I met Sheri and her husband Paul through a mutual friend a few years ago. Our oldest boys are close in age and we live super close together! A pretty wonderful friendship has grown between us and lil miss Kinley holds a huge and special place in my heart as hers was the first birth I ever had the honour of documenting! Thank you Sheri for being awesome, for allowing me into your birth space, and for being a great friend! Thank you also for being willing to share your story!
Who are you? What do you do for a living? How many kids do you have? Tell us a little bit about you!
My name is Sheri Swayze, I am 37 years old. I am a travel agent currently on mat. Leave.
My husband Paul and I have 2 Children, Ryker (3.5yrs) and Kinley (10 months).
How did you come to know that midwifery care was an option to you and your family?
I can't pinpoint exactly when but I have known for quite some time that was the route I wanted when it came time to have babies. Funny thing...I just had a facebook memory pop up the other day where i was asking my friend about midwifery in 2009 (She was in the midwifery program in Ontario at the time).
How far into your pregnancy did you apply for midwifery care? When did you find out you were accepted into care?
For my first pregnancy I was probably about 8 weeks pregnant when I applied. I remember going to my first appointment to confirm the pregnancy at about 10 – 12 weeks with my family doctor, we had our first meeting with the midwife the following day and we knew immediately that is what we wanted. When we got pregnant for the second time I contacted my midwife immediately (about 2-3 weeks in). We sadly miscarried at about 8 weeks and before our first appointment with our midwife.
With our third pregnancy we applied immediately once again and were accepted by the same midwife as our first! We were beyond excited each time as we know how difficult is can be to get a midwife.
Would you be willing to share your birth stories with us? We would love to hear them!
Ryker – During my pregnancy it was found that I had low platelets which could cause additional hemorrhaging during labour. My midwife recommended I see an OB to determine where my care should be. The OB was great and agreed that I could remain under shared care between her and my midwife. Because of the low platelets I could no longer deliver at the birth centre as I would have loved, but I was happy to still have the care of my midwife. I was one week overdue when I went for the normal fetal assessment at the hospital. At this appointment they determined I had low fluid and wanted to induce me. I really wanted him to come on his own but that was not in the cards for us. They let me go home and said they would contact me when they had room/time for me. It wasn't until about 11pm that we received that call to come in and they didn't start the induction until about 1AM. Because my midwives had just assisted another birth they were going to get some rest and would join us when things started to progress. They kept in contact with the nursing staff and told them to call when it was time for them to come in. At about 3-4pm is when I asked for something to help with the pain (I wanted it to be as natural as possible but there were no breaks with the pain and I didn't know how much longer the labour would be as it seemed to be moving slowly) at that point they gave me fentanyl which didn't really help so was followed by gas. At about 5-530 I was ready to start pushing so the resident Dr. came in to perform the delivery and that is when my experience got worse. My midwife was not present (which I later found out was due to the hospital staff not calling her because I didn't physically ask for her, which was a huge disappointment). I do want to say the nurses that were present for the entire labour up to and during birth were excellent and I would have much preferred one of them to deliver my son. So the Dr. starts to assist with labour..they had to use suction as he just wasn't moving. (it turns out he had both his hands up by his face) I just remember opening my eyes at one point and seeing blood on the ceiling and thinking that wasn't there before. This was due the the suction coming off about 3 times. Ryker was born at 6:04pm weighing 6lbs 13oz, he was put on my tummy long enough for me to see that he had read hair. He rated a 2 on the apgar scale, it took him about 2 minutes to start breathing and then was rated an 8. Because he had low oxygen he was taken to the NICU before I got to see him again. (I didn't actually see him again until 8:30pm...I bawled when they wheeled me up to him). My husband went with him to NICU so he wasn't there when my placenta was removed. The Dr. Stitched me up due to my episiotomy, immediately after she said “oh s**t the placenta”. My sister who was there for support said “don't worry the placenta is the easy part”. I then feel tugging...well the cord broke! The Dr then says “press your fentanyl and get your gas ready this isn't going to feel good” so now I am scared. She had to manually remove my placenta with her hand which included her arm up to her elbow! It was worse than the delivery! I got to finally nurse Ryker at 330AM and he was hooked up to so many wires and machines. He had an IV in his tiny head it was so hard to see. He didn't join me in my room until 3pm the next day. 4 of the nurses came and found me and told me what a great job I did...I think it had to do with the traumatic experience with the placenta. We went into the hospital on a Tuesday night, Ryker was born Wednesday evening and we didn't get to go home until Saturday evening. This experience was so far from our birth plan but we were so happy he was finally here and we were going home!
