Ep 205: Chelsea’s Birth Story – Being Informed and Advocating for Yourself

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It’s a good thing Chelsea is a lawyer because she had to defend herself all through labor. She did a lot of research and was incredibly prepared for her birth. However, when she asked informed questions her doctors were impatient and annoyed instead of giving her the attention she needed. After her water broke, a doctor literally didn't believe her until she saw the ultrasound to prove it.

As a Black woman, Chelsea’s biggest fear was dying in childbirth. The way her doctors dismissed her concerns is exactly why it is so dangerous to be Black in the maternal healthcare system. Despite being mistreated and nothing going according to plan, she has now gone through counseling and is feeling proud of her birth.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How she prepared for her birth
  • What made her favorite doctor so special
  • How she managed several days of contractions at home
  • How some of her doctors were dismissive of her concerns
  • How long she labored without pain medication before being induced
  • What her attitude was towards pain
  • How she felt rushed into her c-section by her doctor
  • What ultimately convinced Chelsea to opt for a cesarean
  • Why it’s important to think about alternatives to your preferred birth

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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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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Dr.Nicole (00:00): This is a great birth story episode with Chelsea, where she shares how she was really able to advocate for herself during her birth. Welcome to the All about pregnancy and birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OBGYN, 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 in 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.

(00:53): Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 205. Whether you are a new listener or a returning listener, I am so glad that you are spending some of your time with me today. In today's episode of the podcast, we have Chelsea. Chelsea is the first time mom. She and her husband live in Atlanta. They're both born and raised in Georgia. She works as a criminal defense attorney, but in her pre-baby free time, she liked to bake and roller scape. As a black woman, Chelsea's biggest fear was dying in childbirth. I hear that very commonly actually. So she set out to learn all that she could to best support herself in a hospital setting. Now, in the end, nothing went according to plan. However, her birth education allowed her to make hard decisions with confidence and to ask the questions she needed to make the best decisions for her and her baby.

(01:53): She was really forced to surrender control, as she said over her story, and she was able to embrace the cards she was dealt. You are definitely going to enjoy and learn a lot from this conversation with Chelsea. Now, Chelsea is a member of my online childbirth education class. The birth preparation course that was part of what she did in order to get ready to have a baby in the hospital. The birth preparation course is specifically done, designed for folks who plan to give birth in the hospital. It's how you get calm, confident, and empowered to give birth in that setting. It's completely online. You can go through it on your own time, at your own pace. There's also support available in a Facebook community when you have questions or concerns or want to connect with other pregnant mamas or me. So you can check out all the details of the birth preparation course@drnicolerankins.com/enroll. I would love to see you inside the course. All right, let's get into the conversation with Chelsea. Thank you so much, Chelsea, for agreeing to come on to the podcast. I am super excited to talk to you about your birth story today.

Chelsea (03:06): I'm excited to be here.

Dr.Nicole (03:08): Yes. So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?

Chelsea (03:11): So I live in Atlanta with my husband. We got married in 2020 just before everything

Dr.Nicole (03:18): Came down. Okay. Yeah. So you managed to get it in before it got too crazy? Yes.

Chelsea (03:22): Before anybody knew what was up. We got married. So we've been married for about three years. I work as a public defender in DeKalb County, and he is an engineer. So both very overthinkers. Yeah. This was our first was our kid.

Dr.Nicole (03:42): Okay. Okay. All right. And how long have you been in Atlanta?

Chelsea (03:48): I came back to Atlanta from undergrad, so I did my undergrad at Howard, and I came back to Atlanta for law school, and that's when I ended up staying in the city. I gotcha. Grew up just outside the city.

Dr.Nicole (03:59): Okay. Okay. I went to spelling and a and t, but I'm going to give you a pass for going to house. So shout out. Shout out to HBCUs. Shout out to HBCUs. All right. So why don't we start off by telling, by having you tell us what your pregnancy and prenatal care was like. Who did you see for your care? How'd you feel about your care? Did you have any problems or anything?

Chelsea (04:23): So thankfully I had a very smooth pregnancy. I went to a regular obstetrician practice. I didn't do any research into picking them. When I found out I was pregnant, I was pretty shocked. And I asked my best friend who already had a kid and a set of twins, and she was like, oh, I love these people here. And I was like, great, send me the number. Okay. So it's just obstetrician practice. They don't have any midwives or anything like that. Okay. But yeah, no issues, no high blood pressure, no gestational diabetes, nothing. Okay. That was all fine.

Dr.Nicole (04:56): Okay. And did you see multiple different doctors during the practice, or did you just see one particular doctor?

Chelsea (05:04): So I saw multiple different doctors in the practice because basically when you're delivering, they'll be, you get whoever you get out of the practice. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I saw my favorite doctor out of the practice, and I wanted her to deliver my baby. She's the absolute best. But of course, everything else, it didn't go that way.

Dr.Nicole (05:27): Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. But you felt like you were listened to, felt like you were treated well. How did you feel about the care?

Chelsea (05:36): Yeah, it varied. It varied from doctor to doctor, my favorite doctor. I mean, she was head and shoulders above everyone else that I had dealt with. She was, guess

Dr.Nicole (05:45): What made her so good then?

Chelsea (05:46): Yeah, she was personable. She came in the room and she sat down, which is the difference between sitting down and standing up just makes you want to talk more, makes you feel like, wow, really, when you ask this question, you want me to actually think and give you an answer. You're not rushing out the door. She asked me how my baby shower was personal questions that it seemed like you shouldn't even have time to ask me that. Right, right. And somehow she did it, and our appointment still didn't drag on. They weren't like extra long. She took the time to say, yeah, and how is this? And I remember this, and she just made me feel like she really cared about me as a person. And many of the other doctors there were pretty personable too. They did. Just didn't have that same level of connection. And then I did have an experience with one particular doctor where I felt completely, she didn't listen to me. I mean, I know, I guess I can't say, I know she didn't listen to me, but

Dr.Nicole (06:43): No, she ain't listen. I'm just kidding. What happened.

