Vilma Perez-Munoz's Birth Story
Updated: Feb 11, 2019
This Friday, I was able to witness an incredible labor and delivery. Vilma Perez-Munoz gave birth to a healthy baby girl on Friday, March 2. I met with her at a Starbucks back in January and she shared with me her incredible story. Vilma is a breast cancer survivor.
In May of 2016, at the age of 29, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in her right breast and it had metastasized to her lymph nodes. She scheduled her surgery for November 2016 and chemo began in June. She began radiation in January of 2017 and completed her cancer treatment in February. They removed her right nipple and milk ducts, leaving her with one nipple on her left side from which to breast feed. On July 12, 2017, after her cancer treatment was complete, she went to the doctor and learned that she was pregnant!
I’ll fast forward to March 1 of this year and we’ll pick this story back up. I was just getting settled into bed when her doula, Kim Harris, texted me to let me know that Vilma was in labor and was on her way to the hospital. They were on their way back from Atlanta when her contractions began and they were steadily getting stronger and closer together. I met them at the hospital at 10:30 p.m. on March 1, where we were escorted to Labor and Delivery. Vilma was in great spirits—she was laughing, dancing and working through each contraction with strength and determination.
After running her vitals and taking her blood, it was determined that she had mild-preeclampsia and needed to be induced. Once they induced her, the contractions began to grow stronger and came more frequently. She was determined not to use pain medication during her labor and she powered through each contraction with the support of her doula, Kim and her husband, Oveth. Kim and Oveth whispered words of strength and encouragement in her ears in both English and Spanish. Kim would whisper, “Breathe in, be strong. Breathe out, let go.” And then I’d hear Oveth whisper, “Fuerte. Tranquilo. Yo puedo, porque yo puedo. (Strong. Calm. I can because I can.)”
Once Vilma was 9 centimeters dilated, the last centimeter came quickly. She was fully dilated, the contractions were coming strong and fast and she was ready to push. In a matter of seconds, baby Julissa Evette was in the world.
The doctors quickly placed her on Vilma’s chest and a wave of emotion flooded through the room as she held her baby girl in her arms for the first time—her miracle baby after her fight with cancer.
After a few minutes, it was time to see if baby Julissa would latch. Vilma, placed her on her left breast, and Julissa latched immediately. Vilma shared with me at Starbucks back in January how much she wanted to be able to breastfeed, but was nervous about whether or not it would be possible, after having undergone treatment for cancer—and here she was breastfeeding her baby girl. Vilma was overcome with emotion and tears fell down her cheeks as this dream of hers was coming true.
Being part of Vilma’s story, witnessing an amazing story of survival and of hope after breast cancer was such a blessing. It was truly incredible to witness her labor and delivery and to be able to share her story with other women to offer hope after cancer. After seeing her photos, Vilma said to me, "I've been dying since I 'survived' breast cancer and now thanks to you, I see God in each picture showing me His LOVE for me." Thank you for inviting me into your space and into your story, Vilma and Oveth!