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MY STORY- Second Birth or The Awakening Part 4

While watching "Miss Teen USA" one evening, one of the finalists expressed her ambitious desire to become a neonatologist. She explained it was a preemie/baby doctor and given my life situation, I was sold. I refused to allow the arrival of a second child to spoil my own college ambitions and desire to achieve really amazing things, rendering myself dependent on a man with whom I could run intellectual circles around. Yet at the same time, I realized that having another child would severely limit my ability to attend. So I decided to step it up and take a couple more classes, before I would be tied down for yet another semester. After being appalled to learn that most physicians had never taken a simple nutrition class, I enrolled in Nutrition and Calculus during my second trimester. Nutrition was right up my alley and highly applicable to my pregnant status, while Calculus at 8 am was going to be a challenge. I enrolled in 7am Lap Swimming to be sure I was wide awake.

First of all, convincing Craig that I was not going to relinquish my education in order to wait on him hand and foot my entire life was no small task. I was dependent on him to watch our son. He didn't understand why I wasn't going to be just a SAHM like his mom. I remember crying and arguing with him over why he needed to hand over the funds for me to purchase my textbooks, that the library was not an option for me. However, when I did go to school, I felt like a real person. I was surrounded by people with goals, ambitions, like me. They didn't view me the way everyone in my life did. They didn't know me as Craig's wife or 'the teen mom'. Most people were shocked to find out I had a child already. They complimented me on going to school. I was good at it. Every morning, I would rush home after class and Craig would leave to start his day. I would put my baby son down for a nap, then study.

My first day of Calculus, I aimed to sit in the front row. I went right to the front and sat between two black girls. I chuckled to myself at the new world I had entered and struck up a conversation with my neighbor. She, too, wanted to be a neonatologist! She also had a 1 1/2 year old son! Moni was raised in a Christian house, but her mom had passed away when she was 10. She was raised by her ex-military father. Our bond was immediate. Moni, her second husband, four kids, and our family are still very close. I had the honor of attending the births of her last three children.

As I approached delivery, I grew awkward and clumsy with my swollen belly. Swimming every day felt absolutely amazing and therapeutic. Since we had moved to the city, and armed with my new knowledge about birth, I knew there was no way I was going to a doctor. I recall my mother-in-law and Craig being completely unsupportive of my desire for homebirth. The idea was shot down immediately. We lived in an apartment, I justified in my head, and for insurance reasons, I began to explore my options. Imagine my delight when I discovered that midwives existed that attend hospital births, but support the natural process! Of course, the medical community in the city had no options for this, so I found my midwife through the local, liberal college town where I coincidentally now reside. I drove 40-50 miles round trip for every appointment where i could absorb every morsel of information I could in order to experience a moment of empowerment I could only dream about at that time.

Right on time, exactly 11 days past my 40 week mark, I had contractions. I recall quite vividly being on the phone with my mom, late in the evening, and soaking in the tub as I had recently formed the habit of doing. (Christmas Vacation had started, my swim class over, I was probably missing the serenity of the water I had grown accustomed to.) I remember telling her what I had learned about 'real labor'. That being relaxed will strengthen real labor contractions, but the Braxton hicks (or false labor)would disappear with relaxation. I told her, if I get out of the tub, and feel the contractions I was currently timing get stronger, the we would know it was real. No sooner did i stand up, that I lost my breath. She knew (being two hours away) it was time to get on the road. She picked up my best friend (who was accustomed to attending the homebirths of her extended family, even as a child) and they were on their way. I got dressed and let Craig know "it was time." (Craig, by the way, thought i was funny to occasionally catch me off guard and throw ice cold water on me while I was taking my nighttime baths.)

We traveled through thick fog that January night, at times going 20 mph over the rice fields, to the hospital. My cherished midwife awaited my arrival, and I was quickly left in her capable hands. She encouraged me to lean on the bed, to sway my hips, to stand, to walk and to rock. As the waves became stronger and stronger, she told me to try something ingenius. She told me to use my voice. She said to keep a low hum, always keep a low voice. As the pain peaks, don't go high, tightening your body. Stay low, stay open. I followed that advice and slowly throughout my labor got louder, louder, and louder, fully embracing the sound of my voice. As mom and my bff arrived, they brought a fresh energy to the room, but I had already reached transition. Maybe from conditioning, but also from exhaustion, i chose to be in a semi-sitting position to push. I could grasp the birth bar above my head for leverage. BFF starting rubbing my inner thigh and offering soft encouragement. Her warm hand felt heavenly. My mom, smiled a big, toothy grin at the excitement of her coming grandchild, and proud that I had been doing so well. All i could see in that moment was her white, pearly teeth glaring like the sun, as most of the lights had been dimmed. "Mom, stop SMILING at me." I felt the enormous sense of power as I pushed with all my might, yelling out overwhelmed with sensation. I felt the 'ring of fire' as my perineum gave way. My casually dressed midwife was there, instructing me on how to slowly guide my baby out, but the uncontrollable urge overtook me as i pushed her head, then her body into the hands my midwife. She immediately put my baby on my belly and covered us with a warmed blanket. All was right in the world.

Twelve hours later I was on my way home. Babe in arms, perineum intact, and the two women who loved me the most, there to care and wait on me while I recovered. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, contrasted with a growing unrest with my situation. BFF slept on the floor of my room through the first night to be sure that I could reach everything i needed.

Like the cliche says, that birth changed my life. At the time, I didn't really understand how profound the change really was. I decided that I should become a doctor, but with a new goal of becoming an Obstetrician who changes the world. I wanted to teach women to take control of their bodies, their births. With my new mission, I was ready to resume my education that August. I enrolled in Chemistry, and scarred to death of it, immediately signed up for a Chem Tutor.


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