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  • Writer's pictureHettie Barnhill

Cluster of Flowers, Virtue & Strength

This blog is a bit difficult to write.

Mostly because figuring out how to express the array of emotions that have been held, felt, discovered, and embraced since the last blog, is simply overwhelming.

Here goes…March 9th.

9:00 AM until 10:48 PM, I felt my insides in ways I could have never imagined, felt pain take me over, cried for pain management, heard my heartbeat slow down, was provided oxygen, battled fear, was introduced to catheters, got cut open at my core, watched my body turn inside out, vomited until I had nothing left in me, lost consciousness, was sewn back together, and was brought back to consciousness...

Then, presto...

At 10:49 PM, I had a baby and she is perfect.  

Her name is Vyrindai Mae, and she is my daughter. 


Thinking about "birth" before it happened, even while I was pregnant, seemed impossible.  I thought it was impossible for my body to produce life.  I thought, though many women have gone through it, that it still wouldn’t, or couldn’t, happen to me. Even the morning I went to the hospital and was told yes, indeed my water had broken, I couldn’t visualize the next step or see the other side of it all.  Each second that followed my water breaking was experienced as if it were both happening to me, as well as if it were happening to someone else completely, a total out-of-body experience, which has only extended into these past three weeks of Vy's life.  I still feel like I am watching a movie, that just so happens to be about me.

Deep breath

Clear lungs

Shallow breath

Focal point


Focus harder

Pain subsides


Start again

You got this

My mantra

Until it wasn't...

I met a new version of myself during the first nine hours of labor.  A version that was resistant, stubborn, and a little prideful.  I had decided I wasn’t going to partake in any pain medication.  After weeks of breathing exercises, I believed I was a pro and would be ready to meet this unknown pain head-on, not realizing that the doctors would want to induce me as soon as I got to the hospital.  Not understanding what that truly meant.  It was nothing gradual or graceful, to say the least.  The pain went from 0-10 in what felt like only seconds.  There was no time to recharge in between these induced contractions, which felt like they were lasting two hours at a time.

The first nine hours of labor, I resisted any help and tried desperately to push through.  Until my body gave out...

Tears flowed from my eyes because I was giving into pain beyond my control.  I felt like I was failing the warrior that lives inside of me.  I knew, that at this point, I had to swallow my pride. I asked for help and was offered incredible words of wisdom from my doctor who helped me through the process of acceptance for the unknown and unplanned, I received an epidural and the relief was instant.  

My mind and my body were finally at a place of peace and rest, but only for a few moments. After some adjustments, I saw my doctors face and without her saying a word, I knew that at nine hours in, this experience was only beginning and it was about to get even harder.

What followed was an emergency C-Section. 

A procedure that was NOT in my plan, and one I didn't even imagine because leading up to the labor, I was told again and again that the baby was in a perfect position.  Once again, I was reminded that I'm not always in charge, and to get through this I had to trust the process, that was my reality.  I had to listen to my doctor and her advice.  Seconds later I was being read the risks ahead of me, once again I was outside of my body.  My husband and I sat there, numb, worried and unable to avoid the deepest fears in the back of our minds regarding the disparity in maternal death rates for black women, however, we did our best to silence that noise.  We pushed through, or rather, were pushed through by circumstance as we had to “let go and let God”.

I had to listen, and the answer was GO…

My gift for listening was her, Vyrindai.

Now, a little over three weeks later, every second that goes by, I slip even deeper into a love I’ve never experienced before. 

Three weeks of healing, and three weeks of feeling, my emotions bounce around these walls I'm surrounded by and resting within.

The idea that there are multiple levels to being postpartum is quite an understatement, but it is also as natural, as it is new.  Nothing before this seems to matter much right now.

In a matter of moments, the definition of life as I knew it, was re-defined in her image, her voice, and her scent.

I love her so, and already I feel a sense of pride.  This time it is for her.

I want to protect her from the air itself.  I've never seen anything so pure before.

I am a mother. I am her mother.

I couldn't be more honored by that.

Even though, she just might be a Daddy’s girl...

It is April 1st 

But on March 9th

I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby girl

She's worth everything that led me to her

Her name itself shares with her ancestors

Generations deep

Cluster of Flowers

Virtue & Strength  

Vyrindai Mae Gertler


Apr 02, 2019

OOOOOO Hettie..she is BEAUTIFUL just like you! YOU did it lil momma and all your hard work in labor has brought you this precious darling! EVERYTHING you wrote as challenging as it is and did it Hettie!!!!

35 years ago TODAY my 1st born son was brought into this world almost the exact same way...only it was HIS heart rate that slowed down and the decision was made to C-section him after 33 hours of labor and, and like you I had the " i can do this mentality"....upon waking up i felt the same." I FAILED" 3 , count em 3 c-sections later...Bryan is 35 today, Patrick will be 32 in May and Daniel will be …


Apr 02, 2019

Wow! You are brave and courageous.

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