If you've been reading this blog and especially my trimester posts, you already know that we were gearing up and preparing for a natural birth. Our care was at Sutter Davis and we hoped for a tub room and a doula from the volunteer doula program. We were excited and a bit nervous, but felt well prepared for an amazing natural birth experience.
I stopped working on September 15th and proceeded to get a lot of rest (woah, was I more tired than I realized!) and clean the house like a mad lady. I had a list of things to do when I headed in for my 39 week check up, including head over to Ikea after my appointment to buy some frames and shelves for the nursery.
Around 36 weeks I was examined and the midwife was confident baby was head down; I was given the option of a vaginal exam but I declined. I figured there was no reason for the increased risk of infection from an exam if I didn't need to have one done and my midwife agreed. At the point of my 39 week check up I had been examined 4 times by 3 midwives and 1 M.D. and everyone gave the same verdict, baby was head down and in place for the big day. That is until the 39 week exam. While feeling my belly near my upper right rib cage the midwife said "that doesn't feel like a butt". (Insert record scratch). We went over to do a ultrasound to be sure and there was our baby, in the Frank Breech position. Blerg!
So our baby was sitting in what looks like a divers pike position but facing the side (not straight out like the picture above). The midwife told me I would be checked in to the hospital to see if the doctor could flip our baby. This process is called an External Cephalic Version (Version). I called my husband and told him to come and he arrived shortly thereafter. At this point I was a little nervous but holding onto my confidence that things would go smoothly. I think in the back of my mind I knew that a C-Section was now a stronger possibility, but I wasn't focusing on that. I walked over to the birthing center and was checked in to a room and waited for my hubs and the doctor.
Let's talk about the Version. Version's are more successful before 36 weeks and on the 2nd pregnancy. Since I was 39 weeks and on my first pregnancy, the chances of the Version being successful weren't very good. So essentially, the doctor manipulates your big pregnant belly to try and get the baby to flip. I was given a drug that relaxed my uterus, but it makes the rest of you feel like you've drunk about 5 cups of coffee. That said, it is difficult, at best, to maintain deep breathing when you feel so amped up. The "manipulation" of my belly....well it really hurt. I kept my eyes closed and tried to breathe. At one moment I peeked and my big pregnant belly was pushed all the way down....like all the way. I could tell it looked gnarly just by the look on my husband's face when it was done - he is solid, but he looked worried. The doctor warned us our daughter might dive back away from his hands, and that she did. The Version didn't work and although I was hopeful that it would, I wasn't surprised when it didn't.
Because we were delivering at Sutter Davis, there was the possibility of attempting a vaginal breech delivery. In order to determine if that option was available to me, I was sent to have an MRI of my pelvis so that the doctor's could see if my pelvis was wide enough to make the attempt. They made me take a wheelchair to the MRI machine; this was the first time all day I got really irritated. Hello, I'm pregnant, not sick! Anyway, MRI was completed and baby's weight was guessed at 7lb 2oz. We drove home and for the first time I started to worry that our ideal option of a natural birth may not happen. Once home we went to eat and talk about what we knew. Phones were out in deep research, but everything we were finding showed that even if we attempted a vaginal delivery, we would probably end up in a C-Section anyway. We received a call from Sutter Davis giving us the go ahead to attempt a natural birth if we desired. We didn't know what to do, but felt like we still had a bit of time to decide.
We have a very good friend who also happens to be an OBGYN, so after eating, we headed straight to her house to get the skinny. This friend believes in natural birth and delivered her own baby naturally not long ago. We felt we could trust her for an honest and informed opinion as our friend and a doctor. She was against us trying the natural breech delivery, for many reasons but mainly because it is not standard of care. She also made the point that if you absolutely had to have a C-Section, this would be the situation to do it, where it wasn't an emergency situation but necessary to get the baby out. I was so bummed and although I completely trusted her opinion, I still wasn't ready to give up a natural birth for a C-Section.
That night I just kept going over everything in my head. I was up late reading on my phone trying to find things I could do to try and get my babe to flip. I prayed that she would just flip. I finally was researched out and starting to wind down when "plop" my water broke. So much for the time we thought we had. My husband called the hospital to let them know we would be coming in and advised we were leaning towards a C-Section.....I was still on the fence; my heart wanted one thing and my head wanted another.
