Ep 140: Tiffany’s Birth Story – The Power of Birth Education

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This is a birth story episode that really warmed my heart. Tiffany used knowledge to overcome fears around being a woman of color getting pregnant and giving birth. As someone who researches everything, she knew she needed to be prepared with information to go through the birth process, especially as a first time mom. Tiffany says “Finding Dr. Rankins, a Black woman like myself, gave me the courage to face birth and pregnancy head on. Most importantly, I was empowered to advocate for myself because I had the knowledge I needed to do so.”

A lot of the things she talks about are really problems ALL women can face, regardless of race. The medical system can take away the power women have over what happens to their own bodies. Education is one of the most powerful tools you can have at your disposal to ensure you get the care you need. Tiffany’s experience with The Birth Preparation Course helped her to trust her own body and have a beautiful birth.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What made Tiffany apprehensive about getting pregnant and giving birth
  • What her pregnancy was like including some uncomfortable encounters
  • How the birth prep course helped her prepare for her birth
  • How an experience of losing consciousness and vomiting influenced her birth
  • How she was able to have beauty in her birth even though it didn’t go exactly as planned
  • Why she had to stop breastfeeding and how she handled the feelings that came along with that difficult decision
  • How doctors treated her differently depending on whether her husband accompanied her to appointments

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Come Join Me On Instagram

I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Ep 140: Tiffany’s Birth Story – The Power of Birth Education

Nicole: This is a birth story episode that really warmed my heart. Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 140. Thank you for being here with me and spending a bit of your time with me today. In today's episode, we have a birth story with Tiffany. Tiffany is a passionate wife, educator and new mom who is navigating the joys and complexity of a motherhood. She is the director of college counseling at a rural North Carolina high school. And in that capacity, she spends her day supporting students through the college application and scholarship process. While this brings her great joy, what is actually most important to Tiffany is her faith in God. That is what keeps her sane during these early motherhood days. Now as a woman of color, Tiffany was honestly pretty nervous to get pregnant. She knows some of the data and statistics surrounding black women in pregnancy. So she was nervous to get pregnant and go through the birth process and then adding a pandemic on top of that, made things even scarier.

Nicole: Now she's someone who has to research everything, and she really knew that she needed to be empowered with information to go through the birth process as a first time mom and Tiffany just really warmed my heart. And I'm so grateful that I got to be a part of helping her feel empowered for that process. She says that the information that she found through my podcast and the Birth Preparation Course, and my Instagram, helped give her the courage to face birth and pregnancy head on. And she was empowered to advocate for herself because she had the knowledge that she needed to do. So that is exactly why I do what I do. And I'm grateful that I was able to help Tiffany in this way. So you are going to learn from Tiffany's birth story today, what her pregnancy was like, including some really uncomfortable encounters that she had, how she prepared for her birth.

Nicole: Spoiler alert, I guess, I guess, I guess I already gave that away. She took the Birth Preparation Course, listened to the podcast and follow me on Instagram. She's going to share how an experience of nearly passing out a couple of weeks before her birth had a great influence on her birth, how she was able to have beauty in her birth, even though it didn't go exactly as planned and then how her birth experience was different and really better because she took the time to go through childbirth education. So much of what Tiffany talks about today are problems that all pregnant women face, and you are definitely going to learn something and relate to something in this episode, you're going to love it. Now, one of the things Tiffany is going to talk about is how she worried about racism impacting her experience on her birth. That's totally a valid concern, giving birth in a US hospital.

Nicole: And to be honest, there are other concerns as well. The US maternity system is really founded on misogyny and taking away power from women over what happens in their own bodies. Now we've made a lot of progress and don't get me wrong. There are lots of great doctors and hospitals out there, but there's still work to be done. And one of the really important ways that you can navigate within that system and help to find supportive care and all of those good, great things to help you have that beautiful birth experience is to make a birth plan. However, unfortunately, most of the information out there on making a birth plan, to be honest with you, is wrong. And women come to the hospital, not making a birth plan the right way. And of course, I know this because I have been on the receiving end of so many of those birth plans, and I don't want to blame or shame anyone.

Nicole: Um, I don't want to make anyone feel bad. Women are really doing the best with the information that they have. It's just that the information out there on making birth plans is wrong. So I'm super excited to share with you that I have this brand new class on how to Make A Birth Plan The Right Way and the right way doesn't involve a template. Doesn't involve a form, actually the right way to make a birth plan doesn't even really emphasize writing the wishes down. That's the least important part of making a birth plan. So I have completely redone my birth plan class and really pulling back the curtain on helping you understand, and really just going all in on the process to make a birth plan the right way, a way that really helps you to understand that you have power in your birth. And you know how to use that power in order to have the birth that you want, the birth that you deserve.

Nicole: So this class is going to be on Monday, November 22nd. It is going to be a live class. So I'm super excited about that. This class is going to be free only for a limited time. So you definitely want to go ahead and hop on it today. You can register for the class at drnicolerankins.com/register. And even if you can't make it live for the class that day, go ahead and register because then you can get access to the replay video. And I'm going to have a private podcast feed of the class as well that it'll get emailed to you on the 23rd. So this drnicolerankins.com/register, I cannot wait to see you there for this brand new live class, Make A Birth Plan The Right Way. All right, let's get into the birth story episode with Tiffany. Thank you so much, Tiffany, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I am so excited to chat with you today.

Tiffany: I'm very excited as well. Thank you for having me.

Nicole: Yeah. Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

Tiffany: Okay. Uh, I never know how to answer this question.

