Ep 87: A Milestone Birthday, My Mission, and a Birthday Wish

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If you're listening to this episode the day it comes out, then it is my 46th birthday! This is an interesting milestone for me, so this week's episode is a little different to reflect that. 

My older sister died of cancer the day before her 46th birthday. She was such a huge part of my life and I loved her more than I can say. So naturally I've been thinking a lot about her, reflecting on her life, and thinking about my own. I wanted to take some time to talk about what she taught me and why I miss her all the time, but especially today.

I also wanted to share what these reflections have taught me about my work and what I will be stepping into in this next chapter of life. I am ready to take my work and my service of pregnant people to a whole new level, and I hope that all of you will join me. I also share a birthday wish for this year that all of you can help me make real. 

I won't stop working for a future where every pregnant person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and you are a huge part of making this mission possible. So thank you for being here, and I can't wait to see us create the system that we all deserve!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why this birthday is an important milestone for me and one I'm reflecting on.
  • What I loved about my older sister and what she taught me about life.
  • Why I feel ready to step into a new chapter of owning who I am and what I do.
  • My birthday wish for this year and how all of you can help me make it come true. 
  • What I hope for the future of this podcast, my work overall, and the treatment of pregnant people across the country.

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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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Ep 87: A Milestone Birthday, My Mission, and a Birthday Wish

Nicole: Guess what it is my birthday today. 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: Well, hello, welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 87. Thank you for spending a bit of your time with me today. So this episode is going to be a little bit different. And as I mentioned in the beginning, this episode is being released on my birthday. Yes, today's my birthday. Or when the episode comes out, it'll be my birthday and it's my 46th birthday and 46. My 46th birthday is a little bit of a different one for me, because with this birthday I have now lived longer than my older sister, Patrice. She died from cancer the day before her 46th birthday. So this really weird and unfortunate milestone, so to speak, has me reflecting a bit on her life and also my life too. So what I want to do in this episode is just take a few minutes and share the thoughts that have come from that reflection and what that means for me, what it means for you, and then I have a birthday wish that I'm going to ask, and I'm going to try and do this without crying. I'm a complete crier. Like I will cry at emotional commercials, so we will see if I can get through this without crying. All right. So, as I mentioned with this 46th birthday, I will have lived longer than my older sister, Patrice. She's 10 years older than me and I like, it's hard to say, like she was 10 years older than me. She is, I can never get that straight. Anyway, she and I are 10 years apart. And to say that I loved her and adored her is such a complete understatement. She was such a big part of my life. I remember when I was like seven or eight and she was going off to college and I held onto her legs at the front door, so tight and just begged her to stay.

Nicole: I did not want her to leave. I just loved her so dearly. And y'all, here's the thing we grew up in Hampton, Virginia. And she was going to Hampton University, which was like 15 minutes away. She was like right down the street. But for me, it was like my big sister was leaving and it was just such an overwhelming moment for me. And just in general, she was just always a protector. If anybody picked on us, she would handle it, and by us I mean me and my younger sister, I have another sister who's 14 months younger than me, but if anybody picked on us, she would handle it. She just looked out for us. And she was just a great big sister in every sense of the word and her favorite meal to cook, growing up, wait for it. And y'all gonna be like, for real, her favorite meal, growing up to cook was fried chicken, Apple sauce and canned SpaghettiOs.

Nicole: Yes. That is what she made for us. Whenever she would like babysit, she would cook fried chicken, applesauce, and canned SpaghettiOs. And I swear to God, her fried chicken was the best fried chicken in the world. I have yet to find any fried chicken that tastes as good as my sister, Patrice's fried chicken. Now, of course she wasn't perfect. She used to throw shoes at me when I went into her room and she also used to do stuff like put pepper, like pour pepper directly into my nose, but all in all, she was just an amazing big sister. And thinking about like now where I'm at the point in my life, where she was just before she died, or, you know, when she died, a few things come up. One, of course, is that I'm still angry that she's not here. Even though it's been 10 years since she died. I still harbor a bit of anger that she didn't get to live her full potential in her life. Um, or what I would have loved to see. And I don't have her around to be an, an aunt to my daughters. Cause I know she would have been an amazing an amazing aunt. And I also don't feel like nearly as put together as she seems. She just always seemed like she had everything together. And I certainly don't feel that way necessarily.

Nicole: But, um,

Nicole: So reflecting on or remembering how she really made the best of the 45 years and 364 days that she had on this earth and all though in her life, she struggled with some things like most of us do, and I'm not going to talk about all of her struggles, but one of struggles was definitely finding her passion. Um, when she finished college, she did like a few odd jobs. And then she, became a police officer and she was a police officer for a few years before she followed in our mom's footsteps and became a teacher. My mom taught math for 50 years. So she became a teacher and education is my God where she hit her stride. She was truly a phenomenal and award winning educator. She taught middle school math, and then she went on to be an assistant principal and then principal.

