Meet Nicole Deggins. She has been a nurse-midwife since 1999. Nicole shares part of her fertility journey and how she experienced and overcame loss. She shares her triumphs and advice for women trying to conceive.
RootMama: Tell us a little something about you.
Nicole: I do birth advocacy work and run Sista Midwife Productions. My goal is to help shift the birth paradigm from fear to celebration.
I was born and raised in New Orleans where I currently live and work. I have one daughter, Kelile. I love to travel, I love to have fun, I love to laugh and I love to talk about birth and pregnancy and mommyhood.
RootMama: Can you speak more about the paradigm shift you hope to see in birth?
Nicole: I want to shift the paradigm so that birth is no longer seen as a time to be fearful. I want to move back to a time when pregnancy was a natural occurrence inside a community where people revered pregnancy and birth. Return to a time where people revered and supported a new mother through the journey.
I want to shift the paradigm around conception so that it’s not like “Oh sh**, I'm pregnant.” Where instead it’s, “Yay, I’m excited. Yes I say I'm pregnant.” We have the ability to change the vibration of our community and to elevate us as a people through birth.
RootMama: Tell us more about intentional and concious conception.
Nicole: Intentional conception is being very conscious about it. Conscious conception is about being intentional about who you were pregnant with and when you're pregnant.
My last pregnancy was considered a ‘geriatric pregnancy.’ I’ve had a number of pregnancies. If you looked at my gynecological history on paper it would not look good.
I had an abortion in my early twenties. I had a twenty-four week birth baby, Peanut, and she did not survive, and then I had a miscarriage all before I got pregnant with my daughter.
I was very clear that I wanted to be a mother, I was very clear that the man I was in love with was destined to be the father of this child. We wanted this baby full on.
We didn’t obsess over getting pregnant. We made a lot of love, and we were looking forward to creating this life together.
RootMama: Do you observe women being oblivious to their feminine wellness and not really taking control or accountability of their reproductive health?
Nicole: Yes, I especially observe women not taking control, not taking accountability, and not being conscious about the fact that every single time you make a decision to have sex, you could be conceiving a child.
I notice that women in my age bracket of 40+ have more of a panic energy around pregnancy because they feel like their time is almost up. And they especially feel panicked if they are not partnered up, yes.
RootMama: You have experienced loss along your fertility journey. Tell us about how you got through it and kept moving forward.
Nicole: All of my loss experiences were nearly ten years apart. The first loss I was a senior in college, and then ten years later I was pregnant with Peanut. The pregnancy with was unintentional pregnancy. I conceived her with someone that I wasn't really in a relationship with. I honestly was not excited about the pregnancy. I felt remorse for the pregnancy, but knew that I was not in a spiritual, emotional or psychological state where I would even consider an abortion for this baby. I chose to move forward with the pregnancy, but not engaged in the pregnancy.
When my baby came at twenty-four weeks. It was definitely a shock, but I was also not surprised. With my background in nursing, I understood the prognosis of a delivery at twenty-four weeks.
I was in California working when Peanut was born. She lived only a few hours.
Over time I was able to come to a place of peace about the her loss. Years later I realized that I was like a walking zombie. I had been depressed and wasn’t aware of it. I think time is the main thing that brought me healing.
Also apart of the healing process was my ability acknowledge that I have manifestation power and the power to co-create. I began to also understand that her spirit and energy came to me to serve a divine purpose. I began to look at my experience as a means to share with moms and my students. I had a shame and guilt around the experience.
I felt ashamed because I was over 30 years old, a nurse-midwife, I was knowledgeable about intentional pregnancy and I knew the importance of being pregnant by someone you love. And, yet I had conceived on accident. I feel that my state of mind before conception allows me to relate to many women and understand their situation.
RootMama: Acceptance and time helped you heal from the loss of your daughter?
Nicole: Yes, time helped me heal. Also, naming her and honoring Peanut as a person that came into my life even for a brief time helped me. I still keep her ashes. She is apart of my story. Years later, I still hold her birth story near to my heart.