Tiffany: Um, I guess I can give you a brief background of who I am. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have a twin sister. Yes. I have a twin sister. Um, we both went to college. Well, our freshman year together at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, and then we both separated. My sister came to North Carolina, which I eventually ended up here as well. And then I went to Washington DC to Howard University. And so after I graduated after, um, after I graduated, I moved to Texas and was there for five years. And that's how I met my husband. Um, we were neighbors, a crazy story that connected us, but we were neighbors and we had a fire and somehow, you know, we met each other in the midst of all of that. And so we got married, we got married in 2018 and then we moved to Durham, North Carolina in 2019.

Tiffany: So I ended up in North Carolina after many years of my sister begging me to move to North Carolina, just to be a little bit closer to the East coast, not necessarily in Philadelphia, but close enough to where we needed to jump in the car. We could just drive, you know, six and a half hours. So I'm here in North Carolina now. And, um, I am a director of college counseling at a high school in Henderson, North Carolina. So I H I support students and a team of other college counselors in getting students to college. And I love, um, love what I do so much. So that's a little bit about me. Um, like I said, I met my husband and then, uh, we got pregnant in 2020, and we just had our daughter, uh, June 7th, 2021.

Nicole: Nice, nice, nice. Love it. And we're going to talk all about that. So, um, first off we have the backup, and give a shout out to HBCU. Yes. Yes. I went to Spelman and North Carolina, A and T state university so much love for HBCU. Absolutely. Absolutely. And then, and I did my residency training Duke, so I lived in Durham for a bit. So we have that in common as well.

Tiffany: Yeah, I did read that.

Nicole: Yeah. All right. So let's get into the story of the birth of your daughter. And one of the things you mentioned when you wrote in is that as a black woman, you were nervous about getting pregnant. And I feel like I have a sense for why that is, a very good sense, but not everybody always understands that. So I would love if you could explain a bit about why you felt, um, scared getting pregnant as a black woman.

Tiffany: Well, at first, my initial fear was just the pain. Cause you hear you see on TV, this like dramatized experience of birth. And I was, and I thought that that was for sure how it was going to be. And then as I got older and learned a little bit more heard from different people in my family, my twin sister who has two girls, I started dating realize, um, in the media as well. I started to realize that the care that black women receive is, is sometimes, um, a little different than what other people may receive. And so I was really nervous about being heard at the doctors to get pregnant during COVID. It made things a little bit more nerve wracking because of all the protocols that the hospitals have and the care team, the care, um, facility that I was going to for my prenatal care, you know, I felt alone in some spaces. Um, and so I was really afraid of just not being heard and that the providers would not hear my request. They would not take my, my request seriously. When I asked for medication or no medication, I'm just really nervous about some of the systemic things that I had read about statistically and had seen or experienced through other people.

Nicole: Yeah. 100%. Absolutely. And had you heard anything about maternal mortality at that point and how it's worse for black women?

Tiffany: I did. And so of course that was definitely a factor as well. And so I wanted to, uh, try to get as much information as possible prior to my birth. Um, just so I could feel confident in advocating for myself, um, throughout the process. And so I know we'll speak a lot about that.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yep. For sure. For sure. So then you did get pregnant. So tell us about what your pregnancy and your prenatal care was like.

Tiffany: So my pregnancy, I have to say was pretty good for the most part until the very end. Um, I did have, you know, normal morning sickness around week five or six. And then for the most part, I would say my biggest symptom was just being tired. I was tired. I feel like all nine months throughout my pregnancy. And other than that, I didn't experience heartburn. I didn't have a lot of those like very stark symptoms that some women, some women have, I was just really tired and I didn't have the energy to do anything. So I, I suppose that that could be sometimes worse than, you know, experiencing heartburn every now and then. So my pregnancy was pretty good. Um, I, um, my prenatal care, we, I was at a, a practice where they rotate it providers, midwives, and nurses. And so it was, um, interesting in some respects because at first I thought that I was just going to connect with one doctor and that was going to be the doctor that supported me throughout my journeys.

Tiffany: I was a little disappointed when I found out that I wasn't going to have just one provider with me the entire time. And so they tried to encourage me to say, you know, you never know who's going to be on call. So you want to try and get to know all of the different providers, just in case a doctor or midwife is there. I soon realized that I took more to the midwives, um, just because I felt like they gave a little bit more compassionate care and, um, it just made a bigger difference in, in my journey. I, I definitely enjoyed the care that the midwives gave me. Some of the providers, the physicians, I think, um, did a pretty good job. And I had some incidences where I felt like, you know, either what the doctor said was just a little interesting to me and I try not to make everything about race, but there are some things that I just thought were different, you know?

Tiffany: Um, like I was wondering like, would this be, would this have been said if I were a white woman or someone who was not black, so do you remember anything in particular? Yeah, so I went to the doctor and I think I actually, uh, I DM'd you a couple of times throughout my pregnancy. And I was so grateful that you did respond to me, but there was one time where I went to the doctor and it was actually a male provider. And I'll talk about this if we talk about postpartum, but I feel like me and the men in male physicians, for some reason, like I never, I don't get the warm and fuzzies from them basically. But this one particular time I went to the, to the, um, doctor for a routine visit and he wanted to check my cervix. And so I remember you were talking about, you know, you should have the say and if anybody, you know, does anything in your body.

