(During my pregnancy, I became quite fond of reading and hearing my friend’s birth stories. Ours was not as eventful, but it is always nice to recall and share one of the most important and joyful events in your life. Enjoy!)
Short Version: Despite of months of training and preparing to have our Bradley birth, our baby turned out to be breech. We could not get him turned naturally before my water broke and he decided to come and join us. I had an emergency c-section, but we are just glad to have a happy and healthy baby boy!
- Thursday — September 30th, 2010
We had our 38-week prenatal appointment with our midwife. She checked the position of the baby and she was not able to feel his head in my pelvis. In order to be sure we could have a natural birth at home, she needed to have his presentation confirmed. Since I was already full-term (i.e. past 37 weeks), we scheduled an ultrasound that same afternoon. The ultrasound quickly confirmed that he was indeed breech–his feet were down and head was up toward my chest. My husband and I were “devastated” in that this could mean that we could not have a natural birth either at home or at a hospital, because the risks were too great with a vaginal delivery. Our midwife received a call from the radiologist with the news and she quickly scheduled a external cephalic version (ECV) with one of the OB/GYNs that works with her to turn the baby head down and attempt a vaginal delivery. The OB/GYN could not see me the next day (Friday), so we scheduled the ECV for Monday at 1:30 pm.
My midwife told me of exercises I could do at home in the meantime to get him turned. I started doing them religiously that same evening with the help of my husband.
- Friday — October 1st, 2010
My husband helped me to continue to do the exercises to get the baby turned. I called my midwife and told her that I felt that he might have turned, because I could hear his hiccups in a different place. She was excited and said that it wouldn’t have been the first time that she would schedule a ECV for a patient and that the baby was already turned by the time they get to the OB/GYN for the version. We wanted to get distracted from the news that he was breech, so we went to the theater that night to watch “Wall Street” and I tell my husband that this may be the last time we go to the movie theater in a while… boy was I right!
We come back home and keep doing the exercises just in case he was not turned yet.
- Saturday — October 2nd, 2010
I get up at 7:00 am to make breakfast and get ready to meet a couple of my girlfriends at the Farmer’s Market. Around 8:00 am, when I was heading out the door, I felt a leak significant enough that I had to go back and change. I didn’t think much of it, because it was not a gush of liquid–it was rather subtle. I thought it was just part of my mucus plug. Either way, I still monitor the leaking while driving to the Farmer’s Market. When I get to the Market, I feel more leaks and now with mild contractions. We kept walking and shopping until the contractions and the leak could no longer be ignored, so I told my girlfriends that I thought I was in labor. (All these signs would have been enough for someone else but me… I was in such denial… I really thought that he was going to be late… a week or so… which prevented me to realize that I was indeed in the early stages of labor). I leave the Farmer’s Market around 9:30 am and called my husband to tell him what was going on. I told him that I didn’t think I was in labor, but that I was returning home anyway. I get home and my husband and I grab our papers to register our vehicles in the state of Indiana (because that was our plan for that Saturday, anyway), but my husband asks me to call our midwife to have peace of mind. I didn’t think it was necessary, but I complied. It was 10:00 am. I call our midwife and explain to her the leaks and the mild contractions and she wanted us to come to her office right away .
We get to her office around 11:00 am and she checks the fluid, which was indeed amniotic fluid. She checks the position of the baby and she is almost sure that he is still breech. At that point, she tells us that our option would be to have an emergency c-section, because labor could progress very quickly with a breech presentation with great risks to the life of the baby. She does not deliver breech babies, which we knew from the start as well. The possibility of an umbilical cord prolapse was rare, but to be on the safe side, it was better to get to a hospital as soon as possible.
When she told us all of this, I started crying. My husband and I had been practicing and learning for months the Bradley method. I had overcome all of my fears regarding labor and delivery by making the decision to have a natural birth at home to the point that I was extremely excited about labor itself regardless of the pain. In our minds, a cesarean would have been a last resort after long hours of labor. We never imagined that we were going to have an emergency c-section at 38 weeks due to a breech presentation. We only had a few minutes to grieve the loss of our “perfect birth”, given that we were in an emergency situation. Our midwife was beyond wonderful. She called the hospital and the OB/GYN and everything was ready in minutes.
We had nothing with us. We were not prepared at all to spend the next three days at the hospital. We did not even have a camera. We even had our dog Elka in the car with us, because we had no idea that we were going to be heading to a hospital that same day, so my husband had to drive very quickly to the kennel to drop her off, since we knew we were going to be in the hospital for at least two days. I had to stay behind with my midwife while she made the phone calls to the hospital, so she drove me to the hospital and my husband was going to meet us there after dropping Elka off.
