Veneda Carter: “We didn’t even have time to talk about children. I just got pregnant”
Veneda Carter was busy working and travelling for Yeezy when she met her husband Weston. Things moved fast for the couple, and when Veneda got pregnant it came as a happy surprise. Here she talks about the birth of her daughter which was filmed from start to finish. She also talks about getting off to a good start with a night nurse and about leaving her job in order to extend her maternity leave
“I met Weston, my husband, near a supermarket in September 2018. He was sitting outside eating and from behind my sunglasses I could see that he was checking me out. When I came out again, he was still sitting there and still checking me out, but I just carried on walking. When I reached my car, there was suddenly someone behind me saying: “Excuse me.” It was him. We got talking and exchanged Instagram accounts. I was reluctant to give him my telephone number straight away. But things moved pretty fast after that. We met for a coffee that same day.
I was traveling a lot during that period so we didn’t see each other much. But things quickly became very serious, and we moved in together a couple of months later. Then we got married, and then I got pregnant. We didn’t have time to talk about children. I just got pregnant. At first, I panicked a little. I wasn’t sure that it was the right time. But, of course, it was – we were married and although it was going to change things a great deal, I couldn’t see any reason that Bobbi couldn’t become part of our lives.
I found out that I was four weeks’ pregnant, but in the sixth week I started to bleed a lot and thought I was going to have a miscarriage. Which I actually did because I was expecting twins. I had something called vanishing twin syndrome which my doctor told me was quite normal. Luckily, the doctor could see that there was one more egg and a heartbeat. But Bobbi was actually a twin.”
A private doctor from start to birth
“When you get pregnant in the US, you have to find a doctor and gynaecologist yourself if you don’t already have one. The women I spoke to who had had a baby in LA recommended getting a private doctor if I could afford it. The treatment you get varies quite significantly in the US depending on how much money you’ve got. I decided to prioritize a private doctor and made some phone calls to various doctors to get an appointment, but getting one was really difficult. But then I found a fantastic doctor, and I was luckily enough to get an appointment with her a week later, and she’s been with me ever since.
I went for a check-up with her once a month unless there was something I needed – then I went several times a month. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had more check-ups due to the level of protein in my urine, and in my final month I went to see her almost every week. I didn’t understand much of what they were saying, and I didn’t really ask them to explain. But the final tests that were taken showed that I had had a touch of preeclampsia. That’s why the week before I was due, my doctor thought it would be a good idea to try to induce me. I was quite overwhelmed by this, but I trusted her, and I was mentally ready to give birth. At first, we tried everything we could to get the process started naturally. Exercises, oils, acupuncture, long walks, drinking special tea. But nothing really happened. I could feel that the baby had moved quite far down and that there was a kind of pressure. I was 2.5 centimetres dilated, but my doctor said that it might be another week until I dilated further. My waters hadn’t broken – it wasn’t quite enough to get my contractions going naturally. But I was nearly there.”
“I pushed and threw up, pushed and threw up”
“I went in at midnight for the induction and lay around for a few hours. At 2 am I had a balloon catheter inserted as well as a drip. From then on, things went quite fast. Already a couple of hours later, my contractions started. They were fairly constant right away. I felt that I had contractions for a long, long time. They were painful, but I could handle them.
I breathed and walked around to try to get my mind off the pain. After about three hours, they broke my waters. Unfortunately, I got an infection and started to run a fever, and four hours later I couldn’t take it anymore and asked for an epidural. At that point, I was 8 centimetres dilated.
After I had the epidural, everything went quite smoothly. I couldn’t feel anything at all, and after an hour and a half I started to push. The only thing that was still unpleasant was the fever because I was shaking and shivering. The fact that I hadn’t eaten for so many hours was hard. I had so much acid in my stomach, and it hurt. During all this, I had to go to the toilet and I was throwing up. Pushing without really being able to feel anything was odd, but the nurses and my doctor could see on the monitor when it was time to push. I could feel pressure and asked whether that was a contraction, and it was. Then I was told to breathe in and push while exhaling. The contractions found a rhythm that I could follow. I had no idea how much I pushed. In my head, I pushed as hard as I could. They kept saying: ‘Good job!’ so I assumed I was doing the right thing. I pushed and threw up, pushed and threw up. So there was a lot happening at once, but I could only focus on getting her out.
When her head appeared and her shoulders were on the way, she got stuck. They lifted my pelvis up, and my doctor pulled her into place so that her shoulders could come out. It wasn’t until her head appeared that we could see that she wasn’t in the right position. My husband said that my doctor had put both hands inside me to turn her around. He had got a bit nervous about that. But I didn’t know what they were doing so I wasn’t worried.
She was born at 2 pm. So, it took 12 hours from the time I was induced until she was born.”
Mother- and sister-in-law at the birth
“Just before I started pushing, my husband’s mother and sister arrived as well. They had just changed the rules in LA to allow two people in the room in addition to the husband. In a way, it was weird that they were there, but I didn’t think about it very much. My own mother wasn’t able to fly over because of COVID.