Tiffany: And so, you know, at first I was going to say, no, I don't want you to check my cervix. I think I was around like 35 or so weeks at that point. And so, um, he ended up not checking my cervix, but when I changed my clothes and we sat down to talk, he didn't ask me about like my birth plan or anything like that. He immediately started talking about having a C-section and he said, well, you know, I just want you to know that you should be prepared in the back of your mind, if you have to have a C-section. I said, what do you mean by that? He said, well, you get a lot of moms put, you know, this perfect over the health of their child and they want this perfect experience, but they don't realize that health of the baby comes first. And so I thought that was really interesting. He was like, so just be prepared in the back of, you know, in the back of your mind that you could have a C-section. And I was like, that's not what I want. You know, he didn't ask me at all what my birth plan was. I just thought that that was very odd. Um, it, it really rubbed me the wrong way.

Nicole: Right, right. And it, and it sounds like it wasn't necessarily that because he, you know, it wasn't that you were, um, like against per se. Yeah, exactly. Or like, if you would be fine with talking about a C-section if it's necessary, but just the fact that he totally dismissed any other choices or talked about things that you want and went straight to you being like, you need to make sure you keep that option open without having a more, a more open discussion.

Tiffany: It was really just a random, like, he just started to talk about that. Yeah.

Nicole: Like what in the world? Yeah. Right, right. Yeah. That, that is definitely like, that does not set a good tone, we should say.

Tiffany: Absolutely.

Nicole: Yeah. And then, um, otherwise, how was your prenatal care? Did you ever feel like you weren't listened to, or you were ever disrespected in any way?

Tiffany: No, like I said, I was really blessed, like I said, to, to have different midwives that I interacted with throughout this time. So aside from that one incident, um, I never really felt unheard. I will say in the very beginning, um, I got some comments about weight and being obese, like I was put in this obese category. And it kind of scared me to death really in the very, very beginning of my pregnancy. They told me, you know, you're in the obese category. And so you need to go on like, uh, you know, kind of like a low carb diet in a way. And I know that dieting is not something that people traditionally talk about during pregnancy. You know, at least that's not what I thought. And so it really scared me because of the, what they were saying about obesity. And they said, you know, women of color are more likely to have gestational diabetes. And so I left the doctors and I really do think I internalize that. And for the first couple of months of my pregnancy, I was actually losing weight. Um, because I felt like I don't want to be too big. I don't want to gain so much weight to the point where I'm going to have gestational diabetes or like that was on my mind up until I got the confirmation that I didn't have gestational diabetes.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. There's a fine balance. I think sometimes we scare people too much. I mean, you want to give people information, but we have to be like a bit more bright. So like look for the, like, like a positive way to approach it. That doesn't scare people. Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah. I was definitely scared. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. So what did you do to prepare for your birth? And I know part of that was being in inside of my course.

Tiffany: Yes. That was the biggest thing that I did. I just randomly, I don't, well, I don't believe in things happening randomly. I believe it was like for a purpose, I ran across your Instagram page. Um, and I said, wow, like one of the things that was really important to me was, say, do a birth class, but also to do it with a black provider, I wanted a black provider, um, for my prenatal care, but it didn't happen that way. And that was totally fine, but I thought, wow, you know what? I really wanted to have that experience. And so I talked to my husband, I said, Hey, I found this doctor, she's black. You know, she she's she's um, went to school in North Carolina and, you know, I told him all about you. I started, uh, first listening to your podcast and I just listened throughout throughout the day because I was working at home and during my lunches, and whenever I had a break throughout the day, I would just put on your podcast and just like, get soaking all the information that I could.

Tiffany: And then finally I told my husband, I really want to do the course. And so he said, okay, let's, let's do it. So we signed up for the course and we started, you know, uh, during the classes together, he had his notebook, I had my notebook and we just went through the classes. Um, and that was a big part of the preparation for my birth. Like I said, I, you know, I have a twin sister, she had went through it twice. I was in the delivery room with her, but this was my experience. And I felt like I knew nothing, even though I had so many people had told me about birth. And so, um, it was really important to me. Like I said, to get information, I'm like, uh, I'm a knowledge seeker. I like to learn things. I like to research things. And so your class, it stood out to me because you always provide it like evidence-based research after you talked about certain topics in the birth class.

Tiffany: So we went through the class together and I just remember, um, finishing some of the sessions or most of the sessions feeling like, wow, I didn't know that. And it kind of guided me when I went to my doctor's appointments because like, oh, I remember we talked about this in Dr. Rankins' class. Or I remember, you know, this is something that I can ask for, um, that I just didn't know about prior to listening, you know, in, in the birth class. So that was really the main thing that I did because of COVID we couldn't go in person and do any courses. And so we just did everything online between your podcasts, your Instagram page, your lives that you did in your Birth Preparation Course. Those are the things that I did to prepare for my birth.

Nicole: I did not pay her to say that. [inaudible] So thank you. I'm so glad you found out why I have a heart and soul for this work. So it just warms my heart to hear you say that. And I'm so glad you and your husband did it together. Like that is so, so important.

Tiffany: Yeah. Towards the end he was getting a little tired. I was like, no, it really helped. It really helped the both of us. Um, you know, my husband was definitely a big advocate for me throughout those processes specifically when I started to have like issues towards the end of the pregnancy.

Nicole: Love it, love it. That is so good to hear. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth before we talk about the actual birth? What are some things you wanted?

Tiffany: Yeah, so, um, I was doing a lot of research about natural birth and I feel like everybody says this, but I really wanted to have a natural birth. Um, I really wanted to just kind of allow my body to do what it was supposed to do. But one of the things that I was really grateful for, I think the very first episode in your Birth Preparation Course, it talked about, you know, what your expectations were and just set, just being prepared for things to potentially go wrong or for the unknown, because birth is just so unpredictable. And so I just took that with me. Like I knew, I said, okay, this is my plan, but I know that ultimately my birth is going to be the way God intends for it to be. So whatever that is going to be, I'm going to accept it.

