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EPISODE 07

Allegra White's Story

The Joy of Birthing in a Buick with an 11 year-old on assist.

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Episode 7: The Joy of Birthing in a Buick with an 11 year-old on assist. 

Episode Description 

In our episode today, our guest Allegra, a Doula and mother of 5, was so determined to not be at the hospital for long she ended up delivering her baby girl in the front seat of 

her car, with her husband and 11-year old daughter on assist. In addition to sharing this particular birthing experience, we reminisce on her four beautiful births, including twin girls, giving birth the first time at 19 years old, and all the birthing knowledge she has accumulated along the way. For Allegra, knowledge of her body and the birthing process was her pathway to joy. 

Watch Allegra’s Episode Extras on Birthright’s Youtube Page!

 

Resources/References

Birthright is funded by the California Health Care Foundation.

 

Allegra White

The front of our Buick enclave, our daughter was born and delivered in front of the hospital. So, you know, you ha that experience taught me. You have to be very careful with your words. I mean, I always knew that, but. Be very specific with your requests because I said I did not want to be in the hospital long, and I was not in the hospital at all for the delivery of my fifth daughter.

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. Sometimes those births occur out of the hospital, but in our episode today, our guest was so determined to not be at the hospital for a long time, she ended up delivering her baby girl in the front seat of her car, with her husband and 11 year old on assist. In addition to that nerve wracking and frankly quite funny experience, as a mother of five, including twin girls, we reminisce on four beautiful births, the first being at 19 years old and the growth that happened along the way. 

Allegra

Hi, my name is Allegra white. I live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m the mother of five girls, and this is my birthright story. My first birth experience was when I was 19 years old. I did not plan to get pregnant and I was a student in college. And I did not have a regular OB that I was seeing. So once I discovered that I was pregnant, I began going to the clinic at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, which no longer exists. So when you go to the clinic, you don’t see a regular, um, OB you see whoever’s on call for that day. And so that was the extent of my healthcare and how much I was informed besides watching Baby Story every day. And, I didn’t have any other friends who had given birth. And so the only thing that I knew was what my elders told me. And they had given birth, you know, decades before me. And so many things had changed. So I don’t feel like I was completely prepared for the experience. The day of, I was living with my aunt at the time and I called her at work and I asked her if labor felt like really intense period, um, cramps. I remember saying that specifically. And she said, yes. And I said, well, then it’s happening. And this has been happening since last night because I hadn’t slept that well, uh, the night before. She said she would come home from work and come get me and take me to the hospital. I told my boyfriend at the time that I thought I was in labor, he was at work. He worked in Brooklyn, so he would meet us there. My aunt drove us to the hospital and I feel like everything from that point forward was just favor. Just a favored experience. Um, So because I didn’t have a regular OB, I didn’t know what to expect or who I was supposed to ask for when I got to the hospital. I just knew that somehow a baby was going to be coming home with me when I left. When I got to the hospital, my boyfriend and I ran into a nurse who we didn’t know, but we discovered, went to our church and she was familiar with us. When she saw us, she decided to step in and to this day, nurse Helen Carter will always be my angel. She stepped in and asked me who my doctor was. I told her I did not have a doctor. And she said, don’t worry about it. I’m going to take care of it. I’m going to take care of you. And she made sure that she, um, selected a midwife and that midwife was the person that delivered my daughter and the nurse stayed with me the whole time. So in the room was my, the nurse, um, the midwife, my boyfriend, and, um, my then boyfriend and my aunt. 

Kimberly 

I love the stories where a random person becomes the angel in the experience. …And I’m certainly hoping we can get back to having hospital births with our community present.

Allegra

I have, since that first birth given birth three more times. And I think with each birth, I have grown in my voice for sure. I have been able to curate what I ingest from other people. Most specifically from whoever my healthcare provider is, I’ve been able to control what I want the room and that experience to be like, as much as I can. And I’ve been able to manage my expectations.

Kimberly

Growing from your birth experiences is a gift. So many mamas have used subsequent births to create the experience they were not able to have in their prior birth. That’s a beautiful thing. So tell us about your most recent birth.