Chelsea (06:49): So I have sister who has a blood condition, and the previous doctor, I told her about it. She said, okay, we need to get you a blood test just to rule it out. So once I went into this visit, I told this doctor who was, this is a different doctor, and I said, Hey, you didn't mention I need to get a blood test for this. And she looked in my chart and she said, oh, yeah, I see in here. They do want you to get tested for that. And I was like, great. And she was like, okay, I'm going to get you this paperwork so you can get your blood drawn. And of course, I'm thinking, I'm getting my blood drawn for the thing I just told you I need to get my blood drawn for. So I go and they take my blood and I come back to my next appointment, and I'm with the doctor that I love, and she's like, okay, we got to go ahead and get your blood drawn for this thing. And I'm like, why? That's what I just did. I did that last time. And she's like, oh, no, that withdraw was for something else. It was for this more routine test. Oh, I was very annoyed. Okay. I'm right here with the people taking the blood. Why wouldn't you send both? Right,

Dr.Nicole (07:50): Right, right. Okay. Well, maybe I take it back. Maybe she did just make a mistake and didn't, hard to know, because sometimes it's somebody else checking off the forms and whatnot. But this is one of the things that I'd love to hear about people's stories, because these are things that we don't recognize on our side that we need to pay attention to these little details, because that's annoying. Oh, yeah. That you have to get your blood drawn twice. Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. For sure. So I'm definitely glad you shared that, but I'm also glad that you never felt like overtly disrespected or anything

Chelsea (08:22): Like that. No, no, no. Yeah. Okay.

Dr.Nicole (08:23): Thankfully. Okay. Okay. Good. Good, good, good. So what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Chelsea (08:30): What didn't I do is a shorter list.

Dr.Nicole (08:34): Okay. All right. Let's get

Chelsea (08:35): It all. So I took your birth course. I listened to probably 80%, and that's being conservative, right? Of your podcast episodes.

Dr.Nicole (08:46): Oh my gosh.

Chelsea (08:48): And I listened to various other podcasts and YouTube episodes. Hypnobirthing.

Dr.Nicole (08:55): Okay. Oh, do you remember which ones? I'll always like to share other stuff with people, if you remember any names.

Chelsea (09:00): Yeah. The podcast for Hypnobirthing. Let's see. It was, I think this woman, she's in Australia or something.

Dr.Nicole (09:08): Oh, I think I know what you're talking about.

Chelsea (09:11): Hypno. What? Okay. Hypno what? Okay. Podcast. And I took the birth planning course as well, and I did the date smoothies and the raspberry tea. And the peroneal massages. And I went to a pelvic floor physical therapist. Oh, wow. Chiropractor.

Dr.Nicole (09:34): You okay. You weren't lying when you said, what did I not do? Okay. So did you find the pelvic physical floor therapist helpful?

Chelsea (09:44): Absolutely. Okay. Absolutely. She was great. She was such a, a sweet woman. I thought she was just going to say, here's how you do the perineal massage. And really, I only went to establish care. Sure. So that afterwards when I thought I would need her, right. I could just more easily go. Right. But she was like, here's how you can push. Let me teach you how to breathe. Let me show you what's effective when you're breathing and what's not effective, and show you where you'll feel it. And Right. I was like, wow, I didn't expect this. And she sent me home with a lot of information.

Dr.Nicole (10:17): Nice. How did you find her?

Chelsea (10:19): My favorite doctor recommended her. Okay.

Dr.Nicole (10:22): See, this is what, when we work well together, you give people the resources that they need. Okay. Yes.

Chelsea (10:28): And she made that recommendation without me asking.

Dr.Nicole (10:30): Nice. See, I love this. Yeah. Listen, you need to shout out this doctor. What is her name?

Chelsea (10:37): Let me make sure I don't get her name. You can along, because it's, it's a long name. Her last name is Dr. McConn, but her first name is Citra. Okay. S I T R A. Citra.

Dr.Nicole (10:49): Okay. All right. I love it. I love it. And then what about the chiropractor? How did you feel about going to a chiropractor?

Chelsea (10:54): I was scared. I had never done chiropractic care before. I got the vibes from my doctors that they were like, go to this physical therapist instead. It was a little bit like, I don't know about that, but my best friend, she really swore by it, her pregnancy and my experience was great. Thankfully, I feel like God was like, I know you're scared and you're skeptical. Right. Because as soon as I got in there, she was working on a pregnant woman.

Dr.Nicole (11:22): See?

Chelsea (11:24): And so I interrogated her while she was getting adjusted. I was like, and how long have you been coming? And how do you like it?

Dr.Nicole (11:32): That was that attorney in you? Absolutely.

Chelsea (11:35): Absolutely. That's like, okay, I guess I'm going to live. We're you

Dr.Nicole (11:38): Okay? Right. Right. And then did your insurance cover both of these

Chelsea (11:42): One and not the other? Okay. It did cover a good bit of the chiropractic visit, but not the physical therapist was not in network.

Dr.Nicole (11:51): Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. All right. So it's not that they don't cover physical therapy, it just didn't happen to be in network.

Chelsea (12:00): Okay. Correct. Okay. Which, it sucked because I had already fallen in love with the doctor, and then I was like, well, now I'm just going to have to pay because I don't know who I'm going to find somewhere else.

Dr.Nicole (12:09): Right, right, right, right. Yeah, that can be tricky. Insurance is Insurance is insurance. Okay. So you did chiropractor, pelvic physical therapist. Did you read any books or anything?

Chelsea (12:19): No, I did not read any books. Okay. Anything I could do passively, basically. Gotcha. Listening, love it. Yeah. Watching those kinds of

Dr.Nicole (12:29): Things. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you did all of the things. Did you feel ready going into the experience

Chelsea (12:35): More than Ready? Okay. I was like testing my husband. I was quizzing him. I was like, okay, what's a negative one? 40%? Three? What does that mean?