Tiffany: But I still wanted to put in the work so that I could have at least some of what I wanted. So I did want a natural birth. I wanted, um, I wanted a very like peaceful environment. And what I mean by that is I love worship music. And you talked about creating your playlist, you talked about diffusers. And I was like, wow, I didn't know I could do any of this stuff. So I, I told my husband, I want this music plan. I want you to bring this speaker. You know, I want it, I want peppermint diffusing in the room. I don't want to wear a hospital gown. I didn't even know that that was a thing. I was like, I don't want to put it on that ugly hospital gown. I want to buy something. So those are the things that I wanted and I, I wanted, um, mainly my husband, uh, to be there.

Tiffany: And then my twin sister probably would've killed me if she wasn't there, but she was a very good support. So she was there with me as well. Um, so I said, I wanted it to be very intimate. I want it to be very calm and peaceful throughout my pregnancy. I had listened to like the same playlist of worship music. I feel like my baby now recognizes that music. And so I was like, I want this to be playing during the birth. And I wanted to just be as peaceful as possibly as possible. And so really those were my big things, um, to have a natural birth and just really to be heard throughout the process.

Nicole: I love it. And then it is your S are you and your sister identical twins or fraternal twins.

Tiffany: We're fraternal, but we say that we are fraternal, but our voices are identical. So you want to come in here right now? She could probably take over the rest of this.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So tell us about the experience you had. You said you passed out two weeks before your birth, and then how did that affect your birth?

Tiffany: Yes. So it was the, one of the scariest. Well, probably the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. And it actually almost happened again two days prior to me giving birth. So the first time, um, you know how they say, you go through this, like nesting it, I think it's the nesting phase where you just want to clean everything's I had, um, started to clean up that day and, um, eventually, so we started downstairs and then we came upstairs and then I told my husband, my husband kept saying, you should probably sit down. I was like, no, I just want to do this last bathroom. I want to wipe the bathroom down upstairs. And so I probably should've listen to him because all of a sudden I said, well, I'm getting hot can you turn the air on. So he turned the air on and I said, I'm really hot.

Tiffany: Can you get me some water? So he got me some water and I said, I'm really, really hot. Can you fan me? So he starts like fanning me. And all of a sudden I just passed out. I woke up vomiting, literally like projectile vomiting, um, for a couple minutes. And I was on the floor of my husband said he caught me cause I was getting ready to like hit my head. And so he caught me, thank God he was with me at that time. So he, he turned me over and I started to just vomit. So I woke up and he w he called the ambulance and they came my blood pressure, as you would imagine, was like through the roof. And the first thing I said was, how's my baby. You know, how's my baby. I was kind of like out of it and very weak.

Tiffany: So I went to the hospital, um, because I wanted them to check the baby out. And the doctor said, you know, well, what were you doing? Maybe you overexerted yourself. And I said, okay, maybe that's a possibility, um, baby's heart rate was fine. Um, my, uh, heart rate eventually, you know, went back to normal. And so they just sent me home. They said, there's really nothing that we can do for you. And so I said, okay, this was the first occurrence. I didn't really think anything of it. Other than maybe I was just working too hard. Right. But then a couple of days before I gave birth, it almost happened again. Like I, I got like this time I wasn't working. I think I had just like, got dressed, we were getting ready to go to church. And I was like, I think I'm going to pass out.

Tiffany: I think I'm gonna pass out. And I could feel my temperature rising. And I was like, something just is not right. This is not right. And so my husband's like, do you want to just go to the hospital? I ended up not passing out, I just threw up a little bit. So we went to the hospital, they ran all these tests and they said, we can't find anything. Like nothing, nothing is wrong. And I said, okay, well, why am I passing out? I don't understand. You know, there are times where I'm doing like basic things around the house, or I might just be standing up to brush my teeth. And all of a sudden I feel lightheaded. Like something, you know, it didn't, it just didn't feel right. And so I left the hospital or to my sister's house in Durham. She was right around the corner from where we gave birth. And I was wanting to pass out again at her house. And my sister was like, we're going back. They're going to check you again. They're going to, you know, how sisters are, we're going to go back. We went back.

Nicole: I'm just laughing. Cause I can imagine like, no, what you going to do is you go get a car and we going to go back to the hospital. Yeah,

Tiffany: Basically. So my sister, my sister got in her car and my husband was like, listen, babe, if you feel like something is not right, you need to trust that. And I said, I just don't feel right. I don't understand why I just keep having this urge to pass out. So we go back to the hospital and they were kind of like annoyed. Like you were just here and we just told you that nothing was wrong, but okay. You know, we can induce you. And I think I remember I I sent you a message on Instagram. And I said, they are talking about inducing me. I was like 39 weeks. And the baby was due in like two days or three days. Um, and you know, you gave me, um, some advices that I can't give you medical advice, but I'm just gonna, you know, it's really no benefit.

Tiffany: Uh, or it's not a disadvantage if you're so close to your baby being born if if you get induced, I asked something just didn't seem right to me. And so I wanted to trust that. And so I, they checked, I wasn't dilated at all. They checked my cervix and I was like zero centimeters dilated. So I had to start from the very, very beginning. I didn't know what this process was going to be like, but they started off with like a pill that was supposed to soften my cervix. So I take the pill, you know, I'm comfortable for the most part. And then all of a sudden, um, they keep, they come back in the room. They keep telling me that, you know, you're having these contractions. I'm not feeling anything at this point, but you're having like a mild contractions. And every time you have a contraction, your baby, um, like stops breathing.

