The power of the right doctor relationship, a special candle, and a viral video after delivering twins.
Folashade’s Story: The power of the right doctor relationship, a special candle, and a viral video after delivering twins.
Giving birth to twins during the pandemic can be stressful enough. And too many Black women feel like they do not have meaningful relationships with their OB/GYN. So when Folashade Butler, of the metro Washington D.C. area, found herself delivering her twins earlier than expected and in less than ideal circumstances, she found comfort and felt more confident mostly because of one thing–her relationship with her doctor. And it was her OB/GYN, who helped her birthing video go viral. Listen to find out why!
Episode Description: My guests today are Folashade A. Butler, a woman in tech, speaker and mom of four, her husband Brandon, and Dr. Lynne Lightfoote, MD FACOG, a physician with Foxhall OB/GYN, whose response to Folashade’s birth caught everyone’s attention. Before her viral post-delivery moment, Folashade shares what it was like receiving prenatal care of twins during the pandemic, how she responded to her water breaking just as she was about to enter a restaurant and why she ended up delivering in an operating room. You’ll also learn about the special candle that Folashade brings to every birth and why.
- Click here to watch episode extras on BIRTHRIGHT’S YOUTUBE PAGE!
- Folashade A. Butler is a wife and mom to four beautiful kids, including 7-month old twins! She is a speaker, relationship coach, woman in tech, and owner of Love & Livelihood, a community and podcast dedicated to helping people effectively navigate the intersection of love, life, and everything in between. Listen to Folashade’s Podcast Love and Livelihood.
Meet Dr. Lynne J. Lightfoote, a Board Certified OBGYN and Champion for Women’s Health. She completed her undergraduate studies from Wellesley College. She received her Medical Degree from the University of Virginia and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Lightfoote is board certified by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She’s currently a partner at Foxhall OB/GYN and Associates. Dr. Lightfoote’s practice encompasses the full spectrum of obstetrics and gynecology. Her goal is to provide personalized care from adolescence, fertility, pregnancy, menopause and beyond.
If you’re looking to build a relationship with your Ob/GYN or need help finding a good one, check out these suggestions.
Don’t forget to check out the Irth app, in your Google Play and Apple app stores, to search for Ob/GYN, hospital and pediatrician reviews from other Black and brown parents, as a tool to guide your provider selection process. Go to your community for referrals. Leave reviews to help others.
Learn more about having a safe and empowered birth by downloading the free ebook: Birth with Irth: A Mini-Manual to Pregnancy and Childbirth for Black People
Get full episode details and transcripts (posted by midday) on www.BirthrightPodcast.com
New episodes are released every other Wednesday! Subscribe now!
Birthright is funded by the California Health Care Foundation.
It wasn’t until I want to say a couple of days before the national and probably even global, global Quarantine that we found out that we were having twins and it was a shocker. Mostly because, you know, with my first two pregnancies, I would go into the doctor’s appointment and I would ask my doctor, “is it one or two?” “Is it one or two?” And she did not. She didn’t miss a beat this time. She actually, before I even had a chance to ask her, she said, you’re not going to believe this. And I said, no, shut up. She goes, “you’re not going to be ready for this.” As she turns the screen to me and she shows me the screen and I look at the sonogram and there are two, of course there are two little babies sitting right there.
Kimberly Seals Allers
Welcome to Birthright, a podcast about joy and healing in Black birth. My name is Kimberly Seals Allers and as the host of Birthright I have the honor of sharing positive Black birth stories. Today, we are talking to Folashade Butler, who had twins during the pandemic but her story helps us learn about the power of relationship building for providers and patient alike. And while we know parents are often brought to tears from their birth experience, but in this episode it was the joyful tears of the delivering OB/GYN that went viral and sparked joy for so many.
My name is Folashade Butler. I live in Washington, DC, and I am a mother of four beautiful children. And this is my birthright story. My husband and I, when we got pregnant, we found out in late February, early March timeframe, which was right before the pandemic hit, right before everything got really crazy and of course we were excited. We didn’t know we were going to have twins at that moment. It wasn’t until I want to say a couple of days before the global Quarantine that we found out that we were having twins and it was a shocker mostly because, you know, with my first two pregnancies, I would go into the doctor’s appointment and I would ask my doctor, “is it one or two? Is it one or two?” And she did not… she didn’t miss a beat this time. She actually, before I even had a chance to ask her, she said, you’re not going to believe this. And I said, “no, shut up.” She goes, “you’re not going to be ready for this.” As she turns the screen to me and she shows me the screen and I look at the sonogram and there are two, of course there are two little babies sitting right there. And I, I covered my face. I was so excited. My husband wasn’t with me, unfortunately, because you know, this is during that time frame where things were getting a little crazy. But we were, we were overjoyed.
