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On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with EBB Childbirth Class graduate, Cheyanne Saenz, about advocating for her human rights during her birth experience.

Cheyanne Saenz (she/her) is a fun, loving, and outgoing 27-year-old, who lives in Tulare, California. Cheyanne’s faith and her family are the most important in her life. Cheyanne took the EBB Childbirth Class instructed by EBB Childbirth Class Instructor, Jennifer Anderson. Cheyanne uses her brain in puzzles, solving problems, and helping others. 

We talk about Cheyanne’s birth experience while advocating for her human rights from what she learned in our EBB Childbirth Class. We also talk about Cheyanne’s beautiful support from her family during her postpartum recovery and her advice for every birthing person about the importance of researching and advocating for one’s rights during birth. 

Content warning: We mention group b strep and COVID.

Resources

Learn more about EBB Childbirth Class Instructor, Jennifer Anderson here. Follow Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

Transcript

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with EBB Childbirth Class graduate, Cheyanne Saenz, about advocating for her human rights during her birth experience.

Rebecca Dekker:

Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD, and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice, see ebbirth.com/disclaimer, for more details.

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

Hi everyone. My name is Iya Mystique Faodugun. Pronouns, they, she.

Rebecca Dekker:

And my name is Rebecca Dekker. Pronouns, she, her and we will be your co-hosts for today’s episode. Today, we are so excited to welcome Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class graduate, Cheyanne Saenz, to talk about taking the EBB Childbirth Class and advocating for her human rights when she was giving birth. Before we interview Cheyanne, I wanted to let you know that if there are any detailed content or trigger warnings, we always post them in the description or show notes that go along with this episode. And now, I’ll let Iya Mystique introduce our honored guest.

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

Cheyanne Saenz, pronouns, she, her, is a fun, loving and outgoing 27-year-old, who lives in Tulare, California. Cheyanne’s faith and her family are the most important in her life. Cheyanne’s EBB Childbirth Class instructor was Jennifer Anderson. Cheyanne uses her brain in puzzles, solving problems and helping others. She feels that life is too short to worry, and instead, people should love others unconditionally in order to make this world a better place. We are so thrilled that Cheyanne is here. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast, Cheyanne.

Cheyanne Saenz:

Hi, good morning.

Rebecca Dekker:

It’s so nice to meet you, Cheyanne. And we love talking with students of our Childbirth Class, especially students who take the class from Jen Anderson, who’s one of our most experienced instructors, based in California, but teaches people all around the world. So we would love if you could start off by telling us, how did you find the EBB Childbirth Class and start learning from Jen?

Cheyanne Saenz:

I actually had a midwife. So, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I did my research and selected a midwife locally here and throughout the pregnancy, she had indicated she wanted me to take a Childbirth Class, since this was going to be my first baby. And so she had me sign up. So I signed up, but I thought I signed up kind of late, but ended up being perfect timing and then luck of the draw, I ended up getting Jennifer.

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

So, Cheyanne, what was your experience like taking the class with Jen? Can you let our listeners know just as far as what you learned and what you experienced during the EBB Childbirth Class?

Cheyanne Saenz:

It was honestly a really great class. It was once a week and it was a few hours every week. So it was a condensed class only, I believe, five weeks total. And what I learned a lot was about from beginning to end, as far as when labor starts, during labor, what to experience, how to help, as well as your rights that you have, whenever you go into labor, if you go through a hospital or the benefits of, let’s say, a water birth or using a birthing ball or anything like that. As well as afterwards, postpartum things to maybe look forward to or not look forward to, and signs that if you are struggling, as well as just knowing that you need support, whether the support was through our instructors, through our family, through our significant others, whatever the case may be, support was really important.

And as a new mother, during pregnancy and after pregnancy, you have to take care of yourself because if you’re not taking care of yourself, there’s no way that you can really take care of your baby. And then, Jennifer, she was also a really great instructor. She was really funny. She was down to earth and she kept it real. She kept it real as far as, “You might have pain, you may not have pain. Postpartum is something that it’s okay to say that that’s what you have along the way.”

These were the different, obviously, evidence that indicates whether a percentage of… Whatever the case may be, anything like that, she just was really giving us the facts as well as our homework, as well as our booklet. That was really important for us to always check back to as far as if we had any additional questions, she always gave us extra articles. And so she definitely set us up for success so that whenever it came down to the final hour going into labor or even the weeks leading up to that, I knew that I was going to be okay, as long as I just continued to remember what I learned.

Rebecca Dekker:

So it sounds like you focused a lot on the evidence, but also you talked about your rights and how to advocate for yourself, and that’s going to come into play into your birth story, I know. Was your class totally online or did you have any in-person meetings?

Cheyanne Saenz:

It was completely online.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. So you were doing the totally online version.

Cheyanne Saenz:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rebecca Dekker:

So you took the class and then take us to the end of your pregnancy. What kind of birth were you planning? What was your mindset like?

Cheyanne Saenz:

So I was super excited to have my midwife, so therefore, I was going to have my birth either at the birthing center or here at my house and I was wanting a water birth. So, that was in my head. I already knew kind of the location that I would be. I was going to actually have it at the birthing center more than my house, just because the afterwards cleanup, it would be there instead of my house. And so, I really wanted a water birth, but either way, I was just really excited that that was the journey. It would be just intimate, as far as I could have whatever family I wanted there, I would be with my midwife and I was ready to go. And then for me, I ended up getting close to 42 weeks. And unfortunately, with my midwife or with the midwife license in general, they are not able to help after 42 weeks, they have to transfer care.