Tiffany: Like she was having like decelerations in heart rate. And so they said, typically, you know, babies can tolerate it, like during the contraction, but they said your baby is having decelerations after the contraction. So they feel like you look at the, the monitors, like the contraction, the contraction, then her heart dips, and then it comes back up. And so the C-section word came back again. They said, if this keeps happening, you might have to have a C-section because you're not dilated at all. And if your baby is not tolerating, these really mild contractions, I'm afraid of what is what she's going to do when they become really intense. You know, they said we don't want her to, you know, go into distress or anything like that. So they kept monitoring me. But what was really interesting was, you know, there was like a midwife and a doctor on call cause that's how the practice did it.

Tiffany: There was always a midwife and a doctor. So there was a different team on call the night before I gave birth. And this lady and the midwife immediately started talking about the C-section. And so I was at, um, the way, how can I explain it? The PRA practice, where I got my prenatal care delivered, um, at a specific hospital, but then they also had nurses from that hospital that were also part of in, in the room with me. And I just so happened to have like, um, black nurses, every, every, every shift there was like a different black nurse that came on shift. But the providers from my practice were not black. And so I used, I kind of kept looking at the other nurse every time the doctor came in, just to kind of see, like, do you agree? Like, what do you think? You know, but she didn't say anything.

Tiffany: There was at one point where the doctor came back and they said, your baby still having the decelerations. It's been hours. And you know I went to sleep, I woke up and her heart rate is still like going down. And sometimes it's going down like long, for longer intervals of time and then coming back up. And so, um, they were like, you know, we just want you to be aware that you may have to have a C-section tonight, if this is the case, this was on a Sunday. And so then she left the room. I just began to cry because I'm like, this is not what I want for my birth. You know, I want the baby to be healthy obviously, but I feel like a C-section is like the first thing that they're mentioning, like, is there no other things that they can do to support, you know, my baby before talking about the C-section.

Tiffany: So we asked the nurse to come back and we actually have, what do you think? Um, and she said, I mean, I think it's fair for them to be saying, you know, for you to be exploring all of your options or to be thinking about that. But I don't really see a concern right now. I said, okay. So, you know, she leaves the room and we just kind of prayed. And I just asked God, like, you know, whatever you want, like, I don't want to have a C-section, but if this is what I need to do, I'll do it. So they stopped giving me the pill. They were supposed to give me the pill every four hours. But they said, you know, since your baby is not tolerating, we're not going to give you this. So the next thing they went to was like a balloon, the balloon Foley.

Tiffany: I said, okay. So I went to sleep overnight with that balloon. And I, then I started to feel some contractions as I was sleeping. Um, I started to feel the contractions and the, the goal, they wanted to get me to like five or six centimeters with the balloon. I woke up the next day they took the balloon out. I was only like four centimeters. And so, um, which still isn't bad. Yeah. It was like three or four. So this was, I went in on Sunday. This was on Monday, the day that I actually gave birth. So that was in the morning. I was only at four centimeters. They said, okay, well, we're going to start you on Pitocin. I was like, oh my gosh, I've heard of Pitocin. I've heard that thing. They contractions stronger. And so they started with like a small dose and, you know, I went to sleep and I woke up and they just, you know, they seem fine.

Tiffany: Then all of a sudden it just was like, whoa, this is different. And the contractions were excruciatingly painful. And I was like, I can't do this. I don't know if I can do this. I was like tolerating them and breathing through them and doing all the things. And so they just kept getting worse. And I asked the midwife and she said, I said, are they going to get worse than this? She was like, probably so like, you're only, still four centimeters dilated. And I was like, well, I was like, I can't do this. I can't do this. But, um, thankfully, uh, backtracking a little bit, a different provider and midwife, um, started my service the next day. And this doctor, the nurse from the night before who I had asked her opinion about the care that they were, um, the, the treatment plan that they were thinking about.

Tiffany: She said, you couldn't have gotten a better team of people because this doctor he's, he's very seasoned and he doesn't freak out easily. Gotcha, you know, he, he knows what he's doing, you know? And he, she said, he's just very seasoned. So when he came in the room, I said, they've been talking to me about C-sections since last night, what do you think? And he said, well, you know, I think that, you know, that's a possibility he said, but I think it's too early to tell. I think as of right now you are on track to have a natural birth. I said, awesome. That's exactly what I like to hear. I did not see him again at all. He didn't, he didn't deliver the baby, that the midwife did. Um, so anyway, I ended up getting an epidural and I beat myself up. I was like, oh my gosh, I don't want to do this.

Tiffany: You know, I want to have a natural birth. And I just like, let it all go, got the epidural. I went to sleep. I woke up and I was 10 centimeters. And it was time for me to push. Yeah. It was time for me to push. And so when I, when you asked me about how, what I wanted for my birth, I said, I wanted a very peaceful environment. I wanted the worship music playing. I wanted the diffuser diffusing, the peppermint, you know, I wanted my two closest people in the room and that's exactly how my birth went. And so at first I started looking at it like, oh, you know, I wanted this natural experience, but once I let that go, everything else that I had desired for my birth, God allowed to happen. And so I literally was pushing and then I would stop. And I would sing in between my contractions. I'm a singer by nature, everybody in my family sings. And so I had been singing to the baby, the entire pregnancy, and I felt like she just knew like, it's time to come. I would sing in between the contractions, the lights were dim, you know, it was just the perfect experience. And I think I pushed for like 30 minutes and she came right out and she has them big eyes and bright ever since.

