Breyana I’jae is a 23-year-old Temple University Psychology graduate, blogger, visionary, artist, creator, self published author and yummy new mom!
I don’t know about you guys, but I always wondered how pregnancy and labor & delivery was before I even conceived my son. How does it feel? What is it like? etc. I spent majority of my pregnancy using the Glow Nurture app and scrolling through all the community post. My favorite? Birth stories. I asked people I knew about their experience, I watched a number of Youtube videos and vlogs, it was something about hearing about them that made me feel both excited and scared. Through the countless stories, videos, and discussions I’ve had, none of them really prepared me for my own labor experience. Reading and listening does help in a way to shape your mind to prepare for anything, but always go into the situation knowing no labor & delivery is ever the same.
Two days before I went into labor I can look back and say my body was in preparation. While a pregnant women body prepares the whole 9 months for labor, this was different. On the Friday before I went into labor I was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, by night fall they were consistent for about a hour and put me in enough pain to make me nauseas that when I got into the house I threw up. It was unusual since I hadn’t been throwing up but still, I had it in my head that I wasn’t heading to the hospital unless I was in tears and unbearable pain because I had two prior visits to triage and got sent home. I didn’t want or need the inconvenience with traveling. The next day I woke up and was fine, en route to my sister’s graduation I started feeling slight cramps but nothing alarming enough to make me concerned. But again by night fall I came in the house complaining of my stomach hurting. I had just had a long conversation about labor & delivery with my aunt and mom, hearing about their experiences and laughing about how swollen my feet were and how I was ready to go in. Before I went to lay down and express my last complaint about my stomach my mom said “keep me updated, don’t text me if you go into labor, knock on the door.” I laughed it off thinking my son was just doing one of those “I like to see you in pain but I’m not coming yet” things.
By this point in pregnancy (38 weeks and 5 days) it was already very uncomfortable to sleep, I had to constantly switch sides to get comfortable and cramping wasn’t unusual, so that night was no different. It wasn’t until I woke up around 3 in the morning Sunday to use the bathroom; after I used the toilet my stomach was hurting pretty bad to the point I cried out of frustration when I got into my room. I stalled a bit then laid back down when I experienced a cramp, turned over, and felt a gush. Slight panic mode set in but I surprised myself with how calmly I reacted, I said to myself “oh my God“, got up, and waddled to my mom’s room as the water kept leaking. I said to her “I think my water just broke” and she was just as shocked because she said “did it!? let me see, are you wet?” she had to see it to believe it. I kept trying to change my pants because each time they kept getting soaked through until my mom asked me what the hell I was doing and to just accept the fact I was going to have a wet booty. My cramps weren’t that bad until I got into the car and by then they were no longer cramps, but contractions. I breathed through them but when it came time to get out the car I was doubled over in pain and crying. And let me tell you this, it’s no lie when people say when you’re in labor you’ll know because you won’t want to talk. I was greeted with a wheel chair and the guy started asking me questions like, “when are you due?” “did your water break?” my water was legit leaking from the chair so he was asking the dumbest questions in the state of mind I was in. When I got to triage my mom had to answer all of my registration questions for me, and again they ask did your water break and by this time mine was all over the floor so they gave me a room. As each minute passed my contractions got worse but I was still breathing and rocking through them. My plan was to go natural but I found myself begging for pain meds. I had reached 5cm natural and couldn’t take anymore.
