Tolani’s Birth Story

As I am on bedrest I am taking the opportunity to expand my blog and share more of the research and birth stories that make being a woman such an uplifting and empowering existence. To start us off right, Tonya, we went to middle school together, was kind enough to share her journey with us. Enjoy!

Tolani's Birth Story

In Tonya's words . . .

There I was enjoying a Lost marathon with my husband on a rainy Friday evening. Something was odd, but I didn’t know what. Throughout my pregnancy, I had mastered puking. Since the moment I found out I was 
pregnant, I puked every…single…day. Towards the end of the pregnancy, I puked so much that I often urinated on myself. My bladder was so out of control, I had to wear Depends. The sheets were always wet. That evening, however, I told my husband that my urine smelled funny—like bleach. We both dismissed it as self-urination until the next morning I was still “peeing” on myself. At 40+ weeks pregnant, I hadn’t yet experienced a contraction. No Braxton Hicks. Nothing. So I thought, “this can’t be my water breaking!” We went to the hospital just to be sure. Our midwife met us at the hospital, performed a few tests and said, “Your water broke! Not fully, but your sac has been ruptured.” Plugged into the machine that monitors contractions, she surprisingly asked, “You don’t feel those contractions?” I thought I was having normal cramps and it felt like one of my weaker menstrual cycles. I did not experience any Braxton Hicks, so I wasn’t sure what I was feeling. The midwife told me that I had already been in labor for 24 hours and that it was time for the baby to come out. But wait…it gets better. I was all of 0 cm dilated! Yikes. I checked in Saturday afternoon for what would be a very long, intense, and down right chaotic labor and delivery.  
I enjoyed holding my daughter in my arms, meaning although the actual birth experience was not what I had imagined it to be, it was all very worth it. I learned with my pregnancy and birth experience that plans are meant to be broken. I made such an elaborate birth plan and almost 90% of my requests were thrown out of the window. I did not want to birth in a hospital. I started off in the midwifery floor, but was moved to the main labor and delivery in the hospital after almost a full day of not progressing. What a world of difference in treatment between the two (specifics later). I specifically requested absolutely no drugs to induce. After 20 hours of laboring, in went the Pitocin. I also was forceful about not receiving an epidural. During active labor, I was so weak from laboring for 36+ hours, in went an epidural in order to relax me so that I could give stronger pushes. Finally, throughout my entire pregnancy, I planned to have a vaginal birth. I refused to even read any information about alternate methods of childbirth or cesarean sections because I was that confident that I wasn’t going to need one. Well, after 3 days of labor and a baby who decided to turn over the wrong way during the final stretch (Oh…and almost getting her out naturally with a vacuum that couldn’t grip her head because she had too much hair), my daughter’s heart rate dropped and I had lost so much blood, I ended up needing an emergency C-section. The least I could have done was educate myself on the procedure and the rehabilitation process. They had to drag me into the operating room. I was screaming and crying, “Please!!!! I tried so hard! Why won’t she come out?!?!” At the time, I felt guilty and disappointed. But in hindsight, the C-section probably saved both of our lives. So after a few hours of pouting, I understood and accepted the situation. I refused ANY medication for 20 hours. I demanded to walk, stretch, and use essential oils to induce labor (as stated in the said elaborate birth plan). However, with little progress and a ruptured sac, I was given Pitocin. Many hours later, I was also given an epidural. I never take medication. Never. I got sick from the medicine and ended up puking for hours during labor too. 
My daughter has been exclusively breastfed for 11 months. When pregnant, I made the decision to breastfeed if I could. I do not personally know a lot of people who nursed their children (myself and my siblings were Similac babies) and I really didn’t have any guidance on breastfeeding, but with lots of research (and determination), I knew that I wanted to do what we were born to do. It was difficult because of the C-section (poor baby starved because my milk did not come in for almost 4 whole days!), but I didn’t give up. I refused to even supplement with formula. I didn’t want her to have it, or any kind of bottle until she perfected her latch. Currently, she is not eating solids yet (just sampling green smoothies and some purees)—I believe she’s 
going to go straight from breast to full meals. Everyone is shocked that she’s not eating yet, but her pediatrician said it’s common for breastfed babies to delay eating solids. I’m patient. She has an entire lifetime to eat and is growing and is as strong as an ox. She is no longer nursing during the day (gets expressed breast milk in a bottle) and only nurses 2-3 times at night. I’ve had lots of long, sleepless nights but I can truly see my daughter’s health thriving. This sacrifice is one that I will never regret. 
I gave birth in Nashville—ranked the friendliest city in America. Midwifery care was so warm and comforting and for the most part, so was everyone at the hospital. However, the hospital care was totally different from the midwifery care (although my midwife stayed by my side until my daughter was born). For most of the process, I felt in control although there were concepts that the nurses did not agree with. The nurses in the hospital were attempting to rush me back to C-section way sooner that what was needed. Almost immediately when I reached the hospital that was their solution instead of allowing me to labor naturally. They were nice, but very pushy. I was vomiting throughout the process and they kept trying to shove the Zofran down my throat. They couldn’t figure out why I was refusing the medication. I puked every single day for 10 months and never took any pharmaceuticals during my pregnancy. If ginger and lemon didn’t stop it, then I just accepted the puking. During labor and delivery (when medicated), if there was something I was unsure about, I had a great support system to advocate for me. My husband, midwife, and good friend were very knowledgeable about my needs and wants, so they were there to direct.
I normally don’t believe in regrets, but there are some things that I will do differently shall God bless me with another precious baby. I truly believe everything happens for a reason (even the few things I’d change), for I learned great lessons through the entire process. One wish that I wanted for my first: a baby shower. I really wanted one and didn’t have one. I love celebrations, but I refused to throw my own. I always thought that was an occasion that others would do for you, but it didn’t happen. And although I was super happy to even be having a baby, I really wanted to celebrate. Maybe next time. 
My advice to new mothers: Enjoy the process. Do lots of research, but know that your parenting journey is unique. You can get all the advice in the world (much of it will be unsolicited), but do what works best for your own situation. You know your baby the best. Finally, surround yourself with understanding people.