#MatriarchMonday allows moms from all walks of life to connect through their stories. about birth, life, and lessons learned in between, to empower one another and to create a space to inform, educate, encourage mindfulness, and most importantly, Revere the amazing women that we are!
Below, Denea shares hoe she made the decision to choose home as the perfect place to give birth to baby Milo and gives an empowering and insightful depiction of how it all went down.
Check Out Denea and Baby Milo’s story below:
I always knew I would want to share my birth story. I think it’s because within my circle I had never heard of or seen the way I wanted to do birth. For that reason alone, I always knew it would be important to share my experience with the hopes of doing my part is shifting the narrative of black birth.
Before I gave birth to my son, I was a single mom to Maddie, my exuberant 9 year old daughter. I was just reclaiming my life back and getting this motherhood thing down when I found out I was pregnant. My career was on an upswing. My social life was just beginning to flourish again. My bank account was growing. I had finally found a stride and started to catch my breath. Then, boom, pregnant.
I knew almost immediately that I wanted to explore a natural or unmedicated birth at home. I’ve been asked why I decided on homebirth. I don’t have a real answer. It felt like the right thing to do. I knew that I wanted a different experience after the hospital experience I had with my daughter. I wanted more autonomy.
Finding a black midwife was an entire struggle. There were like literally 3 to choose from. It seemed crazy to me that the talent pool was so small. The same was true for finding a black doula. While the selection was a little larger, it still was not as vast as I assumed it to be. I would learn later from my doula and midwife that the community is not big for many reasons. There are hoops and hurdles they have to jump through to be considered medical professionals and the stigma surrounding unmedicated births and home births is widespread. Nonetheless, I was adamant about having a black female birth team to support me through. It was important to me feel safe, seen and taken care of by people who looked like me and who I knew would listen to me.
I would like to pause here for a second. I, ultimately, ended up with the birth I wanted with the team I wanted. However, the road to get there was not smooth. For 30 weeks of my pregnancy, I was seen by a traditional OBGYN practice. Honestly, I think not having a full understanding of alternate ways of birthing coupled with the fears I let these doctors put in my head, almost kept me from getting the birth I wanted. For the sake of time, I won’t share the whole story. However, right after my 20 week sonogram things started to take a turn. I felt like I was on a rotation of doctors who were pumping me full of as much fear and misinformation as possible in order to get me to do birth their way. I trusted myself enough to know that my initial thought of homebirth, really birth on my terms, was worth making a pivot. And so, at 30 weeks, I walked away from that practice and began my journey with our midwife.
Fast forward to 41 weeks and 6 days, my son, Milo Drue was born via waterbirth in our home surrounded by our close family and friends. The most difficult yet rewarding experiences of my life will always be giving birth to Milo. I remember emerging from the water with Milo in my arms, umbilical cord still attached, feeling so powerful and peaceful. There aren’t many words I can think of to describe the feeling, but it all just felt right, destined.
And, here we are again at a place where I can tell you this almost didn’t happen. After being in the ideal birthing position for my entire pregnancy, my sweet son decided to turn to the occiput posterior position. With Milo in this position, my midwife was hesitant to assist in getting the labor started and so we waited and waited. I spent two weeks doing every Spinning Babies exercise I could google and youtube including inversions. Imagine being 10 months pregnant hanging upside down off your couch. I, also, started to see a chiropractor every other day to ensure my pelvis was aligned. None of that seemed to be working though. My labor would start, then stop, then start again. I went through this for two whole weeks. It was a wild ride. On the day Milo was born, my midwife’s consulting OB told me that homebirth was off the table and to pack my hospital bag. I was actually packing my bag when my water broke!
The night before Milo was born we had a call with our midwife and the last thing she said to us was, “If there are any fears that you still haven’t released or anything that needs to be resolved, you need to have an honest conversation and do that. If nothing else is working to get your labor started then that could be the issue”. My partner and I walked outside in the cool night air and literally cleared the air. We talked about any and everything that we thought could be potentially be standing in our way emotionally. As fate would have it, my contractions started again while we were talking. This time they didn’t stop.
Twenty four hours later, Milo was in our arms.
Active labor wasn’t as painful as I remembered it being with my daughter. Don’t get me wrong, contractions are contractions through and through. With Madison, however, I cried and felt like I was in a lot of pain. After being sent home from the hospital with a diagnosis of dehydration while I was actually labor, I think mentally the pain intensified because I was told it was not labor. This time around while the contractions were there and intense, they seemed manageable and purposeful. I was in a different mental space. I welcomed the surges of discomfort and allowed myself to work together with my body and baby towards delivery.
I spent the majority of my active labor on a birthing ball in my bedroom. Peaceful is the only way to describe it. My partner, my doula and my midwife were all laser-focused on supporting me through the process. Through my moans and groans, I received back and foot massages. There were essential oils diffused in the air. The lights were dimmed. Calming music played in the background. My partner would ever so often whisper in my ear reminding me of my strength and ability to bring our son into the world. In between his affirmations, he would say, “stay low, stay low,” which was my signal to keep my moans deep and low pitched to help my cervix open.
We talked and laughed in between contractions and at some point my midwife gently asked if I wanted to get into the birthing pool. Not once during my labor did she check my cervix to see how labor progressed. It was almost as if her intuition just knew.
As soon as I entered the pool, my body kicked into high gear. The sensation was indescribable. I understand why they call it pushing because it feels like everything in you is squeezing to literally push the baby out. My body did most of the work and I just worked with it. No forceful pushes. Just immense focus on allowing my body to relax and to do what it knew how to do. I told myself over and over again, “Milo, it’s just me and you and we got this”.
There was one point that I started to feel like I couldn’t go any further. My body had been pushing and pushing. To me, it felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I don’t know what I was expecting to feel as an indication of progress, but whatever it was, I wasn’t feeling it. Tears began to well in my eyes until I heard a song by Housefires called “I’ll Give Thanks”. The chorus goes, “So I’ll give thanks to God when I don’t have enough ’cause He’s more than enough and He knows what I need”. That was exactly what I needed. I knew it was God’s way of telling me He was there with me. It was His reminder that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Not too many pushes later and I was crowning. I was touching the top of my baby’s head. The sense of excitement and relief that I was finally about to have a baby in my arms gave me the wind I needed to deliver him.
At 10PM on September 30th, Milo was delivered into his father’s arms. It was magical. I’m not a crier but I wept. Full of gratefulness, happiness and relief, I wept and wept.
The whole experience made me a warrior, which is ironically the meaning of Milo’s name. It taught me patience and the art of letting go and trusting process. I believe if I would have let fear have the final say I wouldn’t have had the birth I desired. In the final weeks of my pregnancy, I learned to lean on nothing but faith. Faith that God had a plan. Faith that things would happen when and as they should. Faith that Milo would be born safely. Faith that whatever happened in the future was God’s divine plan. I’ve always believed I had faith, but to practice faith is a totally different exercise. When I finally practiced faith, God showed himself faithful.
My midwife sealed our delivery with a sweet kiss on my forward and whispered, “I’m so proud of you. You got the birth you wanted. The birth you deserved”.