braxton Hicks contractions. I made note on my desktop sticky notes. By 3:45 a.m. they were so frequent, I thought it appropriate to wake my slumbering husband. It felt good to do that, mostly because I envied his sleep.
We called family and friends who of course believed that after so many false alarms, we would return home empty handed, again. But I knew differently.
I KNEW that that day was the day that I would get to meet my little princess.
We arrive at the hospital and even there, there was no sense of urgency. I thought to myself, Is this how it works? In the absence of wailing and moaning, a pregnant woman believing she is in labor has no sense of urgency?
I texted the one person I could think of who could offer me some encouragement and peace of mind, my doula from a distance, Shayla. As usual, she amazingly pleasant and informing, she gave me the push I needed to stick to my goals and not be fooled by the slick tongues of medical professionals.
A nurse came into my room, checked me for the usual, and offered me the epidural “for my pain”. At this point, I certainly didn’t feel pain, and the thought of a spinal headache certainly sounded more dreadful than what I was feeling. A few hours passed, the nurse failed to return, and my contractions intensified.
I felt trapped, trying to find a comfortable position to labor in. My distracted husband would yell a word or two of comfort, but by this point I had begun to tune him out to focus on myself.
Contractions were certainly uncomfortable, but bearable.
I made sure to remind myself of the many women before me who braved their discomfort to taste the victory of motherhood.
I asked my husband to get the nurse because I felt pressure on my bottom. Good call, because I had progressed from two centimeters to ten in a matter of a few hours. The nurse turned to me and, after admitting that they had changed shifts and forgotten me, said “Don’t push” (the grandest gesture of foolery).
I knew better than to trust that.
I let my body do as it wished, I breathed slowly and moaned deeply, as everyone around me scrambled to get into place.
It was too late for my husband to dress so he simply ran in with the other “scramblers”. Dr. Jerk ran in, only to give the nurse the instruction to “call me, after she pushes”.
Nurse Gossip and Nurse Do-nothing were sweet women, but after doing this for so long they had become a little impersonal. They carried on conversations about everything but what was happening and one of them even unapologetically sneezing right in my mommy maker.
Yes, I sat sprawled open, laid back, pushing (on my body’s instruction) and Nurse Gossip sneezed, SNEEZED.
From this point, I knew I had to make this happen.
Her hair was visible, her head was coming, but I was giving out. The entire room seemed to simultaneously tell me “you can do it”!
Dr. Jerk rushed back in and instantly jabbed me with lidocaine. I yelled out and asked him what he had done.
“It was better to cut you than for you to split!”
“Who the heck does this guy think he is??” I thought. Before I could give him the accidental kick to the face that he deserved, my baby emerged, pooping. She wasn’t crying, but she wiggled and wormed until she was cleaned up and placed back into my arms. My eyes filled with tears as I looked into her then, green eyes. She still wasn’t crying, but instead smacked her little lips.
Yes, my daughter was born hungry; something I still laugh about.
They gave me a few moments with her and took her to the nursery and me back to the ER because they hadn’t prepared a room for me (not even the hospital believed I was going to have her).
My family rushed in immediately after. My mother was in disbelief that I had actually had the baby so soon. I was on a cloud and floated there until 3 a.m. the next morning when sweet Nurse Pusher came in while I was watching Shark Week and gave me T3 to sleep.
My hospital stay was a mixture of the weirdly uncomfortable and beautiful joys of family, togetherness, and new motherhood. For a while I was in disbelief.
I am a mother.
I cried when she cried, but her laughter made me smile in places I hadn’t known possible. I worried, I studied, I panicked, I sought advice, I tried harder than I had ever–and many times I failed–but I would do it all over again–no fears; no reserves; and oh, no hospitals.
I’m a mother.
I conceived, defied the beliefs of professionals, gave birth in no pain, and raised a baby all on instinct.
Now, what’s your superpower?
Essie is a Mississippi Delta Native, a mother to 1, a lover of all things, and the self-proclaimed “Badu” of her crew.