We filmed the whole birth, and I tried to get as positive an experience out of it as possible. In the video, you can hear people talking and laughing. Many of my girlfriends who have seen the video cannot understand that I was able to concentrate on giving birth with so many people in the room. Although the room was large, in the end there was my husband, his sister, my mother-in-law, my doctor and two nurses. But I actually thought it was very reassuring. I really had a feeling that giving birth wasn’t as bad as many people say. A room full of pain-relieving oxytocin and love.
On the video afterwards I saw that they’d used an oil when her head was on its way out, and they kept lubricating and lubricating to soften and open up. That wasn’t something I’d noticed during the birth, but it looked so gentle and seemed so smooth. I really liked the connection my doctor had with Bobbi as she prepared her to be born. There was really a love in the way she was so gentle and at the same time did what she had to do.
When Bobbi had been born and was given to me, it was very overwhelming. I could hardly understand what I’d just been through and that she was mine. That she had grown inside me. It was so freaky and alien-like. But also the most fantastic thing and just I couldn’t take it all in. There was so much love. The first thing I thought about was who she looked like. She had completely black hair and was big and weighed four kilos.
We were in the hospital for three days because I had an infection and a fever and was on antibiotics. Bobbi also had jaundice because she didn’t get enough to eat at first because she was so big – and I didn’t have much milk. I hadn’t really prepared for breastfeeding or anything like that. I just took it as I went along, and I thought I’d have milk when I gave birth, but I didn’t. I was given a breastfeeding course in hospital, but I didn’t produce much. While we were still in hospital, we started giving her formula. We were allowed to go home on the third day.”
Off to a good start with a night nurse
“When we got home, I had a night nurse for the first three weeks. I found her during my pregnancy and met her several times and interviewed her before she met Bobbi. She had also been recommended to me by a friend so there was already a kind of trust there.
The schedule for the night nurse was that she arrived at about 9 pm and left at 7 am. Weston’s mother lives in Montana and only stayed for one extra day after the birth. So having the support of a night nurse was worth its weight in gold. For the first week, she was there every night and for the final two she was there from Monday to Friday. So I had the weekends alone. She woke me up every other hour and brought Bobbi in. When I had finished breastfeeding, Bobbi needed additional formula which our night nurse gave her, and I was able to go back to bed. She also changed and tucked Bobbi in again at night. Some nights I was really tired and needed sleep so the night nurse took her all night and gave her formula whenever she was hungry.
When the period with our night nurse ended, I felt completely ready to take on everything by myself. She was also the one who taught me how to bathe Bobbi and a lot of other things I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t had her support. Being able to ask her all the questions I had was fantastic, and I felt really safe knowing that she was there. Especially at night, it was nice to know that there was someone keeping an eye on Bobbi. There’s something slightly spooky about night-time. Especially when you’re so exhausted. I was almost afraid of falling asleep when Bobbi was sleeping. Also during the day really. If she wasn’t lying on my chest, I couldn’t fall asleep. I was so afraid that I would suffocate her or that something was going to happen to her.
Although in some ways I would have liked our night nurse to have stayed longer, I felt really ready after she’d been with us. At the same time, I didn’t really have a choice – I had to manage on my own.”
Bringing Bobbi to work
“In 2016, I was headhunted by Kanye West who had seen my Instagram. It was a time when I wanted to try something other than being a model. I wasn’t really happy, and no longer felt I was being challenged. I was contacted by Kanye’s assistant who wrote that he wanted to meet me. At first, I thought it was spam, but I flew to LA to meet him and the whole Yeezy team. From there, things moved quickly. I was only really supposed to be there for a few days, but ended up staying for two weeks and was asked whether I wanted to move to LA to work fulltime. Everything happened very suddenly so I couldn’t really take it in – but I was never in doubt.
Three years ago I started working as a personal stylist for Kim Kardashian. I’ve always kept it on the low because I wanted to concentrate and focus on my work without feeling it was being hyped up. She’s just a normal person and a good mother and a role model because she’s a businesswoman. She works on a lot of very exciting and cool things and is still able to be a fulltime mother.
They have very short maternity leave in the US, and I wasn’t ready to go back to work after three months so I resigned from my job at Yeezy. I probably already knew during my pregnancy that I wouldn’t go back after three months. I want to be part of Bobbi’s life while she’s so little. That time never comes back. Right now, I’m freelance and I have a lot of exciting projects coming up. I’ve tried bringing her to work before, where I had a friend who came with me and looked after her. Taking your baby to work isn’t usual in the US, but that’s the way I’m going to be doing things for a while. At least until I find a babysitter I feel I can trust.
I don’t feel that having a baby excludes one thing or the other. You can still have a successful career and a baby. I want her to be part of my life and part of my working life, and if I can bring her with me then why not? Now that I’m freelance, I’m the boss, and I’m the one who manages my time and my schedule. Including her in everything I do has been important to me. I still need to have the ability to be creative and work on different projects. Things are different now, of course, but it works.“
Interview Bea Fagerholt
Words Maja-Helena Francisca Claver & Adapted and translated into English by Dantrans
Editing Anna Rolin
Photo Sissel Abel
Thank you to Studio Cim Mahony