I wrote this soon after the birth of my second daughter, Ife in 1973. We had been in Atlanta almost a year. Jim was printing and I was working at the Institute of the Black World doing clerical work. My sister Pearl and her husband lived within walking distance. Jilo attended preschool at Martin Luther King preschool.
March 29, 1973 – 9am – 8lbs 3 ounces – Holy Family Hospital, Atlanta, GA
I continued working at the Institute of the Black World until Monday, March 27, when the braxton hicks contractions were too uncomfortable. For the next three days I slept until 1 or 2 PM or later. Jilo was at school and Jim at work. We were living in a duplex at 2600 Cascade Rd. SW in Atlanta.
At midnight of the 28th the contractions became regular. I threw up. They were not too hard. Jim timed them. He’d read a chapter of a book about birthing this time. Daddy called about 12:30. At 4:10 we called Dr. Borders. Contractions were 8 minutes apart. Pearl and Michael took us to the hospital. Jilo stayed with them. I had one contraction on the way, about a twenty minute trip.
I was checked in, shaved with a dull razor, given an enema. It seemed like the contractions were gone forever. They weren’t. Jim was a lot of help saying don’t panic, don’t breath so fast. I really didn’t need to pant except when they were checking the dilation then it was so cold. In fact the room was freezing and next time I’ll wear a sweater.
Dr. Borders checked every half hour. At 8:30 am, I felt a mild desire to push and told Dr. Borders. She said go ahead and I was moved to the delivery room. Although I had been drowsy I immediately woke up alert and not at all tired. However once again the contractions disappeared. No one panicked though, they just sat and waited. At this time I kept expecting Dr. Borders to say it was taking too long and she’d have to give me a spinal. The nurses tried to help find the right breathing breath, breath push and confused me at first. The contractions were mild and not strong, they said, so gave me something to strengthen them. The one nurse pushed down on the stomach while I pushed. Jim was there in blue but didn’t get to say much. I was quite discouraged, but Dr. Borders said it was coming along and finally THE HEAD CAME OUT! I didn’t feel it come down or anything, it just popped out, I had an episiotomy. The cord as around her neck, but Dr. Borders got it off and out came Ife. It was something as I said before. They showed her to me and they hit her heels and she started crying. She had dark hair. They took prints, cleaned her nose, etc. And it was cold again. I got a heated blanket and we all congratulated each other. It took awhile to get stitched. I felt fine. I didn’t go to recovery, just to the room. Ife was supposed to come with me, both my doctor and her pediatrician okayed it, but the nurses never brought her. They told me her temp had to stabilize.
I felt fine, excellent, never really bothered by stitches. Roommate was weird, had a c-section and kept saying morbid things and complaining. A real drag. I had rooming in. I nursed her when she wanted and was never engorged.
I hadn’t realized before that my first daughter’s birth had been so messed up by the hospital staff coming in every five minutes like it as a public event, my Doctor’s lack or interest and knowledge of natural childbirth, Jim’s absence and lack of knowledge of how to help, the length of labor.
In Ife’s birth all of these things had an influence on me, which I hadn’t realized until labor really started. If I had known I was only going to be 4-5 hours in labor at the hospital instead of 14 and that Ife would indeed get herself born without forceps, etc. I would have been more relaxed and could have enjoyed it more. Things to remember next time-take a sweater, take a bag or breath under covers to avoid hyperventilation, which puts you out of it. THE BABY WILL COME OUT! Get a single room, leave as soon as possible, the hospital that is.