Nicole: Oh that is so beautiful. So, so beautiful. And she came out looking good and healthy and all of those things,

Tiffany: She was other than the fact that she had like swapped, swallowed a big Gallup big gallon or so of like fluid. And so she's been a chokey baby ever since then. They've been suctioning, we've been suctioning her nose and all kinds of stuff. But other than that, she was perfect. Seven pounds, 13 ounces. And she was born at ten forty two on Monday, June 7th. And so she was born two days, two days before, um, before her actual or her said due date.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And then did they do skin to skin contact and put her up on your chest and all of those things?

Tiffany: Well, they had to suction her suction her bit because she was like choking, but they did for her, you know, they put her right on my skin. Um, we did delayed cord clamping, which I didn't know anything about until your birth class. And we did my husband cut the umbilical cord. We did skin to skin for a while and it was, it was really, um, it was really beautiful.

Nicole: Lovely. That is lovely. So it sounds like the, even just the habit, a new team just kind of shifted the energy of things.

Tiffany: It really did because I guess I just knew, you know, every provider has a different style and so nothing against the team from the night before, but like the nurse told me that this doctor he is seasoned and I could tell that he was just a little more even keel. He didn't like scare. She said he doesn't scare easily. And so immediately he was like, yeah, she's having these little decelerations, but they're very short, you know, they're not long, you know, like they were last night. And so I don't see any indication. And so I like in the fact that I passed out, maybe it wasn't necessarily anything wrong with me, but had I not done that almost twice, I wouldn't have went to go get inducted induced, and I could've went into labor at home naturally and had these strong contractions and perhaps my baby could have been having those decelerations without me knowing it. And so I think that all that happened for a reason.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. So then what has the, or what was the postpartum period like?

Tiffany: It was definitely rough. Well, I would say it is rough. I'm still in the thick of it. In the beginning. The first two weeks. You're literally like a zombie. You're like, whoa, you realize how much sleep you got before you realize, you know, what was I doing with all my time prior to that? It's like, I don't understand. And you hate this luxury.

Nicole: Yes. I don't want to scare people, but it just, it is nothing. You can't know what it's going to have a newborn baby until you have a newborn baby. So it's just, it can be a lot.

Tiffany: I felt like the walking dead, I was like, this is not okay. You know, I was grateful, you know, I work for a school, so I had nine paid weeks of maternity leave. Oh, nine, 10. So I was off, I was off. Um, my husband didn't get a lot of time off, unfortunately, but he was home with me for about a week or so. Um, and then of course I had family, my sister and stuff coming over, but I was very tired. I still am tired, but not as tired as before. So that was, of course the first thing that I noticed. Um, and then I immediately noticed, like, they don't talk enough about what happens after you have the baby like this, you know, this bleeding, this like routine that you have to do when you go to the bathroom, the pan and the, the, the, what do you call that stuff?

Tiffany: Um, the bottle they used to wash yourself, like it's like a whole process. It was very overwhelming. So I was at the hospital. I gave birth that, um, the, my postpartum care was excellent, but it was so overwhelming because they literally were in there every minute, I feel like of the day. It was a new doctor, it was a new nurse. It was a new midwife, all asking questions, measuring, you know, I mean, touching the baby, he scanning my wrist and scanning the baby's wrist, like we couldn't sleep. And it was just so much information they gave me. I said, I told, I think I told one of the doctors or nurses. I said, this should be like a week-long process as opposed to like three days, you know, or two weeks or so, because there's no way that I can retain all the information that you're giving me in this short period of time.

Tiffany: But I was grateful that they were there. So that, that was a different, um, coming home and adjusting just my body. Just still not feeling a hundred percent and she's four months now, but in the beginning, I just didn't realize like how much of a toll that it was going to take on my body. And I'm thankful to have a very supportive husband who jumped in there and, you know, would cook and do all those things that I needed. Um, and still does. But it definitely took a toll on me. Um, I feel like the nine weeks went by really fast and I, you know, ended up taking the baby to daycare. And that was another transition period that I'm in. You know, she started getting sick as soon as she went to daycare. So we know we're dealing with that plus dealing with, you know, all my emotions going back to work has been really challenging for me as well.

Tiffany: Like, I, I love what I do, but I feel like my priorities as you know, or any, any mom knows is totally different now. And I I've see and view work differently in the time I spent at work and my need for flexibility. All that is a little bit different now, but it's definitely been challenging, but it's also of course, very rewarding. Um, I have a really happy baby. She wakes up smiling. She goes to sleep smiling, and she's just, she's been smiling since she came out. I feel like very happy baby. That definitely, um, makes everything sweeter. Yeah.

Nicole: I love it. Love it. Love it. And are you still breastfeeding or did you breastfeed at all?

Tiffany: Oh, that was a process in itself. I'm not breastfeeding anymore. I started off, um, breastfeeding, but my sweet baby girl, um, was like a lazy eater. She would fall asleep, fall asleep, which I know is common for most babies or a lot of babies. But what was the challenge was she was not latching properly. And I even went through the whole lactation consultant and I asked them every time they came in my room, can you show me how to get her to latch show me how to get her to latch to latch? And it was so painful, so painful because she wouldn't, she would latch. And then she would pull back and like suck at the very tip of my nipple. And I started having blisters and, and she just like wouldn't, she was literally, I would physically see her latched on and then pull her head back.