My name is Brandon Butler. I live in Bowie, Maryland. And I’m the father of four. My mouth dropped, of course. Actually, I was in a drive through with the big kids. I picked them up from school and we were in the driveway getting an after afterschool snack and, uh, Dr. Lightfoot and my wife had FaceTimed me and had told me about the great surprise. So, I was prepared for one, uh, but two definitely caught me off guard.
I think for me the only anxiety was cause, I say literally, maybe like a week or two after that happened. Because of COVID I had lost my job. I’m in the hospitality industry. So literally like that, I think like the second week of March, uh, the entire sales team in my company had got, let go- all in one day. So then knowing that I was about to have twins on the way, and that I didn’t have a job. It definitely was some stress in the beginning. But me and my wife, you know, we’re very faithful to God and we prayed together. And you know, everything that was supposed to happen happened, uh, during the beginning of the pregnancy, you know, it was new for her having, having twins.
So it actually ended up working out that I was able to be at home and help out with the big kids since they were now at school, from home and things like that. So everything worked out the way it was supposed to happen.
I was definitely concerned about the parts of, not me not being a part of the experience, uh, this being our third and fourth child, the twins I’ve always been able to be a part of all the appointments and, and be a part of the whole process. So during the pandemic, everything was either virtually or just her telling me what happened when she came home. So that, that diff definitely was a lot different if me not being to be a part of the step by step process, even though it was my first time having kids, I still wanted to, you know, I’m always, hands-on.
My name is Lynn Lightfoot. I am an OB GYN in Washington, DC, and I have been at, um, I practice at Foxhall OB GYN, which is a private practice. And I have been here for 16 years.
The changing landscape of our commercialized health care system means that many doctors don’t grow roots and stay within communities like Dr. Litefoote has. Physician practice models have also changed so more physicians are seeing more patients and the personal investment of time has been lost. Connection has been lost. Empathy has been lost and too often it is Black folks bear the brunt of this loss.
So, uh, my senior year in college, I wanted to find a new doctor. I had been with a different doctor up until that point. So I was coming into my adulthood, of course. And I went in to find a new doctor, especially since I was in DC. I was at American University. So I wanted to find a doctor that was close to my university and found Dr. Lightfoot. Just happened to look in, you know, through my insurance’s list and found her, and went to go see her. And it was, you know, since then is when I started going to her. And at this point it’s been about 15 years.
The best part of having a long-term relationship with a provider is that, patients have an opportunity, um, to have a relationship with their physician, such that, um, I’ve seen the growth.
I also, I remember when the very first time she got pregnant and she was like, is it twins? Is it twins? And then the second time, is it twins? Is it twins? And so this time I, I cried when we did the first ultrasound and I had a chance to say, it’s twins this time it’s twins. This is it. We’ve got our twins. Cause it was, it was very exciting. Cause each time she’s, she keeps saying like “one of these times I’m going to have twins.”
Overall, my pregnancy was great. I did have some interesting pregnancy symptoms at the beginning. So with my first two pregnancies with my first one, I would say, I don’t think I had anything. I don’t think I had not one craving, not one, you know, ridiculous symptom, nothing. My second one, I had a little bit of, you know, Uh, I wouldn’t say heart issues. I would see a cardiologist, um, but nothing, nothing that was, uh, fatal or, you know, that that would lend itself to being fatal. But with my third one, with this twin pregnancy, I had the most debilitating migraines. I had nausea from, I wanna say the first moment I found out I was pregnant to probably about six months in, I had high blood pressure towards the end.
I mean, things that I did not expect to happen. I was having those symptoms. But I would say all things considered, I didn’t have any trouble. It was a very pleasant experience being pregnant. The most, I would say is it was different being pregnant in a pandemic. I could not hang out with friends as I would’ve liked to. I could not be out, you know, in the world, as I would have liked to, uh, I definitely mourned not having the opportunity to share my pregnancy with the people that I love the most or, uh, with friends and family, just being able to see me out in the world and see me out at, out at work or at events. Um, but generally I don’t have any complaints. I think I was one of the fortunate ones.
