Everything about Leoni was mysterious from the start. She was a surprise baby in every way. I didn’t even do a test til I was two weeks late on my period as I was “convinced” I was not pregnant. Her energy was so subtle and sweet right from the get go. About a week before my “due date” I started getting the typical period like cramps and felt she may arrive at any moment so I called my doula (who just so happens to be my best friend that lives 7 hour drive away) and we discussed when she should come. I’d have moments of feeling like she could arrive any day and then moments of feeling like I was no where near meeting my babe . I oscillated between pure impatience and total trust but the second time birthing mama nerves were REAL!!! I listened to my hypnosis tracks a lot to help ease the nerves and even though I knew my body knew exactly what to do I still felt pre birth jitters that I didn’t experience the first time around. With leoni my body was opening up for days... I would have random contractions , some were even quite strong but they didn’t have a rhythm to them so I’d think it was go time for a second then be a little disappointed when they went away. One night I had quite regular waves and I was sure this was it!!!! I even got step daughter to come over from her moms house so she could be there. Finally after a few hours they subsided and I went to bed. I dreamt all night long that I was having really strong contractions so I probably was but I was fortunate to sleep through it all!!!!! At this point I was definitely impatient and dying to meet my babe. The day I went in to full blown labor it’s like my body knew it was almost go time.... I took TWO blissful naps whilst my best friend watched my toddler. By the early evening I was having pretty strong waves but still really far apart.... I remember being so hesitant to call my midwife as I didn’t want it to be a false alarm. Finally after they got a little stronger I called her and said “well this baby is probably coming either tonight or tomorrow “ to which she replied “ no ! this baby IS coming tonight ! Once the sun goes down and you put your older daughter to bed your body is going to kick in to high gear” . Wow was she right!!!! So we went on with our night, ate dinner and put our 3 year old to bed. Amidst it all I was having a strong waves and my amazing daughter would hold my hand and say “ peaaaaace” I remember having a really strong one and everybody (my daughter, husband and best friend) just squeezed me and showered me in so much love. Me and my husband put my daughter to bed around 9:30pm. I had some really strong waves as I laid beside her. I held my husband’s hand and he squeezed it back and we just knew this would be the last time we put Kali to bed by herself. She fell asleep and we came in to the lounge with tears in our eyes, the bittersweet knowing that everything was about to change. Me and riki laid on the floor together, kissing , loving on each other. The oxytocin was flowing!!! I’d have super strong waves but still far a part so I had no real idea how far I was in to my labor. The three of us then got into fits of laughter .... riki made me laugh so hard during a contraction that my water broke and gushed everywhere!!! That’s when I knew it was GO time . I remember Malena (my best friend and doula) preparing me by saying “ok honey now your waters have released it’s really going to pick up” and boy was she right! My midwife arrived shortly after the waters broke and already by then my waves were so close together that it was hard for her to find a chance to listen to the heartbeat .I was on the toilet at this point as I kept needed to poop and it felt good to stay there . My doula squeezed my hips as hard as she could as my husband filled up the tub. There was really no break in between waves so I knew babe was coming fast. Then we moved to the lounge floor where I kept seeing the image of a lioness in my mind and even said to my birthing team “I feel like a lioness!!!”. Even though the waves were intense, like the most powerful current surging through my body , I felt so strong and calm. I met each wave with love and stared it down like a true lioness!!! I will never forget the strength I felt. As I was on the floor my midwife checked me and I was 4cm dilated. I decided to get in the tub and it felt soooo good. I remember asking someone the time and they said 11:30pm.... I just knew baby would be born soon. In the tub my amazing husband squeezed my hips as hard as he could for every wave... and the waves were still coming so fast so he was getting a serious workout. On my knees, leaning over the tub I reached for my midwifes hand and she just grabbed my hand straight away. Her presence was so loving and strong . I kissed her hand in pure appreciation. I felt so loved and held and supported by everyone. My husband would kiss my back in between