Before we left we ate a huge breakfast (at 3 a.m.) and I took a nice long shower. We finished packing our bags, grabbed all of the necessary items and headed out. I felt calm. I wasn't sure if we would be coming home with a baby or not at that point; I knew if we opted for a natural birth Davis would send us home until I was truly laboring. At the hospital I was hooked to monitors, we could see some contractions but they were very mild. Honestly I probably wouldn't have realized it was a contraction without seeing it on the screen.
We wanted to talk to the surgeon on deck before making our final decision, so we waited awhile and continued to research our situation. The doctor came to see us and we asked a lot of questions. Her demeanor was not what I would have liked. In my opinion she was pushing the vaginal birth and not answering our direct questions about the risks. In the end we relied on our research, the advice from our friend and our guts. We decided to opt for the C-Section.
I can tell you that I was (and still am) very sad to miss the experience of a natural birth. That said, everything we read was clear - attempting a vaginal birth delivery posed more risk to our baby and was more likely to result in an emergency C-Section, which of course carries its own set of risks. I know that some of you might be reading this and question our choice, that is understandable. I would ask that you withhold judgement or discussion of your opinions regarding this issue from the comments of this post. This was a personal decision and for us it was absolutely the right one.
So, they got me ready for surgery while my husband suited up in scrubs. The anesthesiologist that I had was wonderful. She explained everything that was going to happen and sat with me through the entire procedure explaining every detail. I was given a spinal block. I was nervous, but the numbing shot hurt me more than the actual block. I tried to stay calm. My husband was brought into the room just as the procedure started. After only a few minutes and what felt like a few tugs, our daughter was born.
I was truly, without words. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion, I had so many words, but I was mute. She came out and immediately cried and the nurses brought her to the incubator to do the APGAR tests (she scored 9!). Nicholas (husband) went over and talked to her and as soon as she heard his voice she was quiet. Then they brought her to me for skin to skin contact. It was amazing. Here was this little person who was spending all her time inside me and now I could touch her and hold her and hear her. Nicholas went with the baby and the nurses back to the recovery room while the doctor sewed me up and I was wheeled in. After meeting Daddy and Mommy, baby met her Grammy...
Shortly thereafter I arrived in the recovery room for more skin to skin and immediate nursing. It's crazy how it all comes together so fast! Meanwhile I was literally sweating my arse off and had been through the C-Section. I thought it was because I was nervous. Nick was wiping my face with a towel and he said I would immediately bead up with sweat again. In the blur of enjoying my beautiful baby I began to realize there was something else going on. My nurse kept piling blankets on me and finally put this blanket that actually blows hot air. She was having trouble getting my temperature back up. I kept saying I was hot and that I was fine, look I'm totally sweating, I'm hot! The baby was literally sliding around on my chest. Finally the nurse grabbed my hand and said, "feel your leg!". My skin was freezing, it was so weird. Apparently I was having a reaction to the ativan (lorazepam) that was included in my spinal block. (You can read a blip about this reaction here). I think I remember the nurse saying my temp was 96°, but I'm not totally sure about that. Anyway, they thankfully fixed it. Apparently this is a very rare reaction and they'd only seen it once before. This just goes to show that you can never bet on anything in pregnancy. Everything leading up to that 39 week check up was ideal and totally normal. Then WHAM! We are in two tiny percentage groups with a breech baby and hypothermia after C-Section.
After several hours that seemed like only an hour or so we finally made it to our postpartum room. The rooms at Sutter Davis are all private, fairly large and homey. Pretty good digs for a hospital. The days spent here are a blur to me. The C-Section drugs made me tired but mostly I was (and still am) so enamored with our daughter that time just melted away. We didn't have any real problems breast feeding. The lactation nurse visited one day and gave me some tips, but overall we have been doing very well in the breastfeeding arena. I can't tell you happy this makes me; before she was born I was more concerned about breast feeding than laboring.
After being there for one or two days we decided we should probably give our girl a name. We were down to two names and we both agreed on which one we would give her - Sydney. Her middle name, Davis, is a family name.
We had many visitors and the nursing staff was amazing. As far as my C-Section recovery....it was hard. All I can say is it got better everyday. My husband was vigilant at getting me to walk around, which made a huge difference in getting better. It felt and still feels very un-natural to me. I am still numb above my scar and sometimes the area feels a little pulled. But honestly none of it matters because our daughter is here and she's healthy and beautiful. We stayed in the hospital for 3 days (I think?...seriously a blur) before heading home with our little bundle.
Before I end our birth story I have to mention how amazing and wonderful my husband was and is in this process. He is a supportive partner and great Dad and I am a very lucky woman. Thank you honeypie.
So, that is our story. Now I will blast you with photos.