My due date was originally October 17th. And you know, one of the things that I love about my entire story is that October just happened to be our month. Um, my husband and I got married on October 9th, 2010, our daughter, our first born was born October 18th, 2014, our second born October 23rd, 2016. So October was just our month. And so when we found out that our twins were going to be born in October, I had already planned and just prepped myself and prepped everyone else around me that this was going to be Butler season. You know, October was our month. October was when all the great things that were happening for us and around us was happening. So, it just had to be October. And so I, the whole pregnancy, my mantra was- I just need to make it till October. I just need to make it to October. I just need to make it to October. Cause I knew that with twin pregnancies or with multiple pregnancies, Sometimes you don’t make it to your due date. So I wasn’t expecting to make it to the 17th, but I want it to make it into October. I thought that was reasonable. I thought I can make it to October 1st at the very least. Uh, but of course, plans change unexpectedly.
So towards the end of September, I was in, uh, I was at my 37 week point. So I had my 37 week appointment. I went into the doctor’s office to go see Dr. Lightfoot. And, um, my appointment probably was around 3:00 PM. It had to have been about three, 3:00 PM because I remember leaving her office at 5. And the reason why that is significant is because usually my appointments are at most 30 minutes, maybe 40 minutes. And a lot of that time is she and I are just, you know, talking, catching up enjoying each other’s company while she does what she does in terms of, you know, doing all the checks. But for that appointment, I go in and there’s no wait because you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s not like the waiting room is full when you go in.
They are, we’re usually in the back, you know, in our rooms, right away. And so I go back to the room and the nurse does all the normal vital checks, the BP, you know, she checks my weight. She asks how I’m doing all those things. And so I see that she takes down my blood pressure information. And she even tells me what it was and she has this expression on her face. And I said, you know, what’s going on? She goes, well, I’ll let the doctor come in and talk to you. And so Dr. Litefoote comes in and short moment later. And she starts checking me out and she immediately knows notices my feet. And she says, how long have these been like this? My legs were swollen. My feet were swollen. And she said, how long have these been this way? And I said, “Oh, well, this happened last night. As a matter of fact, and I was going to bring it up with you. Um, but what’s the problem, you know?” Just asking her. And she looks at the charts, uh, on her computer screen and she goes, “Huh? Your blood pressure is slightly elevated. Is it, you know, it isn’t alarming, but it’s not what it usually has been over the last several months.” And so she looks at me again and she goes, we’re going to have to repeat your blood pressure. And I said, okay, no problem. But in my head, I thought she was just going to come in and do the check and let me go.
At that point, she was like, “no, you need to go into this room. We’re going to have to sit you down. See if you can, you know, calm down a little bit and see if it makes a change.” And we repeated the blood pressure reading. I want to say two or three times in that two hour timeframe. And so at some point, Dr. Litefoote comes in and she goes, “All right, I need you to get your mind, right. I’m going to have to deliver you tomorrow.” Now here’s the thing. This was 20 September 29th. Tomorrow, as she stated was September 30th, the day after that was October 1st. And so I said “Dr. Litefoote, but no, and no, no, no. I said October, remember make it til October.”
And she goes, “no, no. I need you to understand that given these four things”, and she listed my blood pressure and me being a mom of multiples and you know, me being over 35, I think I was right at 35 at that point. And then, you know, me having the body stature that I have, um, she said, “I want to make sure that we are not at risk of preeclampsia and I expected that certain things were going to change in your pregnancy and they did not, you know, up until this point, it’s been smooth sailing and we’re so close, you know, we’re so close and I don’t want anything to go awry in this process.”
So I’m going to have to deliver you tomorrow. And so I had to accept that my babies are going to be born on September 30th instead of October 1st. That’s what I thought was going to happen. I ended up leaving her office, like I said, around 5:00 PM and I was having dinner with a friend, a colleague, and I pull up to national stadium. We were going to have dinner somewhere around there and I parked right in front of national stadium, which is our baseball team stadium. And I step out of my car and I feel what I thought was a bead of urine. I thought I had like, you know, started to pee on myself, um, which isn’t uncommon for pregnant women, but, um, I felt it. And so I go back into my car to reach for a napkin, to wipe myself and I stepped back out and my. My water, just, it just breaks right there in front of the stadium. And I was so shocked because I had never experienced that before now. I’ve had two other kids, but what I mean is with my first one, I was induced. So I did not have my water break in public with my second one, my water did break, this is crazy too, I was a, I was a co-chair for my 10 year college reunion. And so I was out and about, my friends were like, you need to go home because you are literally a million years pregnant. So go home and lay down somewhere. And so I went home, my water broke at home, but it was a. Well, when I went to the hospital, he called it a slow leak. So they ended up having to break it for me. But with this one, I literally stepped out of my car and my water just broke right then and there. And I called I for life. I called my husband and I said, I’m heading right back to the hospital because it’s go time. It is time to go. These babies are coming out.
