Tulani’s Birth Story 1978

My sister sent me this postcard while I was waiting for my 4th daughter to be born. The midwife had given a date a month before my actual due date so there was an extra lot of waiting through the Mississippi summer of 1978 until she was finally born September 26.hair_1978hair_verso9-12-78

They had their hair bobbed awhile ago, but promised they wouldn’t cut it again until after the baby comes!  You see them now, don’t you??  Hang in there!! Love – Pearlita

The story of Tulani’s birth – written shortly after she was born in Jackson, MS September 26, 3:36AM Tuesday (If you don’t want to read the details of a birth, stop right here.)

The midwives I used when my 3rd daughter was born had moved out of town.  The two I found were not like the others. Neither had children of their own. They were scary about everything. They said the head was small and they hoped it wasn’t encephalic. To me! They wouldn’t believe that when I said conception probably occurred and placed the due date a month early, then said they didn’t want to do the delivery because I was overdue. They didn’t hook me up with a support doctor, so Jim called the doctor  I had used as back up last time and she agreed to do it, although she fussed about the midwives not having a back-up doctor.

Woke up with contractions. Sat up to see if more were coming. They were. Woke up Jim, who timed a few – coming every 5 minutes. I was real glad. Labor was starting the day before the two week deadline ran out. Had dreaded dealing with that after fearing every abnormality possibly connected with pregnancy during this 9 1/2 months. Now, Jim called someone else to see if the kids could spend the day there since the other people worked. Then it was almost 10 o’clock so he suggested we call the doctor since the contractions were so quick. I was doing deep regular breathing which I did until transition, but blowing out rather harder than breathing in. I asked if he was sure we wanted to go in so soon since we probably had a 9 hour wait ahead of us. But finally I agreed. He called the doctor who was off that night and another lady doctor fills in for her. She said we better come on since fourth babies may come pretty quick.

I threw up once or twice as we were getting ready to leave. All loaded up and left. Dropped the kids down the road. Carrie Ann came out and said she hoped it came quickly so I wouldn’t still be waiting around in the morning. I said I hoped so too. But was mentally resigned to 9 hours of labor and didn’t expert to deliver until around 9AM.

Got back on highway. Had regular contractions all the way there. Pretty strong. Not looking forward to 9 more hours of labor but glad to be in labor. Threw up or gagged once or twice. Finally got to the hospital around 2AM or a bit before. Jim took me in and upstairs – a guard pushing the wheelchair. I was still breathing the same way, sometimes rubbing my stomach, had no back labor, during final 6 weeks of pregnancy had been told the baby was in posterior position and would cause a long labor by midwife.

On the delivery floor was wheeled into a labor room by one of the nurses on duty. There were 2, a white RN and a black LPN. I asked if the birthing suite was available and it was so we went there – a combination labor and living room where delivery can take place without being moved. I took off my clothes and peed and got into bed while Jim went to check me in. The white RN (while I was peeing) asked if I was having natural birth. I said yes and she (not trying to be unkind) made some comment like “ooohhhhh honey, that’s good, if you could stand it”. I told her I’d done it 3 times and I was sure I could. Glad it wasn’t my first. Continued this while continuing to have regular and strong contractions.

Got into bed and was shaved just a partial and checked. No enema and 5>6 cm’s dilated. I couldn’t’ believe I was that far along. Jim returned. The doctor came in. A little white lady, a bit older than I (I was 32), not 40 yet. She asked if we’d had any special plans we’d discussed with Dr. Barnes. We said just no drugs and keep the baby with us. She said you had to have a special nurse present to keep the baby.

She went back out. The RN kept making dumb comments, trying to be friendly. She said she’d be ready for delivery about 3AM. Ha! I thought. Told me to tell them if I felt like pushing. I felt like pushing a bit, but kept quiet, remembering last time and how I’d pushed mildly for hours before the real push. Then she must have checked me or the doctor did and said I could push when I felt like it. Contractions were almost continuous. So on one or two more pushes I had to push and did. The waters broke and I told them. The RN started saying “sit up, you can’t push laying down!’ I was in the middle of a push, and I was saying “just wait a minute, just wait”. So after that push everyone was rushing around getting ready for the birth. It was about 3AM. They had me sit on some little plastic seat to make it easier to catch the baby.

