I feel the need to chronicle this birth story starting around 36 weeks- partially because I was such a horrible pregnancy blogger, and partially because that is when everything started to change.
But first a little background. My pregnancy was all sunshine and rainbows. Seriously. Felt great. Easy appointments. Never got sick. I read lots of books and felt confident about birthing. Like everyone recommends, I had a plan. My undergrad degree was in Family and Child Development, so I knew all about attachment and had all sorts of ideas about how I would be as a parent and how I wanted everything to go. My birth plan centered around mobility- I chose an all-natural approach because I felt maintaining my mobility would help me feel empowered and in control and all that good stuff. I was envisioning this great culminating moment (following hours of painstaking labor where my dear husband supports me and gains a new respect for me because I’m a warrior woman), where they handed my baby to me, I lay her on my chest and start the immediate bonding. That was my plan. I’d breastfeed her and we would lay together in the hospital in bliss. Following this bliss I would become a super hip mom, who looked put together and had the most adorable child. Obviously I try to keep my goals realistic.
Ok, back to week 36: this is when the first stretch marks appeared. Yes, its true, I had no stretch marks to be found until week 36. I thought I was free and clear, but lo and behold they began to appear. Deep breath- “its ok” I told myself, “everything has gone so well, I can’t complain about a few stretch marks.” Then one day my feet started to swell. Gross. Every time I looked past my knees I was reminded of a rhinoceros. Another deep breath. Its almost over, then we’ll get to that bliss part.
My 36 week checkup was the day after the rhino feet first appeared. I went to a practice where I saw three midwives on a rotating basis. At this particular appointment I was meeting with B (who shall remain nameless)- the midwife who performed my first ultrasound (read about that trauma here). B rubs me the wrong way sometimes. On this visit B felt around and nonchalantly declared that she thought the baby was breech and that we should do a quick ultrasound to find out. Sure enough, B felt right, and this baby (which I had been told was in a perfect position for weeks) was sunny side up. When I asked what that meant for us she gave some short answers about manually turning her and burning Chinese herbs or doing headstands in a pool. We prodded more and found out that the OB could try a version, which would mean an epidural and a hospital visit, and if that didn’t work we’d get a cesarean. Now, I chose midwifery care for a reason- remember my plan?! I have a plan! B didn’t give us a lot of hope. She set up our next appointment with an OB we had never met and we left with a bad taste in our mouths. Cesarean had not even crossed my mind as an option. I had the perfect pregnancy, remember? I did some research on various exercises and spent my fair share of the Christmas holidays laying inverted on an ironing board- it looks a little like this...
I prayed she would turn. I made jokes about how stubborn she must be, but inside I was scared and frustrated. Despite all my ironing board time and research on breech birth, this little girl didn’t turn. I hate to say it, but for at least one moment I resented her a little for that. The completely irrational side of me wondered why my child would start our relationship out like this. How could she? Just be obedient child! Turn!
A few weeks came and went and this baby STILL did not turn. We met with the OB who answered all of our questions very thoroughly, and oddly reminded me of my dad with his quirky sense of humor. That itself was a tender mercy because it put me at ease several times. We scheduled an external version and Matt gave me a blessing the night before. Up until that point I had high hopes that the version would work but even higher anxiety about the whole process and the possible outcomes. After he gave me a blessing I felt much more calm and peace knowing that no matter what happened we would be ok and our little girl would be ok. That helped me through the entire process.
We showed up at the hospital at 8:30 am for the version. They hooked me up to monitors and our nurse Dianne (who was fabulous) told us about the entire process. Although it was a long day at the hospital, the process itself was quick. The OB did another ultrasound beforehand and discovered one reason this baby may not have moved- the location of my placenta. It was right between her head and feet near the top of my uterus, essentially preventing her from turning in either direction. Confused? Check out this picture- our baby was in the frank breech position.
He went ahead and tried the version anyway, but at that point Matt and I both had a feeling this birth would be cesarean. The version was unsuccessful. Remember that whole mobility thing? And the culminating moment? Yeah, no chance. So much for the plan. I put my efforts into learning about breastfeeding following a cesarean and learning what my options would be to facilitate bonding as soon as possible. I thought that way I could still reclaim my moment in my own way. I had my pre-op appointment on January 13 with the OB and he clarified my options for breastfeeding following a cesarean with the disappointing news that I wouldn’t be able to hold that sweet girl until at least an hour after she was born and that I would be in recovery with just my nurse for that hour. Not only would I not be with my sweet new baby, but I wouldn’t be with my husband either. It seemed at this point that I should get used to plans changing...
We set the date for the cesarean: January 18th. Perfect. 3 days after my birthday, just a few days left to wrap things up at work, and then baby Charlotte would be with us! Knowing when she was coming was actually part of the cesarean I really enjoyed because I’m quite the planner and a bit of a control freak. The irony of this entire birth story will become even more apparent once part 2 comes to fruition, but suffice it to say that I learned very quickly after all these changes that life doesn’t always happen the way you plan.
Ready for more? Part Two is here!