waves and tell me I was doing so good. As my waves intensified I would squeeze my midwifes hand whilst my husband simultaneously squeezed my hips . This counter pressure really grounded me and contained the energy of the POWERFUL surges. I had one wave that sticks out in my mind as the peak of intensity .... my sounds got very raw and almost animalistic and my face made an expression that luckily my doula caught on camera !!! It was so RAW and primal!! The photo still makes me laugh as I’ve never seen anyone let alone me make that face. Birth doesn’t care about pretty or perfect... it’s raw , it’s real and as damn right primal as it gets. My husband was definitely in a pool with my poop just floating around as with each of my birth I need to poop throughout ! He was such a trooper and kept bringing those epic hip squeezes. My midwife was saying the perfect things, and I felt so good just holding her hand whilst leaning over the tub. Then I started to feel A LOT of pressure... I could really feel baby descending and coming down fast. I wasn’t pushing at all ... she was just barreling through me and there was so stopping her. I felt excited and happy as I knew it was close ! All of a sudden she was just there ... crowning!!! I was sooo thrilled as I knew I would be holding my baby so soon . I panted like a puppy when I started to feel the perineum stretch (something my first midwife taught me to prevent tearing). My midwife directed me to lay back and rest on my husband’s chest so that I could open my legs wide and bring my baby out in to the world. After one wave and one push her head was out and I just pulled her up and straight to my chest. I couldn’t believe it was already over and that my entire birth vision came to fruition!!! Leoni took about 40 seconds to even cry... apparently this is common with really fast births as they don’t even know they’ve been born yet. Hearing that cry was the best sound ever!!!!! My heart over flowed with joy!! They I check down with my hand to check the sex. We were absolutely gob smakcked to find we had another beautiful girl . The whole pregnancy we had felt like she was a boy!! But our mysterious girl brought us the most magical surprise. I cried happy tears as her big sister wanted her to be a girl more than anything!!! She latched and started suckling almost immediately and her little mouth just felt so tiny and perfect. We couldn’t believe she was here already !!! The placenta came easily and quickly as we just laid in the tub in awe of what had just happened. It couldn’t have been more perfect !!!!! Our oldest woke up shortly after and we brought her out to meet her baby sis. I will never forget my amazing big girl walking towards me with sleepy eyes and a sweet smile saying “ mommy I am SO proud of you” . She gave her baby sister kisses and we move to the bedroom so baby could be weighed and checked over. 6 pounds 14 of pure magic. The next day my midwife came over to visit and in her words ... “ all births are beautiful but last night in this house , the heavens truly opened “ .
I would love to recommend most highly our wonderful homebirth midwife Susanna Napierala. Susanna has been an integral part of the births of both of our beautiful children.
We have learned so much from her vast amount of experience as a pioneer bringing waterbirths to the U.S. Our first child was supposed to be a homebirth, but our boy came just a bit too early. Susanna had prepared us well beforehand, getting to know us and allowing us to get to know her. She provided perspective, and options enabling us to ultimately make the difficult decision to go to the hospital with her support and accompaniment. At the hospital, she helped us implement our birth plan without medical interventions by giving us advice from informed observations throughout the evolving labor. She supported us and was sensitive for our need to advocate for ourselves in the hospital/corporate environment.
For our daughter’s birth, we had the wonderful experience of a home waterbirth. It was during this birth that we were able to see Susanna truly in her element. She was clear about the roles for each participant, and displayed great leadership making sure we had the proper team assembled (i.e. 2nd midwife, and doula), and that we understood our supportive roles for the wishes and needs of mama and baby. The labor and birth itself was short and beautiful, dictated by mama and baby. Susanna was strong, calm, and supportive. She allowed the process to unfold at its natural pace, saying just the right thing, in just the right way to each of us. She recognized the signs of the process and advised accordingly and decisively. She is a consummate professional who leaves nothing to chance yet does not impose unnecessary treatments or interventions. She empowers parents and especially birth mothers to own the process and give birth without fear.