RootMama: Tell us about your miscarriage experience.
Ten years later, I was 42, in love, experiencing a beautiful and wonderful relationship with a man who wanted more children. It was awesome.
I tracked my cycle using an ovulation app and monitored my cervical mucus. My partner happened to be out of town when I realized that my period was two weeks late. I couldn't wait to tell him.
When I told him we were both super excited. Then, a month later, I miscarried. It was a traumatic miscarriage. Lots of blood loss, clotting and pain. I was devastated.
At that point, I stop tracking my period. I think I just kind of let it all go for a little bit.
Then I conceived with my daughter a few months later.
RootMama: Tell us about the pregnancy and birth of your daughter, Kelile.
Nicole: I had a really pretty joyful easy pregnancy. Right before I conceived, I attended a workshop on midwifery on undisturbed birth.
I became familiar with the language of undisturbed birth. I then was able to release any of the fears that I had about being pregnant, Black and over 40. I was concerned about pre-eclamspia and preterm birth. But all the fears dissipated.
I further strengthened my resolve by speaking with other women over 40 who had natural pregnancy experiences. I thought to myself, “Oh yeah. I got this.”
I decided that I didn't want any of the genetic testings that are normally ordered for moms over 35. My vision was to maintain 100% commitment to the perfection of this pregnancy and birth.
And I knew that if I got an ultrasound and testing and if anything came out looking any kind of way, that it was going to disrupt that state of mind for me.
I chose to wait until I was like 20 weeks to gestation go begin prenatal care. I was planning for a home birth with a doula and midwife.
I started care with a local midwife. At my first appointment, I felt pressured to get an ultrasound. I felt bullied and I almost caved and got it.
And all of a sudden a thought came to me and I said, “My husband is not here. I know he would like to see the ultrasound.” She knew my husband, she was like “Oh absolutely that makes total sense”.
I left, got in my car, and I just burst into tears. I was like oh my God, I cannot believe how that felt. The experience made me think about all of the women who I try to advocate for and try to teach these things to. I then saw how difficult it is to do self-advocacy while pregnant. It really helped me understand how easy it is for pregnant women to be bullied into a decision that they don't want to make.
I get into 35 weeks pregnant. One night I go to the bathroom, and I get up and I'm still peeing and I'm like this is not a pee. I go back on the toilet I'm still peeing and then I realized this issue of water bag and I'm like “Ahh.”
I had my husband go and get nitrazine paper out of my bag and sure enough my water bag poured everywhere.
At that point I am feeling devastated because, in my mind, I’m going into Nurse Nicole mode. I’m thinking NICU, 35 weeks, and all the worst things that could happen.
And I'm like I have to go to the hospital and I'm like all the way devastated. I lay down, I can’t go to sleep and I was able to go to the hospital a few hours later.
If I had to do it again, I would have stayed home to birth, but in that moment and space, I had fear inside of me. I was worried that about my baby being born with some kind of a problem because she's preterm. I didn't want to take that risk, so I went to the hospital.
I got to the hospital and I am very clear on not being induced. I let the staff know that I wouldn’t be getting unnecessary cervical exams or getting pitocin. I let them know that I was my baby's preterm and she need may need help after delivery. But other than that, I don't need you at all.
It was a little bit of a tussle in the very beginning with the physician who was on call covering the midwife because they were very intent that I start pitocin. I was very clear, that’s not happening.
Ultimately, I signed an AMA or against medical advice release form because I declined the pitocin.
Then I did agree to allow them to use the fetal monitor, and I did agree to IV antibiotics.
Three days later, I went into labor and it was a very short. My labor was less than six-hours. Right before midnight I had my first contraction.
I initially thought I was having a reaction to the antibiotics because I started having diarrhea and went to the bathroom a couple of times. Then it was really severe crampy diarrhea.
Then I realized, this was labor and while I was in the bathroom in the second hour. I took off all the monitor stuff off of me. The nurse came in the room. I looked at her I said ‘I think I’m in labor .”