Dr.Nicole (12:48): You were like, we going be ready to we. Everything that comes our way, we are going to know. Yes. Yes. All right. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth?

Chelsea (12:57): I wanted to have an unmedicated vaginal delivery. I just wanted to be short. Not necessarily short, but I just wanted to be simple and smooth and no complications. That's what I was hoping for. Okay.

Dr.Nicole (13:12): Okay. All right. And then I guess things like skin to skin contact, like corky. Oh, yeah. Female people wanted those things. Yeah. And did you talk about some of the things that you wanted with your practice? I

Chelsea (13:25): Did. So I researched the hospital that I was going to be delivering at, and found that they actually had a birth plan form. And so that gave me a lot of confidence that this is something they're familiar with and that they actually will pay attention to. Sure. So I filled that out and it addressed a lot of the things that needed to be addressed. Nice. And I gave that to my doctor and said, what does it look like to you? There are a couple things. I was like, I don't know what this is Like. Yeah. Crazy question on there. What's your pain preference? What is a pain preference? I prefer no pain.

Dr.Nicole (13:59): I don't know what that is.

Chelsea (14:02): So I asked her about the things on there that didn't make sense, and we kind of talked through it. I will say in hindsight, I wish I would, I guess, gotten more clarity about basically their policy on how long they'll let you go past your due date. Because at once we got close to my due date, we were on two different pages, and I was like, I saw this. And they were like, oh, absolutely not. We only do this. So that was a little bit scary, but it didn't end up being relevant.

Dr.Nicole (14:33): Gotcha. Gotcha. So I guess, where were you and where were they?

Chelsea (14:37): It's hard to remember now. I think I wanted to go to at least 42 weeks. And they were, don't like to have people go a day over 41.

Dr.Nicole (14:47): And that's not uncommon for folks to it. Well, first off, it's unusual to get to 42 weeks period. Most people aren't going to get there. But I think it's not uncommon. Actually, some practice will practices will say earlier than that, they start pushing for induction at 40 weeks even. So did they seem at least open to the conversation, or was it kind of like, no, just this is

Chelsea (15:09): Not, yeah.

Dr.Nicole (15:09): No, it was just,

Chelsea (15:10): Sorry for the miscommunication, but this is what we do. I was like, well, we don't have, in my head, right. In my head, I was like, we don't have to have this argument. Right. Because we'll argue when time comes. Okay. And when the time comes, that's when I'll expend my energies. Okay.

Dr.Nicole (15:26): Righty. No, I listen. You were ready. All right. And this is, sometimes you have to decide while you're ready to, if you feel like you need to argue about something, argue about something. If not, if not, I love that you were going through that thought process and you were prepared. Love that. Love that. So then what happened with your labor and birth?

Chelsea (15:47): And I listened to so many birth stories for this very reason. I didn't want anything to come up that I'd never heard of before. Right. I wanted to hear the extremes, the normals and everything in between. And still my experience was something I'd never heard of

Dr.Nicole (16:03): You. If listening to the podcast, I say it all the time, that birth is such an unpredictable process. I wish we could predict predicted, but it is so unpredictable. So what happened in your

Chelsea (16:14): Case? So I was due on a Tuesday and the week before, I had an appointment on that Friday. And I hadn't had any symptoms of labor. Nothing. No. I didn't lose my mucus plug or have any contractions or anything. Nothing was happening. So I was a little worried, but I was like, okay, we'll see. We still have some days. Sunday I started having contractions,

(16:38): And I was like, okay, I think this is, we're moving somewhere. Right. They were mild. They were not very strong. They were pretty far apart, but they were consistent throughout the day. So I was like, okay, we're probably looking at something on Monday, or maybe my due date on Tuesday. Monday rolls around and towards the evening, the contractions got stronger. They got closer together. I'm using my contraction timer. My mom showed up randomly. I was like, what are you doing here? And I was like, oh, this is just serendipitous for going to the hospital. I'm having a baby. And then they spaced out and I was like, Aw. I was really disappointed. Right, right. But I was like, you know what? Tomorrow's my due date and maybe we're going to have a due date, baby. My husband predicted we'd have a due date, baby. So this was practice.

(17:30): Right. Staying positive. I'm still holding on to hope. So then Tuesday comes along and it is identical to Monday contractions all day. They pick up at night, stronger close together, and then they space out. And I was in the midst of all this. I'm doing all the labor things. I'm resting, I'm walking, I'm curb walking, I'm bouncing on the ball. I'm doing different positions. I'm sitting up laying down anything I had ever heard of that that can helps me. Things along, yes, I'm doing it right. And try not to drive myself crazy, but I was, so then Wednesday came and it started to feel the same as Monday and Tuesday. And I had mind you been contracting every single night as well. And they never just completely stopped. So I was like, I'm sick of sleeping or trying to sleep. Sure. While having contractions. Sure.

(18:26): For the past three nights. So Wednesday I called my doctor and I was like, what's up? When is this right? I've never heard of this happening to anyone before. Why is this happening to me? And she was like, come on in, let's check you out and see maybe what's going on. So they hooked me up to the monitor, and they find that I'm actually contracting every two to four minutes, and my cervix was at a two. Okay. And so she's like, you're contracting a lot, but you're not making any progress, so you're not in active labor, so we're going to go ahead and send you home. And if your water breaks come back, if you go into active labor, labor, come back. And I'm like, okay. So Wednesday night into Thursday morning, I'm still contracting. And then I have a big contraction in my water breaks.

