“My husband passed in October of 2017. Shortly after, I discovered that I was pregnant with our 6th child. Given the circumstances, I wanted everyone near and dear to us to witness and experience his birth. I wanted my son to know just how special he was. I wanted him to know that despite his father’s absence, he was still surrounded in love. I wanted an empowering birth experience that allowed me to birth freely, just as so many before me had done. In the past, I had been traumatized in the hospital. I hadn’t felt heard, respected or valued, not only as a woman but a black woman. This time, I wanted to birth safely and comfortably in my own home.
Looking back over my pregnancy, I’m not sure how I made it. There were so many ups and downs, highs and lows and moments in-between. Going through pregnancy after the loss of a spouse is hard but laboring through grief was like being happy to finally see the sun but knowing you’d bask in it alone afterward.
Baby EJ arrived on a day that was supposed to be my maternity photo shoot. I got up at 11:15 am and searched a few fabric stores for kente cloth for a headwrap I wanted to wear and made a stop to Walgreens all while feeling a little uncomfortable but no pain. I figured I’d start timing contractions once I got home.
At 1:09 pm I told my midwife contractions were 7-8 mins apart. She arrived around 2:30 pm. After several failed attempts by others at sanitizing the jacuzzi correctly, water birth was not happening. I took a lukewarm shower and wrapped up in a towel. I asked the midwife to check me and to my surprise I was 8cm. The kids gathered around me as I sat on the couch to relax and after three more contractions and two pushes at 4:15 pm baby EJ made his grand arrival! He latched immediately and after wiping their tears, all the kids participated with his first examination.
Having a home birth is a birth experience like no other. Nina Simone once said, “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear.” Feeling safe was absolute freedom. No monitor, no swiftly removing the baby from me, no vigorous rub down, no bright lights, no screams down the hall, no demands for me to push, no unfamiliar faces in and out. Just me surrendering to my body. Afterward sliding into my own bed with my own sheets, I cuddled my perfect parting gift in the same spot his daddy once cuddled me. I never felt safer. I would definitely do it all over again.”