I didn't want her to know that it was labor initially because I didn’t want anybody to come into the room, I was just in the room me and my husband so I was like good, I'm not in my house, but I'm not being bothered, but after I had been off the monitor for so long she came in there. I mean I knew that was going to happen eventually too.
The midwife was on her way. When she arrived she asked me if I want to be checked and I declined. I did not want to be checked and at that point.
About an hour after that, the midwife came back and noticed my labor had intensified. She offered to move me back to the labor and delivery room and I agreed.
Then I get up off the bathroom floor. As we were getting ready to walk to the L&D room, a contractions brings me down to all fours. I could feel her almost like move out of me. I can't move and the midwife looked and she was like ‘oh.’
I was realizing now that was my transition and you know how we get to transition and all of a sudden you’re not thinking clearly about what's happening in that kind of way.
They put me on the bed and they brought me around to labor and delivery. I'm in a fog. I’m like flying over myself watching all of this happen. I have totally had an out of body experience.
I had given a medical resident permission to attend my birth. My husband, doula, midwife and a nurse were all there with me.
My husband climbed into the bed to support me. I had a large mirror in front of me. My doula and midwife stood across from me. I pushed and caught my own baby.
It was a beautiful birth. It was not everything that I fully wanted because I wanted to be at home, but even thought I was in the hospital, it was an intimate experience.
I had all my own clothes. I caught my own baby. It was beautiful. After she was born, a few hours later they came and checked her blood sugar and it was really low. And then they brought us into the NICU. But the birth in the first few hours after the birth where everything and definitely life-changing.
RootMama: I speak with women who are trying to conceive, ages ranging from 24 to 43. Women with PCOS, women with fibroids, women with hormonal imbalances, women who are struggling with their weight, women who have suffered loss and they feel a sense of depression and frustration with their situation. What can you share with them, and what kind of advice or encouragement can you offer women who are in the thick of trying to conceive?
1: Believe that conception is possible for you.
I sincerely believe that we have the ability to create our own reality. And I think that no matter what we see in front of us we have to maintain the understanding that a viable pregnancy is possible for us, no matter where we are in the journey.
2. Find positive examples of pregnancy.
Seek out those who have been successful in your particular journey. For example, women have reached out to me who are over 40 because they know I had a natural pregnancy and birth and they want to know how I did it.
If your journey is PCOS, seek out a sister who had PCOS and had a healthy pregnancy. Listen to her story. Allow her story to be a guiding light for you. If you only have one tube because of a previous ectopic pregnancy, seek out a woman who successfully conceived after an ectopic pregnancy. Overall, seek out the success stories in your journey and hold them up as a light to guide you. Use these success stories to help you remember what is possible.
RootMama: When planning to conciously concieve your child, did you make nutritional changes?
3. Drink herbal tea tonics.
Nicole: Yes, I started making maca root smoothies every day. I made herbal teas with red raspberry leaf infusions, oat straw infusions. Sometimes I would also drink teas with nettles and alfalfa. I started increasing my water intake. I had struggled in the past with getting enough water.
4. Pray, meditate and recite positive affirmations.
Another life change that I made was when started doing intentional prayer, meditation, and affirmations about my pregnancy; I didn't do them in an anxious kind of way. “Like oh please, I want to get pregnant!” Instead, I focused on gratitude.
5. Protect your energy.
We really have to protect our energy. That means avoiding negative news shows, reading articles about maternal mortality, and not allowing all of the outside forces to shift our energy to uneasy spaces. I had to also really control what I was allowing to go into my psyche, before and during pregnancy.
I would encourage women trying to conceive to get off social media, like for real. Unless you're going straight to a fertility support group or a positive, uplifting page. Only visit pages where you get a lot of love, support and good energy.
RootMama: How can people get in contact with you?
Nicole: They can get in contact with me on Sista Midwife Productions no matter where they are worldwide. If they visit my website, and click on the directory, we have a Black midwives and doulas listed. In fact, there is a new designation in the directory for providers that provide fertility support. I invite all providers that provide fertility support to join my directory.