(19:17): And so I'm like, all right, here it is. We're going into the hospital. Right. Day two. So we went in. Oh, and when your water broke, was it pretty obvious? It was Every story I ever heard of water rate. Okay. It was warm. Okay. A gush of water, a whole puddle on my bed. Gotcha. Dripping across the floor. Gotcha. It was very obvious. Yeah. Yeah. I wiped some of it up off the floor. Just took a picture of it just so that I could accurately describe to them what this fluid looks like. So I get to the hospital and it took a minute, so maybe my water broke at seven. We didn't get to the hospital until 10. Sure. Or so, I finally get into my room and the nurse does the test to see if it's amniotic fluid to confirm. And both test tests come back negative. And I'm like, okay, but my water broke. Right. I don't know about the test.

(20:12): I know what I know, but I know what happened. Okay. Right. I don't know them. Your test might be old. I don't know what to tell you before my water broke. Right. And so the doctor who I felt like didn't listen to me that last time before that doctor, that's who I had that morning, or, yeah, it was the morning by that point. And she was like, well, your test came back negative so your water didn't break. And I was like, but it did okay. And she's like, it didn't. Right. And so we back and

Speaker 3 (20:40): Forth forth.

Chelsea (20:43): So she doesn't listen. Cause did she even ask

Dr.Nicole (20:46): You what happened or?

Chelsea (20:48): No, but I described it to her several times and, and I said, well, if that was not my water breaking, tell me what physical phenomenon for a person who is now two days past her due date, what physical phenomenon you think that was. Right. Right. Just help

Dr.Nicole (21:02): Me understand.

Chelsea (21:03): And she was like, well, the test came back negative, so it couldn't have been your water. And okay girl. And she's like, so we're going to go ahead and discharge you and come back if your water breaks. I mean it, it felt very like, I don't care what you say, the Tess's negative, you're wrong. Did

Dr.Nicole (21:19): She offer to do an exam and look and see if your water broke or anything like that?

Chelsea (21:26): I think she did try to see if she could feel the sack. I can't remember what she ultimately said, but whatever it was that didn't convince her that my water had broken. And I was like, okay, well, who told me to come in if my water broke? Right. So if you're sending me home, but there was a reason you wanted me here, I'm hoping there's no issue with me going home. Right. Because it did. Right,

Dr.Nicole (21:53): Right, right.

Chelsea (21:55): And she was like, well, we don't have to talk about that because your water didn't break. And I was like, okay. So I'm putting my clothes on. And I'm like, whatever. I mean, I, I've said all I could say, there's nothing else I can say at this point. She's charging me. So I guess we're going home. I got all my clothes back on. About 15 minutes later, she comes in and says, I'm actually going to send you down to get a ultrasound so we can see how much fluid you have. Make sure the baby has enough fluid just in case you have a slow leak, not just in case your water broke, but just in case you have a slow leak. And I'm like,

Dr.Nicole (22:25): Okay.

Chelsea (22:27): So it takes six hours for me to get in for the ultrasound, six, six hours. And my contractions pick up. They're getting stronger. And so I'm kind of like, you know what? Maybe this is all by design and we're going to have this baby anyways

Dr.Nicole (22:44): Regardless. And were you continuing to leak fluids?

Chelsea (22:47): No. And ultimately, that's why the thing had come back negative. So what they found when they did the ultrasound was that I barely had any fluid left. So it was loose. It was all gone. So that's why the Tesla was coming back negative. And I had changed two pads. And I told her that too. I had changed two pads of fluid from the house to the hospital, so that there was just nothing more for it to test, I

Dr.Nicole (23:12): Guess.

Chelsea (23:14): And so then I'll go back to the room and then wait for her to come and tell me the results that they also told me. And she's like, so they're saying you have really low fluid, so we're going to assume rupture of membranes. And I'm

Dr.Nicole (23:29): Like, why? I told you. Yeah. I'm like,

Chelsea (23:32): Why? You can't just say you were right. I'm sorry. Even if you're not sorry, you made me feel crazy. Right. You suggested maybe it was urine, maybe it was a discharge. But I'm like, that doesn't, okay. So it kind of already started off on a bad foot there. But

(23:53): Then the very next thing they did was suggest that I get induced and I was induced. I don't need to be induced. It hasn't even been 24 hours and my water broke. I know I'm at risk for infection once the water breaks, but it ain't even been 24 hours, so we're rushing, blah, blah, blah. And they were like, well, you've been contracting since Sunday and you're not making any progress. So what are the chances that that's going to change in 24 hours? And that pretty much convinced me. And I was like, yeah, this is pretty a sustained pattern of my own contractions not being sufficient. So I guess that was a pretty heartbreaking point for me. Cause I felt like, God, I didn't want any interventions. I definitely didn't want Pitocin because I thought, if I get Pitocin, it's probably going to be too much to handle, then I'm going to want to epidural. Sure. If I get an epidural, then we just roll and roll. So I said, okay, they were going to do a Aer

Dr.Nicole (24:56): Cervidil

Chelsea (24:56): Is what they were going to do. And I was like, okay, that sounds like a step down from Pitocin. They were like, but we have to monitor your contractions first because you have to have a certain amount of space between your contractions for us to deem it safe for you to have this medication. So I was like, okay. And they were ultimately, no, your contractions are too close together and we can't give you this medication and we have to give you Pitocin. And I was like, okay. So cried over that. But were

Dr.Nicole (25:27): You feeling the contractions?

Chelsea (25:29): Not all of them. Okay. Not all of them. Just some of them. Okay. So they started me on the Pitocin. They updated every 30 minutes. And I ended up being on the Pitocin from Thursday. This was now early evening. Cause it took six hours from 10 or 11 for me to get the bang. So it's like early evening Thursday through all of Friday.

Dr.Nicole (25:52): Okay. All okay. Yeah. Okay.

Chelsea (25:56): So early Friday evening. Now, this was my third doctor and she was clocking off and she was like, you're doing good. I think I had progressed to, I want to say four or five centimeters. She was like, you're making progress, but we have to turn the Pitocin off. And I was like, why? She's saying your contractions are too strong and they're too close together. And we're concerned about the baby's wellbeing. His heart rate had not dipped or anything like that, but they were just seeing that my contractions were consistently strong and consistently close together.