I hope more families call on Susanna. She is a treasure in this world of ever increasing medicalization and corporatization of the birth process.
She demonstrates to us how to be in touch with and trust our bodies.
Just want to put out there a recommendation for our wonderful homebirth midwife Susanna Napierala. Susanna was amazing for us on many levels. She has over 3 decades of experience helping moms deliver babies at home. She has been instrumental in helping to bring water births to the U.S., having studied directly under Igor Tjarkovsky, and writing the book – Waterbirth, A Midwife’s Perspective. She has extensive knowledge of many possible birthing circumstances that can onlycome from participation in so many births over the years. She prepared us very well with knowledge, tools, techniques and emotional support…she was totally there for us as our homebirth morphed into a hospital birth due to our baby coming 4 weeks early. She was a constant calming influence, offered us scenarios to consider at each stage and supported our choices. Her hands-on techniques and intuition were a great comfort to us before, during and after labor and delivery. She took the time to get to know us on a personal level, creating a bond that was critical during the trying times of labor. She is most concerned with positive outcomes (healthy baby, healthy mama) and while giving us the best opportunity to carry out our homebirth plan, she was not afraid to recommend the safest course of action when circumstances did not seem quite right. I recommend her most highly and without reservation to any potential homebirth parents on the North SF Bay Area.
I was a week and a half past my first due date and I kind of had a feeling the baby was coming because I'd just felt tired and nauseas all day. I'd spent the time I usually use to walk and do my yoga napping, and I was still pretty sleepy. Juan got home from work at 11 and I went to bed around 1am and woke up feeling some contractions at about 3. I was trying to stay relaxed and get some sleep between contractions and that was working out alright. They started coming on really strong after a few hours and I threw up a couple times. I knew this was it and I started having to wake juan up when I was having a contraction so he could press on my back, it really helped with the pain, and it helped knowing he was experiencing it with me. He got up around 7 and started filling the birth tub. I was in heavy labor, my contractions were about 7 minutes apart. I stayed in bed for a little while and tried to ride them out. I ended up getting up around 9 and calling my mom and Susanna, my midwife. Contractions were really intense at this point and I lost track of time. I was sitting on a pillow on the couch and when I had a contraction I would push up with my arms so the tension was in my shoulders instead of my bottom, this helped. Another position that was working for me was standing up in the hall and bracing myself with my arms out. Juan was trying to time my contractions but I kept yelling at him to push on my back so we were struggling to get the times right I think they were about 5 minutes apart. My mom arrived before my midwife to pick up the dogs, and she was helping me breathe through the contractions. Susanna arrived and checked me and we were delighted to find that I was 9 cm dilated and it was almost time to push! She said to my mom "you're going to be here for the birth" my mom asked if I wanted her to stay and I said yes, I needed her. I got in the tub and the water was still pretty cold but not so bad considering it was July and it was heating up outside. Juan was busy boiling water to warm up the tub and Susanna was gathering things together for the birth. My mom was riding out transition with me, she was incredible, it was like she could feel what I was feeling it was amazing. I started getting the urge to push as Juan and Claudette heated water on the stove to warm up the tub. Susanna and Claudette showed me how to push and I kept my eyes on my mom as she pushed along with me. I was in there trying for about an hour and Juan suggested he get in the tub to help support me from behind and that helped for a little bit but overall I could tell I wasn’t progressing much. After a couple hours of trying to push in the tub the midwives suggested I get out and try to pee because it was possible my bladder was full and keeping me from getting her head out. I sat on the toilet and my contractions kept coming fast and hard, I don’t know if I succeeded in peeing because everything was just on fire down there, but I do think the gravity from being upright might have helped me get things going. The midwives asked if I’d like to try pushing on the bed for a while and I was ready for a change so they got me into position on my side with Juan behind supporting me and my mom helping me hold my leg up over her shoulder. It took about an hour of pushing on the bed before her head finally popped out and a couple more good pushes for the rest of her. Susanna placed her on my chest and I remember crying out in joy and relief as I heard her voice for the first time. She asked Juan if he wanted to cut the cord and he did. He did such a good job staying calm and supporting me. I was exhausted and exhilarated and hungry and full of love. I’m so glad I chose to take my birth experience into my own hands and had Susanna to encourage my self care all through my pregnancy, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
I was 41 weeks pregnant and was feeling very eager and impatient for the labor process to begin. On Thursday, July 6, I lost my mucus plug. Several hours later, the early hours of Friday morning, I was awakened with some contractions that persisted until 10a... I decided to go into work because I had felt contractions at this intensity before, and they had turned out to be Braxton Hicks. I left work around noon because I wasn’t feeling myself and my supervisor was concerned about the potential of me going into labor.
