The Full Story
Always, Living, Learning, Leading & Loving
from within me to birth what’s in YOU.
the Life Midwife
Grinning from ear to ear listening to the rhythm of life sounds like music to her ears every time. The doctor sat there contemplating silently as he looked down at his notes. “Long pause,” she thought. He glanced up, then down again, pondered a bit more, then said "Well...maybe next time we'll do a 24-Hour urine.” He turned to her, “I'll see you back here in two weeks." "Great," she replied. Blissfully, she went on her way. So much to do in preparation for the little prince or princess. Loving every moment of this experience and now at the threshold of her desired dream of becoming
a mother. To her, there is nothing more important than having a beautiful baby to love and care for. After enduring three miscarriages and countless times of being a birth coach for others, it was finally her time. Only a few more weeks to go!
St. Patrick's Day 1989, wide awake and super excited about her appointment today. Infatuated by the life growing inside her and very intrigued by the medical aspect of her care, she’s now 36 weeks pregnant and ready. Yay! Along the way, she sees the city is ablaze with everything green from the environment to the streets, to window displays, to community doors, to the people themselves. Parades, parties, happiness and laughter filled the air. Celebrations at every turn adding to her enthusiasm. In the office, “Let’s listen to baby, shall we?” Giddily, “Absolutely!” Silence. Wait. What’s going on? More silence. WTH! “Doctor?” He responds, “I’m not able to pick it up, let’s get you down to ultrasound.” 10 minutes later, she’s watching the monitor intently. She anxiously waits for the technician to get to the baby’s heart. She knew something wasn’t right and had to see for herself. As the tech continued with the scan, mom knew they didn’t tell her what they suspected. The tech was caught off guard as she hovered over the area of where there should have been a beating heart. She saw and tried to move the wand, but it was too late. Mom already knew as she lay there anxiously awaiting the same thing the tech was. She saw that the heart was not beating. She cannot control the flow of tears or the knot in her throat that kept her from speaking. No heartbeat. No baby. Dream gone.
Yes, it was me. Living/Loving through the stillbirth of my first daughter, Teraina DeVaughn King on March 18, 1999 was an experience I will never forget. I lost a significant part of my soul that day. I was paralyzed in the moment. I felt as though my heart had just been torn from my body, literally and figuratively. Unable to speak. Unable to breathe. Periodic outbursts of uncontrollable crying, attempts to hold back tears, followed by episodes of enraged screaming. Knowing I had to go through labor & birth was bad but knowing I had to grieve her passing at the same time was worse. Thinking about how I would tell my family. And of course, people cannot resist a pregnant woman. Every passerby wants to talk about the baby or touch your belly. It was agony enduring those moments all the while just wishing I could fast-forward time and just get home. Going home then making the trek back to the hospital the next day was insufferable. As I arrived at the hospital at 8am the next morning as the doctor ordered, I realized no one expected me. Really? After everything, now I am forced to say those words aloud, “my baby is dead.” WTF! One nurse grabbed me and said, “come on baby.” It was like my big sister took over because she knew I couldn’t do this alone. She knew exactly what I needed and what to do to make it at least tolerable. As difficult as it was, she loved me and my family through that process. The experience of that day marked a turning point for me.
From tragedy, new love and life would emerge. A year later, Teraina D’ Monee King made her debut. Need I say, the same nurse took care of us? Of course, she did! My sister took care of us again and we had another phenomenal experience! Then a mere 16 months later, I delivered Tai-Renee DeVaughn King in the middle of the night. Sure enough, she came and found us the next day. “I am going to be a nurse,” I said, grinning from ear to ear. She smiled back and said, “okay.” I knew she didn’t believe me but by then my mind was made up. I found my heart’s desire. I was totally in love with the decision to become a nurse. I wasn’t sure how I would do it. I just knew it had to happen.
I jumped into action. A few classes and a nursing assistant position later, I knew love went out the window. I loved anatomy and physiology but hated working in the nursing home(s). I tried a few of them but didn’t like any. It wasn’t what I was doing. It was the reality of what was going on versus my expectations of what should have gone on. To me, residents were not getting the full care they needed or deserved. Needless to say, that was short-lived. I was disappointed so, I let go and didn’t even go back to class. Had I made the wrong decision? Was I caught up in the moment? No way! Not possible BUT, I cannot do this. I paused for a long time before nursing came calling again. About 6 years later another beautiful baby, Demetrius Raymon King, Jr. arrived. The visiting nurse that came to our home told me she had 5 kids, was working and in school to be a midwife. “Girl, you don’t have to do it that way, maybe 6 months for clinical training is all.” Wait…What? Lightbulb, “if she can do it with 5, I can do it with 3.”
I got riled up all over again! Everything shifted and I was all about Mission Midwifery. I vibed with that. The vision expanded and in my mind, it was already done. I was just going through the motions to make it official. I got in action AGAIN, preparing for the journey ahead.