Dr.Nicole (26:35): Okay. And did you have an epidural at all?

Chelsea (26:38): No.

Dr.Nicole (26:39): Okay. So all this time, so almost so 24 hours? Yes. Was it okay?

Chelsea (26:45): Yes. Okay. Yeah. I was doing all the things. I had a hour long, what is that thing called? Affirmations tape. So I would listen to that. And then once that was over, I would listen to music for an hour or two. I danced around. I swayed with my husband. Sure. I bounced on the ball. I used the peanut ball. I just never stopped moving. Right.

Dr.Nicole (27:08): Did you rest, rest at all?

Chelsea (27:11): No.

Dr.Nicole (27:13): I'm at out here asking dumb questions apparently, but I just

Chelsea (27:18): Couldn't. Right. No, they were coming. They're coming. Right. All the time. I mean, part of what helped me to continue using my tools and pushing through was that pain equals progress. Pain equals progress. We're going to have a baby here. So it's, it's got to be painful. It ain't going to be always, so let's just, whatever. The more pain, the better. Because I've been going through three or four days of mild pain consistently that didn't get me anywhere. So if we got to go through a day or two of intense pain to get us somewhere, I, I'll do it. Okay. So that was kind of my head space.

Dr.Nicole (28:04): Gotcha. Gotcha.

Chelsea (28:05): Very, I can be very headstrong and determined in what I want.

Dr.Nicole (28:10): So

Chelsea (28:12): They were like, are you okay? Because we're watching the monitor and these contractions are crazy. Right, right. I was like, I wasn't really answering because I You were breathing.

Dr.Nicole (28:21): Sure. Yes. I

Chelsea (28:23): Was like, yes, I'm here. Yes.

Dr.Nicole (28:25): Oh my goodness. Okay. So Friday night, you said the doctor was going off. She said things, you were making progress, but they had to turn off the Pitocin. And then what happened from there? So

Chelsea (28:36): She said, turning it off, make me lose any progress. And they'll just start cranking it back up from the bottom again and hopefully find the sweet spot. That's what they call the sweet spot spot for me. And I was like, okay, well, let me just embrace this period of rest. This will be the first time in the day that I'm not contracting, or really in days that I'm not contracting. So I took that to rest, and I think I took a little nap. And then the next doctor came in on her shift and she sat on the couch. None of the other doctors sat on the couch. So I'm looking at her, what you doing? Why you sitting down?

Dr.Nicole (29:17): And when did she come in?

Chelsea (29:19): She came in the night shift.

Dr.Nicole (29:22): Okay. That's right. Okay. Yeah.

Chelsea (29:24): This is maybe 10 o'clock. Okay. No, maybe nine o'clock.

Dr.Nicole (29:28): Okay.

Chelsea (29:28): Okay. About nine o'clock. Okay. And she's like, Hey, Chelsea, how's it going? Blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, get to the point because you're sitting down. What is it?

Dr.Nicole (29:37): Let me tell you something. I'm going to be like, let me be on

Dr.Nicole (29:41): When I come in your room because you go,

Chelsea (29:44): I mean, I didn't say that to her. I know what you mean. That's what my demeanor is like. Okay, I know where you're going somewhere. Yes. So she's honestly, I think we need to start talking about a C-section. And I'm like, why is that? And she says, it's now been over 24 hours that your water broke. You've been on OSA for over 24 hours. We should be further along than we are. We don't know how long it's going to take. Da da. And then she says, this was new information to me. And with having a big baby, even if you do go through with vaginal delivery, you risk things like shoulder dystocia. And I'm like, wait a minute. What big baby? What are you talking about? Right. And she was like, oh, they didn't tell you they think that your baby's going to be nine pounds in three ounces.

(30:30): And I was like, no, they didn't tell me that. And she was like, oh yeah, he's going to be a big baby. I didn't know the gender. She just called it, called my baby a heat. He did turn out to be a heat. And I was like, well, from all my podcast and research knowledge, I was like, well, these estimations are not always accurate, and that's not something I want to base my decision to have a C-section on solely. And she's like, okay, well, they can be wrong in either direction. He could be bigger than that. And I'm like, okay. She was feisty. She was feisty. And so she's basically kind of breaking it to me why she thinks I should consider having a C-section. And I'm really, this has got me a little up in arms. I'm like, oh my gosh. Okay. So what do we need to do?

(31:17): And I'm like, I started negotiating with her. Okay, so how much time you going to give me? How more time can you give me before you need to make this decision? And she's like, well, if you want to keep going on the Pitocin, we can do another hour or two. I was like, give me three. Let's go to midnight. And she's like, okay, let's do midnight. I'll be back and we'll see what your progress is like. So when the last doctor left, she checked me and I was 80% aas in a negative one station. And I want to say four centimeters. Okay. Dilated. Okay. This doctor comes back at midnight. Oh, I forgot. I forgot part. Okay, back up. No, she also suggested that I get an epidural to potentially relax my pelvis so that maybe I can make more progress. And I was like, well, I've never heard of that before.

(32:11): And she was like, well, it works for some people, not all people, but it's something you could try. And I was like, okay. And we were ready to try anything because we felt like we were at the end of our rope and our options were getting limited. So they had the person come in to do the epidural. They came pretty quickly. We didn't really have to wait very long. And as soon as they did the injection, the anesthesiologist was like, you're going to fill a small pinch. And that was a whole lie. It felt like I got stung by three bees and then my back was burning. And on top of that, emotionally, I'm feeling more defeated. Sure. Because I'm like, I'm on Pitocin. Sure. Now I'm about to get epidural. This is literally the story of everything I didn't want. And I just broke down and I was boohoo crying and my mom's holding me.

