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"Birth stories are important...

We would like to invite our patients to share theirs.  It is only fitting that I start with my own. By the time my daughters birth came around I had been helping birthing people give birth for 12 years and had been a midwife for 5 years. I was still nervous, scared and did everything in my power to prepare. I did a hypnobabies course and meditated daily. Watched Spinning Babies videos, re read and reviewed books by Penny Simpkins and Ina May Gaskin and hired a Doula. I talked to all of my Midwifery and Obstetrician colleagues about their own birth experiences. I had delivered over 500 babies by that time, but experiencing it myself was going to be very different.

My goal was to have an unmedicated water birth and I planned to deliver her myself. It was ambitious, but I knew if I had the right support we could do it. My due date was April 12 and when that day came and went I was disappointed! The last few weeks of pregnancy are long and I was ready to meet her. I did several membrane strippings to try to go into labor that week- I had been dilated 2 cm since 39 weeks.

On April 17 while getting ready for bed I cracked my tooth and worried about going through labor with a broken tooth- I made an appointment with my dentist for the next morning. Of course that morning I woke up with contractions every 5 minutes! I decided to go to the dentist anyways to get my tooth fixed- I was going to need it fixed if I was going to get through natural childbirth. My contractions were light, I knew this was early labor. I listened to my hypnobabies recordings while the Dentist fixed my tooth and jokingly asked me not to have my baby in her office. As soon as she started the drill my contractions stopped- this is a very common thing that can happen in early labor. Your contractions may stop when you are in a unfamiliar situation, which is why we want patients to come to the hospital in active labor!

After the dentist I went home and napped. I tried some nipple stimulation with a breast pump (always consult your doctor or midwife about how to do this safely) to get labor to come back on but nothing happened. I was going to be 41 weeks the next morning. Around 9 pm I started having Braxton Hicks contractions- tightening of the belly without pain- back to back. I had a feeling labor would start in the middle of the night so I told my husband it was time for us to go to bed! At 2 am I woke with a start and a moan. These were VERY different contraction than the day before. I could not sit or lay down with them, they wrapped around my stomach and back and there was a strong energy feeling in the middle of my body. I had to move and stand they were so strong. I spent the next three hours walking around the house and using the shower.  By 5 am I was tired, the contractions were still strong but only 7 minutes apart.

Around 10 am I asked my husband to call our Doula- I was out of ideas and wanted the support. She came by at 11 with one of my midwife colleagues who checked me: I was 3 centimeters...I had progressed 1 cm...after all that!!!! 9 hours of labor. My first thought was ‘I want an epidural.’ And then my contractions completely disappeared and I cried. It was emotional, it was disappointing... and it was Normal! My Doula convinced me to go for a walk, we took our dog out with us and walked up and down the block. And just like that my contractions were back and so was my determination and motivation. The next 6 hours I labored with my husband and Doula and time didn’t exist.

I rested between contractions and moaned and moved into different position with them. I got in and out of the shower, walked around our backyard, labored on a birth stool and the toilet. Around 8 pm I started to feel nauseous and threw up during a very strong contraction- it was time to go to the hospital! I was crying tears of joy, roaring through each contraction on the freeway and was very aware of how bumpy the road was. It was sunset, the sky was pink, I knew we could do this.

As my sister pulled the car to the front entrance I had a very strong contraction and my water broke, more like shot out, with meconium (green stained water with baby’s first stool, very common with postdates delivery). I had brought a towel and got out of the car and waddled through the front doors. The security guard saw me and immediately cleared a path, wide eyed, he kept saying, “just go through!” I had to stop and roar through a contraction in the waiting room and a nurse came out to see who was making so much noise. I still maintain to this day that I was the loudest patient I have ever heard labor.

She took us into the unit where my nursing colleagues came up to me, I literally put my arms around them and told them I was so glad to see them. I was seriously in love with everyone at that moment. My friend and midwife was sitting at the desk, she was already admitting me- I told her my water broke in the car and we walked into the labor room and I got into the birth tub. Time seemed to speed up and slow down.

My Midwife checked me, I was 8 cm, and feeling pushy! The next two hours were a blur of contractions, the tub, a straight cath, a code brown incident (yes it happens to Everyone!), asking for nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and being disappointed it was in use, pushing too early, a swollen cervix and finally asking for an exam- because I was done! My midwife checked me again and she said I was 9.5 cm dilated and suggested reducing what’s called the anterior lip ( she would push the last bit of cervix behind the baby’s head so I could start pushing). At this point I was ready to push, had been feeling the urge for a while but laying on my back during a contraction was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. My Doula and Midwife motivated me to try and I am so glad they did. The minute that lip was gone I pushed and I could feel my daughter come down into my pelvis. And it was intense! I did the typical vasalva push (holding my breath for 10 seconds) and I hated it! But the next contraction came and I was uncontrollably pushing down, open glottis- it was better, but I also had no choice in the matter! 10 minutes later I could feel her head crowning, this was happening so fast. I was both spacing out, very aware of what was happening in my body and totally geeking out as a midwife. My eyes were closed, but I could picture her in my pelvis. I told her to go towards the yelling and cursing. I also thought, “how do I slow this down!?” So I started pushing in between contractions and now she was crowning. I’m pretty sure I said “ring of fire” multiple times.

My goal was to deliver her myself, I felt her head in my hand as she came out. I reached lower and felt her chin and then felt for a cord- clear. I took a deep breath and tried to push her shoulders out once, twice, nothing. I told my midwife that her shoulder were not coming and asked her for help. She applied slight traction and Violet was out. I reached for her and took her into my arms, this child I had been dying to hold for so long and I said, “it’s you!” She was slightly blue and not breathing quite yet. One of my nurses handed me the towel to stimulate her. My instinct was to lean down and kiss her forehead, she immediately began to wail!

At 2338 on April 19, 2019 she made her way earth-side, I pushed for 23 minutes, our labor was 22.5 hours long and it was so amazing, life changing and empowering. I will never again doubt, judge or feel bad about my body again and I will always make sure that Violet feels proud of her own. I could not have brought her into this world with out the support of the best partner ever, my amazing sister, our Doula, My Midwife, my amazing nurses and colleagues. Everyone supported me at some point during my pregnancy, labor and postpartum. It truly takes a village and Motherhood is an amazing ride. My hope for  all my patients is that they feel heard, respected and supported in the birth that they want!

Vicki Aphailee

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