In 2009 I became pregnant with my second child. I was very excited. My first birth had gone very well, easy, no complications, no interventions. After birthing an 8lb 1oz posterior baby boy after only 4 hours of labor and 30 mins of pushing, I decided the second would be out of hospital.
We hired a great midwifery team. My pregnancy progressed normally, although I felt very tired and nauseated through most of it. We changed our birth location from birth center to home after talking to our midwife about the two options, and realizing that it made more sense to stay home to welcome our baby girl.
In late 2009, my husband accepted a job transfer to Houston, Texas (we are Canadian and were living in Edmonton, Alberta at the time). We decided that I would stay back with our soon to be 4 year old son, and he would make the move to Texas alone for the first few months, so I could continue my care with my midwives and our daughter could be born at home, in Canada. He left at the end of January 2010, our daughter expected to arrive mid March.
At 36 weeks, I went to my midwife appointment as normal. As my midwife palpitated my belly, she seemed to be taking longer than normal… “No, no, no baby”. My heart sank for just a moment and I said “is she breech??”. My midwife told me she thought the baby was breech, but she wanted me to have an ultrasound to confirm. She told me she would refer me to an OB, who would be able to confirm and if she was breech, we would go over options. She gave me some exercises to do (breech tilt, etc) and suggested a Webster Trained Chiropractor close to my home. She was very supportive.
I went home that day, and called the Chiropractor to make an appointment. I attempted the breech tilt, but with my husband away, I found it difficult to get into a good position. I researched ways to turn a breech baby, and tried ones I felt I could do on my own. The night before my appointment with the Chiropractor I got a call from the OB’s office saying they wanted to see me the following morning. I cancelled the Chiropractor and went in for my ultrasound. My husband was back in town for the appointment the next day. We went into the hospital, they hooked us up to an NST, and I waiting for the OB. He came in, put the ultrasound wand on my belly, and confirmed that my baby was breech. She was easily moved with the wand, and the OB said he was sure she would turn on her own. We agreed to come back in 2 weeks to check on things.
At my 37 week appointment with my midwives, my daughter was transverse. I thought that must be a sign that she was moving back into a good position, and I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. I continued to do what I thought would help turn her, but I never did go to the Chiropractor.
I went back to see the OB at 38 weeks. Breech. Again! He talked about the possibility of trying to manually turn her, but when he felt to see he position, she was engaged in my pelvis, and he was not able to move her. He told me I had some options to consider. I could opt for a cesarean or I could try a vaginal delivery with him in the hospital, knowing that if there were any signs of complications, I would have an emergency cesarean.
I cried on my drive home that day, this is not what I was expecting to hear. I was completely devastated. When I got home I immediately started researching, and continued to do so, hours a day for about 4 days. I talked to my midwife, she assured me that whatever I chose, they would be there to support me. In the end, I didn’t feel right about just signing up for major surgery, if there was even a slight possibility that I could do this vaginally. We lived an hour and a half away from the hospital where the OB delivered, and with my first labor being only 4 hours, I talked to the OB about inducing. He reluctantly agreed, making sure to tell me that induction went against my own beliefs in natural child birth. I realize now how rare that kind of OB is.
I was due for the induction at 39 weeks, 4 days, on a Friday. Wednesday, I had my midwives sweep my membranes, in hopes that would be enough to start labor and be able to avoid the medical induction. They swept me 3 times on Wednesday, and I spent much of the day walking around, contracting every few minutes. It never amounted to anything. We dropped our son off with friends, and stayed in a hotel close to the hospital for the 2 days prior to the induction, in case labor did start.
On Friday morning, I got up about 6:30am, ate breakfast, had a shower and headed over to the hospital. We got there about 8am. They offered me a brochure on breech delivery, and told me that the OB had ordered the induction be done with cervidal. They talked to me about what it was, how it worked, etc and then inserted it. I was 1-2cm. Contractions came every few minutes for hours, but they were not very strong, more annoying than anything. I walked around the maternity floor, and hung out with my husband for much of the day, just chatting, trying to sleep, etc. My midwife told me to call her when active labor started, so I had them check me about 5pm and I was 5cm!! They removed the cervidal at that point, and I labored on from there. I called my midwife and she arrived about an hour later.
Active labor continued as normal. At one point, I can’t really recall at what point, they told me my baby was no longer engaged and was sitting transverse. At that point they hooked me up to an IV incase an emergency cesarean was required. I felt very limited by the IV and I spent much of the next few hours, sitting in bed. They checked me at 7cm, and a few hours later, still 7cm… the OB came in and offered some additional augmentation. I declined and he agreed to give me 2 more hours. That was 8pm. My baby had turned again and was frank breech. At that point my midwife suggested that I get out of bed, empty my bladder and try to get mobile.
I got out of bed, emptied my bladder and tried to walk around. Contractions were very strong at that point, and I could feel my legs shaking under me. I leaned on my husband, but quickly requested a birth ball. I sat on the ball at the end of my bed, rested my arms and head on the bed, and swayed slowly. My husband sat on one side of me and my midwife on the other. They were so supportive, rubbing my back, and just sitting quietly while I went through the most intense experience I have ever had. I was getting hot flashes and was shaking uncontrollably, my midwife was so wonderful at reminding me to relax my shoulders and breathe.
About 10pm, right about the time my OB was going to come back to check my progress, I felt my water break. I felt the warm gush of fluid and stood up. Water flowed out of me at what seemed like record amounts. I felt intense pressure and knew that it was almost time to push. I made my way to the bed, because I felt too weak to stand. Once I got into the bed, I started pushing. I heard someone yell “she’s pushing, 10:05pm, get the doctor”. My OB came in, I don’t think he said anything; if he did, I don’t remember. I felt a lot of bodies in the room, I knew there would be, but I didn’t expect to feel it. The urge to push was strong and uncontrollable. I had remembered that same feeling with my son. I tore badly with my son, and tried to push gently to avoid that this time around. I heard the OB say that her feet were out. One more push and I had my daughter. 10:13pm. I felt her body on my chest and looked up. I only saw her feet. Moments later they took her from my chest and moved her across the room to the warmer. It seemed like it was miles away, but I could see her, and she was beautiful.
It wasn’t long before I had my baby back in my arms, all 7lbs of her. My midwife told me that after her feet were out, the OB let go, and while he was waiting for the back of her head to emerge, the strength of my push sent her flying out of my body, and he caught her mid air.
I am a doula now, thanks in no small part to this experience. I was not a doula then, and didn’t know everything I know now, but I knew enough to trust my body and my baby. I knew enough to ignore the negativity around me, and the all the people telling me I was stupid for even trying and to just get a cesarean. I owned my birth, I did it on my terms and I will forever be able to tell my story, without regrets.
Story from Trina, of Moonlight Doula