(33:06): The nurse is holding me because I need to be still. Right. Right. But it's not that I didn't care about being still, my emotions completely overcame me. And I felt out of control, completely out of control at that point. Right. So I laid back in the bed and the epidural was taking effect. And I'm thinking of all the stories about the people who were like, it only worked in my left leg. It only halfway took. And so I'm like, this ain't better work. Better work. At least. At least give me that. Yeah. So I barely gave it five minutes before. I was like, I don't know. I feel my ankle. I don't know.

(33:54): I don't know about this. And they were like, just give it some more time. We know. Give us some more time. Right. Ultimately, it was perfect. Okay. I had no complaints. Ultimately, I was over overthinking at all. Gotcha. So I'm laying in the bed, can't feel anything from the waist down. I can't move. I'm feeling completely powerless and defeated and trying to wrap my mind around, well, there's maybe still hope. Maybe still hope. Right. Doctor comes in, she checks me, and she says, you're like a seven. And I'm like, okay. Okay. Seven. Then she says, I'm going to call that a six. And I was like, oh, okay. Okay. That's something we get somewhere. And then she said, but you're only 40% aas and you're at a one. And I said, hold up babies. Don't go backwards. I was like, that's not what the last doctor said. And I told her the last reading, and she said, I don't agree with the last doctor. Okay. And where does that leave me? I can't be like, right. Well bring me a third doctor. Right.

(35:01): I was like, okay. All right. So she basically was like, this isn't enough progress. And she just more strongly suggested a C-section at that point. And so I asked her to walk me through her thought process of what the other options could have been, and what about this, what about that? And what if we do this and what's your concern there? And she was annoyed with me asking these questions. And ultimately she said, there comes a time when you need to just trust your medical team. I've been doing this for X number of years. And I was like, ho, hold up. I'm trying to understand what's going on. I want to be educated. I want to be able to make this decision and feel good about it. This is my body. And she was basically just like, you need to trust me. And I was like, what I wanted to say was, girl, I don't know. That's what

Dr.Nicole (35:55): I'm saying. Trust you. Right. Why should I trust you?

Chelsea (36:00): But I was trying to hedge because I thought, obviously there's a big chance that I do have a C-section and she's going to have a knife to me, so let me

Dr.Nicole (36:09): Try

Chelsea (36:09): To hedge a little bit. I can't really check her. She was like, so what do you want to do? And I was like, I need to talk to my husband about this. We need to discuss it and then make a decision. And she was like, well, I'm not going to be here all night, you know, don't have all night to make this decision. And I'm like, I deserve an opportunity to think about this decision and make an informed choice. I literally had to say that. It was like I had to put on my lawyer hat and defend myself.

Dr.Nicole (36:39): And what did she say in response to that?

Chelsea (36:41): She said, okay, tell your nurse. And she walked out. She was visibly annoyed with me. And I was just like, I'm the one laying in the hospital bed with the IV in my arm and been dragging around this pole all day and 17 machines over here beeping in my ear. And you got attitude with me.

Dr.Nicole (36:59): Right.

Chelsea (37:05): I couldn't even address that because I was going through so much.

Dr.Nicole (37:09): Sure.

Chelsea (37:12): I, I just had to, okay, whatever. That's for another day. So process. Cause I can't even get through the reality of where we are right now. So we ultimately decided to have the C-section. Okay. The biggest determining factor was that my husband had been watching the baby's heart monitor machine, and he himself noticed a significant D cell and it was to 60.

Dr.Nicole (37:39): Okay.

Chelsea (37:40): And it was the only one, but it was significant. And so we didn't want to chance that. And so it was like, okay, let's do this. And it was

Dr.Nicole (37:53): Tough with that doctor with the one who was annoyed. That was the one who did the C-section.

Chelsea (38:00): Yes.

Dr.Nicole (38:01): H I mean, how did that make you feel?

Chelsea (38:04): I think by the time we made the decision to do the C-section, I kind of suppressed my emotions and dealt only with my rational brain. Okay. Because I reasoned that this woman sounds pretty arrogant and she speaks about C-sections very flippantly and arrogantly. And so I said, she must be good at them. She must feel like this is an easy Okay. Whatever surgery, while emotionally it was not fair for her. Sure. Say it so flippantly or even treat it, it, it was a major surgery, but I reason that if she feels, so at one point she was like, it's just 30 minutes and we'll be done. If she can talk about it that way, she probably really is just going to get in and get out and move on. She's probably going to be good. So that helped me to be at peace with her. Sure. Being my surgeon.

Dr.Nicole (39:01): Did she change her demeanor at all?

Chelsea (39:04): Not really. I mean, she didn't continue to be mean, but she didn't make amends for how she treated me. She was just like, okay, it's going to be fine. You're going to be fine. That was like it. But the C-section went really well. I was surprisingly joyful to be in there about to have surgery because I was like, somebody going to get this baby.

Dr.Nicole (39:31): Right.

Chelsea (39:35): I can't do this no more. Somebody go get this baby out.

Dr.Nicole (39:40): Right. And how much did he weigh?

Chelsea (39:43): Nine pounds and five ounces.

Dr.Nicole (39:46): Okay. All right. So the ultrasound actually was accurate. That doesn't mean you couldn't have pushed him out, but yeah, the ultrasound actually was accurate.

Chelsea (39:54): She made sure to come back. I was scared to say, so I was in the recovery room to say, Al, did you see that he was nine pounds and five ounces. Right. So I guess they were right. And I was just like, really?

Dr.Nicole (40:06): Yeah. Really. He was like, you really want me to come out of my name right now? I know.

Chelsea (40:12): I'm like, catch me after recovery. Okay. How about that? Say that to me after, yes. After I walk again. Yes.

