Here we are - full term! And oh what a week it has been. Let’s just start at the beginning.
At our 36 week check up our midwife became suspicious that our little girl was not exactly in the position she should be by now - head down. We didn’t think too much of it. Babies move around all the time, right? The midwife suggested that we do an ultrasound right away to confirm her position. We were not huge fans of this plan, knowing that as soon as we start doing ultrasounds and measurements and whatnot, there’s just that much more that can be used to complicate things. BUT, we did know we needed to find out her position for sure.
Operation ‘flip this baby’ begins.
We push off our ultrasound a few days giving us some time to get her to flip on our own and give another midwife an external feel before the ultrasound on Monday.
So here are the things we tried…
Our best resource was http://www.spinningbabies.com/.
Home inversions like this…
Webster’s chiropractic tecnique…
Pool handstands and somersaults…yes, this happened…but not all graceful like this or in this beautiful setting. It was at the Gonzaga gym next to old men professors in other lanes while students walking by and 19 year old lifeguards looked at me like a side show freak. There was a make shift swim suit and flailing and nose holding. It was awesome.
Basically we tried just about EVERYTHING. And yet baby was still snug as a bug in the frank breech position when we saw her on ultrasound. Frank breech looks like this:
What we didn’t know is that only 3-5% of babies at this gestation are still in the breech position. Eooow boy…
This put us into a “higher risk” category which means that our lovely midwives now had to bring in their OB partners. Some of the risks of having a breech baby include compressing the cord when baby drops or water breaks, a stuck head, etc.
This is also when we found out NO ONE will deliver a breech baby in Spokane. Those are the words we get from everyone…NO ONE. We did hear there might be one home birth midwife who would do it, but we’re just not that brave with someone we’ve not been working with.
So what can we do?! Cesarean is our only option?
That’s when the topic of versions came up again. We had been doing everything in our power to avoid it. A version or ECV is the external manipulation of the baby to make them turn.
There are ugly risks involved including emergency c-section because of fetal distress, damage to the placenta or cord, etc. These risks are very low ranging from .4-3% for the most part.
Our initial thought was that we do not want to not force her to do anything. There are tons and tons of reasons why babies are in a breech position. Often they are good reasons that we may never be able to know.
Then we were given the ultimatum. Try the version with a doctor who our midwife recommends and who will work with our comfort levels. OR Schedule c-section.
As scary as it was to say yes, we agreed to try a version. It was my absolute last shot - short of a miracle of her turning on her own between now and delivery, which is very rare this late in the game - anyway, last shot at delivering her vaginally.
So here we go.
We check in at 9:30am. Undressed and robed. On a labor and delivery bed. Hooked to an IV. Electronic fetal monitor on. I hate most of this already. But, our nurses are lovely and our midwife arrives. We talk through the procedure. She holds my hand and rubs my legs.
Doctor finally arrives around 1pm (after performing an unexpected surgery) and introduces herself, talks through what she’s going to do, risks, etc. She’s very young and energetic - so unexpected. She’s very clear that we only do as much as baby and I can tolerate. Nothing more. If baby is willing to move then great; if not, we stop.
I am given a drug that makes me shaky but makes my uterus soft as dough. Then the kneading, digging, pushing begins. If you imagine that baby’s bum has already dropped into my pelvis and she’s so deep inside me yet someone is trying to dig their bony fingers down into my pelvis and under baby’s bum from the outside…it’s just awful. Three people are over me holding, pushing, digging. My doctor was sweating with effort. We’d go, breathe breathe breathe, then pause to check baby (ultrasound and EFM). All fine. We kept at this for about 15 minutes. I almost passed out. The look on Donald’s face watching all of this was so sad. He was tortured as much as I was, watching me in pain. Finally we just called it. Baby moved a half turn forward but I think this was just a pivot at the hips and then she bounced right back to where she was. No budging for this stubborn little lady.
What also made this unlikely and difficult is that my fluids are already pretty low. Some docs wouldn’t even have attempted it with this low of levels. There’s just not much room left this late in the game.
I had a good cry. We hugged and held hands. That was it. Time to change courses. We were monitored for another two hours. Baby was completely unaffected, not even a rise in heart beat. Thank goodness.
Here are the most important things we’ve done during pregnancy…
It has always been most important to be an educated consumer. Yes, consumer. Health care is in your hands. Gone are the days of showing up and putting your health care decisions in the hands of someone else…at least for us.
Prepare for, but do not expect, your ideal scenario, and know all about the alternative outcomes. For us this was knowing all we could about the process of labor and birth, the history, what is possible, how it works in nature, the statistics, methods, medications used today, what options there are for preparing for a natural birth. These are not things that us humans aren’t born knowing like other mammals. We have to learn.
Have a great support team starting with your choice in health care provider. The relationship you have with your provider and what they’ve done in the past will absolutely determine your experience with them. Find someone who fits and is like minded. Don’t expect someone to change just for you. It won’t happen even if they say they will.
Find good women. Find friends and other women who will not insult your decisions or try to press their opinions and experiences on you, try to scare you, or make you feel stupid. I’m so lucky to have women in my life who care share their experiences and opinions without expecting me to do the same, who share because they care, who support my ideas and decisions as a woman and a mother.
So here’s what’s next…
The very best thing about our version was meeting Dr. Alissa Conklin.
Knowing that we will be having a surgical birth experience, our next step is to ensure that it is as great as it can possibly be.
Yes, we are scared about all kinds of risks and setbacks that can come with c-sections. Breast feeding. Medications. Healing. Bonding. Fluid in lungs. On and on. But, we also know so many moms and babies who have done great!
Here are the things we value that we share with our doctor:
- My hands can be tied down during surgery for safety but removed quickly after.
- I can watch her coming into the world slowly via a mirror.
- Our midwife can be with us and take photos.
- I can go into surgery without a top robe and only a blanket for easy skin to skin access.
- After lungs are cleared (and baby is fine) she can come straight to my chest to bond and try to latch. She can stay with me until it’s time to transport us both to recovery and quickly thereafter.
- Medications can all be breast-feeding friendly.
- We can even have music in the room if that helps.
- Donald can still cut the cord.
Basically, as long as we’re not in an emergency situation, our doctor will be working to make this experience special and natural and personal as possible.
We couldn’t ask for more.
We have another ultrasound to check fluids and baby on Tuesday. I’ve been put on “house rest” until Tuesday. We will know more then. It’s just amazing to know we’ll have a baby by Christmas.
Thank you for your continued love and support! I appreciate only positive encouragement and happy story sharing at this point.
There are still so many things that could happen. We have no idea. She could turn. I could go into a fast labor. We could be asked to do this sooner than expected. Things could go unexpected in surgery. We could end up having to use a different doctor. WHO KNOWS.
But, we are doing our best to keep fear out of our way and take one day at a time - just like the rest of this pregnancy journey. We have each other and our family and friends and know that these next couple weeks will be great. We can’t wait to welcome this little girl to our family!
Here are more pics from this week!