Once I got home, I took a nap and woke around 2 pm. By 3, my contractions started again. I wanted to stay moving, but it was 101 degrees outside, far too hot for a walk, so I decided to go to the mall to walk around. As I walked, contractions got more intense, so after an hour I decided it was a good idea to go home and ask my husband to leave work. I cooked a nice dinner so I would have strength if this turned out to be labor. We called Susanna to notify her and she instructed us to call when my contractions were more consistent.
After dinner, I decided to try to relax and to get some sleep. My husband started a movie and we cuddled up in bed. About half way through the movie, my contractions started to get painful and I was unable to sleep. In fact, staying still, sitting, or lying down made the pain so much worse. The only way I could get relief was from walking, bouncing on an exercise ball, or getting on all fours. Knowing I was in labor and this was going to be a long night, I continued to try to get some sleep between contractions; however, sitting or lying made the pain excruciating; making sleep impossible.
It was also very difficult for us to gauge how far into labor I was because the time between my contractions was very inconsistent. I would have one contraction 3 minutes apart, another 10 minutes apart, another 5 minutes apart, etc. The intensity was also quite variable. I was worried that I was still in early labor so I didn’t want to have Susanna come too soon and have nothing to do. My spirits were waning , so around midnight, my husband called my mom to come and help out. After midnight, time was such a blur. I was so withdrawn, only able to focus on managing the pain that time seemed to disappear completely. I was in such a fog that even my memory of my birth process feels a bit blurry and I am uncertain of the order of the events.
After my mom arrived, she helped for a while and then got concerned that I was getting far into my labor and needed Susanna to be present. Because the time between my contractions continued to be so sporadic and all over the place, I was hesitant to request Susanna’s presence since I believed I was still in early labor. After my mom and husband insisted, I asked Susanna to come over.
Once Susanna arrived, she checked my cervix and reported that I was 8.5 cm dilated. It seemed that things were really moving fast. She called the other midwife to assist and my husband got in gear to fill the birth pool. After it was full, I got in and the water was absolutely amazing! It seemed to cut the pain of my contractions in half. I was so relaxed spending time in the water. My labor started slowing down and I developed a cervical lip, necessitating my departure from the pool to labor with the assistance of gravity. I was disappointed to leave the pool, as I had hoped to have a water birth. I labored while lunging, on a birth stool, while walking, on the toilet, and on the bed. Susanna then encouraged me to labor in the shower with my husband. The sensation of the water pressure and the confined space really bothered me. I exited the shower. Susanna then suggested I go to the bed where I labored in different positions to try to get rid of the lip. Eventually the lip resolved and I was 10 Cm dilated. By that point, it felt like I was laboring forever! I was in so much pain and was so exhausted, that I doubted my ability to continue and feared pushing because I was terrified that it was going to hurt so much worse. Emotionally, I fell apart completely and was cursing my decision to have a baby without pain management drugs. I think I might have even asked to be taken to the hospital.