So she had to transfer my care and I had the option to be at home or go to the hospital. And since it was my first birth, I chose to go to the hospital. And so, I was really devastated on day 42 weeks, because I knew that there was… I still had hope all the way up to 42 and zero days. I said, “It’s going to happen today.” And all day up until midnight, I was hopeful that something was going to happen. Unfortunately, nothing happened. In that moment, I was really devastated and I had to really think, “What am I going to do now? I have to choose a hospital. I have to, in my brain, undo my birth plan that I had planned and now have a whole new birth plan.”

And I had to think it up really fast, because I had 42 weeks to think of what I wanted and be really hopeful. So I had to switch it up. So I decided to go to a hospital, like I said, and then I went to a hospital and that was an hour away from where I live, in Bakersfield, because that’s where my midwife was, and that’s one that she recommended. And that’s one that we had research on in the class, actually. Jennifer helped pull up hospitals locally in our area to give to statistics as far as the rate of VBAC versus C-section versus breastfeeding versus all of those statistics. Once again, I went and double checked because I was like, “I don’t need all those statistics.” Even though she pulled up mine, because I said, “I’m going to have it at the birthing center.”

But still, I went to that website, because I knew I had that resource and I checked and I decided in that time that I was going to go to the hospital. So I chose the hospital and I just said the day that I go into labor, then I’ll just show up and worry about all that then. And so I ended up delivering on 42 and three days. So three days after 42 weeks and my biggest thing was I wanted it all natural. So I was going to wait for baby to come. Babies know, in my opinion, when they’re ready to come.

Especially because during the end, obviously, after the 40 weeks, I still made sure the baby was okay, because that was important. I checked her heartbeat, her movement. What is that thing called?

Rebecca Dekker:

Non-stress test or-

Cheyanne Saenz:

A non-stress test. An NST, yes. So I was doing the NST every two days just to make sure that she was still good. The fluid was good. So obviously, it wasn’t putting her at any risk because I would hate for that. So I was still making sure every two days that she was good. And so, because she was good, I said, “I’m just going to ride the wave until she comes.” And she came on 42 and three days and I ended up going to the hospital for that.

Rebecca Dekker:

So did you have to switch care to an obstetrician or was your midwife going to be able to attend the birth in the hospital?

Cheyanne Saenz:

She wasn’t. So because of all the craziness of the world with COVID, you could only have one person with you. You could only choose one person. So I chose my mom to go with me. And so, my mom was the one person and she was going to be with me from the day that I arrived at the hospital and until I left. So unfortunately, I couldn’t have anybody else, I could only have one person. So, my midwife said she would be a phone call away just in case I needed to talk more or whatever the case may be. But ultimately, I could only have one person there with me and it was my mom, but luckily, my mom is really straightforward as well and strong-willed and strong-minded. And she already knew exactly what I wanted, we were on the same page, so there was no way that it would be a different story once we got to the hospital, we would be good.

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

Were you able… And I know because of COVID and as I call it, the “pandarosa”, were you able, or were you thinking about possibly getting a doula? Because it sounds like your mom kind of stepped into that role as being kind of your personal doula at that time.

Cheyanne Saenz:

When I found out I was pregnant, I did want to directly go to a midwife because I didn’t want to have to deal with the hospital. I didn’t want to have to deal with doctors during this time, because I knew it was selective, you could only go to doctor’s appointments by yourself. You could only go to ultrasounds by yourself. The only time an extra person could go to anything was whenever you went to finally go to give birth and then you could only have one person at that time. And with my midwife, I could have anybody go to my appointments. It didn’t matter who I wanted. It didn’t matter how many people I wanted either, I could have 10 people there if I really wanted to. And even afterwards, after I gave birth, I could have visitors come.

So it was obviously just kind of more of the, what I consider normal, natural way of doing things. So that’s really why I went through, that was my big thing. And at that time too… I mean, I’m still really anti-hospitals. I mean, I understand that they’re there for a reason and we need them for specific reasons. But I do think that a lot of it is more for the corporation side of it. They have to check a lot of boxes to make sure that they’re not liable for anything, in my opinion, that comes first, usually more than the health of a specific person. So definitely because of COVID, I wanted to stay away from anything that might have added to any sort of statistics that I didn’t want to be a part of. As well as even whenever I wanted to find out the gender, I actually had somebody come to my house so that my family could still be a part of it, so that I didn’t have to really deal with doctor’s offices at all through my whole pregnancy.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. So I can see how you would’ve been devastated. You really had more of the, what we call, medical mindset, leaning towards natural, avoiding medications, kind of doubting the health care system. And then in the end, you had to go to a hospital after all. Did you ever have pressure to get an induction before 42 weeks? Or did your midwife let you make the decision and not put pressure on you?

Cheyanne Saenz:

She let me make all of my decisions. She gave me her advice as far as what I should do or could do, but ultimately, whatever I decided, she was 100% okay with. The only things that I did do to try to help… I mean, obviously anything to be induced is not natural in my opinion, of course, but I still tried acupuncture, I did massages, acupressure. She was going to try to sweep my membranes, but up to 42 and zero days, I was still completely at zero. I was not dilated at all. So as far as doing that, she wasn’t able to do it. I drank teas, primrose oil, all of those things to try to help during the last week and nothing happened, nothing happened. So as far as everything that we could do, we tried to do before all else failed, but she let me choose whatever I wanted and then we went from there.