Tiffany: And I was like, you can't stay here. And so I ended up, I ended up using nipple shields and I did all kinds of stuff to really try, but she wouldn't, she wouldn't do an, I also have larger breasts and I think they told me shorter nipples too. So that kind of made things a little bit challenging. And I don't, I don't think I was in the right mental space to continue, um, doing that. Um, and I had to, I had to let it, I had to let it go. Um, I was also trying to pump, but I was so overwhelmed, so tired that I said, if I were to pump, I would not be sleeping. You know, like it was just, uh, it was a thing. And so Lord willing, I can try it again. Um, if, if we're able to have a baby, but this girl she was hurting

Nicole: And you just have to do the best you can. In the end a fed baby is what is what matters. I ended up, um, having to, I just didn't make enough. So eventually I had to start supplementing and then my husband was like, this is, you can stop doing this. Like you're just torturing at this point.

Tiffany: So basically that's what the midwife told me.

Nicole: Yup. Yup. And then what about any issues with postpartum depression?

Tiffany: So I feel like up until, well, first and foremost, the breastfeeding thing would, if I feel like would have definitely given me postpartum, if I had continued just the pain alone, like I would be up in the middle of the night crying. My husband was like, I can't help you. If you don't get formula, I can't help you. I was crying because on one hand, I'm like, I want to feed my baby. Like breast milk is supposed to be so much better for her, but I, it was so painful. So I stopped that and I felt like I was good. And then when I went back to work, um, just like the, the responsibility of my job and, you know, being away from the baby, all of that has been really hard on me, I would say in the last month or so. And, um, I was like, I don't, like, I don't know what this is.

Tiffany: Like, I feel like I'm a little bit more anxious. I've never been someone who felt like they had anxiety, but I felt a little bit more anxious and, um, I just want to be with my baby. And I know, you know, there are people who, who, you know, I'm still in the very early stages of postpartum, but again, like I said, I feel like my priorities are just so different. And so I feel like I have been experiencing like, just lack of desire to go to work and this just with work. So it's not like it's not like other things I don't desire to do as, as I did prior to being pregnant. But it's like, I feel like I spend a lot of time at work and that has been really bothering me because when I'm at work, she's at daycare and I'm not with her. So that has given me a little anxiety lately. Um, and I'll be meeting with my doctor soon just to kind of talk a little bit more about those feelings.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And then you did mention, you said the male doctor, was there anything you wanted to say about him and in the postpartum period that I hear you say something about one of the male doctors in the practice?

Tiffany: No. Um, well he haven't actually, I only saw him one time. There was multiple male doctors. I saw him one time, but I will say, you know, since, um, since having the baby, um, she's been sick and we've, we've had to take her to the urgent care multiple times. And I, I have noticed, um, the difference in how people speak to me versus how they speak to me when my husband is in the room, even just recently, I went to the doctor's for something and I was talking to my husband. I was like, I feel like I'm just being rushed through this whole process. Like nobody is really listening. And then all of a sudden he shows up and the doctor comes back and like gives this like longer explanation of what's going on. And, you know, just gives a little bit more attention to us. And my husband has been really adamant about going to the baby's doctor's appointments, as well as my doctor's appointments, just to make sure, you know, I'm getting the questions that I need answered and that there's also like a second person there, you know, should I need someone to advocate for me if I'm not doing it properly? So it has been interesting kind of navigating that, um, postpartum.

Nicole: Yeah and that is so, so tough because it's like, are they doing this because I'm a woman, are they doing this because I'm black? Are they saying, they think I'm just a single mom or whatever, or this, that, and the other are, they stereotyping me and um dealing with all that background stress is just unnecessary. I'm glad that your husband can, can come with you to most things.

Tiffany: Yeah. I, I would say there was one doctor's appointment that I had to take the baby to because she's had a lot of, um, like I said, daycare, you know, which everybody told me when she goes to daycare, she's going to get sick. And I'm like, okay, I can, I can, I'm prepared for that. But she ended up catching like multiple viruses at one time. So she's been sick for like maybe two months straight and it's been very, very challenging. So she ended up having to go to see an ear nose and throat doctor. My husband was not able to be with me at that appointment. And it was a male doctor. Again, I don't have anything against male doctors, but just like these experiences and ironically the male doctors. And so he, he prescribed her a breathing treatment. Um, he says that she needs like a nebulizer.

Tiffany: That was like the conclusion that he came to. She needs to do these breathing treatments to try to dry out some of the mucus in her throat. And it was like a very quick diagnosis. He said, I'm going to look at the paperwork. He literally left the room, came back, handed me the paper and was like, I put the prescription. And I said, for what? Oh, for the medicine, what medicine, the medicine that goes in the breathing treatment or what breathing treatment. Well, you got to get the medicine to go in the breathing treatment and that, and he said, well, you know, you have to buy the breathing treatment, but we're going to put in the prescription for the medicine. I said, well, how often she's supposed to take this medicine? Oh, three times a day. I'm like asking him all the questions that you would think somebody would like sit down and explain it to you. Once they tell you your baby has to do breathing treatments. So he goes, you know, I'm like making him explain all this stuff to me. And I left the doctor's like just frustrated with myself. Like, did I not advocate for my baby? Like, I didn't speak up enough. Like I was all these things. Um, again, like I said, I'm having these experiences now dealing with her at the doctors, but this only happens when my husband's not around, which I find very interesting. Hmm.

Nicole: You know, I find it unfortunately like a reality of our system in some ways. And I don't think that doctors are intentionally trying to be bad people. I just don't think we realize, I don't think we realize that we're doing it in some respects. Um, and it's just something that has to change. Um, and it's, you know, it's just, it's just frustrating. Just frustrating. Yeah. So one of the things you said as we wrap up is that you felt like your experience was different from women who didn't go through a birth course. Is that fair to say? And if so, what do you mean by that?