It definitely was a little nerves in my mind because she didn’t have the hospital bag with her. So I actually, I just got off from work. I had started back work, uh, so I raced home to get the hospital bag and racing all the way to the hospital. So it definitely was, you know, in the back of my mind, wanting to get there, to be there for her, to be here support. Cause I know she was by herself versus the first two of our kids. We had other family and stuff, they were able to be at the hospital. Uh, but this time was just me. So I definitely wanted to be there so that she was in there by herself.
I did not feel afraid in those moments. What’s crazy about that experience about having to drive myself back to the hospital though, is I remember listing out all of my, what I call, my pregnancy fears. So for example, I did not want my water to break in public. That happened. I did not want to have to drive myself to the hospital by myself. That happened. I did not want my husband to be too far away from me when my water broke. That happened. So like all the things that were quote unquote fears of mine that I didn’t want to happen happened, but it all was fine. It was though that experience driving. I mean, I don’t know what women, I don’t know how this always happens for women, but, what I was experiencing was I was sitting in my car, driving back to the hospital, literally the place where I just left and every few seconds, I would feel like this…gush of water. And so my car was all wet. My seat was wet. I remember taking a picture and a video of, you know, when I get into the hospital room, I was like, wow, my dress is all ruined because of this, you know, because I had my water break in a public place that I had to sit on it the whole time. But it was interesting. It was exciting. It was exhilarating. But I was not fearful. I don’t know. I just did not feel afraid. I did not feel terrified.
Wow, that is incredible. What was keeping you calm and centered through all that?
Uh, I lean on my faith very heavily, very, very heavily. When I say every single day of my pregnancy, and even before and beyond that, I would read my Bible. I have a built in prayer circle, my mom and my sisters and my dad, of course, and part of my prayer circle is to make sure that I, myself, am doing all the things that I need to do to pray for myself. And to lean on my faith very heavily. And so I would read, Psalms 91 & Psalms 21 every day. I would pray over my body every day. Literally I would anoint my belly. I would anoint my breasts because I knew at some point I wouldl be breastfeeding. I’d anoint my private area because I knew that that was the vessel that was going to bring these children to the world.
And then my mom being the mother that she is with every pregnancy, she would pray on a candle for me and that candle, believe it or not is a candle I carried in every single one of my births.
In any case that candle, my faith, the prayers, that’s really what I leaned on. I don’t have anything else in this world that I could put, point a finger to and say really mattered. Other than the support that I felt from my family. You know, my, my parents, my husband, my sisters, those people who love me. And then of course my faith. Those are the pillars that I leaned on.
One of the things I love about talking to Black birthing people is to hear how often their faith, their spirituality or their spiritual practice plays a part in their birthing experience. You know, we have been told that birthing is about the body. But for many Black folks it is also about the soul and the spirit and whatever that means to you.
Yes. So I delivered a beautiful baby girl and a beautiful baby boy. The,my baby girl’s name is Farah Made Majesty, and my boy’s name is Ahdi Femi Royal. Um, they are nine minutes apart.
Majesty and Royal. How regal. And there’s a point after Folashade gives birth where her husband captures a moment that touched thousands of people on social media. Tell us about it-
That video that I shared was very special and I first have to say a huge thanks to my husband for even capturing it.
So I personally, normally don’t record. So, um, it’s all because of my wife, she’s always telling me to capture moments and things like that. So I know in that moment, that’s something that was important to her that she wanted to capture on video. So I did my, my husbandly and dad duties to make her happy to make sure she had that moment. So she could really relive that. Uh, she definitely got very emotional and you can see on her face in my wife’s face that in, I guess they’ve been, um, not only just, you know, doctor/patients, but I think through the years they built a friendship as well. So there’s that connection. You can see that bond with them of going through this experience together, that it was, it was very heavy on their hearts that, you know, they were joyous and celebrating the birth of our twins.