Kinley- Again I had low platelets but remained under full care of my midwifes. There was still a chance to deliver at the birth centre depending my my platelet numbers. However they dipped near the end so hospital birth it was. I was sure that she was going to arrive early as I was having contractions on and off the 2 weeks leading up to her actual birth. When it did finally come time it was fast and intense and 5 days over due. I woke up at 8am and came to the living room and just relaxed on the couch my son woke up about 5 minutes after me. As I was about the get up to get breakfast for him I started feeling some contractions and felt like I really couldn't move. The next 10 minutes they just got worse..they had to have been 2-3 minutes apart from the get go. I tried calling out to my husband but he wasn't hearing me. I managed to get up and go to him. I said “I think it's time” but I am just going to jump in the shower. (I didn't want to jump the gun and spend hours in the hospital) While in the shower my husband could hear me working thru contractions and kept checking in on me. Once out of the shower I called my dad to come watch my son (he is about 30 minutes away) I then called my midwife and we planned on meeting at St. B. About an hour later. She called back soon after and said they were too busy so we were heading to the Women's hospital. We finally arrived at about 1030am and I think we were both not thinking right so my husband parked in the parkade and we both walked to the hospital stopping every 30 seconds to a minute while I worked thru a contraction. It's quite funny to think about now. My midwife was there waiting for me and by the way I was sitting in the wheelchair the nurse called out “she looks like she is 8-9 centimetres.” And she was right! My amazing birth photographer, Alicia Thwaites arrived just in time at 11AM. My midwife was able to assist with my labour until the very end when the Dr (who was amazing this time around) decided that baby need to come out now and took over. Our baby girl, Kinley, was born at 11:47AM, she was placed on my chest and stayed with me the whole time. The placenta was delivered with ease...thankfully! Kinley nursed immediately and stayed latched on for at least an hour! We walked back in our front door 7 hours later. Everyone was so amazed how quickly we were home.
What, in your opinion, was the most important part about the care you received?
Midwifery is so much more than anyone can know unless you experience it. The time they spend at each appointment (30-60minutes), you never feel rushed or unimportant. No question is dumb and they make sure you know all of your options and information/details. You get to have a say in the care you and your baby receive. They provide care with no judgements and an open mind. The care and time spent in the weeks after birth mean so much as well. To have someone to answer questions/concerns the first few weeks of babies life is unmeasureable.
Would/do you recommend midwifery care to family and friends who are expecting? If so, why? If not, why not?
YES! YES! YES! I always encourage people to at least have a conversation with a midwife and get educated on what they are all about. My sister in law was pregnant a month behind me and I really encouraged her to apply for a midwife, she was under the impression she wouldn't be accepted because she has serious arthritis. About midway she was regretting not at least trying because her experience with her OB was less than desirable. She always felt rushed and that her concerns weren't fully addressed. What I try to tell people is that you can still have a hospital birth with a midwife as a lot of people don't seem to understand that.
Finally, who were your midwives? Do you have a message you would like to send them?
I had Maren Fidler – Kliewer for both pregnancies. Amanda and Sheila Mills were part of my midwife team for Ryker. Kelly was part of the team with Kinley as well as Danielle Laxdal who helped me bring her earthside. All I can say is THANK YOU and that you are all incredible women. I am so appreciative of the support and care we received from all the midwives but also from staff at the birth centre who always welcomed me with a smile and genuine care and the child minding that made it possible to have an appointment while my toddler was in tow.
I hope that midwifery is the norm long before my children have babies.
**If you are looking for ways to help, you can sign the petition supporting our Midwives and Midwifery care in Manitoba. It can be found HERE.
***If you would like to be a part of this series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I would love to share your story!