My pregnancy & birth story during Covid-19 as a Black woman

My birth experience is something I wanted to share because there’s always a chance that someone could benefit from hearing what someone went through. I will tell you now my birthing story was not a traumatic experience, it was beautiful.

I always knew I wanted to be a mother and I would talk about wanting a boy and a girl. While in the back of my mind I feared the racial and ethnic disparities within pregnancy-related deaths. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It took a lot of prayer for me to push that fear out of my mind. I would talk to my husband JP about my concerns and fears. Each night he would cover me in prayer and just like the song says my fears relieved.

Let’s start with my prenatal visits. My OB/GYN, Dr. Riggan is the best! He’s friendly, honest and made me feel like a champ! I went to each appointment and asked all the questions I could think of. Yes, even the silliest ones. I know he had to think, this lady maybe a little coo-coo. However, he answered all of my questions. I talked to Dr. Riggan about my fear of dying during child birth and he told me, “Oh no your not allowed to die.” This made me feel so much better to address the elephant in the room that was weighing me down. We went over my birth plan too. Due to Covid, JP couldn’t go to each appointment like he did when we were expecting Juliette. This time he could only come with me if my parents could watch Juliette and if not he would sit on the phone to know what was going on. With each appointment I was doing great. My blood pressure was always good and I wasn’t dealing with gestational diabetes with this pregnancy. The one thing was my baby boy did not turn head down until week 28 which was totally fine. I kept a pretty active routine of getting out to take walks and exercise. Typically I’m a couch potato, I like to watch my stories and what not but this time I made an effort to get moving on a regular basis.

Once 39 weeks hit I was beyond ready to meet my boy and knew if he didn’t come by week 40 I would ask to be scheduled for an induction. Dr. Riggan never pressured me into this discussion. He was totally fine with me waiting until I reached 42 weeks pregnant. Well 40 weeks hit, baby Jesse was still chilling inside so I asked to get on the books. A few minutes later we had a date for induction March 22, 2021.

Induction Day – 03/22/2021

We arrived at The Birth Center at 5am to get checked in. Upon walking to our room I noticed that it was the same one we delivered our daughter Juliette in. That for me was a reminder that everything would be alright! I had two nurses helping me get settled in. As one nurse was hooking me up to the monitors and inserting my IV, the other nurse was trying to administrator my Covid-19 test at the same time. This was overwhelming for me because I already don’t like needles and I don’t want something shoved up my nostril at the same time. So, I asked her to wait until the other nurse was done and she didn’t mind. I told her it was my first time getting the test done and she explained what she would do. When it was over I said, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought.” The test was rapid and the results came back negative within 30 minutes.

Then it was go time! Well not really but it was time to begin the process of induction. The nurse checked to see if I was dilated and I was at 1.5cm before she inserted the vaginal suppository to help soften, thin out and ripen my cervix. The goal is to reach 10cm to began pushing. The nurse said she would come back to check my progress in 3 hours. Dr. Riggan came by to see me at 7:30am to check on me and reminded me that this is a marathon and not a race. He jokingly said not to watch the free tv and get my rest. He was right, on this day I needed all my strength for what was to come. By this time I was hungry since I hadn’t had anything to eat since 8pm the night before. I could have clear liquids and opted for the chicken broth. When I tell you that chicken broth was so good! It was, I’m not saying this because I was starving it was really good! It tasted like the Ramen noodle pack with extra seasoning but of course no noodles.

Shift change came for the nurses and at this time I discussed over my birth plan with them. Here’s my birth plan below.

Healthy Baby & Mom


Push Playlist (songs to played during delivery)

Skin to Skin

Delayed Cord Clamping

Johnathan Cut The Cord

My plan was simple but important to me. She confirmed that my wishes on my birthing plan was fine and it was no problem. Once the three hours went by I still hadn’t made any progress but I could feel the contractions. JP was awesome, he rubbed my back and helped me to the restroom probably 10 times. He would ask if I needed anything and never did he eat in front of me.

After the next three hours I was begging like Keith Sweat for an epidural. The nurse said she would have to call Dr. Riggan for permission. He gave me the option for pain medication through my IV and I gladly accepted. This medication made me feel so relaxed, but I could still feel the contractions also at this time I was sitting at 4cm. I would be asleep and would wake up once I felt them and doze off to sleep again. Fours hours later a new nurse comes and you know I asked her for an epidural too. She called my doctor and he then gave the okay. After receiving the epidural I could finally relax and truly rest. That’s when the ball started rolling for my dilation.

Once I got to 5cm, I asked for a Peanut then we rotated my laying down position from left to right every two hours. “A Peanut is a tool for supporting labor progress. While resting in bed, lying on your side, sitting or semi-sitting the peanut ball can be placed in between your legs, or under one leg. This gives your pelvis optimal positioning by keeping your legs open. This is helpful when laboring with an epidural in your hospital bed.” I continued to sleep. Around 4:30pm, Dr. Riggan came by to check on me to make sure I was in a good state of mind before heading home for the day. He assured me that if I became ready to deliver that night he would come back. After he left, I went straight back to sleep and when it was time to check again I was moving up with my dilation. I asked Johnathan to play our Push Playlist so I could get my mind together. The rooms at the birthing center have wireless speakers it’s perfect for setting the atmosphere. My playlist had a variety of artist and genres. You can see what I’m talking about below.

We dimmed the lights and just enjoyed this time together.

Around 7:45pm I felt a pop and water gushing. You would’ve thought I hit big on a scratch-off I was so excited! I yelled at JP, “Babe my water broke, call the nurse!” This was the one thing I really wanted to experience and with getting an induction I had already figured it probably wouldn’t happen. The nurses confirmed it broke and at this point I was making strides. This was the moment we realized we’re actually having our baby on this day! The nurses checked again and I was at 9 cm. They moved me into throne position so Jesse’s head to press on my cervix.

Soon after it was officially go time around 8:20pm. My Doctor was called and on his way. They turned down my epidural medication so I could feel my legs as I pushed. Our dimmed lights were turned up and the birthday lights were now on. My music was going and it was time to start pushing.

At this moment JP turns into Doula mode. When delivering Juliette, him and I did tug a war to push her out. This time he’s right beside holding my leg and watching below to see what going on. He kept assuring me I was doing a great job after every push. The nurses were amazing, they would remind me to breathe in pant cycles, when to push and when not to push. Within 15 mins of pushing his head was visible. Dr. Riggan comes in and says, “Looks like someone’s ready to have a baby!” He suits up and shortly after Baby Jesse is born at 8:47pm and immediately placed on my chest for skin to skin.

His birth song is Extraordinary Magic by Ben Rector. I had no tears during his delivery (woot woot!). He waited to clamp the cord and after JP cut the umbilical cord. He delivered my placenta and I asked to see it. I was in awe of all of the beauty that was taking place. Everyone congratulated us, Dr. Riggan said he would check on me in the morning. The nurses asked that they get his weight and other things they needed to document within 4 hours which we did not mind. We got to spend quality time with our son. It everything we prayed for a healthy baby and mom!

Skin to Skin with Daddy
Proud Daddy

Thank you to the staff of The Birth Center in Hendersonville, TN and Dr. Riggan for helping us bring our baby in the world.

Our family is complete now. JP and I have two wonderful children that we prayed for.

I’ve shared some fun food pictures below of my last meal before induction and our celebration meal after delivery.

Dinner before at The Pharmacy in Nashville was so good! I craved burgers all the time during my pregnancy.
The Celebration Meal! Thank you Birth Center!

Thanks for reading!

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