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Baby Lily

My first pregnancy was very healthy and fairly uneventful.   The real drama came near the end of my pregnancy.  At around 32 weeks my midwife examined me and determined that the baby was positioned breech (bum down, head up).  As we had plenty of time before my due date, we weren’t really concerned but she suggested several positions I could do at home to encourage the baby to flip to head down in preparation for labor.  Most babies flip by 36 weeks.  As the weeks went by I tried more and more techniques to encourage my stubborn baby to turn.  My husband laughed at me and thought I was crazy.  But I wanted to do everything possible to have the type of birth experience I wanted and a C-section was not in the plan.  In the evenings I was commonly found in all sorts of crazy head down positions or burning my little pinky toe with moxibustion or searching the internet for other silly suggestions.  We also tried 3 attempts at the cephalic version (doctor manually tries to reposition the baby by pushing on my stomach) but each time a preliminary ultrasound revealed that it was unsafe to try because the umbilical cord was around my baby’s neck. 

As my due date quickly approached I became more and more aware that a C-section was imminent.  But I didn’t want to become another statistic, so I put up a fight, or at least I armed myself with as much information as possible.  My midwife offered unwavering support throughout this entire process. She sent me a medical report that showed new findings that outlined that breech vaginal births were safe if certain criteria were met (e.g., frank breech, labor progress, etc.).  What I really valued about my midwife was that there were always options.  When I had to be transferred to a doctor at 36 weeks my midwife searched far and wide to find a doctor that had the most experience and could do breech births.  However, my hopes were quickly crushed when I met with the doctor and he said that only a small handful of older doctors at the hospital were experienced with breech and the chances of going into labor when one of them was on-call was low.  He strongly recommended and scheduled me a C-section which I promptly cancelled. 

After reading the report I was comfortable taking my chances with a breech birth. I was a strong, healthy woman and I was ready to give it a try, even if it meant a longer, harder labor. Heck, it was my first so I had no idea what to expect anyway!  Although most of my family members were concerned that I would attempt a vaginal delivery I assured them that it was safe as long as we stayed within the guidelines.  So the next step was to go into labor.  But my baby had other plans- she was staying put! After trying various tinctures, taking primrose capsules and 2 attempts of cervical membrane sweeps by my midwife, I never went into labor.  As I approached 2 weeks past my due date I had an ultrasound to determine the estimated weight of the baby.  If the baby was within the weight guidelines, my doctor would induce me and we could have a ‘trial of labor’.  Alas, the results came back and sealed the deal.  My baby was estimated at 8 lbs 15 oz give or take- too big for a safe attempt at labor.  I have to admit that I was upset at the news but also relieved to having something conclusive to point us in a new direction.  It had been many weeks of trying different things and now the wait was over.  I was scheduled for a C-section 2 days later and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy girl who weighed 8 lbs 11 oz and was 23” long (99th percentile for height). 

My midwife was with me every step of the way.  At the hospital she scrubbed in, reassured my husband, helped the nurses and took photos of the section.  My birth was an amazing experience in large part because of her support and also because I had time to emotionally prepare myself for a section.  The hospital staff were so wonderful and took excellent care of my family.  I was even allowed to go home a day early because everything looked good.  I had read so many negative birth stories regarding C-sections that it’s hard not to fear it.  But C-sections can be beautiful and I think more positive stories should be told to offer encouragement for other women who may feel cheated by their birth experience.  The truth is, I got to hold my baby within 30 minutes of her birth, at which point my midwife promptly helped my baby latch onto my breast.  My husband and I got to have our own hospital room and my baby was on me skin on skin for most of our stay at the hospital.  I never needed to take stronger medications for pain and my incision healed wonderfully.  My baby and I were instantly bonded and breastfeeding went well from the start (albeit sore nipples).  I never had feelings of sadness or regret that my birth was not special or intimate.  I certainly didn’t have to consider the “what if” scenarios because I tried everything to encourage my baby to move.  Ultimately there comes a time when you accept that things happen for a reason and that sometimes baby knows best.  I have a small scar that I like to think of as a love tattoo- it will always remind me of my deep love for my baby girl and the crazy rollercoaster ride we had to bring her into the world.