Nicole: And it was always at schools where no one else wanted to go. It would be schools that were primarily with black kids considered like rough schools. And she just did amazing things for these kids. Her heart and soul was in it. She was also a girls' basketball coach when she was in high school, she played basketball. So she coached AAU basketball. She also coached JV and varsity basketball at, um, our old high school and another high school in the area. And she just cared so deeply about her students. And she went all in on her talents and helped so many people in the process. There were easily a thousand people at her funeral and we received like innumerable number of messages of, from people of how I was talking about how she touched their lives and saying all that. It kind of brings me back to what this milestone birthday means for me and essentially what it is like getting to this point in my life and work of serving pregnant people in the ways that I do through the podcast, the course, still practicing as an obstetrician, has been a journey for me. And I talked about that in episode 25 of the podcast. And I'll link to that in the show notes. And it's been amazing and so rewarding, but also sometimes hard, sometimes uncomfortable. Um, and here we go, I'm trying to hold it together, but the tears may start to flow. I have definitely dealt with, um, imposter syndrome for sure. A lot. It's something that I like continually have to work on. I know there's somebody out there who may be saying that makes no sense. How can you feel any sort of imposter syndrome? But trust me, I do, but really thinking about my sister and how she lived her life and the gift that I have of my life and my talents. I am so ready with this 46th birthday of mine, to step completely into myself and use my talents to serve you the best way that I can. See, I have this podcast and course, and social media and things like that, but really the deeper purpose underneath what I do, including practicing as a obstetrician is to help transform the way pregnant people are cared for in this country, help transform that system from a system that's rooted in misogyny and taking away power in a lack of consent and racism, helping transform that system to a system where women are placed at the center of their pregnancy and birth experience and are always treated with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Nicole: And my podcast, my course, being on social media is all about empowering women with information so that they can demand that change so that they can advocate for that change and the care that they deserve. And I am going full speed 100% ahead on that. And part of that has been just making some changes in my life and the things that are around me. One of the big things that I've done is that I have assembled a magnificent team of women who are supporting me and helping me do this work. I already had some great help, but I really needed more. I still practice full time as an obstetrician and to keep all of these pieces and balls in the air and be a wife and be a mother I just really needed to have more help. And I have an outstanding team of women supporting me doing this work.

Nicole: Also part of going full speed ahead has been redoing my website. It is now drnicolerankins.com. I resisted that for a really long time because it felt like flashy. It felt like ooh Dr. Rankins, you know, like was putting myself out there like that. And I've come to realize that stepping into and owning Dr. Nicole Rankins and who I am, and my work doesn't mean that I'm flashy or that I think I'm better than anyone or anything like that. It just means that that's who I am. And I am owning that. So do check out my new website, drnicolerankins.com. And so all of that brings me to my birthday ask. And my birthday ask is this. I would love for you to join me in this work of improving care for women of making sure that pregnant people are placed at the center of their pregnancy and birth experience, and are always treated with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Nicole: And the way that you can do that is you can share this podcast, share it with your friends, share it in your networks, because that helps me reach and serve more people. And I know that that happens because a year ago in October of 2019, okay, this podcast had 6,000 downloads that month, right? October of 2019, 6,000 downloads. And the past 30 days, this podcast has been downloaded 35,000 times. And overall it's been downloaded over 300,000 times. And I know that a big part of that growth is because of you. So thank you for already sharing the podcast, but less take it up a notch. Okay. I want to elevate it for my birthday wish. Let's get to a hundred thousand downloads a month. When that happens. When we do that, we're helping more people feel like this. And these are just comments that folks have left in the podcast reviews and Apple Podcasts: instantly feel calm, felt empowered to very late in pregnancy change provider in hospital, because quote, "my voice and risk weren't being addressed", and then going on to have a wonderful, supportive birth, becoming more knowledgeable about the entire birthing experience as a first time mom, having a husband listen to episodes as well, finding them informative, easy to understand, and having him definitely feel more prepared for pregnancy and birth, loving that that was a way that he could be involved, feeling educated, feeling comforted, feeling empowered. So my birthday ask is for you to help me serve more people and help more people feel like that by sharing this podcast, tell your friends, screenshot it when you listen, post it on your Instagram stories and tag me @drnicolerankins. Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform, but share it on whatever social media platform you use. And when you do that, you honest to goodness, genuinely help that deeper mission of transforming the way maternity care is delivered from a system based in misogyny, lack of power and control, racism, to one where pregnant people are always treated with compassion, dignity, and respect, and placed at the center of their birth experience.

Nicole: So do not leave me hanging on my birthday. Okay. I hope I see some IG Stories are posted today and throughout the week and not just today actually, but going forward all the time. That is how we get to that hundred thousand downloads. That is how you help me serve more people and just bring that experience and help make that lasting change. Okay. All right. And I feel like, you know, we need like a hashtag or something, like I don't know what hashtag to use. If you got an idea for a hashtag the DM me on Instagram and let me know. So we can put it in the post when folks share and, um, and repost and all that kind of great stuff. All right. So that is it for this episode of the podcast. And I was going to say that I got through it without crying, but that's actually not true.

Nicole: Actually had to pause while I was recording and get a little bit of crying out. And then I came back, but I did it. I did it. All right. So that's it for this episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts Spotify, Google Play. And you know, I'd love it if you leave an honest review in Apple Podcasts, I love reading reviews. I do shout outs from the reviews. I look for ideas for the show from those reviews. It also helps other women to find the show. The more reviews it is then Apple will kind of put that in front of more people. And Apple of course, is the biggest podcasting platform. And let me know, what do you think about the new podcast cover art? I absolutely love it. It was actually designed by a designer.

Nicole: His wife is pregnant and he based the design on the fact that his wife is pregnant. So let me know what you think about the podcast cover art. All right. Next week on the podcast is a birth story episode, a really happy one. So do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth Podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information for my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.