Mission Midwifery To do List:
- Get support system on board and ready for whatever – Check.
Quit “that good job” at the Illuminating Company – Check.
Get back in school to work on prerequisites (Community College) – Check.
Plan childcare for the 3-month old – Check.
Arrange classes around the girls’ school schedule – Check.
Apply to desired nursing schools – Check.
Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back – Check.
Make it work B.A.M.N.!
B.A.M.N. (By Any Means Necessary) became my attitude. See, many well-meaning folks got started with the naysaying. Initially, everyone thought I was suffering from postpartum depression or some kind of delirium when I informed them of my decision to go back to school and not work. After all, I had “a good job” at a “good company.” I had what everyone saw as the “perfect life,” a good job, husband, children and everything I wanted. Whatever! Wake up people. LOL.
Side note: When will we let that thinking go?
Okay I’m back. Anyway, I really was on a mission. And somewhere in the midst of all this I received a vision to create a multi-tiered entity that would cater to the complex needs of women and their children within an underserved community. With that vision in tow, I forged my way to my destiny.
I earned 2 degrees in nursing, a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science. The caveat… I was in the second to last course of the Midwifery Program when things shifted again. I delivered about 20 babies then thought, “I don’t want to do this part anymore.” I couldn’t handle all the stress so, I decided to cut it short. The Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program meant only 1 more semester instead of two. I could still do everything I loved except deliver babies. I had to do it because I wasn’t enjoying the journey. For me, I have to love what I do. That is a non-negotiable always. I know you’re thinking “WTH happened right!?? See, at the time, my perfect family became not so perfect. By my second semester, I found myself knee-deep in the middle of chaos & disorder. What I thought was my forever was ending. Separation and divorce became very real. I continued to take care of family. I worked multiple jobs, looked for a new home, took the kids to and from school and then myself to and from work daily. It was insane and I struggled to keep it all together. I felt misunderstood, alone and unsupported, even academically. People that I thought would be in my corner were not even on my team. I had to regroup and restructure my journey.
Fast-forward a few years, I can honestly say that I am thankful for the road I chose. If had I become a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) then, I may never have had the opportunities that I have had throughout my nursing career. Labor and Delivery; Postpartum; Doula; Childbirth Education; Infant Safety/Care/CPR, taught nursing and medical students of varying levels and in various courses; practiced in community and private practice OB/GYN settings, chaired and helped run nursing programs. Oh yes, I have done some phenomenal things and loved doing them. I learned a lot. I taught a lot. I gave a lot. I prayed a lot. I emerged a true servant leader.
Practicing Certified Nurse Midwives’ (CNM’s) require long hours, taking call, and often doing 1-2 days a week of 24 hour-shifts. A weekly schedule for them can be so full that they have little time. I, on the other hand, was able to work in various areas at once, allowing for my growth and versatility. Unbeknownst to me, my path was a blessing and very much a part of my destiny.
Although, I did not complete the CNM program, people still referred to me as a midwife. I believed in that version of me so much that others came to believe and embrace it too. After a while, I stopped trying to correct them or explain the difference between a CNM and a WHNP because I came to understand that it was more about how I made them feel and less about the title I held. I continue to think of it in accordance with a quote by Maya Angelou,
“…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I am honored that people see me in that light.
Looking back at all of that, somewhere along the way the vision got lost. Eventually, I found myself headed down a path that many nurses would die for. I tried to embrace it but my heart was not in it. For all intents and purposes, my life looked good to the outside world but for me I was dying inside. I had to step back and take a serious look at my life, my career and what I truly desired. At that time, I felt over worked, under paid, stressed out and my health was less than optimal. I felt as though I was constantly giving up myself instead of myself and not receiving what I needed from my profession to be happy. I knew I could not go on like that. I had to get off the merry-go-round. So, I jumped!
As I sit here 30 years to the day of my stillbirth experience, LOLA Labor Of Love Academy serves as the rebirth of the initial vision. In commemoration of Teraina DeVaughn King, I rededicate my life of service to every Goddess who seeks to rebuild her foundational truth on self-love as she births her dreams. Whether you want to physically or metaphysically give birth I, Tracy King - your Life Midwife, am here to serve YOU.
*Written March 18, 2019
Decree of the Life Midwife
In my lifetime, I have helped women birth more than just babies.
I stay true to the gifts of my creator, no ifs, ands, buts or maybes.
I have helped many bring forth life in numerous things
from babies to goals to visions & dreams.
A “Life Midwife” is what I’ve heard some say.
A little unorthodox but always loving and intentional in how I slay.
Teaching others to reach for the stars as they’re innately called to do.
And truly believing this world divinely ours, connecting one to all and me to you.
Mother. Sister. Friend. Entrepreneur. Goddess & Practitioner too.
Always, living, learning, leading & loving from within me to birth
what’s in you.
Grant me the pleasure of assisting your inner Goddess to come out and play.
Together we will create magic as you Slay each Day
& Birth Your Way.
Let’s SLAY together.