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The Labor of Love

'Twas the day before my due date… so hubby and I had a sweet little date watching the sunset. Rasheed mentioned we should do it again tomorrow and bring food for a picnic…



But, baby boy had other plans!


I went to bed around 1030 pm with a feeling of “I better get some sleep because tomorrow could be THE day!”


For those who are expecting their first child and unsure what to expect, here were the breakdown of events:


1030 pm -1230 am

I was constantly getting up to empty my bladder


11 pm - 1 am

I was having severe menstrual-like cramps that prevented me from sleeping.


130 am

I thought to myself, “Is this the start of contractions?” but I talked myself out of it, gaslighting myself into thinking it was nothing because I was able to nap for about 20-30 minutes between.


230 am

I grabbed what would be the last bit of fuel I consumed in the next 17 hours— Skinny Pop & a banana.


330 am

Those pains became consistent. At this point, I was becoming more and more certain that these were the real deal—actual contractions—because they were about 5-7 minutes apart.


I was staying in bed, trying to conserve as much energy as possible while I could. I used the breathing techniques (4 in 6 out) that I had practiced throughout pregnancy.


4 am

I texted my doula what was happening. She was excited!


430 am

Had the s… a sure sign of labor!


5 am

I woke up Rasheed … I just couldn’t do it alone anymore!


I vomited— from water, from grapes… I couldn’t hold ANYTHING down!


I did the miles circuit, suggested by my doula (this consists if 3 different positions / exercises for 30 minutes each).


7 am

I used a heating pad for some comfort in addition to a birth comb to distract me from the pain.


All the while, Rasheed finished packing up for the hospital.


Just 2 days prior, I read a tip in my hypnobirthing book that suggested having your partner count during contractions… this was one of the most helpful things I applied from what I learned!


(I started out asking him to count for a few contractions, then I’d just give him a look for every contraction after that as if to say, “why aren’t you counting?!” )


9 am

I went in the shower— another suggestion from my doula. The hot water and the change of scenery helped distract me for a bit.


10 am

Rasheed & I left to go to the hospital. And of course there was Labor Day traffic… ugh! There was so much I wanted to say but I was so focused and in energy conservation mode. I just kept breathing and moaning through the waves of discomfort.


1030 am

We arrived at hospital. Rasheed went in to get a wheelchair and wheeled me in… yes I was in so much discomfort, I couldn’t walk!


When we got to the women’s wing, they checked my cervix & I was 7.5 cm dilated. They were so impressed! I was so extremely proud of myself because I had wanted to labor as little as possible in the hospital. My goal had been to arrive at 5 cm.


The timeline after this was all a blur…

While we waited for the tub to fill, my doula massaged my shoulders and Rasheed made sure my jaw was relaxed, he held my hand, and kept on counting!


I labored in the tub for a while. After a while on my own, Rasheed joined me! We had a playlist going and it was a very calming experience (between contractions).


I used my intuition & let my body tell me when we should get out of the tub.


When I felt pressure to push, I knew it was time to change scenery again. The change of scenery really helped me break down the process of labor. It made it seem doable and like the end was nearing.


We got back to the room & I insisted on laboring on the floor on all fours. This is how & where my water broke.


At this point I was 9.5 cm dilated. I was internally so excited and relieved but had no energy to show or express it.


After a while, the MALE OBGYN (neither of which I wanted for delivery of my baby boy…) insisted I get up on the hospital bed.


After laboring there for a while on all fours, he checked my cervix one last time. I was 10 cm and ready to push!


Once again this MALE OBGYN made a request… that I push on my back… out of pure convenience for him! Yet he told me it was to prevent tearing…


Because I had no fight left, I was undernourished and dehydrated, I just did what he said.


After several contractions & encouragement from the team, I gave birth to my wonderful baby boy that Labor Day afternoon!


That skin to skin was pure bliss.


The doctor complimented me on my calm nature. “You didn’t even scream!”


The next thing I know, the doctor has a needle in hand, stating I need stitches because of tearing in 3 areas.


I was mortified. Didn’t I just go though enough pain?!


I bet I wouldn’t have had so much tearing if I had done it my way…


But anyway,

Rasheed and my doula were the best team I could’ve ever asked for. Rasheed’s whispers of “I love you” and encouragement from my doula and the nursing staff were the best, most necessary fuel.


I felt on top of the world at what I had accomplished. Natural, unmedicated birth, just as I planned & what many people doubted I could do.


I felt so elated to hold my baby boy in my arms and so relieved that all the suffering was finally over (especially after one of the most challenging years of my life).


Until they noticed some abnormal things about his breathing… The pediatrician came in to assess him, then he was taken away…


He was in the nursery for hours. Then, because he wasn’t improving, the pediatrician told us that he would need to get transported to a different hospital with a NICU.


Before he left, the transportation team brought him into our room in an incubator. Rasheed and I were heart broken to see our baby boy in this condition.


During pregnancy, Rasheed and I took an online birth course. We had agreed that if anything were to go wrong, Rasheed would stay with the baby. And that’s just what he did.


So there I was, still awake, at 5 am without my husband or my baby.


Though I was told I would be transferred as a patient, I ended up being discharged from the hospital not even 24 hours after delivery so I could see my boy. Rasheed and I stayed in his NICU room throughout his stay.


(Shoutout to the most amazing support system for visiting, bringing us food and keeping us sane during this unsettling time).


He had to be in an incubator with a nasal tube for breathing, an IV to keep his blood sugar stable and electrodes to monitor him.

Wednesday, they extubated him and he had just a cannula for oxygen. He even got his IV taken out! So mama could finally start feeding him and daddy was finally able to hold him for the first time.



Thursday he was moved to a crib!

We were told he had pulmonary hypertension due to a hard time transitioning from using mama’s lungs in the womb, to using his own.


Friday, the ECHO came back with improvements.


He was monitored all night without his oxygen cannula. Everything looked normal.


We were so happy when we were discharged Saturday evening.



He’s been loving life at home ever since.


Am I constantly paranoid about his breathing at home?

Yes.


Am I still recovering, myself?

Yes.


But every moment with him is even more so a blessing than I would’ve ever imagined.



That’s the Labor of love!



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