So, I started pushing, which was a relief. The rests between contractions were longer. I said now they’d probably stop. The doctor said rests were usually longer during 2nd stage. They started seeing head. I pushed harder and finally, actually 15 or 20 minutes I felt that big head coming through and down and made noise as I pushed. There was no pain through the cervix this time, like when Ayanna had her arm up, but the head against the perineum felt like I was going to pop. I was not relaxed. I saw that hair down there on the head, but the main feeling was yikes, I’m going to pop. The doctor said let the contractions deliver and don’t push, so after a years wait (not really) a contraction came, I panted and the head came out. I pushed and it all popped out. For some reason I didn’t look in the mirror while this was going on. But I immediately looked after she came out. And she was squirming around while the doctor suctioned her nose. Didn’t look like much mucus. Was no blueness to her. She gave a short cry. They cut her cord and I picked her up and she was a regular, whole baby, without even a club foot (smile).

Then Jim went to the nursery while they weighted her and examined her. He brought her back because her temperature was stable at 99 already. She nursed a bit then they took my blood pressure and said it was low so took the baby. Jim held her awhile. Then they pushed my uterus (ouch!) and some clots came out. Not firm enough so pushing and shot of pitocin, drip of something else. They didn’t hear about nursing firming up the uterus. Any way I went to sleep and didn’t bleed to death.

Kristin with baby Tulani
Holding  baby Tulani several months later.
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28 thoughts on “Tulani’s Birth Story 1978

  1. That was quite an experience! But I’ll say this about birthing babies (I had 3), you really have to have a sense of humor about it all. My first, we made a wild 2-hour drive up the coast in a tiny sports car with 25 minutes to spare. The second was born the night after I was hit by a car. And the third had the nurses in hysterics, & made my doctor late for a hot date with his girlfriend! But, besides the thrill of holding a new baby, it’s all the funny little things that happened during each experience that I remember & smile over. I really enjoyed your post, & clever – tying the story into the postcard with the gals with long locks. I’m assuming they’re 3 of the Sutherland Sisters?

    1. Each birth is for sure it’s own story. I thought they might be Sutherlands but the name only says ‘3 sisters’ and comparing them with the know sisters, they don’t look alike to me.

    1. Love it! I’ll have to send you Kamau’s as he came a month after his due date to!

    2. I don’t know I never saw them again. Did I mention how one said she would hate for anything to happen to the baby, especially if it was a boy since I had 3 girls??

  2. Tulani is sooo cute! I didn’t have natural birth’s so when I saw my Godson being born it was Amazing. I’ll always be Thankful for Crys for that. He’s 16 now. Of course seeing my 1st Granddaughter born after all these boys. Loved the story of new Life coming into the World.

    1. Thanks True! Birth is truly amazing. I was present for several of my grandchildren’s births and it was amazing, even though I had given birth so many times myself.

  3. That’s a perfect postcard for the prompt. I have never had a child, but I enjoyed reading about your birth. It made me wonder why you wanted to deal with midwifes at all.

    1. My third daughter was born at a friend house with two wonderful midwives. I had thought that this one would be the same but I should have read the signs early on in the experience and gone else. It ended up alright though because this was one of the best doctors I had.

    1. Awww, Michael, the delivery itself was fine. It’s not at all like those horrible births you read about or see on tv. It is for sure a physical experience, though.

  4. This is a topic I never expected to see in a ‘hair’ theme. Men were not welcomed to be at births when my wife had our three. So I know little of the process first had. Tulani was/is lovely.

  5. A beautiful photo of you and Tulani, and I’m impressed that you made notes about her birth soon afterwards. Your sister must have a good sense of humour, to pick that card and write that note to go with it 🙂

  6. Wow! Tulani looks Worth All the Effort.Its so nice you kept this memory/record of the Birth.As a bloke ,I am in awe of the magic that women perform.

  7. As a typical man, I find the process of birth terrifying (perhaps I should say hair-raising) – but what a wonderful and beautiful result of the process. And so creatively tied into our theme this week.

  8. I know I shouldn’t say it, but after reading the fascinating story, the drama, all I can think of is “That’s a hairy story!”

  9. Now how did Pearl know you would need a picture of long hair??
    I winced through most of this story. Here’s mine: The morning my water broke with daughter #2 was the day I was supposed to type my husband’s paper for a class he was taking. So I typed through the labor pains but I made a typing error with every contraction. These were the days BEFORE computers — these were the days of White Out. I needed to wash my hair, but thank goodness I didn’t because we got to the hospital just in time.

    1. Except for all those white-outs, sounds like a pretty swift and easy birth 😉 Why didn’t men know how to type back then but they can all keyboard today.

  10. The picture of you and your daughter just shows that it was all worth it.

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