That video that we shared was moments after I was wheeled back into, the labor and delivery room with multiples. I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but with multiples, uh, with Dr. Lightfoote’s practice multiples are, uh, in the operating room. So we had already been. In the operating room, we’d done all, you know, the pushing and the screaming, um, the praying and, uh, the babies were delivered healthy and, you know, everything was in its right place. And so we were back into the recovery room and, um, Dr. Lightfoot is holding our twins, uh, one in each arm. Of course. And my husband is recording, which I did not know he was recording, and I was just sharing that moment with her because it felt like it came full circle. And what I mean by that is, like I said, Dr. Lightfoote has been my doctor since 2006. And in those moments, you know, as I, I was an adult, then I was, I think, 20 or 21. But I remember at some point in me going, you know, having my appointments, my yearly appointments and stuff like that, I remember saying to my then boyfriend now, husband, that when we start having kids, I want to make sure that she is my doctor.
And what you see in the video, uh, what was happening was in my head, I was thinking to myself, wow, this is the first time Dr. Lightfoote is actually delivering my children, you know, because she has a practice where all the doctors participate in, in the, uh, appointments and the deliveries of, uh, their patients and so, this was the first time that she was delivering my children. And it was the twins that I often asked her about, you know, randomly jokingly. Um, and here she is holding them. He, she is the one that delivered me and. It felt like it was just a full circle moment for both of us.
So I, as you can see, I was a little emotional, every birth experiences unique for the mom. And they’re each unique for us as well as obstetrical providers. Um, but this is somebody that I’ve known for such a long time. And having a twin pregnancy is as exciting as it is, is still, um, it comes with its own set of risks and, and concerns. They were beautiful babies and her delivery was just excellent. I mean, it was excellent for so many reasons. Um, but one of them was in the room when she delivered, um, all the providers that day happened to be Black women and her anesthesia anesthesiologist, the scrub tech, happened to be that day. One of the medical assistants who used to work in my office. So she knew Folashade from her visits in the office. And so that was exciting. And she prayed for us after the delivery. She prayed for each and every one of the providers in the room. And no one’s ever done that before. She prayed for US and she was, you know, she thanked God for us and what we were able to do for her.
And I felt like God was in the room with us. I knew that he was in the room with us at that time. And I was experiencing all of that. Everybody’s not necessarily religious. I am. I know that everything I do is because that was God’s intention. And he put me here for this reason. And so it was a combination of just everything that we had experienced through the pandemic and her pregnancy and just to see that everything’s going to be okay, right. We can have great outcomes. We can provide good care. People can get what they need. We don’t have to have bad outcomes and everything’s going to be all right. If all of the other things are in place. And, and I was, I was, I was overwhelmed. I was, I was touched. I really was.
It was a moment of humanity from a medical professional when it often feels like we are too often dehumanized by providers. Between the all Black birthing team, and the display of humanity of the provider herself—it was a moment of joy and hope for what is possible and what is deserved. That brings me to how I close each episode, this time by first asking Dr. Lightfoote, what is our birthright?
As it pertains to our birthright, I think, uh, the most important thing is that we. Um, providers make sure that, or make it a priority that Black women receive the maternal care, the prenatal care that we deserve, that everybody else deserves that everybody else actually already gets. But, the most important thing is that Black women get the care that they deserve and that they need. And. That these healthcare disparities don’t continue to persist, um, in our community.
Folashade, what is our birthright?
Our birthright is peace of mind. And by peace of mind, I mean, with every single thing that we, as human beings, we as women, I, as a Black woman go through, I deserve peace of mind. And especially when it comes to the pregnancy and delivery of children, you want to feel like you have the right and the ability to go through those experiences, being supported, being, uh, uplifted, being empowered to do what’s right for you and what’s right for your babies.
And I truly believe that peace brings that.
Peace of mind comes from trust. To know that your provider sees you as human and always has your best interest at heart. For Folashade, that came from a long-term relationship with her doctor. Which may not be possible for everyone. But using your consumer rights to ask questions is important for us all. Your doctor is not your dictator and if you do not feel comfortable find a new provider of make sure you have all the support you need in place to claim your birthright to peace of mind.
Birthright is hosted by me, Kimberly Seals Allers and produced by Domino sound. Our executive producers are Noleca Radway and Kimberly Seals Allers. Randie Chapman produces the show with Nikki Valdez as assistant producer and help from Homero Radway. Sound design and engineering by Sam Baer with original music from Trel Robinson.
Birthright is funded by the California Healthcare Foundation. If you like what you heard today, please rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen. It really helps people find the show. Thanks for listening.
Folashade A. Butler is a wife and mom to four beautiful kids, including 7-month old twins! She is a Speaker, Relationship Coach, Woman in Tech, and owner of Love & Livelihood, a community and podcast dedicated to helping people effectively navigate the intersection of love, life, and everything in between. Listen to Folashade’s Podcast Love and Livelihood