Susanna talked to me just in the way I needed to get me through that inner struggle. She used a firm but kind tone with me. She shared her birth story with me, which helped me to stop judging myself for my feelings and soothed my emotional struggle dealing with the pain. She walked me through guided imagery. Both of these interventions helped me calm down and placed me in a mindset that gave me energy to complete my birth.
I never felt a strong urge to push, like was described by our labor coach or my friends. So Susanna suggested that I just give it a try. She had me pushing from different angles. I pushed for about two hours and then tried pushing on the birth stool so gravity would help the baby exit. My husband held me from behind while Susanna sat in position to catch the baby. I pushed several times and the baby seemed to fly out of me with incredible force. Susanna caught her. Our baby Reese was born at 11:25 a.m. on 7/8. She was crying the first 5-10 minutes of life. Susanna immediately handed her to me. I was concerned that I would drop her as she was wet and Susanna assured me that I was not going to drop my baby and wrapped her in a blanket and handed her back to me. After I delivered the placenta and my husband cut the umbilical cord, we laid in bed. I got to cuddle with Reese and fed her for the first time. Susanna explained how to breastfeed. Everyone left the room and my husband, baby, and I had our first moments alone together as a family… our bonding time.
Susanna stayed with me hours after the birth. This was invaluable to me, because I was exhausted after giving birth. I really needed someone who would take on a leadership role, help guide me, and be a voice of reason and encouragement. Susanna fulfilled all of these roles for me. She intuitively knew what I needed without me having to ask, which is a good thing. During this process, I really struggled to effectively articulate my needs.
Giving birth was by far the most challenging but rewarding experience of my life. I feel very fortunate that my birth experience was, in large part, uncomplicated and I was able to have my home birth. Susanna was such an amazing guide, mentor, and friend throughout this life changing process. I wouldn’t have wanted my birth experience any other way.
From the moment I decided to have a child I knew I wanted to have a water birth. I thought this could only be done at the hospital or a birthing center. After further research I found out I could also have it in the comfort of my own home. This is what I wanted. My husband, on the other hand, was skeptical about my safety. After watching the documentary, The Business of Being Born, which I think every expectant mother should watch, he was on board. We did decide to have prenatal care at the Health Center as well in case of having to be transfered to the hospital. I then began the search for a midwife. Susanna's website was one of the first I came across. She seemed to have the most experience of all the midwives, having pioneered water births in the States, written a book and with many deliveries under her belt . When I first met her, I knew almost instantly she was the midwife for me. She was warm and bright. And I could tell she had passion for what she did. It was a match made in heaven. We started my prenatal care that same day. I had already been going to the Health Center for a couple months. And the prenatal visits were as different as night and day. Susanna would spend 1 to 2 hours with me, as oppose to 10 to 15 minutes at the Health Center. She was very thorough, covering nutrition, chiropractic care, my husband and my emotion state. She was armed with a wealth of knowledge. I learned so much during those visits. I could see she knew what she was doing and decided to give her 100% of my trust. I gave her full rein and let her be my guide to what was going to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
My water broke at 7:30 in the evening, at which time I called Susanna. She told me to take a hot bath, relax, eat well and rest as much as I could for the night to come. At midnight the pain set in. Tom got up and began to set up the tub. There is so much anticipation when your pregnant to begin labor, but as soon as I felt the pain I immediately welcomed another week of pregnancy. I had expected to have a long labor, as many first time moms experience. Nothing is what you expect it to be. My Aunt arrived, shortly followed by Susanna. I remember feeling so relieved to see her come through the door. One of the things I appreciated the most about my experience with Susanna is her asking me how I wanted my birth to go. What I needed from her. How I needed her to be with me during labor. This she executed to a T. I didn't need to be cuddled or have a gentle hand. I needed someone to be firm and straight forward. Susanna is a very gentle woman, so I feel she stepped out of her comfort zone to give me what I needed.