Dr.Nicole (40:19): Yes. Oh my goodness. Did it, do you think it would've made you feel better if at any point people, did anybody ever acknowledge, I know this isn't the way that you wanted things to go. Did anybody ever acknowledge that? Do you think that would've made a difference?

Chelsea (40:38): There were one or two nurses, I would say I had, so I had four or five different nurses. I'd say at least three out of five of my nurses were superb of above, beyond super kind, helpful, personable. It felt like they cared about me as a person, and they were the ones who had those conversations with me, but you're going to be okay. And I, this is hard and that sort of thing. But the nurse, the final nurse I had, she was very sweet, but she was mostly trying to do her job correctly. And I don't know if it's because she was fairly new or if that was just her personality time. Sure, sure. Because she tried to tell me I couldn't eat, and I was like, oh, okay. Okay, I'll go keep eating. I was like, do you know how long I've been here? Right.

Dr.Nicole (41:36): Did you read the trial? Right, right, right.

Chelsea (41:38): You're crazy. But she didn't say anything harmful. I think she just kind of was more so trying to do her job, but wasn't really empathizing. Gotcha. She wasn't really in the moment.

Dr.Nicole (41:49): Right. So then what was the recovery from your C-section?

Chelsea (41:57): I should have listened to more C-section stories. It was shocking. I recovered well and quickly, but that thing is serious. It's a major surgery. I had to have somebody walk me to the bathroom the first time that I was able to stand up. And the first time that I used the bathroom, this incredible nurse was there and she was like, do you want me to help you wipe? Do you want me to spray you down? Right. And I'm like, yeah, because girl, I'm just Right,

Dr.Nicole (42:26): Right.

Chelsea (42:27): I'm through. In hindsight, I was up and walking and moving and I healed very well. I had no complications or anything like that, and everything went very smoothly. But during it and not knowing what to expect whatsoever, it was very jarring to be so incapacitated.

Dr.Nicole (42:47): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then what about breastfeeding? How was that?

Chelsea (42:53): It was rough.

Dr.Nicole (42:56): It's a labor of love as I have so often called

Chelsea (42:59): It. Oh, Lords, they gave him to me right after they stitched me up for him to feed. And he did, he latched Okay. Very strong suck. And we were able to breastfeed the whole time we were in the hospital. And I had great lactation consultants coming in and assisting us. But I don't know what was going on with the mechanics of his mouth, because on the outside his latch looked fine. But he was tearing me up. And that continued once I got home and I ended up stopping to pump. Okay. Exclusively. Okay. So I've been exclusively pumping, but now he's a big, big boy. He's like 13 pounds and oh my goodness. He latches and breastfeeding is a lot smoother. Well,

Dr.Nicole (43:48): Good, good, good. So how do you feel about everything?

Chelsea (43:57): Definitely had time to process it more, and I feel grateful to have survived and healed as well as I did, and not had any complications post up or during. I feel very grateful that he was very healthy. He wasn't a jaundice, he didn't have anything, any reason they needed to treat him any other way than just giving him his vaccination and Sure. Sending him out. So I feel really, really grateful that ultimately my bottom line was met.

(44:36): I did have a moment after I got home, I had a fever and my biggest fear, I told my doctor my biggest fear because this was on my birth plan sheet, and asked, what's your biggest fear? And I said, oh, my biggest fear is tearing. The truth is my biggest fear was dying. But that felt silly to write, and I didn't want to have to discuss that with anyone. So I didn't say anything to anyone about that. But in hindsight, I probably should have because it was kind of a encompassing fear. So when I had a fever, I immediately thought the, okay,

Dr.Nicole (45:10): Okay. I thought, and especially as the black woman, your worth,

Chelsea (45:13): This is an infection. It didn't go well. I knew I wasn't out of the woods. I'm going to leave my husband alone with the baby. And I mean, my mind went all the way there, and thankfully it was just caused by my milk coming in. Okay. It was literally nothing. It lasted no time. But that just showed me how much I had held onto that fear. Sure. Thankfully, now I've had a couple counseling sessions and had time to process and more sleep.

Dr.Nicole (45:46): That's

Chelsea (45:47): The thing. Not sleeping and trying to process something that big is bad combination. But now I'm really, really grateful to have him and I have more respect for what it means to have a C-section. And I don't feel like I didn't give birth, of course, birth because initially birth, birth, I felt like I had surgery and I took home a baby, but I didn't give birth.

Dr.Nicole (46:12): Okay. Right. Right.

Chelsea (46:15): So it was a lot to work through. I'm sure still some things to work through.

Dr.Nicole (46:19): Yeah, it's, it is then, I mean, it's a little heartbreaking for me to, because I just feel like we can do a better job of helping people when things aren't going exactly as anticipated. If she had sat down and had a nicer conversation and said, how much time do you need? Do you know baby's not in distress right now, so we don't have to decide right away, let me step out while you talk to your husband about things. I want you to feel comfortable with this. I don't want, all of those things can make such a big difference in how you perceive the experience, and it doesn't take much more to do. So that part, I'm sorry that you had to experience that. And if you know, catch that doctor on the street, you may have someone, but so, because it just doesn't have to be that way. Yeah. There's no reason for it to be that way. No. Yeah. There's no reason for it to be that way. So then I guess as we wrap up, what is your one piece of advice that you would to folks who are getting ready to have a baby?

Chelsea (47:32): So I really put some thought into this, and I'm going to try to phrase it in a way that doesn't, not confusing, but I would say have your vision. Have your dream of what your perfect and preferred birth is. Put your energies towards whatever it takes to get you there without driving yourself crazy, without take care of yourself, but do what you can within your power to have that kind of outcome that you hope for. Sure. But also put mental energy and serious consideration behind what your best alternative to your preferred birth is. And in negotiations, they call it your batna, your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. What are you okay with walking away with if you don't get what you want? And I feel like across the board, pretty much for every mother, it's the same. You know, going home alive with a healthy baby that is every mother pretty much is bottom line

Dr.Nicole (48:38): At 1%.