Allegra

My fourth birth, my fifth daughter, was conceived during the time that I was working as a doula. And I knew that for my fifth child, I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. And up until this point, I had only had births with epidurals. That was important because I felt like I couldn’t fully hold space for my moms without having the same experience or speaking to the experience that they, some of them were having. And so I wanted to also haven’t the experience of an unmedicated birth so that I could be speaking from, uh, a full standpoint and not just from reading about it. Basically, I wanted to practice what I preached, you know, and not that I always advocated for my moms to have unmedicated births. I think it’s important for you to do whatever is best for you and for your body. But I knew that I wanted to be able to speak to both experiences. So for my fifth daughter, I told my husband that I really wanted to have a home birth. Uh, my husband was not in agreement with this. He was not comfortable. He doesn’t do well with, uh, anything. Related to medicine, biology, anatomy, those kinds of things. He doesn’t do well with fluids and anything like that. I don’t think that he can handle that. And he was not with it, even though I had had all these experiences now, not just as a friend, but also as a doula.

Keith White

Hi, my name is Keith White. I am husband to Allegra White and I’m the father of our five children. So for each birth, it’s been exactly, it’s been exciting. It’s been exhilarating but from the passenger’s seat. So with regard to, with regard to birth, my wife is the pilot and you know, she’s driving the ship and I’m taking instructions and I’m being, you know, um, um, for all intents and purposes, um, I’m a copilot and assistant in the process. She’s she’s she’s the boss.

Kimberly

Well, except for this last birth when Allegra wanted to give birth at home.

 

Keith

So, yeah, so, so for this last, for the, for our youngest child, we, um, I was, I was an insubordinate, assistant. She, you know, she wanted to have, she wanted to have a home birth and I was just not up to the task she wanted to. Um, and then, so, so she kind of forced, it forced my hand in a sense by, you know, not telling me that she was in active labor until, you know, you know, until it was like 30, 40 minutes before the birth. So my role, my role there was to try to, was to pivot, you know, I, I was, I was in rebellion in the sense that I was like, I, no, we have to get to the hospital. But at the same time, you know, I still have a support role because, you know, for me it felt like crisis. So, I just felt like I wasn’t up to the task, you know, whether it’s, you know, like, you know, pulling the baby out, I’m scared. Like I’m going to be like pull too hard, I’m going to do something wrong, I’m going to hurt the baby. Um, even cutting the umbilical cord. I’m like, you know, am I doing that right? And so I’m just really unsure. I don’t have, you know, I don’t have, I didn’t have confidence and, and who I was in the process. And, um, and so that, you know, that was the basis. That’s what informed my fears. Right. It was that, you know, I, I just felt very insecure about my ability to be on task and provide her with everything that she needed.

 

Allegra

And so I knew once he was adamant about not doing a home birth. Um, I knew that I did not want to be in the hospital for a long time.

Kimberly

Ok let’s address the realities of home births for Keith and all listeners.  

Allegra

So I decided that I was going to, as I tell my mom’s, labor at home as long as possible. And that’s what I did. We already had a plan in place for our daughters. So I knew that my eldest daughter, even though I invited. Oh, my two eldest daughters to attend the birth. My oldest daughter declined after showing them the video of the twins being born. And my second daughter was ecstatic. She really wanted to be a part of it. Uh, seeing the twins being born via video did not deter her. It furthered her interest and, um, she knew that she was going to be there. Uh, and be a witness to this fifth girl. So the plan was to take, uh, my eldest daughter and the twins to my grandmother’s house on the way to the hospital. 

Kalle White

Okay, Hi. Um, my name is Kalle White and I’m 15. I really think I’ve always, just really liked the idea of, or I thought it was very interesting- like someone’s pushing a whole person out of their body. And I thought that was like really cool. And I’ve always like really loved hearing and talking about like motherhood and pregnancy. And it was all just like really cool to me to, um, be there. And I wanted to like, be part of the process I wanted to be there every step I wanted to, I want it to be one of the first people to see the baby when she came out. I just wanted to be really involved and yeah, I thought it was a really beautiful experience.

