Documenting this pregnancy has been special to me. For one, this pregnancy has flown by, as everyone said a 3rd pregnancy would. Also, the various twists and turns that have come about while this sweet baby grows have been important to take note of. When I don't write things down, they're always sure to slip my memory. Pregnancy and childbirth are such a special and unique time. Every Mom has a different story- as does every precious baby. Part of this baby's story is that she has been breech- up until yesterday.
I share my experience in having an External Version for a few reasons........
For one, I long to write in an uninhibited sort of way. Every time I sit down to write, I worry what the reader will think. I want to write without pauses, without the delete button and without worries in my mind about what you will think. I want to write for me.
Secondly, I'm sharing my Version experience because I want to empower you. Not YOU- my sweet friends and family, but the Mommy I don't know, who stumbles upon my blog. I want the lady who's pregnant with a breech baby to know that yes, a c-section might have to happen, but not necessarily. I want to share that when you inform yourself and seek out professionals who are knowledgeable and passionate about helping you, success is in your back pocket. I want you to surround yourself with a team of people who are cheering you on, and excited to help you and your baby have the experience that you dream of.
So, that's why I share my story and if you don't feel like reading a very detailed story of a "baby flipping", please feel free to skip this post.
A little about my background:
At 33 weeks, I mentioned to my midwife that I thought baby was breech. After examining my tummy, she told me she thought I was right and that we'd do an ultrasound, just to make sure. The ultrasound confirmed that yes, baby was head up and she sent me home with a paper that gave a few exercise ideas to help turn a breech.
A week or so passed and I didn't really do anything to try and encourage baby to turn. In my mind, I was feeling that since I've had 2 completely natural deliveries, with vertex (head down) babies, there's no reason that she shouldn't just turn on her own.
Two weeks passed and at my 35 week appointment, I mentioned that I thought she was still breech. At this point, it really hit me that she was starting to run out of time and she needed to turn. Once again, my midwife confirmed that she was indeed, still head up. After this appointment, I started to freak out just a touch. I scoured the internet, in search of "how to flip" a breech answers and realized that there's a lot of options out there, but in the end, if your baby doesn't flip, breech babies are almost consistently delivered via c-section.
Spinning Babies is a great website full of techniques for turning a breech. Immediately, I started doing inversions off of the couch, laying upside down on an ironing board and I also started seeing a Chiropractor for the Webster Technique. In the end, the External Cephalic Version is what turned her, but I still think all of the previous things that I tried were totally worth while. The inversions off the couch and on the ironing board are to encourage baby to not engage in your pelvis in the breech position. The External Version was possibly a success because of those things....we'll never really know.
At almost 37 weeks, baby still hadn't turned and I was starting to really wonder what was going to happen. My emotions were all over the place, one day feeling peace and the next moment crying. At this point with my other pregnancies, I only had one thing on my mind- that precious baby that I was about to meet. With the other two, I spent the last few weeks dreaming about their delivery- how I'd breath, what I'd be snacking on, what I'd listen to. This time, it's been different. I haven't known what to expect and for me, that's been hard.
At my 36 week appointment, I chatted with my midwife about finding a Doctor that would deliver a breech baby. After many phone calls and much research, I discovered that these days, that's basically unheard of. Turns out, they don't even teach Doctor's and Midwives how to deliver breech babies anymore. Instead, our countries c-section rate has skyrocketed.
My midwife suggested that we should start considering doing a External Cephalic Version- where a Doctor basically tries to flip your baby from the outside. Natalie (the midwife) said she'd do a little research and let me know which Doctor seemed to have the highest success rate for the Version. A few days later, she called me at 11:30am, telling me that the Doctor she found wanted to see me that day, at 1pm. The Doctor was an hour a way so, I frantically called my Mom and she hurried over to be with the kids.
The drive to see that Doctor was great. All of the right songs seemed to come onto the radio and I had the best time worshiping in the car. Throughout this experience, I've strongly felt that God cares about this stuff. I'm His child and since it's big on my heart, it's big on His. He's got us all in His hands, including this little baby.
The consultation with the Doctor went great. He said that the success rate for an External Version is around 60%. The other 40% is that sometimes that baby is too big or too engaged in your pelvis to turn and also, there's a very small chance that the baby would go into distress and an emergency c-section would be necessary. At 36 weeks 4 days, he said that it was the ideal time to try and flip the baby and he asked for me to come in the next day to have it done.
Many phone calls were made, arranging for my Mom to come be with the kids, for my husband to take the next day off of work and to see if my sister could also be with us. Everything fell into place and the Version was scheduled for 3pm the next day.
Sometimes it's good when unexpected things fall into your lap quickly. Especially things that can be scary are sometimes best when they're a little unexpected- it gives us less time to over-think and just enough time to get a team of people behind us who'll pray and have our backs.