My midwife and I got to the hospital at 12:15 pm and registered at the ER. I was shaking. I could not believe what was happening–all of this was exactly what I did not want and what I was dreading for months. I was still having mild contractions. We get to Labor and Delivery and I was still shaking quite a bit. I have never had any kind of surgery in my life before, so this was all very new and too sudden for me to process. My husband was not there yet and I was so afraid of being prepared for the c-section without him being there. Thankfully, he showed up right before I had to start changing into the hospital gown. I asked if I could go to the restroom before the surgery. I walk to the restroom and I break down crying. I was so afraid and disappointed, but I got some strength from knowing that we were going to meet our baby soon. I put myself and our baby in God’s hands.
The cesarean had to be done very quickly given that my water had broken 4-5 hours beforehand and I was having contractions. With a breech presentation, it was not clear how quickly labor could have progressed endangering the life of the baby. After my IV fluids were in, the nurses took me to the operating room to have my spinal and get me ready for the surgery. Neither my midwife or my husband were allowed in the operating room while the spinal was administered so I was beyond afraid. The anesthesiologist was extremely nice and funny, so that helped me relax. Before they administered the spinal, I started using some of my Bradley relaxation techniques and while the nurse was holding me, I realized how calm I became. I was no longer shaking. I said a prayer, closed my eyes, and breathed deeply. The spinal did not hurt at all. After that, I was very relaxed and getting excited to meet our baby. I saw the clock: it was 1:20 pm. I wanted my midwife and my husband in there with me very badly. Finally, they both come in minutes before the surgery starts and I am much more relaxed. The surgery started and I couldn’t feel anything. I could only see my midwife’s and husband’s eyes… they were both looking at the operation. Our baby was pulled out minutes after the procedure started. He was pulled out bottom first, then legs, then his head. My husband was narrating what was going on: “I can see the legs! He has all of his toes! Now they are trying to pull his head out…” I can only remember my midwife’s and husband’s eyes… they were wide open. They were very quiet for a moment. I felt a lot of pulling and tugging in my belly. They didn’t tell me this after the fact, but apparently, the OB/GYN had a hard time pulling his head out. She was pulling forcefully using his legs. According to my husband, it was quite the maneuver, to the point he thought the baby’s head was going to be separated from his body!
Our baby’s head emerges at 1:45 pm and my husband is telling me that he is beautiful and he looks extremely healthy. All ten toes. All ten fingers. The nurses grab our baby and show him to me for a few seconds before putting him in the warmer. I start crying and I can’t quite believe that he is already here and that I’m a mother! I will never forget how joyous this time was despite the cesarean. I’m a mother! I’m a mother! I completely forgot about the cesarean and while they stitch me up I looked over to my husband talking to the nurse who was weighing our baby. Our midwife held my hand the entire time my husband was with the baby and not by my side. My husband was so excited and kept telling me that he looked really healthy. We start placing bets about his weight. Both my husband and I felt that he was just above 7 lbs. Sure enough, he was 7 lbs, 2 oz. They handed our baby to us minutes after he was delivered. We take a few pictures.
After his birth, we realized that our baby was born on the feast of the Guardian Angels.
- Postpartum–How Breastfeeding Saved Us!
After the stitches were completed, we are taken to the recovery room for 3-4 hours for observation. I was very thirsty and sleepy. My husband held our baby most of the time, which made me resent the cesarean even more, because I felt that I could not bond with him those critical moments following his birth. My main concern was that I was not able to nurse him right away. However, that was a great bonding time for our baby and his dad–and indeed they bonded! My midwife helped me to nurse him even though I was so out of it. He nurses only a bit, but it was still amazing and wonderful. I was very thirsty and hungry–I had not eaten since 7:30 am that morning! The nurses gave me ice chips, water, and apple juice.
We were taken to our room later that afternoon and I was still very out of it. I just wanted gallons and gallons of apple juice. The nurses didn’t want to give me much to drink, because they knew I was going to throw it all up, but I still drank tons of apple juice anyway. My husband and I watched some college football while they cleaned our baby up and while I tried to get some sleep. When our baby was brought to us, my frustration levels started getting pretty high. I was too sleepy and by then too nauseous to nurse him or even hold him. I was throwing up all throughout the Notre Dame game! I started getting worried, because I knew those first few hours were critical for nursing, so he wouldn’t lose too much of his birth weight. The nurses gave me some medication to stop the vomit. Finally at around 10:30 pm, I was feeling better and was able to nurse him. The night shift nurse was fantastic. She taught me so many little tricks, the most important one being how to stimulate him to get him to nurse, since he was so sleepy. He latched on correctly right away and we spent all night nursing and bonding, while his dad was asleep resting from a long day. That night was amazing. I remember nursing him skin-to-skin and looking out the window to the city. My grieving period from the cesarean was over and I felt extremely blessed. Now, he is two weeks old and a nursing champ! He is well above his birth weight and healthy as he can be! A day doesn’t go by that we don’t thank the Lord for the miracle of life!
Yes, we didn’t get our “perfect birth,” but holding his little warm body and looking into those beautiful blue eyes make all of the painful recovery worth it!