Right out the gate my contractions were a minute apart. Susanna sent me and the hubby out for a walk for about 30 minutes, having me squat during the contractions to help get the baby to drop. At 5 cmm. dilated I got in the tub and quickly moved to being fully dilated. It all happened so quick that the assistant midwife had not yet made it to the birth. This was going to be my most challenging minutes to come, to not push when every part of my body was telling me to push. I could wait no longer, my little man was coming. I remember letting out one scream on my first push. Susanna looked at me firmly and told me to get a GRIP. She told me I was not going to scream. I was going to use that energy and push it down and get that baby out. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Tom got in the tub. I laid back in his arms and with three more pushes my beautiful baby boy came out and was immediately put in my arms. Leo arrived and 5:30 am. It was a moment of pure bliss. Followed by a cold feeling and severe shaking. Little had I known that I had started bleeding a little to much for comfort. Susanna jumped into action get the cord cut and directing my Aunt to put the camera down and get the baby and tend to him while Susanna got me out of the tub and into bed where she gave me a shot of pitoson to stop the bleeding. We were all impressed with how well she handled the situation. Leo was quickly brought back to my arms and to my breast. By this time the assistant had arrived and was by my side showing me how to get Leo to latch. After I birthed the placenta and I cleaned up a bit, they gave Tom, Leo and I time to lay in bed together and bond. The next time I left the room my home had been cleaned, tub drained and put away and breakfast made for us. I had not expected all that to be done for us.
Susanna came everyday for the next week for my postpartum care. And continued to visit for the weeks to come. She went over and beyond for us with her postpartum care. She was there for me answering any questions and concerns that I had. When I felt alone or fearful, she was there for me. I felt, and still feel, that I can go to her for anything, getting her full attention when I need it most. I truly feel that my birth went as smoothly as it did due to her care. She is so dedicated in her field. In my eyes she is like the salt of the earth. I feel that I not only have a wonderful midwife, but now beautiful friend in my life. I could not Thank her enough.
I can't express in words how thankful I am that I was able to have such a wonderful midwife take care of me through my pregnancy, birth and post care. Susanna is exceptional at making one feel well taken care of. She is attentive, accessible and hard working. She has the experience and knowledge that great midwifes have along with a beautiful personality of care, love and commitment to her work. She has gone above and beyond what I could have ever asked for from anyone in the medical field, and I will always be grateful to her for giving us such a perfect birth experience.
The evening before my due date I started feeling a little strange, like there might be something going on with me hormonally. I felt like I had chills as if I was getting sick, but I didn't feel like I was getting sick. Francisco said my face looked flushed. We went to bed that evening hoping we would get to meet our little one soon.
I woke up around 2:30 a.m. feeling crampy. I immediately thought this might be early labor and lay in bed trying to sleep but I couldn't sleep because the contractions, while mild, were coming every five minutes. I talked to my midwife, Susanna, on the phone a few times to update her on my progress. She asked questions about the contractions, encouraged me to try to sleep and told me if this is labor it’s very early.
I called Susanna again about an hour later to let her know how things were progressing. She again told me it’s still early on, but asked if I was comfortable with her not being there. At that point, I was. At a little after 6:00 a.m. I asked Francisco to call Susanna to ask her to come over. I was starting to worry if we waited much longer she would get stuck in rush hour traffic and I didn’t want to risk having the baby while Susanna was stuck in traffic!
At about 7:30 a.m. Susanna arrived. I was in the bedroom. She immediately asked Francisco to start boiling a big pot of water to sterilize her tools. She came into the bedroom and said she wanted to check me to see how far along I was. I was dilated 1 centimeter, 85% effaced and baby was at -1 station. During this check Susanna stretched my cervix open to 3 centimeters. It was painful but really got labor going quickly.