After it was scheduled, I gathered my prayer team, Facebook style. Simply, I sent out a message to a group of gals who are my prayers warriors. When I ask these women to pray, they don't just say that they will but, they DO. I love them for that!
The next day, Jeremiah stayed home from work. I was grumpy and quiet- an unfortunate side affect of my nervous self. I had breakfast and realized that I wouldn't be eating anything again, until probably 4pm, as they want you to have been fasting for 8 hours, in case of a c-section. I packed my hospital bag, packed a few newborn outfits and we put the infant carseat into the car. None of those preparations felt natural. It seemed too soon- too unexpected. But, when an emergency c-section is a small possibility, you don't leave home empty handed.
Jeremiah left to pick Judah up from preschool and take the kids to the store, I had the house to myself and somewhere in the quiet, peace and strength came. My Mom came over to be with the kids and she gave me some special aromatherapy hand lotion that she'd been carrying around in her purse. It smelled like her and it makes me smile just thinking about it. It's the little things.....
3:00 pm: We checked in at the birth center. I signed a few papers, received a hospital wrist band and then we were asked to sit in the waiting room until the nurse came to take us to our room.
3:15pm: The nurse was really nice. She took us to Room 320, a room in their Birth Center. She gave me a gown and I got changed. It felt so weird to be there in the birth center, in a gown, but not in labor.
3:30pm: For the first time in my life, I was given an IV. I've never even been prepped for an IV before and there's a darn good reason- I DON'T like IV's. Oh goodness, those things just bother the dickens out of me. I felt the tube go into my vain and I swear, I could feel it in there the entire 2.5 hours that it was in. There's a reason why I've avoided those all of my life and during my other two labors, they just aren't for me.
4:00pm: I was given a drug called Turbutaline. Basically, it's a medicine that temporally softens the uterus and stops it from contacting. It's given before Versions to stop any possible contractions and also, make the uterus easier for working with. Also, it's given to Mom's who go into preterm labor. This medicine is totally safe for the baby, but it makes the Mom feel really shaky and hyped up, like you've had way too much coffee.
4:15pm: The Doctor came in, chatted with us for a moment and then did an ultrasound to confirm for one last time, that baby is still breech. Have I mentioned how much I liked that Doctor? He was so confident in what he was doing, yet really easy to talk with. He told us that back in 2005, he delivered his 5,000th baby- he's been doing this for awhile!
4:20pm: It was time. With me on the hospital bed, the Doctor on one side and the nurse on the other, the External Version began. The procedure itself is very quick, he told me it'd take 2 or 3 minutes and at that point, we'd know if it was going to be successful or not.
On the outside of my stomach, he positioned his hands on the baby and started to turn her. As he slowly turned her, he had to push HARD and it hurt horribly. I was gripping Jeremiah's hand and trying to stay calm. Jeremiah said that my hand was practically shaking until my sister started praying out while the Doctor turned the baby. At that point, I completely relaxed and the baby moved with his hands.
As soon as he was done turning her, another ultrasound confirmed that she was head down! At that point, they hooked me up to the monitors to make sure her heart rate stayed steady and to make sure I wasn't contracting.
I laid there for an hour, listening to her heart. It was steady and she wiggled around. The "flip" didn't even seem to phase her. They brought me juice but, I still couldn't eat. My IV was still in and I joked with Jeremiah that someday I'm going to be that old lady who pulls her own IV's out and sneaks out of the hospital, holding the back of her hospital gown closed the entire way.
The hour went by quickly and before we knew it, we were getting ready to leave the hospital. When we checked out, the nurse told me that my stomach would be sore the next day and she was right- today my stomach is sore, but it's not as bad as I expected it to be. If anything, today I've been a little paranoid about her flipping back, because sometimes that does happen.
By the time we left the hospital, I hadn't eaten in almost 11 hours and I was starving! We went out to Olive Garden and I swear that it's never tasted so good! Today my sister came over and walked with me. Now that baby is head down, I need to stay moving to really get her wedged in there.
Throughout this experience, I've realized a few things:
•It's so important to be your own advocate, to do your research and find answers that feel right for you.
•The "normal" procedure isn't always best, but being informed is!
•My friends mean so much to me. On our way down to the hospital, my friend Cami called me and prayed with me over the phone. A friend like that is the real deal! Also, she has a great blog and she's a very talented digital scrapbooker, you should check it out!
•Holding my husband's hand is so comforting. I love that man.
•My midwife rocks. This morning she called me to see how it went. When I told her that the baby flipped, she was threw the roof excited! Over and over again she said "God is so good! You just totally made my month!" She is a blessing!
This might be the longest post that I've ever written, but I hope that someday my experience will encourage someone who's faced with the same situation. There's no guarantee that she'll stay head down, but there's no guarantee for most of the challenges that us Mommies face. We pray and try our best to do what's right for us and our kids.
Feeling thankful and excited for what's ahead.....