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

And that’s great. She gave you those options, not trying to force you to do things you weren’t comfortable with, so kudos to your midwife out there. So I definitely want to kind of take a step back into telling us how it all began with your birth story. What set it off to be like, “Okay, now is the time. I’m going to labor, it’s go time. Let’s get this going.” So can you share with us your birth story and how it all began?

Cheyanne Saenz:

So 42 and two days, it was a Monday. It was October 11th. I started having contractions. So I was like, “Something’s happening.” Because I didn’t have Braxton Hicks or anything, so I didn’t have fake contractions. I didn’t have pain, I really didn’t have any bleeding or spotting either. Literally nothing was happening. I wasn’t dilated. I was effaced 90%, so I knew that something was happening. But as far as everything else, my water hadn’t broke, nothing. So I started kind of feeling some contractions and because I wasn’t with my midwife anymore and it was already two and two days, I said, “Okay, let’s go to the hospital. Maybe there’s something going on. I still want to check on the baby, make sure that she’s good. Maybe I’m going to be dilated at least two something. I just want to see if something’s happening.”

And so, I packed a bag and we drove to Bakersfield, which is about an hour away, me and my mom, we go to the hospital and then they put us in a triage room and then they check me and they put the monitor on the baby, everything like that. And I’m still zero dilated, zero centimeters, nothing has happened. And I’m slightly disappointed because I’m like, “What’s the point of these contractions if nothing’s happening, just having pain.” And so the nurse, once again, she does the NST, my baby is great. So that’s still obviously really positive for me. I’m like, “Well, baby’s great. So she’s just not ready yet.” And then, of course, when you go to a hospital, you just have to have whatever doctor is there. So, of course, the doctor comes in and the doctor says, “You’re way past due. You need to be induced.”

And I said, “No, I’m not going to be induced. I’ve already waited this long, my baby’s fine. The nurse already did the NST. My baby’s fine. I don’t want to be induced.” And so from his standpoint, he said that he didn’t… And I said, “I’m just going to go home.” And he said, “Well, that’s against medical advice for you to go home. You should stay here and get induced.” I said, “No.” I said, “I know that I’ll have to sign a form, an AMA form against medical advice for me to go home.” I said, “Give me the form and I’m going to go home. I want to be treated as if I’m 39 weeks, not 42 weeks because if I was 39 weeks, what would you tell me to do? Go home, take a walk, jump on a ball, whatever the case may be, to get things going.”

So I said, “I’m going to go home.” And so, for me, that doctor, he wasn’t very understanding or positive in any way. And this was around 11 in the morning. And so after he left, I asked the nurse when was his shift going to be over? Because I didn’t want me to go into labor that day and then he still will be there. And she said, “Oh, he just started at eight this morning. He has a 24 hour shift.” And I was like, “Oh man, I’m going to… Baby.” This is when I told her, I said, “You have to at least wait until tomorrow. I know we’ve waited a long time, but at least wait one more day,” because I just didn’t feel comfortable with that doctor. And so, I said, “I want an AMA form.” So they brought me the AMA form.

I’m sure they were cringing as they went to go get it. And I signed it and I said, “I’ll see you whenever she’s ready.” And so I did, I left the hospital. I stayed in Bakersfield, I have family member there and I just stayed there that day. Had lunch, was with my family, just relaxed, rested. I made cupcakes that night, had dinner, watched some TV a little bit and then I went to sleep because I said, “If something happens in the nighttime or the next day, I don’t want to have to make that hour drive. We’re just at least here.” And it had already been a long day. I was slightly disappointed that I wasn’t dilated, but I was really happy that my baby was okay. And it’s still kind of that mental game like, “Oh, should you get dilated?”

Not dilated. “Should you get induced? Should I have stayed?” And I kind of considered staying there to be monitored just to make sure everything was okay, but the reason why I decided not to was I would have to stay in that triage room and you’re just on a gurney and those things are just uncomfortable. So for me to sit there for 24 hours, I said, “I’d rather sit at home and just kind of play it out.” Like I said, I just went to my family’s house and I stayed there. And then that night at midnight, I started having… Because I just would have maybe small contractions throughout the day, they weren’t really close together anymore. They weren’t strong, which I kind of figured that that’s what would be the case.

Because one thing I did learn also is that when you start kind of having contractions, it’s the adrenaline and the excitement can hype them up. And that’s kind of, I think, how I felt that Monday morning, I was like, “I’m ready, let’s go.” And then it was just a little bit too early. So that night at midnight, and I’m going to sleep. I start having contractions and I’m like, “Oh, they’re probably going to be every scattered, not really together.” So I said, “I’m just going to lay here. I’m going to sleep through these contractions.” Little did I know that that’s not really possible when they start being every five minutes. And so then they start getting closer and I told myself, I said, “I’m going to sit here and I’m not going to go to the hospital. I’m going to wait at least until six in the morning.

I’m going to try to rest as much as possible because Jennifer said, ‘You need to have as much rest as you can before you actually start to go into active labor and start pushing.'” So I said, “I’m going to try to rest as much as possible here,” which I really didn’t rest because my contractions started to be the closer and closer together. And it’s every hour it’s like, “Now it’s 1:00 AM,” and I’m like, “I can’t do this.” And then I’m like, “Yes I can. No, you can.” You’re just kind of going back and forth and it’s 2:00 AM and then 3:00 AM, 4:00 AM, I’m like, “Oh, I’m done. I’m going to go wake up my mom,” and I’m like, “I can’t do this. Let’s go to the hospital.” And I’m like, “No, you have to wait. You told yourself you’re going to wait until six in the morning.

You already waited past 42 weeks, you’re just going to continue to wait.” So finally, it’s six in the morning, my contractions are every maybe two minutes, getting close to every one minute. And one of the things that Jennifer had said was every minute, and if your contractions are 60 seconds long is when you know it’s a good time. I wasn’t really timing how long the contraction was because once a moment it started, mentally, I was like, “Just breathe, just breathe,” so that I wouldn’t have to focus on the pain.

 

Rebecca Dekker:

And I just want to make sure our listeners don’t say… I don’t think Jen says, “Wait until your contractions are happening once a minute.” I think you’re saying once they’re a minute long, right?

Cheyanne Saenz:

Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Cheyanne Saenz:

Yeah. Once they’re a minute long, and then if they’re 60 seconds long, that’s also a really good sign she has said, but every minute, she said, is a really good indicator that you’re close to being in active labor and, or you’re about to be. And so, it was six in the morning and then I started getting really nauseous. And for me, being nauseated is the end of the rope. I’d hate to throw up. So I said, “Okay, now it’s really time.” And I met Michael at 6:00 AM. So I wake up my mom, we go to the hospital and I’m just really praying that something happened as far as being dilated because it’s been six hours of contractions and I had been at zero. I wasn’t dilated at all. And so I go and then once again they check me and I’m at six and a half centimeters and I was so happy, even though I was in pain, I was so happy that I’m six and a half centimeters dilated.

And they said, “We’re going to admit you now.” And I said, “Fine, let’s put me in a room. Let’s get the ball going.” And so they want to put me in a room, and before that, they had wanted to give me an IV, just in case I got dehydrated or just in case I was going to need blood drawn or anything like that. And I had said from the get go, I said, “I do not want any needles in me. I don’t want any IVs in me. I don’t want anything. I want to be free from everything.” I even took off the heart monitor and the blood pressure monitor. I said, “The only thing I will be okay with attached to me is around the belly to check the baby’s heartbeat.” I said, “Other than that, I want absolutely nothing attached to me.”

And, of course, different nurses would give their opinion on why I should, because I said, “If I have an IV, I’m going to be so focused on what’s happening that I don’t know what you’re going to maybe come in or try to put in or whatever case may be.” And they said, “Well, we can do it where it’s closed.” And I said, “No, I just don’t want nothing attached to me.” I said, “I’m trying to have this be as close as my original birth plan, which was absolutely nothing, on a bed or in the water.” I said, “So I don’t want anything attached to me.” I was positive for… What’s it? When you get-

Rebecca Dekker:

Group B strep.

Cheyanne Saenz:

Yes. I was positive for group B strep. And I had to do my research. And that was talked about during our class about the risks and whether you should get antibiotics during labor or not. And I chose to, once again, obviously not get the antibiotics because I had a lot of faith in my own body and the percentage of risk, in my opinion, was so low as far as not having it. I didn’t want the antibiotics to try to kill any of the good things that would come, obviously, during birth. So I chose to also not get antibiotics and they wanted to get a sample just in case I needed a blood transfusion. And I said, “No, I just…” I had really a lot of confidence in what I was doing. And I said, “You know my blood type, you have all my paperwork. So if you need to go get some blood I’m O positive. So go find some O positive blood in case that was needed.”

And so, this was all talked about before I got transferred into a room. And so, I finally get transferred a room and they also said that I needed to have a COVID test. And I also was something that I was not going to do. And so I just denied it. And so I said, I wasn’t going to take it. And I knew that they weren’t going to be able to deny services, they couldn’t have been like, “Oh, sorry, you have to leave.” And so I just said, “No, I’m not going to take it.” Respectfully, basically, I’m just going to say, “No, I’m not here to all of that. I’m a healthy person here to give birth. I’m not here to do anything else.”

And so once we got into the room, then that’s where we were going to stay, because they said that because I wouldn’t take the test and neither would my mom, they were going to treat us as if we were COVID positive, which meant we couldn’t leave the room. And I said, “I’m not here to leave the room. I can’t leave the room. I’m here to have my baby. I’m not here for anything else. I’m here to have my baby. And once I have my baby, I’m here to go home.” And so they said that they just had to treat us that way as far as… In my opinion, it was more of an inconvenience to them because they had to go do everything for us because I couldn’t leave the room, which was fine, in my opinion.

And so, now it’s getting close. It’s past eight o’clock in the morning and I’m excited because I said, “Is there a new doctor on shift?” And they said, “Yeah, it’s doctor so and so.” I said, “I don’t know who that is, but it’s a new doctor, it’s a new day.” So I was really excited. It was past 8:30, maybe close to nine and my contractions are getting stronger and they’re closer. And actually, my favorite way to be, was to sit on the toilet, just to sit there, because I was able to arch my back. I had a lot of back pain, it felt the best for me. And then my mom was able to massage my back in that position because I was kind of hunched over. And so that’s where I kind of spent maybe the last 30 minutes before I was ready to push because the nurses… I had one nurse, I don’t remember her name, but she was honestly the best.

She was so understanding of everything I was denying because I said I wanted it all natural. I didn’t want anything attached to me, no medicine, nothing, no IVs. And she was really understanding even when I denied the COVID test and she just said, “Okay,” she understood. And she just said, “Whenever you feel really ready to push, then let us know so that we can kind of get to that point.” It was kind of hard for me to tell if I was ready to push versus just the pain of the contraction, but I was just kind of listening to my body. And finally, one of the nurses comes in and I said, “I think I have to push,” because she brought me a birthing ball, she said, “Maybe this will help.” And I said, “I think I have to push.”

And so she said, “I have to check you first.” And I said, “That’s fine.” And I knew that also, the risk of being checked more often because I was group B positive. So I was really limited on when they were going to check me. Of course, they checked me in the very beginning whenever to see how I was dilated and I didn’t want to get checked again until I felt that I was ready to push, to make sure that I was really close to 10 centimeters or even 10 centimeters because I didn’t want to push too early. So she checks me, she says, “You’re about nine and a half or so centimeters.” And I’m like, “Oh, so close, so close.” And when I had first went to the hospital too, that morning, they asked me if my water broke, I said, “No. I didn’t have this big…” In my opinion or my thoughts, I guess, when your water broke, you just were in this huge puddle of water and that never happened.

And so she checked and she said that my water had broken, it was just leaking. And I just didn’t know that because I had worn… I always towards the end, just in case for any spotting and stuff like that and with the mucus plug, I always wore some sort of liner. So it didn’t occur to me any different that anything was different. So my water was leaking throughout the whole time. And then, whenever she checked me and I was nine and half centimeters dilated, then the rest, there was a little bit of pocket of water still left. And when she did that and it popped it and then I was at 10 centimeters, so she were like, “We’re ready.” And so, we call in the doctor and the rest of the nurses that have to come into the room to just be there, I guess, to clean up.

And I don’t know all their jobs, but my main nurse who was there, she had one leg and my mom was at my other leg and they were helped me because I didn’t want my legs in the stirrups because they felt uncomfortable. So they basically were the stirrup, they were holding each leg for me and I would be ready to push. And every time my contraction was at a peak, I made sure that I focused on pushing correctly, because that was one of the things that we also learned in our birthing class, was pushing correctly. You have to poop, not screaming it out, but use that energy of that pain to push it so that it would be a really good… It would be useful. I was trying to have useful pushes, not, not useful pushes.

And so every time I had a peak of a contraction, I would just use my mind and I would just push and I would breathe through it. And as much as I’d have pain, I pushed a couple times and I’d tell my mom, I’m like, “I give up, how much longer do I have to push? I am done.” And she’s like, “No, you’re fine. You got this. We’ve come this far, you just need to push maybe two more times.” And my nurse, she was super supportive. She was like, “You got this, we can see the head of the baby, one or two more good pushes and you’ll be done.” And so I do that. And on my very last push is when I finally… I didn’t scream at all the whole time, and then that very final, last push, I screamed and I was like, “I’m done.”

And she was like, “No, push through it, push through the pain.” And she grabs my leg and she says, “Push through it.” And I just continued to push through the pain. And then I see the doctor. It just was so fast, I see the doctor pull up the baby and put her directly on my chest because I had said also beforehand, I said, “I want the baby directly on my chest right afterwards. I want to delay cord clamping and I want to keep my placenta.” So all of that was known before I gave birth. And I said, “I want her directly on my chest as soon as she comes out, liquids and blood and all of that right here.” I didn’t want her to be cleaned. I didn’t want her to be weighed. I didn’t want her to be anywhere else besides on my chest because I knew how important it was to have that skin-to-skin contact immediately.

And so I wanted her directly on my chest and I wanted her cord to be connected still. I wanted to make sure all the blood was left out of that cord before it got clamped. And I wanted to keep my placenta. So she’s on my chest and it’s that surreal moment of, “Wow, I just gave birth.” And in reality, I’ll have to say, the pushing part was so much easier than I thought compared to the contraction part. The contractions is just… Seven hours of contractions was no joke, but the pushing part, that part, in my opinion, was actually very… Not easy per se, but it was easier than in my brain had thought.

So she’s on my chest and it’s just that moment where I just said, “I did it, I did it.” And I was beyond ecstatic just to stare at her while she was on my chest and have those moments at least for an hour before they had come back in to weigh her and measure her and do anything else they did. I don’t remember how long afterwards they finally did cut the cord. I don’t remember, but I still wanted to make sure I looked at it to make sure that it was good to go. And then she just stayed on my chest for the first hour and it was the most beautiful thing ever.

Rebecca Dekker:

Aw, that’s so sweet. I love hearing that, people describe those first moments when your baby’s in your arms.

Cheyanne Saenz:

Yeah.

Rebecca Dekker:

And you worked so hard, you went way longer in pregnancy than most people. So you must have really felt relief at that moment to be done.

Cheyanne Saenz:

I did, to be done. I did. And that was one of the things we learned in the class is if you wanted to delay cord clamping, let them know that right away, let them know if you want them on your chest right away, and so I did, I wanted them to know exactly what I wanted. And at the end of the day, whenever you vocalize what you want, as much as they maybe try to push back and give their own opinion or their own thoughts about it, still, they listen to you because they have to kind of. It’s really is up to you what you want. The doctors and nurses, that’s what they’ll do. And so that’s what I wanted. And everything that I wanted is what they did as far as I didn’t want anything connected to me, no medicines.

I didn’t want my blood drawn, nothing. I wanted her on me directly, skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, because I thought that that was really important. And for me, I wanted to keep my placenta just because I honestly don’t know what they do with them. I don’t know, they throw them away or who knows what, but either way, to me, I think the placenta is something that’s so beautiful. It’s the only organ that is created after we’re born, as a woman, we create not only life, but literally create an organ that then we have to then a birth afterwards. And I wanted to keep it. Who knows what I’ll do with it? It’s in my freezer right now. Maybe I’ll plant a tree one day with it. I don’t know. But either way, I have it, and it just meant that I had every part of my baby with me still.

And afterwards, they had to check me to make sure that my bleeding was good and everything, and my bleeding was good. The baby was healthy and we were good. And then I said, “Okay, I’m ready to go home. What do I have to do to leave this place?” And they said, “You can’t leave until 24 hours.” And I said, “Well, I can leave, you just would prefer if I stayed 24 hours to be monitored.” I said, “Because you can’t keep me hostage here.” And so I said, “I want to leave.” I said, “I’m uncomfortable here.” Because one of the things about me not taking the COVID test was they weren’t able to transfer me to a postpartum room. So I just had to stay in my room and I don’t think hospital beds are comfortable, especially birthing ones because they detach.

And so, where that part that detaches, you can feel it. And it’s just super uncomfortable for me, so I said, “I’m ready to go home. What do I have to do?” And they said, “Well, you have to wait 24 hours because that’s when we want to monitor the baby’s heart.” I don’t really understand that part. Something has to close after 24 hours, I really don’t know. And I said, “But I still have my midwife.” My midwife was still going to do postpartum checkups on me. She was going to do it the next day after I gave birth. And then, after one week, two weeks, six weeks, et cetera. So I said, “It’s not like I’m going to go home and then just be free.” I said, “I still have my midwife who’s going to come check on me.”

And I said, “So I’ll be fine.” And so I said, “So what do I have to do to leave this place?” And I said, “Yesterday, I signed an AMA because I didn’t want to be induced.” I said, “So today, whatever forms I have to sign to leave, I will sign them, bring them to me.” And of course, they brought me a stack, I don’t know how big, and I had at least probably four or five different nurses come and tell me how I needed to stay. And I just said, “I appreciate your opinion.” And I said, “But my original birthing plan was to be not here. And after giving birth, after a few hours, I would’ve been home.” And I said, “So I still want to be as close to that as possible.” And I said, “My baby was already checked. She’s good, I’m good.”

And I said, “So I just want to go home and just be with me and my baby and my family,” because it was also really important for my family to see her. Because once again, I was not planning to be there and because I couldn’t have any visitors, I wanted to go home. And so, I did after four hours, I was there a total of four hours at the hospital, after I gave birth. So my baby was born at 10:44 in the morning. And so, four hours after that, I had signed any paperwork that I needed to sign. And I said, “I’m ready to go home.” And after, like I said, multiple nurses saying, “We don’t think it’s a good idea,” or, “You should stay longer, stay until the next day to make sure.” And I said, “Nope, I’m ready to leave.”

And so, I still have the stack of papers this big that I had to sign and they did, they let me leave. And I said, “I’m ready to go.” And it was crazy too, because I didn’t have my car seat, my car seat was obviously in my car. And so they said that, “You’re going to have to just carry your baby in your arms down to the car, to the lobby and then we’ll release you from there.” And I said, “That’s fine.” Because usually I always thought, well, you had to have your car seat up in the room when they have to monitor to make sure that it’s good or all of that stuff. But because I technically couldn’t leave the room to go get it to show them, they just had to let me leave with her in my arms, which I was fine with.

I was able to leave with her in my arms. And then once we got to the doors, I was released and I was gone and I went home and then I was able to show my family her. And it was the most beautiful thing because I have sisters, I have a little sister who’s seven and she just couldn’t wait. She got out of school early. My older sister picked her up from school and they drove all the way to Bakersfield just to see her and they couldn’t see her. And so I said, “Nope, I’m leaving.” And so it was, it was so beautiful, my family was there to greet me when I got home, they were able to see me. We had dinner together, have a newborn baby with me right there. We’re eating dinner together and I had just given birth earlier that day.

And it’s just amazing to me that the female body can bounce back so quickly and just continue to function. And we really have superpowers just to continue living life. Even though I did have a second degree tear, but I do feel that it probably could have been avoided if I maybe would’ve pushed one more time. I do feel that I could have pushed one more time instead of her just kind of being pulled out. It would’ve maybe avoided that, but either way, I wouldn’t have changed anything as far as she came when she wanted to come, 42 and a half weeks.

And that’s totally okay. She was healthy, even though she had a lot of creepy skin. Her skin was so peely and dry because obviously, she was a late baby, but it was what I wanted. And even though I was at the hospital and if I wasn’t able to speak, my partner, who was my mom, she was on the same page, especially when I would be in the middle of the contractions and the nurses are trying to talk to me, I couldn’t talk, I was in a lot of pain.

And so my mom would tell them, “This is what she wants.” And would remind whoever came in, whether it was the original nurse or whether it was a different nurse, she wanted to remind all of them what I wanted, which was no medicine, nothing attached to me, baby on my chest directly after birth, delayed cord clamping, keeping the placenta and leaving the hospital. So she was on the same page, I was on the same page. So it didn’t matter who came in, whether it was a different nurse, whether I was eating, whether I was resting, because afterwards, obviously, I was starving. I said, “I couldn’t wait to eat afterwards.” Even though I know that you could eat, it’s not necessarily a bad having to eat while you’re in labor.

But for me, because I started becoming really nauseous, I didn’t want to have to be throwing up while trying to deliver or while trying to give birth to my baby. So I think I learned a lot of that during my class with Jennifer, just you really can advocate what you really want and it’s really up to you if you’re vocal about it and just really asking questions if you don’t know. So if you can ask like I did, when I was done giving birth, I said, “So can I leave now?”

And of course, they can’t tell me, “No, no you can’t leave.” Because technically, I can leave. They just say, “We advise that you don’t leave.” But I knew that I had the choice and it was up to me and choice is really powerful if you know what to do with it and I knew what I wanted and I knew that she was healthy, I was healthy and I wanted to go home and it was the closest I could to my original birth plan that I had to switch up within the last couple days of my birth.

Rebecca Dekker:

It’s really amazing, Cheyanne, to hear your story. I know Mystique’s nodding along with me with, because I feel like a lot of other people would’ve folded under that pressure. Making a decision and then having four health care professionals walk into your room one after another and tell you why you’re wrong and why you should not do what you want to do, most people would eventually cave, by the second or third time. And I think, often that’s why they send multiple people in there, one after another, because they think, “Well, I’ll be able to convince her, let me try, let me have a turn. Let me try to convince her to stay.” And obviously, your wishes were kind of in opposition to theirs. So can you talk a little bit… Do you have that kind of personality where you don’t take no for an answer or do you feel like just knowing that you had the power to say no, what inspired you or what made you be able to stand up for your human rights?

Cheyanne Saenz:

So I think that I’m a kind of a stubborn person, which I think helped during this situation, maybe other times in life too. It’s not the best thing, but I think it was part of me being stubborn as well as just kind of knowing my rights and just knowing deep down, what I could and what I couldn’t do. And just being firm in that. And I think that a lot of times, you have to be firm in what you believe in and you have to just kind of stand up for what you believe in, whether that means the minority or going against the grain.

I don’t think it’s ever the best to kind of fold under pressure or comply just to comply. You just have to be strong in what you believe. So for me, I knew that I had a lot of rights when it came to being at the hospital and I had to just stand firm on what I knew and I had to stand firm on being strong and I had to just stand firm in not breaking or wavering because that’s really what it comes down to.

In my mind, I felt that if I could kind of overcome this and have a natural birth and being at the hospital and knowing my rights and saying no, when it was appropriate or saying yes, when it was appropriate, then I can do anything in life, really, as long as you just kind of stand up for it and be firm in it. And so, a lot of times I feel a lot of people don’t want to feel like they’re getting in trouble or they don’t want to get a lecture or they don’t want those type of things. And sometimes, you just have to… Whether that storm of having that lecture or, “You’re doing the wrong thing,” and even though it kind of feels wrong of someone else telling you kind of that you’re doing the wrong thing by leaving the hospital, the nurses, you shouldn’t because it maybe puts your baby at risk or at harm.

The only reason that that might hinder you is because maybe you’re then thinking that that’s true. But then, in my opinion, that leads to fear and fear is a liar basically. So, if you know what you want deep down is the truth, then you just stay firm in knowing that, and you don’t let the fear of others or the fear of the what ifs, kind of hinder you. Because my thing is that you could turn that what if into a positive, what if my baby is perfectly healthy and fine and can go home and be just as great as if we stayed here the 24 hours? A little bit of stubbornness mixed with knowing my rights and just standing firm with that. And knowing that I wasn’t crazy with what I was deciding is kind of really what helped me stay grounded. It’s almost like faith, if you stay grounded in your faith, no matter what kind of people try to waver you, then you’ll be okay.

Rebecca Dekker:

It reminds me of when I have… I don’t know, not altercations, but when me and my children don’t see eye to eye and I just have to be like, “I can have a stronger will than this child.” I know that’s not always possible with every child, but sometimes be like, “I am going to stand firm and not let them get away with this and we’re going to do it this way.” It’s almost like you have to see yourself as the parent and the health care staff as the children. You almost have turn around that power dynamic, and like you said, just be firm in your beliefs and not waver, because I think if you had started a waver, they probably would’ve pressed harder as well.

Cheyanne Saenz:

And this is one of the things that I kind of live by, pressure either builds diamonds or pressure bursts pipes. So to me, the pressure of what was going to happen, made it a diamond, because I didn’t want to be a pressure of a broken pipe.

Iya Mystique Faodugun:

That’s very beautiful. I like how you just worded that, a lot, we’re going to use that. So I would definitely like to know kind of what your postpartum experience was like once you got home, you were comfortable, you’re around your family. So can you tell us how was your postpartum experience?

Cheyanne Saenz:

So for me, I knew that I wanted my family to be around me. And once again, this goes back to what you want, you have it. If somebody’s wanting privacy, they want nobody around them, they just want them and their baby and their spouse or maybe a parent, whatever the case may be, you be firm in that. For me, I was completely okay if my family came around and they wanted to see me and help me and I was completely okay with accepting all and every help that came my way, I didn’t want my pride or my ego to get in the way of like, “No I got this.” And I’m like, “No, I just gave birth. I’m in pain.” For me, the hardest part was the sense I had to get stitched up.

For the first seven to 10 days, I used a walker to walk. It hurt to walk, I sat on a donut pillow. I was just really uncomfortable, and I accepted all help. My family, they said, “What do you want for breakfast?” Or, “What do you want for dinner?” And they brought my food to me. They washed my clothes for me. I strictly breastfeed, so after I breastfeed, if I needed help with burping the baby or walking her around, whether it’s my mom or my aunt or my sister, they would pick her up, they would burp her for me. When my baby was taking a nap during the day, I took a nap, whether that was a 10:00 AM nap, a noon nap, 8:00 PM nap, I rested when I rested because I knew it was important. I needed rest because if I’m cranky and tired, it wasn’t going to be helpful. The first seven days, especially because I was breastfeeding, I also understood what breastfeeding was all about.

Thankfully, my midwife was also a certified lactation consultant, so she right away was able to teach me proper ways to breastfeed, et cetera. And it could be stressful when you’re breastfeeding because people think right away, you’re producing all this milk and it’s not. Your milk supply really doesn’t come in for until four or five days, because the first couple days is just the colostrum and you just have to be firm and knowing the pain that you go through with having soreness and maybe cracks and slightly bleeding and you just have to push through that pain to just know, “Hey, you’re going to get through, it’s temporary, but it’s going to work out.” And I did. I accepted whoever wanted to come help me, because for me, in my family, I’m the one who cooks.

And so I cook breakfast usually every day and I usually cook dinner at least five times a week, I cook dinner. And so to go from that to nothing and I did, whatever was for dinner, they would bring it to me. If I was hungry, my cousin… I would drink water like crazy, she would always refill my cup for me, whatever the case may be. So people need to know that it’s okay to accept all help, all help, the smallest. And I never said no. If people asked if they could help me, I said yes, I didn’t want to say no, if they wanted to… Even the smallest thing, to help me put on my shoe, because I was in so much pain, “Yes, here, please help me.” I wanted everything, because even afterwards, I didn’t take any pain medicine as far as helping with the pain.

So then I just kind of stuck it through. And so, for me, I’ve had a really great postpartum experience. My baby is a really wonderful baby. She is a happy baby. She only cries with the necessities of obviously wanting food or being changed. And you just have to really learn your baby and know what they want. But I do want to say that if people do struggle mentally after postpartum, that’s also okay. You just have to really be honest and acknowledge what’s going on. So if people are asking, “Oh, how are you doing?” Or, “Are you okay?” And then you’re not okay, just be honest and say, “I’m not okay. I’m struggling. I’m tired, I need help.” And for me, I wasn’t afraid to say, “I need help. Can you assist me? Help me.” If I needed to take a shower, luckily, it wasn’t to the point where I needed someone to help bathe me.

But either way, watch the baby while I take a shower, anything like that, I accepted all and every help and it’s okay. You have to just be vocal about how you’re feeling like, “I’m in pain today. I am tired today. I need a lot of help today, who can help me? Who can bring me some food today?” If say nobody was around, I had friends, I was really craving In-N-Out one day, and so, my best friend, she was like, “I’ll come drop it off for you.” I’m like, “Thank you.” So you just have to really accept all help and you have to be okay with knowing that you’re not going to really bounce back right away the next day like, “Okay, I’m going to get back to cooking and cleaning and life is great.” It’s a difference.

You have a newborn baby, so your routines are different, change is different. And for me, I knew that my baby, she would know what she wanted. And so there wasn’t a set like, “Okay, you’re going to be in bed by 11 o’clock and you’re going to be up at two hours, three hours later.” If she woke up an hour later, then she was awake. I wasn’t going to try to force her to sleep an extra hour just for me, because she’s new to life. And so I have to be able to bend and flow with however she is. And so for me, my postpartum experience has been actually really good, but I think it’s because I was 100% honest and transparent and I did, I accepted all help, any help and I didn’t care what it was and my family respected whatever it is that I wanted.

And I think that’s just really important is once again, being able to vocalize what you’re wanting, whether that is privacy, whether that is kind of like, “Leave me alone,” or whether that is, “Anybody and everybody, come help me, please. I need the help because I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I need the help,” because you’re afraid, especially the first couple days, I think, I just stared at her all night just to make sure that she was breathing. And so, it made me really exhausted. And so, taking naps or whatever, my mom was super helpful throughout the whole thing, obviously, during at the hospital and then whenever, coming home, she’d be like, “Okay, go to your room, take a nap. I have her.” And I did. She’s two months old now and it’s been a really good experience because of me vocalizing and accepting all that help.

Rebecca Dekker:

Well, congratulations to you and to your mom, who did such an amazing job advocating for you during your birth. And then, sounds like she was a huge part of your postpartum recovery as well. So, shout out to your mom for that. Do you have any advice for people listening, any final words of wisdom for anyone who’s pregnant or expecting a baby soon?

Cheyanne Saenz:

I would just have to say is do your research and know what you’re wanting. And I truly believe that us, as women, we know what is best for our bodies, and we know what’s best for our babies. And as much as people want to give us their advice, in reality, we can have 20 different people give us advice, but still we have to make the decision that’s best for us. I feel that anybody who’s pregnant, whether they’re in the beginning stages, the end, or even afterwards, postpartum, you know what is best for you, so stick to those guns. Stick to whatever you’re being firm in, stick to your birthing plan, whether you want a epidural and you’re firm on getting that epidural, because that’s what you want and people are trying to waver you to just do it all natural, stay firm to getting that epidural, whether you really want to have a hospital birth versus a at home birth, then that’s totally fine.

I think what a lot of times people don’t realize is that we have the choice and we still have that freedom of choice as long as we stay firm in having that freedom of choice and not wavering or bending under pressure or choosing a different plan just because somebody else says so. Once again, though, obviously take the advice. I took my EBB Class and it gave me a lot of great information and I had to take that information. And then I had to make the choices that I wanted through that information. So take in all the information and advice that people may give you throughout your journey, but ultimately, be firm in what you are truly, truly wanting, as long as it’s what’s best for you and what’s best for the baby and all will be well at the end.

Rebecca Dekker:

Thank you so much, Cheyanne.

Cheyanne Saenz:

Thank you. I really appreciate the chance to be able to share my story.

Rebecca Dekker:

Thanks, everyone, for listening to Cheyanne’s birth story. And we’re so grateful to her for sharing how she stood up for herself and stayed firm in her beliefs and advocated for herself and her baby. If you’re interested in checking out the EBB Childbirth Class, you can always go to evidencebasedbirth.com/childbirthclass. Thanks, everyone, and we’ll see you next week. Bye.

 

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