For me, Cameron’s birth was a lesson in the futility of well made plans.
From the beginning of this pregnancy, James and I had planned on having a natural home birth. I felt that I would be most comfortable that way, and barring any complications, there was no medical reason that prevented us from doing so. We had done extensive research to find a midwife in our area that would attend a home birth, and also had the capacity to work out of a hospital should the need arise. After interviewing multiple midwives, we finally found one that checked all of our boxes, and that we really loved and got along with.
So we had a midwife we trusted and had a shared idea of how this birth would go, and felt as prepared as we could. I also prepared for the birth with Hypnobabies, which teaches hypnosis techniques to help you remain as relaxed and peaceful as possible during the birthing process.
All these elements combined with a very low risk and easy going pregnancy led us to believe that while childbirth has many unknown elements, we were at least as prepared as we could be and had a plan in place.
Unfortunately around my 35 week checkup, my midwife was checking the position on the baby and suspected that he may be breech. This hadn’t been an issue before, but I guess the little bugger decided to flip. A week later I went in for an ultrasound to confirm his position and to make sure that there weren’t any physical reasons on his end or mine that prevented him from flipping. That ultrasound confirmed that he was indeed very much butt down, but there was no reason preventing him from turning. After discussing options with our midwife, we decided to give him a few more weeks to flip on his own before pursuing an ECV, or External Cephalic Version, which is where a doctor tries to manually flip the baby.
For a few weeks I tried everything I could to try and get him to flip, and I mean EVERYTHING: handstands, inversions, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, moxibustion, etc. We scheduled the ECV for little after 38 weeks, since there was a risk that the version could cause the baby distress and we would have to have an emergency c-section then and there.
After confirming that the baby was still very much breech, both my midwife and an OB tried to perform the ECV. You don’t get any sort of painkiller (or at least I didn’t) but you do get a medication to help relax your uterus and prevent the serious manhandling they do from triggering contractions and sending me into labor. Fun side effect of the medication is that it sends your heart into overdrive for a little bit and makes you feel like you’re having a panic attack. Off to a good start already, right?
They tried turning Cameron one way, but he wouldn’t budge. Well, his head and shoulders would, but his butt was seriously stuck. It was painful and uncomfortable, but bearable. Then they tried turning him the other direction, and he must have been bracing on me really hard or something because I almost passed out from the pain. Needless to say, the version did not work, and my doctors didn’t want to continue to try for fear it would the baby (or me) in too much distress. After a short stay for monitoring, we went home feeling pretty deflated. After talking with our midwife and reforming our game plan, we decided to give Cameron a few more weeks to flip on his own, and would schedule a c-section if he hadn’t flipped by 41 weeks.
I took it easy the rest of that day, and the following day since I was feeling really down emotionally, and beat up physically (my belly had some bruising from the version and was very tender). I went to bed Wednesday thinking I’d go to the gym the following day and work some more on my hand stands, or at least workout some of my frustration with a situation I had no control over. Instead, I woke up that night around 12:30 after just getting to sleep, thinking I needed to pee (again) but instead as soon as I stepped into the bathroom my water broke! As we had discussed with our midwife, we would head into the hospital to see if the baby was still breech (in which case we would need to have a c-section), or if he had flipped, we could head home and go forward with our home birth as planned.
By the time we were about half way to the hospital, my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and not letting up at all (also, I never had any signs of early labor, I went from business as usual to my water breaking and contractions strong and steady). We checked into labor and delivery and explained the situation, and then waited what felt like an eternity to have the baby’s position confirmed via ultrasound. Unfortunately, he was still very much breech and what had been an abstract idea before (a c-section) just became a reality that I felt very unprepared for.
They told me that I would have the c-section at 8 that morning. After being checked again by the nurse, we all realized that 8 was going to be too late (so much for a very long labor for first time mothers…), since my contractions were getting closer together and much more intense, so they contacted the OB on call and pushed it up to 6 am. When I got checked again and they realized I was already dilated to 7cm, they called the OB and informed here that just as soon as she could get there was necessary. We waited for our midwife to arrive, since she was going to assist on the c-section, and since we felt comfortable with her and still wanted her to be part of the process (FYI, our midwife is also an RN and basically an institution at that hospital, so she was able to assist no questions asked). When my midwife arrived she give me some medication to slow down the contractions since we still needed to wait for the OB to arrive.
Shortly after the OB arrived they began the process of prepping me for the c-section: I received an epidural, etc. and then they began draping me to begin the surgery. We opted to have clear drapes so James and I could see if we chose to. One of the main things I remember in the time in between received the epidural and the beginning of the c-section was the shaking! I had uncontrollable shaking- not sure it was from the medication or the hormones or some combination, but goodness I could not control my arms! Thankfully I had James right by my side to hold by hand through the whole process and keep me calm. I was so terrified of the idea of a c-section, but thankfully it was not nearly as bad as I expected. Sure, it’s a very weird experience to be awake and have people literally cutting you open, but thankfully between my husband, my midwife, and the OB, it was a calm environment and I never felt scared or panicked. After a short amount of time and some very strange pulling sensations, we met our baby boy at 5:28 in the morning. He greeted us by being held up and peeing on those nice clear drapes! We had chosen not to find out the gender the whole pregnancy, so it was pretty hilarious to see that there was no doubt we had a boy!
While they finished closing me up, they let James help clean Cameron up and get weighed and measured. I am so thankful he was there by my side the whole time, and was able to be with our son in those interim minutes that felt like an eternity to me. After that I was able to hold him while I was still on the table and they finished the sutures.
So while we planned for a natural, completely med free home birth, and instead we ended up with a c-section, and a 4 night stay in the hospital. Just goes to show that sometimes life goes nothing like you planned. We hoped to only stay a few days in the hospital, but unfortunately from the combination of my milk taking a few days to come in and Cameron being a little early, he was losing more weight than we all felt comfortable with, so we stayed until his weight began to pick up. He is now 3 weeks old, and is doing much better gaining weight.
According to my midwife, she said it felt like he was resisting them when they tried to perform the version, and then she said he was even stubborn coming out during the c-section! Hopefully the way they come into this world isn’t too much of an indicator of personality, otherwise I’m in for an incredibly stubborn child…