Soon after Susanna arrived I labored for a little while in the living room/kitchen area to be near Francisco and Susanna. Susanna wanted me to eat. Earlier that morning I had a smoothie because I knew I was supposed to eat and that was really the only thing I could stomach. Susanna suggested I eat eggs, which sounded disgusting, so I went to the kitchen to try to find something somewhat appetizing. While I was standing in the kitchen I felt a very strong contraction come on. I dropped to hands and knees, then told Susanna I felt sick. She immediately got me a bowl and I vomited up all of the smoothie. Yuck! I left the kitchen and didn’t consider eating anything else.
After leaving the kitchen I went back to bed. Around 9:00 a.m. Susanna told me we were going to go for a walk in the neighborhood. That sounded awful; I could not imagine a worse way to have a contraction than to be outside walking. I procrastinated and tried to get out of going on the labor walk.
Susanna checked me before the walk; I was 4.5 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced and the baby was still at -1 station. It was nice to know I had made progress and was about halfway there, but I was not dilated enough to get out of going for the walk.
We left for the walk at about 9:20 a.m. Susanna told me when contractions came during the walk Francisco and I were supposed to both drop into a squat with me leaning on him. As we were getting ready for the walk I had a contraction at the front door. Susanna dropped into a squat with me and demonstrated how we should do it.
We left for the walk, an dit was the most beautiful spring day I have ever seen. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, the sky was clear and blue, the trees were in bloom, and the temperature was perfect. Everything was extremely vivid. It felt like a day made for a birth!
Contractions were coming one on top of the next; it felt like I couldn't walk five feet without stopping and squatting through another contraction. I would walk a few feet then turn to Francisco and say, "Okay, let's do another." We would both squat down, and he was the perfect support; I leaned completely into him and found myself moaning through very intense contractions. Neighbors were stopping as they drove by to make sure we were okay. Susanna intercepted everyone and said, "everything's fine, we're just having a baby." I remember hearing one man say something along the lines of, "it sounds like she's ready." (I didn't care in the least at the time, but it's a pretty funny scene to look back on!) Susanna must have agreed because she cut the walk short and we turned around and went home.
We got home at about 10:00 a.m. and I went straight to the toilet, where Susanna told me to continue laboring. In retrospect, I know now I was in transition while I was on the toilet. At the time I felt like the contractions were really intense and I didn't feel I was managing them well. I felt my hips were tight and I told Susanna, "I can't relax on the toilet." I wanted to go back to bed, but she suggested I get in the tub. I immediately said yes, thinking the water might give me some relief.
I did get about a minute or two of relief as soon as I got in the water. Susanna checked me right away and told me, "you're 9 centimeters if not complete." She immediately yelled to Francisco, who was now back in the kitchen. I remember Susanna yelling, "Francisco!" He didn't respond, and I yelled, "We're going to have a baby!" It was about 10:20 a.m. at this time.
I started pushing around 10:40 a.m. I was getting light-headed and started breathing oxygen after each push. Susanna was checking the baby’s heartbeat regularly and determined the baby wasn’t happy when I lay on my back. She suggested I lay on my left side. I couldn’t get comfortable in that position in the bathtub I started out lying down and wasn't making much progress so I switched to a squat position in the tub. Francisco was in charge of turning on the oxygen and giving me the mask after every single push. We had a good rhythm going - I would push, take a couple of breaths of oxygen, push again, breath oxygen, etc., until the contraction ended. I have always heard people say it feels good to push, and I definitely experienced that. It was hard work to push but I did not feel pain when I was pushing.
At some point Susanna told me to feel the head. I reached down and felt a soft hairy head, but really had no emotion or interest and just wanted to get back to work. In what seemed like no time, Luna (Susanna's assistant midwife) arrived just as I was delivering Sulema's head. Then I heard Susanna say very calmly, "the cord is around the baby's neck twice." As soon as I heard that I pushed hard and the rest of Sulema's body came out. It was 11:32 a.m.
I didn't see Susanna unwrap the cord, but I think she got it unwrapped even before the body came out. I was standing in the tub and Susanna handed me the baby who was already making noises and turning pink. I was in complete shock. Every time I watch a birth video I get teary when the baby is born, but I had none of those emotions when Sulema was born. I was simply in shock. I remember saying something like, "I can't believe it," over and over again and just staring at the tiny person in my arms.
