In the early days of my pregnancy, back when I was an un-crunchy as could be, my husband told me I wasn’t going to get an epidural. Told me. He was on the other side of the world serving the last couple months of his tour in Iraq and I was in sunny Hawaii, where we were stationed at the time, stunned at his words. My friends scoffed at the idea, “Forget him, you’ll get an epidural if you want one! They’re heavenly!” I believed them.
When he came home I was 15 weeks pregnant. Around that time, I watched a show where the woman giving birth was doing so at home using techniques she learned in a Bradley Method class. The idea of natural birth always intrigued me. My mom had done it several times and when I looked up what the Bradley Method had to offer, I started to change my mind. Maybe I wouldn’t get an epidural after all. Maybe I wanted an all-natural birth.
Fast forward a few months and we were taking our Bradley class. By that time I was fully convinced I was going to have a drug-free, low-intervention, hospital birth. I wrote out a beautiful birth plan. We were ready to tackle everything. Except one thing: A breech baby.
My family has a history of breech births. My mom and aunt were both breech. I was breech until the very end; my little sister was the same. But my baby was head down, at least at my 36 week appointment, so when I walked in for my 38 week appointment ready to be checked to see how far I was dilated (I wanted to know if I should start any natural measures to get things going), I wasn’t ready for the midwife to find something wrong. She brought the ultrasound machine over, waved it over my belly, and showed us. She was butt down, her head wedged in my right rib.
From there, began the most frantic and stressful two weeks of my life. They sent me upstairs for a non-stress test, which I passed fine, and a chat with an OB about scheduling a cesarean or doing an external version. No way, we said, we aren’t scheduling anything. We would think about the version, if it came to that. They sent us home with instructions to return in a couple days for another NST.
At home, we decided we weren’t comfortable with doing an external version, but we were try everything else to flip that baby around. Chiropractor, acupuncture, inversion table, music, hot & cold packs, music & recordings of our voices, handstands in the pool… everything. Nothing. She wasn’t moving.
At my 39 week appointment, the kind OB and midwife sat us down to talk about our wishes. We told them we didn’t want to schedule anything, that I wanted to go into labor naturally to give her every chance she had. They accepted it. And then again, at my 40 week appointment, we said the same thing.
That ultrasound, though, showed that she had one foot up and one foot down. The OB warned that if my water broke, there was a high chance the cord could prolapse and cause an emergency situation. He still was fine with me going into labor naturally, but urged me to consider scheduling a cesarean by 41 weeks if she hadn’t showed. He said it was up to me, of course.
The next day, while dealing with some awesome Braxton Hicks, I decided if she had showed up by the next day (a Friday) I would schedule something for the next Wednesday, 41 weeks. However, as the day progressed I noticed my BH coming regularly, about 6-10 minutes apart. By dinner time, I knew something was up, and even though I had wanted to labor at home for as long as possible, I was worried about the risk of cord prolapse. The hospital had us come in that night.
Our daughter was born via cesarean at 1:05am on December 16, 2011. She was 6 lbs 12 oz and 18 inches long. We named her Penelope “Penny” Ann.
The cesarean was an interesting experience, but so unlike what I was expecting. I received a spinal and requested anxiety medication as well, because I was feeling a panic attack coming. I didn’t feel a thing except some rocking, like I was on a boat. After the baby was born, my husband went to recovery to do skin-to-skin and I chatted with the anesthesiologist for 45 min while they stitched me up. In recovery, after nursing our desperately hungry baby, I vomited from the medicine. The next few days in the hospital were painful, and the recovery took several weeks before I could walk normal or feel an ounce like myself. I never wish a cesarean on anyone who doesn’t absolutely need it.
I don’t feel guilty about doing it, though. There were no doctors or midwives on the island who would deliver a breech baby. Giving her position, I wasn’t going to risk doing it by myself. In the head, we weighed our options and felt fairly in control of the whole process. Still, I feel some disappointment in missing out of the experience that I was envisioning, though I hope with our next baby we can have a home birth after cesarean.
You can find the video here through this link: http://youtu.be/Ouf4BywpbRA