The first time I met Piaf was less than a year after the cesarean birth of her daughter, Lluvia. It was the first thing we talked about and we clicked right away being fellow birth junkies. I was honored, 5 years later, to be her midwife, especially because I was still a student. Piaf and I did lots of processing during her pregnancy. She spent many hours doing birth art and working through the emotions connected to Lluvia’s birth. Piaf doesn’t talk about her feelings a lot, and she’s such a strong woman that it’s easy to miss her vulnerabilities, so art was an easier way for her to communicate these feelings.
And now, here’s the story as written by Piaf:
I went into labor at 41 wks. That afternoon, I started having contractions that were pretty close together (about every 2 mins) but they were quite mild. My 5 year old and I went to the grocery store to load up on labor foods and then came home for dinner and I put her to bed. Then I called Brielle, my midwife, but I thought I still had a long time to go. Luckily she came over anyway because things went from totally mild to really intense without warning!
Contractions were still close and pretty soon I felt I wasn’t getting any break between them at all. This was around 9 or 10 pm, I think. While she set up the birth pool, I was lying on the couch and not coping well at all with the ctx. I just didn’t expect it to start so dramatically and have no gradual build up at all.
(BTW, I am a single mom, so my dear friend Brielle was essentially acting as my birth partner, doula and midwife. In retrospect, way too much for one person to handle but she was awesome!!! )
As soon as the pool was ready, I got in right away and still felt like I wasn’t coping that well, but it was definitely better than the couch. I was in the water for the rest of my labor and the only thing that helped was having water poured over my belly. None of the other things I thought I might want to do during labor were even an option to me — walking, singing, crying, bouncing on the ball, nothing! I could only sit in a reclining position in the pool with my head lolling back. I also kept nurturing an escape fantasy of going to the hospital and ending the pain. I kept telling Brielle very calmly that I was ready to go to the hospital now! (Thank goodness we had talked about this before and I had told her not to listen to me if I shld. say this unless there was an actual reason to go. I think knowing her so well made me feel safe enough to ask for this knowing on some level she wasn’t going to fall for my ploy.)
Finally, a little after 7am, I was complete and I started pushing involuntarily. At first I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening, just knew that things were changing. Once I figured it out, I started pushing her out and moved between squatting and reclining in the pool. Her head came down fairly quickly but once it was out, she was stuck. Brielle and the other midwives, Kari & Sasha, told me to get into a different position and I could hear the urgency and I jumped up and pushed as hard as I could. Kari was pulling on her shoulders. I kept waiting for the feeling of the rest of her easily slipping out of me, but I had to push her belly and butt out too before I felt that!
Finally she was out and she wasn’t breathing yet. Which would have been no problem except her cord wasn’t pulsing either from being so compressed on the way out. The midwives told me to puff gently on her nose and mouth and after three of those, she started to cry and pink up. (So two potential complications handled by these amazing women WITHOUT FEAR! I could tell when things were urgent, but because they trusted my body so much, I never felt scared at all.) We could all see why she had gotten stuck — she was huge (10 lbs) and I am not (5 ft.).
But the excitement was not yet over. Once I delivered the placenta, I started to hemorrhage. After exhausting the options at home, we took a short trip to the hospital. I stabilized quickly and we came back home a couple hours later. It was not the peaceful, easy homebirth I had visualized during my pregnancy, but it was wonderful. It did cross my mind to send a birth announcement to the doctor at my first daughter’s birth who told me my hips were too small to deliver her (she was 8 lbs)!
Here’s Nayeli 2 years later (with my daughter)