Almost immediately after I stood up with Sulema in my arms I felt something warm. I looked down and saw a stream of pee going from the baby into the tub. Before I had time to look at where the pee was coming from I heard Francisco say, "It's a girl!"
Susanna and Luna helped me out of the tub and into the bed while I held Sulema, who was still connected to me. We lay in bed together while Susanna and Luna checked out my tear and waited for me to deliver the placenta. Susanna said the tear was most likely caused by Sulema’s shoulders – I’m sure it happened when I did that last big push because I really pushed hard and fast. Eventually they gave me a shot of Pitocin in the leg to get the placenta out so they could start stitching me up. The placenta came out easily and I felt the same weird empty feeling in my abdomen that I felt when Sulema was born. They kept the placenta in a bowl and proceeded to repair my tear. The stitches took awhile, but weren’t painful and healed well. Later that day Susanna showed us the placenta and explained how it works – that was very cool to see. She stayed and helped clean up and made sure we were all doing well.
Susanna left that evening then returned the next day, a few days later, then a week later and a month later. It was wonderful to have that in-home support while I was healing and adjusting to having a newborn.
When I began my journey of becoming a mother for the second time, it was 8 years after I had given birth to my first child. I felt similar emotions that I had when I found out I was pregnant for the first time: excitement, anticipation, empowerment, as well as fear of the unknown. As I began to search for a midwife I spoke to a few, but was still waiting to feel a sense of relief in choosing a midwife. As I spoke with Susanna on the phone I immediately felt at ease and knew in my heart that she would be with me through every stage of my pregnancy.
During my prenatal care I was able to speak openly with Susanna about everything that was happening in my life. She helped me by answering any questions I had about pregnancy, birth, and post-natal care. Every time we met, not only did I feel confident that the baby was healthy and growing properly, but I also felt comfort in my special relationship that was forming with my midwife. She was there in every moment I felt I needed her. And always called me back promptly. Her advice and encouragement came from a place of genuine love and care for being a part of this amazing birth process that I called my own.
About a week after my due date I went into what’s considered to be false labor. Susanna came over immediately. She checked my labor progress frequently and finally, at a very odd hour we both accepted that this baby was not ready to come out. I was able to rely on her to stick around till morning, just in case anything changed. Knowing she was there helped me rest with ease, even though I was waiting with great anticipation. Low and behold, a few days later I went into labor… my daughter was TWO weeks late!!!! I went into a deep primal place within myself through my labor, for the most part, I wanted to be left alone. Susanna respected my wish, however insisted on giving me medical attention to ensure that both me and the baby were safely progressing towards birth. As I got closer to birthing, I remember Susanna gently reminding me to deepen my sounds, rather than come from a place of fear vocally (these are my words, she didn’t say that) and find the strength within to help get the baby out. She breathed with me and supported me in the exact way that I needed her too.
As the miracle of my child came into the physical world and out of my womb, I was able to hold her in disbelief that I had jut given birth to a perfect child. Susanna checked to make sure she was 100% in good health, fulfilling her duty as midwife.
After the birth, my hormones took over, giving me ease in the pain I had felt throughout the process of labor and child birth. Excitement kicked in full force. Susanna stayed with me for hours, offering food and to answer any questions that came up for me or my partner, and even my son. Once she was able to tell I was in great physical health and had my husband to help properly monitor and care for me, she left with graciousness. Over the next few days I received frequent calls from her to simply check in, along with weekly visits to check on all of us, baby, me and the rest of the family. Throughout this whole process Susanna made sure I was completely nourished and communicated clearly that her main priority was to help me have the best experience possible in ever way.
I have been a midwife for over 35 years. Giving birth to my son is by far the most beautiful experience I have ever had and I want others to experience the same joy in bringing their children into the world