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Allegra

I began contracting around 10 or 11 at night and I just put my bag together for the hospital. I didn’t say anything by this time, everyone in my house was asleep. When the contractions became closer together and more intense, I decided it’s probably, I’m not going to get any sleep. It’s probably best that I try to take a shower, calm myself, and get myself ready to wake everyone up. So once I showered and I labored in my room by the side of the bed, by myself for a while, I woke my husband up and I told him that they were coming about every three minutes and it was time to go. My husband jumped out of bed. I hear him screaming to rally the kids and the whole time I’m by the bed naked still hadn’t gotten dressed to get in the car and, while I’m laying by the bed, still laboring breathing. I hear, I can hear the commotion of the kids being woken up and all the different personalities. It’s the middle of the night, they’re trying to figure out what’s going on. And I just hear my husband getting, uh, as he’s putting some of the kids in the car to go, when mom gets in this car, no one says a word. And so I’m just quietly laughing to myself and he comes back in the room. He’s already nervous. And he’s wondering why I’m still not dressed if we have to get to the hospital. Because I’m still calm. I didn’t, I didn’t feel like the rush that he did. I still felt like we were okay. And this is what I wanted. I didn’t want to, we’ll be there as long as I said. So we got in the car, Keith did not stop for one light. And that just made everything more intense. I remember deep breathing in the front of the car and one of the twins mocking my breaths and asking why is mommy making this noise? And then her being quickly hushed. We got to Queens, we dropped off my eldest and the twins. And from there, the contractions became even more intense.

Keith

And so we’re booking, booking, booking, and you know, like two minutes out from, from leaving, um, this family member’s house, you know, she starts screaming and she’s like cursing at me and she’s like, oh, she’s being violent. She’s being very violent in the front passenger seat and, you know, so me and my ma our, our daughter, our other daughter, she’s, she’s in the back seat. She’s trying to like talk to her, like, you know, like, you know, breathe, mom, breathe, mom, and now I’m freaking out. Cause I’m like, we can not have a baby in the car. Like, this is crazy. I don’t know, I don’t know the first thing about anything, right? Like, I’m like, you want to talk about an ignorant Father and husband, I am, that’s me. I am the quintessential. I don’t have the information. So, um, so we, so we were driving and now we’re driving on the highway. Now I’m really freaking out and we missed the exit for the hospital. So I, well, I missed the exit for the hospital, right. Because I’m freaking out and she’s screaming at me. She’s cursing. She’s like the babies comin’, the baby did like the baby’s there.

Kalle

I was very overwhelmed. I was like, oh my gosh, this is not what I signed up for. I thought the baby was coming in the hospital. Why are we still in the car? We’re not in a sterilized environment. There’s no doctors. Who’s going to cut the embilical cord. There’s going to be stuff everywhere. I was just like, what’s going on? I, I also felt like very helpless. Like my dad’s speeding. He’s going through red lights. And just like, I’m like, what if a cop car comes? What are we going to do? And then, um, my mom’s screaming. She’s like, my water broke. I’m like, oh God, like what’s, what’s going to happen? What are we going to do!? And I was just. I felt very unprepared and like, I did not know what I was getting myself into. I thought we were going to be in hospital.

 Allegra

 And by this time I was like holding onto the seat. I was really upset and uncomfortable and, um, As we drove up to the hospital, we told my second daughter Kelly to hurry up and go get help. So my husband drives into the roundabout right in front of the hospital. She jumps out the car. I’m thinking that she’s going to come back with a nurse, a doctor, someone that would be helpful. And instead, my second daughter, Kalle, as lovely as she is, came back with a wheelchair. And at that point, a few expletives came out of both mine and Keith’s mouth because I can’t go anywhere. Obviously. There’s no way I was getting into a wheelchair. And at some point, I had put my hand down to feel what was happening and I, I yelled to my husband, the baby is crowning. And so…that didn’t help. It just made him scream for help more. And as he was screaming for help outside of the car in front of the hospital, a few people started gathering. Kalle was still floundering, not sure what to do. And somehow some ways a nurse that was coming on to her shift came to the car and at this point I began to push and she helped deliver the baby until an OB that was coming on to her shift, pushed the nurse to the side and did the final delivery of the baby. 

