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Michaela: En caul hospital birth

At an appointment for another client, a midwife asked me, "Did my friend Michaela, ever reach out to you?" When I told her no, she replied, "Well she has to. I want it to be different for her this time."

I wouldn't know what had transpired with Michaela's first birth, until a few days later when she reached out to chat. Michaela, had gone post dates, while planning a home birth. Her midwives encouraged her to take homeopathies to kick start her labor and while it did do that, it eventually ended in a hospital transfer, where her wishes for herself and her baby were not respected.

Michaela was already in her last month of pregnancy and had debated hiring a doula all through out, but as the practice began to pressure her into an induction, she was hopeful that she could find an advocate in me, late in the game.

We met in person for a consult and I knew that we were a great match. I was hopeful that I could help her achieve a better birth this time.

I had planned to have a prenatal visit with Michaela and her husband on Thursday the 18th. That morning Michaela called to tell me that she had a high blood pressure reading at her doctors office and they were encouraging her to head in to the hospital for an induction. She declined the induction that day, but did agree to another blood pressure check the following morning. She felt like she had to do everything she could, to get her labor going.

I suggested using the breast pump for nipple stimulation, to help see if it would ease her into contracting. At 12:20pm, she texted me that she was having mild contractions, but that she was feeling lots of anxiety from the pressure of her practice.

I arrived to her home around 1:30pm for the prenatal visit and to meet her husband, Zach, for the first time. Michaela was contracting every 10 minutes or so. Her daughter was napping on the couch behind her as we chatted about what her options were moving forward.

Michaela looked to me as though she was in early labor, and upon returning from the bathroom announced that she had some bloody mucous now too. I was excited for her, because it was a great indication of some kind of cervical change.

Michaela continued to contract and I decided to stay for a bit and wait it out. However, when Michaela's daughter woke up from her nap, the contractions spaced way out. I decided to head home and get some rest, and was sure that I would be seeing her later that evening.

At 1:28am Michaela sent me a text, that she thought things were picking up. She was having contractions about every 5 minutes, but said she was able to cope. I packed all of my things and I as I hoped in the car, decided to give her a call. We were both in agreement that we might be better off, meeting at the hospital, which was right in the middle for both of us.

At 2:50am her cervix was checked and she was 4cm dilated. She voiced that she was afraid she had come to the hospital too soon. However, in the 30 minutes we had been together, I had watched her contractions begin to increase in intensity. I assured her we were in the right place.

Less than an hour later, Michaela began to complain of vaginal pressure. She was coping really well, with the help of some counter pressure on her hips and sacrum.

At 4:25am Michaela said, "Don't I want an epidural?". I once again told her that I thought things were moving very quickly and she was almost at the end. She wanted some reassurance, and her nurse, Jen, who couldn't have made a better member for this birth team, checked her cervix and Michaela was now 7cm.

From there, things would very quickly increase in intensity. Michaela was on all fours in the bed, but when a contraction would come, she would grab the side rails, arch upward and thrash her head from left to right. In between, she would be in that very calm state, where she was almost asleep. Her husband Zach, looked at me with a questioning face. I smiled and nodded and told him we were moving along. This pattern would continue on as her contractions increased in frequency coming every 2-3 minutes. Michaela was in transition.

At 4:44am, Michaela voiced that she wanted to push, and Jen would confirm that she was 10cm and the baby was very low. Another nurse called for the Obgyn.

He entered the room, to Michaela on all fours, and me kneeling behind her with my hands thrusted into her bum. Jen was bent down in-between the both of us and announced she could see a little bit of the head.

The doctor standing next to me motioned with his hand that he wanted Michaela to flip over and Jen, very politely said, "She's doing well here." I did not move.

While birthing on hands and knees is really common, it wasn't for this Ob or for this hospital. I could feel his energy behind me be one of frustration.

At 4:51am he said, "I can't tell what's going on here. I'm going to leave I guess, or otherwise I'm going to intervene." and he walked out. I wasn't exactly sure what he meant by that and we were at the point where it didn't matter.

Michaela pushed one more time and another nurse opened the door and called for the doctor, but it would be too late. He would walk in right as the baby entered Jen's hands, still in its amniotic sac, also known as en caul. Their little baby came earth side at 4:53am, just two and a half hours after arriving to the hospital.

Jen passed the obgyn the baby, almost awkwardly as if it was a mandatory step. I then noticed Michaela was still pushing and I set my hand on her shoulder and whispered, "You can stop pushing. You did it. Your baby is here!" She then questioned, "I did it?!"

The ob then set the baby on the bed and Michaela let out a loud wail as she turned around and saw her little one for the very first time.

Michaela then claimed her baby and pulled her into her arms. Zach was weld up as he rubbed his Michaela's head. He kept saying, "You did it! You did it!"

Michaela had done something absolutely unbelievable. She advocated for herself, she knew when it was time to enlist help and she had an unmedicated birth, which she doubted being capable of. Michaela is a birth warrior.

For the next couple of hours she would talk about how proud she was of herself and how different everything was this time around. I left them that morning and texted my husband, "what a great birth!".

When I went to their home just a few days later for their postpartum visit, Michaela was glowing. She looked amazing and happy and we then replayed the birth again. As I left them, Michaela husbands Zach gave me a big squeeze and said, "The work you do is so important. I get it now."

Michaela and Zach, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of such a special moment. Your truly exceptionally kind and loving people and it was an honor to be part of your family even if just for a moment.

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