Three successful home births, and the last almost strangled my confidence. I think it’s important to mention that I didn’t expect to have three children naturally, on the floor of my home, but I did.
Here’s the backstory: I birthed two children at home prior to this birth. My first entered silently, my second not breathing (the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck 6+ times), so I wasn’t naive to the birthing process. I knew the levels of pain, risk, and how it would demand my attention. Somewhere along the road, immense fear and death circled my most recent pregnancy. I would ask myself questions like, Will the universe be so kind to give me another healthy child? The odds are not in my favor. I know I’ve done it before, but can I REALLY do it again? I’m sure one of us will die, right? Don’t you want to at least feel the effects of an epidural?
But then something miraculous happened, I didn’t allow fear to determine my decision. I allowed my knowledge of my past, present, and future self to step up and say, “Girl, you got this.” That voice was familiar, and I trusted it.
I’m in labor. My husband and everyone is asleep; it’s 2am. You got this! The power goes out—no music, no lights. Not just in my home but the entire block. (At my last birth, every contraction I was twerking to Big Freedia.) There’s nothing like laboring without power, just candles and a level of silence that can only be attributed to God. The quiet, a piercing early morning silence that straddles heaven and hell, is more painful than the contractions. It’s painful and beautiful.
It’s been 3 hours. My water hasn’t broken, so I let my husband sleep because I know someone is going to die. I got the vision at 5 months and couldn’t shake it. So, when all the lights on the block went out, I knew the time had come to birth and to die. I feel thankful the universe decided to convene with me in silence as a precursor. Holding on to myself through every contraction—and each rest that came after—I just stare at the flicker of the candle hoping it would be me and not her.
I text the midwife. She wanted to know as soon as I felt something because with third-time moms everything goes so quickly. I call and tell her the power is out and not to rush, but everything in me knows this baby is coming with or without her.
I never held a dead baby. The closest I got was with my second son. He was born not breathing with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck about 6 times. They threw him on my chest and said, “Talk to your baby.” The birthing pool was cold; I talked, but I couldn’t stop staring at his purple skin, his swollen and bruised black eyes… I couldn’t conjure up my magic to give him the breath he needed to live. So, I asked my mom to pray. There’s something about a grandma praying—they can cover the whole space with a word; they’ve lived enough to know how to summon the wind, and she did. After two minutes of prayer, his body moved and then he cried. His eyes were a mixture of red and black with no white in sight. He’d used every muscle and vein; he’d fought to make it out alive. He made it…but would we? More importantly, would she?
“Why don’t you just go to the hospital?”
“It’s so dangerous.”
“You gon’ do what? Nuh uh, I can’t deal with the pain.”
“What if something happens?”
The thing they don’t mention is something can always happen. And for Black women, it’s more likely to happen in the hospital than at home or in the care of a midwife, doula or doctor in the hospital. #facts
I chose a midwife because I wanted to birth alone without consistent interference. I wanted to push by body to see how far it could go and to feel the endorphins after birth. I wanted to birth like my ancestors did. I wanted to smell my mom’s cooking while I labored, but most importantly I wanted to immediately incubate with my newborn in an environment I created and manifested.
The power comes back. I labor with beautiful people and my baby girl is born healthy.
So, I’m writing this for the woman who has been told that she can’t bear the pain and may believe it. I’m writing this for the woman whose inner circle may be telling her to just take the medication—why experience the pain when you don’t have to? I’m writing this for the woman who may be tricked into getting a C-section to accommodate a doctors’ vacation. I’m writing this for the woman who wants to take control of her process and plan before, during, and after her child’s birth.
I wouldn’t have had the empowerment of choice in my experience without the presence of midwives and doulas. Thank you to all who help gently usher in the lives of the world’s children.Leave a Comment
Marcia McIntyre says
Thank you for this. I’ve never had children and I’m not pregnant, but when I do, I keep visualizing a home birth (as early as last night the vision came to me again) and reading this confirmed it for me. Thank you for your transparency and bravery. So glad you have four healthy children!
Marcia! It’s Ashley-Nicole so happy you’re considering homebirth. I’m sure you’ll be a rockstar!
Amazing story. I could’ve used your confidence and experience 31 years ago when I started having my own children. Please keep reaching out to the new moms it’s important for us to experience what our ancestors experienced just like that. Beautiful.
Tawana, you’re an O-G at motherhood. I’m so proud for you. Keep encouraging Bipoc women to birth naturally.
Tawana, you’re an O-G at motherhood! Happy 31 years of loving something that came from your body! Keep encouraging Bipoc women to birth naturally.
R. Anthony says
Wow! If only I had known. With my second child, who was stillborn with the cord wrapped around his neck I would have opted for home delivery. The doctor took off with no explanation, leaving me in pain crawling on the floor of the hospital. Of course this was 41 years ago. I am so glad things worked out well for you.
Ashley-Nicole Grosse says
R. Anthony, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sad that you weren’t taken care of properly. I hope that you can continue to be an advocate for women around receiving proper care.
D. Lacy says
I wanted to experience what our ancestors and older parents went through in giving birth. I had my daughter in the hospital, but I
I didn’t have any medicine or epidural. I felt the pain of labor rip through my body for 7 1/2 hours. Having natural birth made me feel closer to my ancestors and experience what they went through with all their births. I only have one daughter, but if I had to do it again I would not change a thing.
Ashley-Nicole Grosse says
D. Lacy! Yes, that’s the feeling. Now let’s try to continue to carry that closeness to our ancestors.
Sondia Sullen says
WOW! YOU ARE AN AMAZING WOMAN AND MOTHER. AND AN INSPIRATION TO OTHERS.
Ashley-Nicole Grosse says
Thanks Sondia ☺️
Felisicia Williams says
You are amazing! Thank you for sharing an intimate and very informational story. I am a senior and on the other side of birthing, but I am thankful younger women have you to educate, nurture, and support them in natural birthing.
Holy wow!! I can’t deliver natural. It’s been said it’s been told and confirmed BUT I HAVE 2 adult daughters and because of your sharing I will encourage and empower them to make educated decisions should the time and LORD allow children in their wombs. Thank you for your story. B3 LED 🦋