I have spent so much time over the last few months reading through different birth stories on various blogs, wondering what my own story would be. I dreamt of the moment my son would slide his way out (ok, maybe not that easy), and be placed right on my chest, all gooey and perfect. That was the moment I would get emotional about when I would think about his birth. That was the moment I couldn’t believe I was going to experience. To me, that would be the best moment of all. Then I went for an ultrasound at 37.5 weeks pregnant.
The tech put the machine on my belly, and started moving it around. He said, “So, your babies head is up here (by my chest) and his bum is down here (where the head is supposed to be and where I had been told for weeks it was). I kindly said, “No, no, it’s not, his head is down and very low, and his bum is up here.” It’s hard to believe I tried to tell the man who held a window into my womb where my baby was, but I really felt like he was wrong. He assured me again, that my baby was sure enough bottom down and breech. Now I know it is not the end of the world, but as a first time mom, it came as a shock as all of a sudden so many thoughts started to rush through my head. Will I have to have a c-section? Will all of my births have to be a c-section from now on? Can they turn him? Can I turn him? Will surgery hurt? Will I be out for weeks recovering? If I have to have surgery, will I miss out on our moment? I left the appointment sad, confused and with a million questions.
Being married to a doctor means being married to a researcher. This hubby of mine is so good at looking things up and figuring things out. It didn’t take long until he started researching everything about breech babies and breech deliveries. He explained to me that there was a time when they did an automatic c-section for breech babies, but now they are giving some women who meet specific criteria the chance to do a ‘trial of labour’ and deliver their baby bum first. So now here we were, in the last 2.5 weeks of pregnancy, with a big decision to make. In order to do a trial of labour you must meet a list of criteria, the delivery has to be done in the OR in case of an emergency c-section, and the baby needs to be delivered by an OB. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the possible complications and emergency c-section, but I will get into that later.
Oh if our apartment walls could talk. Along with Matt’s research came some home remedies that women can do to turn their baby. We tried them all. On all fours with a flashlight down low because the baby is attracted to the light, with my husband singing, “So Come to the Light.” Playing music down low, while on all fours because the baby is apparently attracted to the music. Laying on the ironing board, inverted, so that gravity would move my baby…
We headed to the local public pool. I would waddle in and Matt would hold my legs as I would do handstand after handstand because the water and movement was supposed to flip our baby. I sat in a warm, shallow tub, with a bag of frozen corn on the top of my belly, as the baby apparently doesn’t like the cold, and moves away. The baby didn’t mind the cold, but on the plus side, I had a nice frozen snack during my soak. Basically, you name it, we tried it. We even had an appointment at the hospital, where an OB tried to manually flip our baby from the outside (OUCHIE!!!). Both mommy and baby were not fans of this, but we were glad we tried. Our little babe was bum down, and very content.
Time was not on our side, and we had to make a decision. We had an appointment at the hospital with an amazing OB the day before my due date and she went over everything with us about vaginal breech births and carefully laid out all of the risks. Hearing the criteria, like the baby had to be small, frank breech, flexed neck and my pelvis had to be, well, able to accommodate, made me nervous. After hearing my baby and I were the perfect candidates, Matt and I both started warming up to the idea. What re-assured us was that we could go into labour naturally, try to have the baby vaginally, but if anything came up they would send us for a c-secion immediately. We both felt at peace and decided it was worth the try. At the end of the appointment the OB did a quick membrane sweep, told me I was two centimetres dilated, and had me sign a consent form for my trial of labour. She ended the appointment by telling me she was on call the next night, with a wink, and I prayed I would go into labour when she was there.
Sure enough, the very next day my Braxton Hicks started to hurt and around 5 pm we decided it was time to start timing them. We went for a walk…nervous but excited…
…and laboured at home until 1am. My contractions were not walkable or talkable at this point, and they were 5 minutes apart. I had a contraction on the elevator on our way to the car, one in the car, and one outside of the hospital. This.was.happening. Once we arrived, I was put in the assessment room, and the doctor came to check me again. You see, with a breech delivery, your labour has to move along quite quickly, and you only have 1 hour to push. I was nervous to see how far I had dilated, because I really didn’t want to be sent home if I was still only at 2 or 3cm’s. The doc checked, and with a smile on her face told me I was 6 cm! I rejoiced (in that precious time between contractions) and my hubby and I were thrilled to be heading into a labour room…
I won’t drag this part of the story on, as it was just a lot of pain, breathing techniques and throwing the laughing gas contraption across the room. I found a rhythm where I would breathe in, breathe out and then grunt. Pretty right? I honestly couldn’t repeat it today if you asked me, but it got me through the worst of it. By 5 am an epidural was placed (again, in a breech delivery they always place one incase of an emergency c-section) and mine was a-pumping the drugs. I am thankful God made such smart doctors who invent these types of things. My hubby and I were able to rest for a few hours.
Then it was time to push. I pushed for 10 minutes in the labour room, and when they saw how quickly my baby was coming, they rushed me into the OR. My husband scrambled to get scrubs on, nurses were running around putting me on a stretcher and the OB who I had met the day before was 30 minutes from being done her night shift. We got into the OR, they strapped me up, and I started pushing again. 10 minutes of pushing later they held up my precious baby, and PLACED HIM ON MY CHEST!! I bawled. But he didn’t. So they quickly brought him to the side to give him oxygen. A few seconds later I heard the most beautiful sound my ears had ever heard – his tiny but mighty cry. (Actually, I am hearing it now, as he gets up from his nap…sigh…it still is a gorgeous sound…during the day). He cried, they weighed him, checked his hips (as breech babies can have hip problems, he checked out all good!) and they brought him back to my chest. Immediately after they placed him on me, he stopped crying. He opened his beautiful eyes and stared at me for a good 15 minutes as they delivered the placenta and got me all fixed up. It was the most incredible moment of my life. Matt was standing right beside us, and Judah just stared. I talked to him, cried and prayed. I will never forget that moment…our moment.
I delivered him at 7:47 am. The amazing OB was off at 8 am. I am so thankful Matt and I followed our hearts and trusted in the peace God had given us. It is not the story I was expecting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Exactly one week after we had Judah, my husband was at Vancouver General Hospital with a burst appendix, waiting for abdominal surgery. God knew we both couldn’t be recovering from surgery and I will forever be grateful to Matt, as it feels like he had the surgery for me. We are all home now, healthy, happy and adjusting to our new, wonderful life.