Kieth

I mean, it was like she, like, she came right out and, um, then as soon as Cohen is born, a team of doctors and nurses and a gurney, you know, come flooding out the hospital and everybody’s just kinda like, you know, like, you know, so they immediately triaged Allegra, triaged the baby and, and, um, we’ve got all this afterbirth on the front seat of the passenger of the passenger side of the car. And, um, you know, and, and we left the car there. Literally the car stayed there. Because I was not going to leave the baby and, and, and my wife, and then we had the 11 year old who, I don’t know where she went at the time. And so, um, everybody went upstairs in the car, literally stayed with the car with the key in the ignition, stayed in the front of the hospital with all that after birth for hours. Because you know, I was trying to make sure that, that they will all right. And they were fine. Um, You know, but you know, when you, when you give birth, you give birth to the baby, but then you have to also, they have to like also push out additional after birth and placenta stuff like that. So that was, that was the process. And then a few hours later, I came back, got the car and, you know, and put it in a lot and eventually got it clean. But that, that, that, that was the story.

Allegra

 The front of our Buick enclave, our daughter was born and delivered in front of the hospital. So, you know, you ha that experience taught me. You have to be very careful with your words. I mean, I always knew that, but. Be very specific with your requests because I said I did not want to be in the hospital long, and I was not in the hospital at all for the delivery of my fifth daughter.

Kimberly

And just for the record, when we encourage Black women & birthing people to consider of out of hospital birth options, no one means in the car. So how did Kalle do?

Kalle
I didn’t get to see her come out, but I was in the room when she was like pushing out the placenta. And I was like, you know what, maybe it’s a good thing. I only saw this because this is very, very, um, I know motherhood is like, and it’s all very beautiful, but it was, it was pretty gross as well. I think that I used to say I wanted a bunch of kids and now I’m like maybe one, like I don’t, I don’t see myself having a bunch of kids anymore. I, I really thought I would be more open to it, but that just seemed very painful and that’s something I wouldn’t want to go through multiple times. I don’t know how she does it.

Allegra

I actually wouldn’t change anything. To be honest, I would not change anything about that experience. I did what I set out to do, and obviously, the car is not the most comfortable place. It’s not comfortable at all in that position in a hospital bed or in a car is not one that I advocate for. Um, so that made it even more intense being that upright. Um, and not having as much space as you would like to ideally when you’re birthing a child, but ultimately, um, it’s a great story and I really am proud of myself for being able to, you know, follow through and get it done. And, um, I really wouldn’t change anything about it.

Kimberly

I hear that. Allegra, I close every episode by asking, what is our birthright?

Allegra

We are free. And I think that that freedom, our birthright is to invoke power, to be able to sustain joy in every and any circumstance everyone should be in full command of their person. Um, expect respect. And do what they need to control their space. 

Kimberly

Indeed, Experience is the greatest teacher. And through multiple births, Allegra gained the gift of confidence, knowledge, and the ability to create the birth she wanted. May many more experience this birthright.

To watch an exclusive interview with Allegra on the role and impact of Black doulas, go the Birthright Podcast YouTube page, and while you’re there, please Like and Subscribe. This is Kimberly Seals Allers thank you for joining me for Birthright–where we reclaim our birthright one story at a time. 

 

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.

 

About Allegra

Allegra White is a doula, wife and mother of five girls. After starting her family at the age of 19 and facing many challenges, she decided that all women should have the opportunity to journey into motherhood with a full range of support. Her company, “Milf-Made”, began as a desire to pay forward her experience by helping pregnant women feel like their best selves through advocacy, information and service. She describes herself as a compassionate, truthful, Caribbean- raised but Brooklyn-made, heart on her sleeve type of gal. Allegra is currently accepting applications for on-call hairdressers for her household of growing women.

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