Once I got wheeled to the room I would deliver in, I just wanted alleviation from my pain. By 7am I had my epidural in place and had some alleviation, I was proud that I made it to a 5 all natural but my body needed some relief. I can’t say that I wasn’t upset at first, my goal was to go all natural but sometimes you have to focus on needs vs wants. The problem now was that I wasn’t dilating, I had doctors coming in and out telling me that if I didn’t start progressing I would be faced with a c-section. I was getting discouraged, I heard the word c-section so many times I was beginning to fancy the idea. Not only that, but my baby’s heartbeat dropped after each contraction meaning he was in distress and couldn’t handle the intensity of the contractions. They tried giving me pitocin to increase my contractions to help me dilate because you can only be in labor for 12-18hrs after your water breaks, but after two attempts we knew it wasn’t a good idea because baby couldn’t tolerate it. We went through hours of c-section talk, hours of not dilating, hours of changing positions and trying peanut balls to help me dilate and stabilize his heartbeat. I hopped on all fours, rocked, squatted, played music, hummed and moaned through each contraction wave to try to decrease the pain and place my focus elsewhere. I had my sons father massaging my back while my mother helped me rock, and my sister placed cold compresses on my face because no matter how cold it was in the room, the intensity of the pain made me hot. I did everything I could to attempt to make it easier on myself and baby. Internal monitors had to be put on my baby’s head while he was still in the womb to get an accurate read of his heart rate, and even that was uncomfortable as the only way to do that is through the vagina.
People glorify epidurals and make them sound like heaven but they don’t take away the pain completely. I was so exhausted once I started dilating more because the pressure was so much that I wanted to push but I couldn’t, I was losing hope. Before I went into labor I just knew I would be one of those people who reassured myself through positive affirmations during labor but I found myself shouting “I can’t” and doubting my body more than ever. But in my head I was telling my son we were almost at the finish line. The doctors tried helping me dilate by placing their hands inside of me and pulling my cervix open as I contracted which I can’t say is a good feeling. After a few of those attempts they let me and baby relax but it got to the point I was screaming because I wanted to push, no I HAD to push. I was at a 9.5 and my cervix still wasn’t fully cooperating so they helped me some more. I was exhausted, beat, on the verge of giving up but I had made it too far. The doctors could sense I was tired and baby was tired too so they had to help me even further by placing a vacuum on his head and pulling while I pushed. Things got hectic, I got lost in my pain and focus on getting my baby out of me that I only heard the various voices around me as I screamed through every push, and finally, all of my hard work and energy paid off..
After 18 hours of labor, contractions, and pain, my son finally entered the world at 8:14pm Mother’s Day Sunday weighing 6lbs and 15oz; I cried like I was the baby being born. I cried out of relief, out of gratefulness, I cried because the little human I’ve been growing for 9 months finally entered the world and at that moment the pain and trauma I endured didn’t even matter because I had him. He tore me in 3 different places coming out with the force of them pulling while me pushing but I still wouldn’t change a thing. Overall, I can label my labor as a traumatic experience but so can any other mother, the closest a women can come to death is during labor. But it wasn’t “traumatic”, it was beautiful to experience firsthand what my body can do. I may not have felt these emotions during, but after I can appreciate the process.
I didn’t have any expectations for my labor but I had an idea of some things and how I wanted things to go, yet there was no way I could know things would happen in the way that they did. It was a life changing experience and my life is still changing as its my 3rd day with my son earth-side and I’m still learning to adjust and be content with accepting that how I want things to go may not be how they will go. I always share my experiences to give people a real idea of how things are, some will sugarcoat things to make it sound easy or make you less worried but I’ll be the one to say it, nothing was pretty about my labor, it hurts and you will be in pain, I’ve never heard of a delivery where a mother wasn’t. You may have moments where you feel like giving up but don’t. Pain is only temporary but the love I have for my son is forever. I wanted to vlog my experience but in the midst of everything I left my camera behind. The footage I do have is thanks to my support team who captured the experience for me. The people you have surrounding you during labor plays a part in everything as well. I’m very thankful for my support system who stood by my side throughout the whole process. If you are expecting, always be prepared for various outcomes during labor because you don’t make the rules, your body does. Your body will only do what it can and your mindset will carry you through it all. Even through your doubts and through the pain, have faith. Know that you can’t physically prepare for labor as things can go in any direction, the only preparation you can do is mentally and emotionally and even that may waiver as you actually start to labor. All in all, nothing matters but the health of you and your baby and knowing that you hold the power to bring life into the world. Expect nothing, mentally prepare for everything.
Story first published HERE