Chelsea (48:38): And I think I would just say half faith that what you hope to happen will happen, but put serious consideration behind if all goes left, I really want to go home with a healthy baby and I will be proud of myself and thankful and grateful and just the glorious mother that I always hope to be. And sure. That can't be taken away from me if these boxes are not checked.

Dr.Nicole (49:12): Absolutely. And you did literally everything you could possibly have done, you couldn't have done anymore.

Dr.Nicole (49:18): So

Dr.Nicole (49:20): You took control of all of the things that you could control. Yeah, 100%. So, well, thank you so much, Chelsea, for agreeing to come and share your story. It was such a delight to talk to you. I would love to take care of you for your next baby. Thank

Chelsea (49:38): You for having me. You taught me so much and I'm so grateful for the work that you do and just how you really put your heart behind this work. Well done, well executed, and the sincerity is there. Oh,

Dr.Nicole (49:52): Well, thank you, thank you, thank you.

(50:00): Once we had a great conversation. I really enjoyed talking to Chelsea, and I'm so glad that she came and shared her story today. I know we all learned a lot. Now, after every episode when I have a guest on, I do something called Dr. Nicole's notes where I talk about my top takeaways from the conversation. Here are my Dr. Nicole's notes for my conversation with Chelsea. One of the things she mentioned in the beginning of the episode was finding a doctor and how she found who was a recommendation from a friend. Well, if you need some more tips and advice on how to find the right OB doctor for you, then check out episode one 50 of the podcast where I go through nine. I think it's nine tips to help you find the best OB doctor for you. Definitely connection is important. Asking friends or family members is also important, but you can get all that information in episode one 50. It's dr nicole rankins.com/episode one 50.

(50:54): The second point I want to make is I think we shared this off of the microphone. The person who actually did her birth was part of a different practice. So the practice that she was with shared call with another practice, and they made that clear. It wasn't like it was a secret. So she knew that it was a potential that she could get somebody during her birth who she had never actually met because that person was a different practice from a different practice. And I say all that to say that because it is really unpredictable who you are going to get for your birth these days. Practices share a call or groups share a call. And a lot of that is to, for a couple reasons. One, it's actually safer because your doctor can't, or a doctor should not be on call all of the time, available all the time for all of their patients.

(51:48): They just can't do that. It's not safe to be awake that many hours, those kinds of things. So number one is safety, that we have scheduled call pools and then also for work life balance. We have lives too. We have things that we want to do outside of work. So having a predictable or more predictable schedule helps to facilitate that. So it's quite likely that you will not have the doctor who's taking care of you during your pregnancy, who's there for your birth. And I say all that to say is that it makes it even more critical that you educate yourself. All right. So that you can come to that conversation ready with the knowledge and information that you need to advocate for yourself if need be. And some of the things I talk about inside of the birth preparation course or in my birth plan class as well, is how to navigate that when you don't know exactly who will be there for your birth.

(52:45): All right, so important, educate yourself. You can check out the birth preparation course@drnicolerankins.com slash enroll. All right. Number three is decide what you are going to fight for and be ready. Chelsea talked about how for induction, she was like, I know what I know and I know what I want to do. And so you have to decide about the things that are really important to you and then be ready to advocate for that. Now, do so from a place of being informed about the benefits and risk of your specific choices or options. So you shouldn't be going in there guns blazing. I don't want to be induced under any circumstances because I want things to happen naturally. But if there's a problem with your pregnancy, if there's a concern about the way the baby is growing, then you need to be open to the potential of induction.

(53:41): So I say all that to say, go in there, be ready to fight for what you're ready to fight for, but do so from a place of being informed. Chelsea knew that her pregnancy was healthy. She knew that induction does not improve outcomes for babies that are suspected to be big. So know your information, because honestly, not all doctors practice evidence-based information. One of the things that I say, I would be delighted to not have to do this work anymore. If folks would just share accurate information, then I wouldn't need to be here. So now all doctors will provide evidence-based information. So decide what you're ready to fight for and or decide what you want to fight for, what's important to you and be ready. Some things may not be that big of a deal. Maybe you want to be induced, maybe you're tired of being pregnant.

(54:27): Nothing wrong with that either. There's not a right or wrong in these particular situations. The important thing is to have the information so that you can make choices from a place of being informed, not from a place of fear or co coercion or anything like that. Okay. And then the last thing that I'm going to say is that as old black folks will say, I was hot as fish grease about the way she was treated by the doctor around having a cesarean birth. We really should help people feel good about the decisions that they are making. We should not be coming across as being annoyed because someone isn't coming to a decision at a time or place that is convenient for us or that is interrupting our day. It was also really petty for her to go back and say something about the baby's wait super petty and really unnecessary.

(55:28): I think so much of what we do in terms of taking care of folks and not serving them the right way is not about, some people think it's about like, oh, you're pushing C-section. You're pushing C-section, and people are actually okay with different options as long as you explain things to them. As long as you share your rationale, as long as you are open, as long as you are honest, I have not found that anyone pushes back or thinks that I'm trying to have a separate agenda when I come from a place of presenting that I'm giving you the options and the things that I think are the best recommendations. And I'm not doing this based on anything that serves me. When you do it from a place of serving the patient first and making them feel good about the situation, then things turned out well.

(56:21): So I was really, really upset and frustrated about the way that her doctor treated her. That should not be the case at any point for anyone. All right. So there you have it. Be sure to share this podcast with a friend. Sharing is caring I on a mission to reach and serve more pregnant folks. So tap that share button, share the podcast with someone else. Send it to them if you can pick five people to send it to. I was so, so appreciated. And then be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you are listening to me right now, and leave a review in Apple Podcast or shoot me a message on Instagram. I'm on Instagram at Dr. Nicole Rankins. Shoot me a dm. I love to hear what you think about the show. And that is it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and.