Tiffany: Absolutely. Um, I have friends, uh, one of my close friends is a mom. And, um, I would be telling her about the things that I was learning in the Birth Preparation Course, as we were watching the videos as we were, as I was looking at your Instagram polls and listening to your podcasts and even her who's, she has a child, a son who's eight, seven or eight. Now she was like, I didn't know any of that when I had my baby, like none of it. And she was like, I wish I would have had that information. I wish I would've known that. I wish I would've knew to speak up for myself. Like I just thought the doctor is a doctor and I should let them do whatever they want to me. You know, if they want to check my cervix, they can just go, you know, she's, I didn't know any of those things.

Tiffany: And so I just kind of heard those little stories from people who, who had children. Um, even my sister has two girls, you know, I would just be telling her all this information and she has, uh, her youngest daughter is about to be three. Um, so she, it wasn't that long ago that she had her in the same hospital that I had my daughter, but there were things that she didn't know as well. And so I just, I just liken it to the fact that I received that information and that they had never been through a birth course that would have prepared them to ask the certain questions to advocate for themselves and just to be confident in their body and, you know, throughout the birth process.

Nicole: Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. So then what is the one piece of advice that you would tell other women as they get ready for their birth?

Tiffany: I would say trust yourself for sure. And that was one thing, um, that I feel like, again, I got from your course trust yourself because you know, you know, your body and you develop this relationship with this baby, you know, even though they're inside of you for nine months and you, you don't think that it, that you'll know when something is wrong, but you do know. And it was when in that moment, when I say, no, I need to go back. I need to go back to the doctors. I don't know why I'm feeling this way. That's when I found out my baby was having these like decelerations in her heart each time I had a contraction. And so I think that's my biggest piece of is, well, two things trust yourself and then get as much information as possible because just like I've been sharing about my experience with certain doctors pre and post partum, um, had I not had the information that I had that I received through your course and, you know, through all the different channels that I receive information from you, I don't think I would have trusted myself in those moments.

Tiffany: I don't think I would've listened to this urge to go in and to not demand. Right. But to really request the care that I needed.

Nicole: Right, right, right. That is so, so important. Well, Tiffany, thank you so much for having this conversation with me today. It has been such a pleasure to talk to you. You have such a lovely energy and spirit. It comes through even just talking to you and, and, and, um, you know, through the conversation. So thank you.

Tiffany: Thank you so much for having me.

Nicole: Wasn't that a great episode. I'm so glad that everything turned out well for Tiffany and she is and doing well in the postpartum period too. Now, one thing Tiffany did say is that she reached out to me a couple of times on Instagram, as much as I would love to respond to everyone who reaches out to me on Instagram, please understand. I just don't have the ability to do that. This was just happenstance. Sometimes. You know, I respond to as many as I can. Some I can, some I can't, there's no rhyme or reason. It honestly just ends up being what I'm doing at a particular given amount of time. My assistant also hops in at times and responds to things as well. So, um, as much as I would love to respond to people on Instagram, please don't start DM-ing me because I can't unfortunately respond to all of those DMS.

Nicole: All right. Now, after every episode on the podcast, you know, I do something called Nicole's Notes where I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the conversation. Here are my Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Tiffany. Number one is listen to yourself, trust your intuition. If your gut is telling you something, pause for a second and listen to it. And now you do have to sort of discern, oh, is this something that's coming from fear? Or is this something that's like a real concern? And if you pause for a moment, you think about it and you're like, you know what? Something just isn't right. Listen to yourself, trust your intuition. You will never let yourself down. Point number two is I loved how Tiffany was able to see the beauty in the moment around her birth. So even though she didn't have an unmedicated birth, I love how even at the end, while she was pushing, she had the music playing.

Nicole: She was singing in between. She was able to create that peaceful atmosphere and hold on to as many aspects of her birth, um, as she could. And this is one of the things that I encourage in the Birth Preparation Course is to really focus on those things that are most important for you. So when the time comes, you can remember to hold on to those things and make sure those things happen for you. So you can have that birth experience that you want. All right, tip number three is, do go through childbirth education with your partner whether it's the Birth Preparation Course or whatever course you'd go through childbirth education with your partner is so important because that's going to help your partner be a better advocate for you, for sure. And then the final thing I will say, and I feel like I'm going through Nicole's Notes a little bit quickly today.

Nicole: I don't know what that's about, but the final thing I'll say is that Tiffany talked about how having a baby can sort of affect or change the way you think about work. And one of the things you hear a lot about is work-life balance. And I'm here to tell you that work-life balance is a myth. There's no such thing. You can't balance the things and implies like there's a little bit of this and a little bit that there, what you really have to figure out is work-life integration and how to make those things integrate well together so that you feel good about all of the experiences and things that are happening in your life. It is a process. I certainly have not figured it out, but it's not possible, I think to balance it, you just have to do your best to integrate it. All right?

Nicole: So there you have it. Please subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcast or wherever you're listening to me right now helps the show to grow and also leave a review on Apple Podcast, if you're so inclined. I love reading those reviews. I love hearing what you think about the show and it helps other women to find the show as well. Also do me a favor, if you don't mind, I'm trying to learn more about the folks who listen to the podcast. I want to learn more about the folks who listened to the podcast. So if you can go to drnicolerankins.com/survey and fill out a survey for me, I was so appreciated. It's a short survey, lets me know who's listening. And when you enter by November 30th, you will be entered to, or when you complete the survey by November 30th, you will be entered to win one of four $50 Amazon gift cards. So again, this drnicolerankins.com/survey. All right. So that's it for this episode do come on back next week. And until then I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth.