In The Studio with Calamity Jane is a show highlighting the incredible women of Las Vegas!
In this episode, we sit down with April Clyde, of Serenity Birth Center.
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Hello, welcome to another episode of In The Studio With Calamity Jane. My name is Jodi, also known as Calamity Jane.
Our purpose with this series is to find women doing amazing things in our community and give them the spotlight for a moment.
Joining me today is April Clyde, with the Serenity Birth Center. Welcome to the show, April.
[April]: Thank you for having me Jodi.
Tell us a little bit about the Serenity Birth Center.
I was first introduced to the concept of a birth center when I was in graduate school, and I immediately fell in love with the idea and ended up writing a paper in grad school about a birth center in Las Vegas. At the time, that's what got me researching the laws and realized I couldn't open a birth center as the way law was written then they could only be physician owned.
But the law changed in 2012 that nurse practitioners no longer needed a supervising physician. That opened the door for laws to be changed for the birth center, for birth center laws. And in just last year, that law changed and so now nurse midwives are able to own birth centers in Nevada.
How did you come to get started in midwifery?
Probably, I first fell in love with babies and pregnancy. I'm the second oldest of five kids and I was always fascinated. And both my parent have lots of siblings so I grew up with, I don't know, seeing pregnant aunts and cousins and I just really was, from the time I was a child, very interested in pregnancy and birth.
Probably really what sparked it was when my youngest sister was born. I was not only fascinated with the pregnancy and the birth, but her as a newborn, and so, really I think that was the first time I remember thinking, "This is something "I love enough that I might want to "do it for a living." And really what projected me into was I was volunteering at the hospital, I was doing an undergrad, I was planning on going to pharmacy school, and my dad's a pharmacist. Thank heavens, I worked in pharmacy before going to pharmacy school, and realized I didn't really like it!
I started volunteering at the hospital because I had tons of science credits, but then didn't really like anything at the hospital and happened to just run into my OB-GYN, I'm sure he had no idea who I was, I was 19. But I said, "Hi, Dr. Jones! It's me, April". He was in a rush to get to a delivery so I'm just chattin' him up and walking with him and we get to the elevator and he said, "Well, do you want to come up?" and I was like, "Yeah, sure, I want to!".
It was very different than the kind of births I attend now as a midwife. It was a very medicated, typical hospital birth, but I loved it. There was some magic in the room that I knew I had to be a part of. So that's when I immediately changed my major to nursing, and I have my Bachelor's degree from UNLV Nursing.
There was some magic in the room that I knew I had to be a part of.
Right after nursing school, I started at Sunrise Hospital here in town as a labor and delivery nurse, and the births I was drawn to, what I found the most interesting, was women that got to the hospital at eight, nine, and 10 centimeters dilated and had a baby within 30 minutes or, you know, an hour being there. I found it fascinating. I was in my early 20's, but I found it really interesting. Why did some women do that, and then why did others choose to have inductions or scheduled C-sections? I just found it really interesting.
In talking to these women that got to the hospital at eight, nine, and 10 centimeters, they often had similar things in common. They had hired a doula or taken a childbirth class, so it got me interested in unmedicated birth. I started to go to every conference, every workshop, read every book I could get my hands on about natural childbirth.
I came to the conclusion that in the United States, we have a system that serves high-risk pregnancies. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, undoubtedly, this is the country you want to have your baby in. I really came to the conclusion that for healthy, low-risk pregnancies, there's a lot of room for improvement in the United States.
So that got me interested in midwifery but I knew I'd have to go back to school. I know some people love going to school, but I'm not [one of those people]. I'm someone who did all the years of college because it was a means to an end. That's what I wanted. It was my ticket into entry for what I wanted to do for a living.
So really, the catalyst that really pushed me - I had a good friend invite me to her home birth. I thought she was crazy. It was years before I was going to become a mother myself but I thought, "Why would anyone want to do that?" It took me going to her home birth to appreciate how completely different her birth was from any other birth that I'd ever seen. And at that point, I'd seen hundreds of births as a labor and delivery nurse.
I'd never seen a baby in their mother's arms at 45 minutes old. Ever!
I remember leaving the [home] birth thinking,
"Everybody deserves the opportunity for this."
I remember being moved to the point of tears. She had her baby in her arms, and the baby was about 45 minutes old. I was taking pictures for her and her husband at the birth. I'd never seen a baby in their mom's arms at 45 minutes old. Ever! And I'd seen, at that point, hundreds of births. And I just remember leaving the birth thinking, "Everybody deserves the opportunity for this."
It moved me to the point that I started looking into graduate schools. We don't have any nurse midwife programs here in Nevada, so that led me to go out of state. And it's in part why we have so few nurse midwives in Nevada. So I went out of state, I was away for about two and a half years. I came back, and most of my experience when I was in grad school were birth centers and out-of-hospital practices.
So when I came back, my intention was to open a birth center. Again, it didn't take very long of going down that road, our laws just were not such that it was going to happen. I was hoping that I would be able to find a physician that would own it. But it's not usually part of their residency to be doing out-of-hospital births, so for most obstetricians it's very foreign.
So instead of doing that, I had an OB-GYN that I had worked with when I was a labor and delivery nurse, who was opening a practice in Henderson. So, I was a midwife out of the St. Rose hospitals from 2004 to 2008. It was an excellent experience, in that I was able to introduce water birth to the hospital, we got birthing stools for all the rooms, and we helped decrease the Cesarean section rate at the hospital. We also did a lot of education with the nurses. Most of the nurses that I worked with there had never seen a birth happen in any position other than a mom on her back with her legs up in stirrups. And so, we were able to really affect a lot of change.
We were able to affect a lot of change.
What started to happen in 2006, I started to have couples back pregnant with their second baby that said, "We really want you to be our midwife again, but we don't want another hospital birth." And so, this is really, that's where my home birth practice was born from. I would tell clients, "Okay, well, I'll attend your home birth, you know, I know you, but I have a busy hospital practice."
And so I just started attending more and more home births.
It didn't take very long before I started to become increasingly frustrated with hospital policy and procedure. Especially when I would have clients back, pregnant with a second baby, and they had had a previous unmedicated birth, they often were even more educated, more empowered, and would not consent to things like having a routine IV or not being able to eat and drink in labor. And so it, at times, became contentious among the hospital staff and my clients. So, I decided in 2008 to make the switch to doing just exclusively home birth and have been doing exclusively home births since then.
What do you feel makes you successful?
That's a good question. I think it's a lot of things. I am naturally just a very empathetic person that's caring, and I don't know if it's being a middle child, I don't know if it's... But I am, I think, just a natural caregiver. It comes pretty effortlessly.
I'm also, thankfully, good in school so having a Bachelor's degree and having a Master's degree, I was able to get through that coursework because it's, certainly graduate school was rigorous. And so, there's that.
And I think being able to work with lots of different [people]. One of the things I love about home birth is - I often get asked, especially by people that don't home birth and find it fascinating, they're like, "What are your clients like?" And it runs the gamut. I have UNLV professors, physicians, attorneys, to 19-year-old young women that read a book about home birth or midwifery and are drawn to it because of that. So it really runs the gamut and I think really being able to work with people, all different kinds of people, and know that really everybody has the same goal.
They just want a safe, empowering birth that they're a decision maker in.
What piece of advice would you give a new entrepreneur just starting out?
It's really doing what you feel passionate about, making sure that you're clear that what you're doing is aligned with who you are. There's a lot of things about owning your own business that are challenging, frustrating at times, but you have to have a big why, so why you're doing it has to be in your heart. It can't be because you think you're going to make a good living doing it. It has to be because you feel, you know, strongly driven by it.
Thankfully, I feel called to what I do and it makes the getting up at three in the morning to catch babies, which I like doing that. That part is actually not at all a chore but the other parts about owning a business... the accounting and... I don't think anybody really enjoys. It makes it tolerable and even, I think, fun at times because you know you're hopefully creating a greater good.
And now, the famous questionnaire that was asked for 26 years by the great Bernard Pivot and made famous on In The Actors Studio:
What is your favorite word?
I think serenity. It's a word that has come through just in journal writing. Also, I was talking to someone I had gone to grad school with and she was saying, "That's the name you put in your paper!" I had no idea that was the name I had put in my paper and I had already applied for our business licenses there. That [paper] was 16 years ago. My daughter's name is Sequoia and I don't know, I must like that S-E sound.
What is your least favorite word?
Grimace. That's what's coming to mind, grimace, I don't know, I can't come up with a good why!
What turns you on creatively, emotionally, or spiritually?
I love, and I've always loved women. I find them interesting and exceptionally powerful and often lacking in the knowledge that they have that power. So I always say, if I was in the business of just getting babies out of moms' bodies, I wouldn't be very interested in it. What I'm really interested in, and why I keep doing this work, is I'm in the business of birthing mothers. Strong, confident, powerful mothers.
What turns you off?
Women being told they can't by a paternalistic medical system, or paternalistic society, maybe. I'm someone that says, "Tell a woman she can't, especially an empowered woman, and it's as good as done."
What is your favorite curse word?
Oh, my favorite curse word. I think it has to be fuck!
What sound or noise do you love?
Pigs, when they're little, baby piglets when they're rooting to nurse. I love it!
What sound or noise do you hate?
This is a bit, maybe very cliché, fingernails down a chalkboard. That high-pitched.... yep.
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
I've been this political process of getting laws changed and getting... I really think it's interesting. This idea of being a city planner or a councilwoman where you're taking very diverse desires sometimes and creating a plan. I find it interesting and that it takes, I think, a real exceptional person to be good at it.
What profession would you not like to do, like ever?
The one I didn't do! Being a pharmacist. I need way more people interaction than generally what that supplies.
If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Job well done.
[Jodi]: Thanks for being on the show today, April.
[April]: Thanks for having me, Jodi.
And thank you for watching. Join us for the next episode of In the Studio with Calamity Jane, where we put another amazing woman from Las Vegas in the spotlight.
I'd like to give an extra shout-out to Gigi from Gigi's Rockin' Jewels, who gave me these beautiful accessories to wear!
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