I am lucky and I know it. I have had two very healthy, normal pregnancies. Getting pregnant was no problem and I honestly had very little pregnancy symptoms. I mean, not to say I skipped through it all, but I rarely felt nauseous, my blood pressure always remained very low and my energy levels were steady. Overall, I really had very little to complain about during my pregnancies. Well, except for the fact that I was enormous….I mean, really large. And rightfully so. I had two large babies. My first son was 9.6 lbs and my second, a whopping 10 lbs!
Each appointment, while exciting to see the progress, was actually a little boring. I mean, they would weigh and measure my stomach (always 2 weeks ahead of time) and take my blood pressure. We’d talk about my birth plans and if I had any concerns. Up until about 35 weeks with my second, everything was progressing smoothly. Yet, by the 35th week, Owen still hadn’t gotten into the right position for birth. His head was actually under my left rib, instead of heading down. You could tell from looking at me. My belly, instead of being the typical shape, was wonky. I looked all misshaped and could tell things were not right.
They guessed that Owen was about 8 lbs at this point and at that size they told me he most likely wouldn’t move on his own. They said there just wasn’t enough room for him to do so. These words took my breath away. My textbook pregnancy had just taken a very different turn.
Up to this point, I had only seen my midwives. Once they realized the baby was breech, a whole new team of specialists were introduced to me. They started talking to me about what being breech means and about scheduling another ultra sound. They started talking about scheduling a version (ECV, external cephalic version) to try and move him. They explained all the complications that ensued with agreeing to do this. Everything was so matter of fact. They acted as if it was no big deal, if he didn’t turn they would just schedule a C-section. It was so cut and dry in their world.
After we left the doctor’s office, I had my two-year-old’s hand in mine as I called my husband to tell him the news. I was sobbing, telling him about it. He calmed me down, told me to relax, and kept repeating ‘But we have a healthy baby, that’s all that matters.’ Yes, that matters immensely and everyday I am grateful to God for our two healthy sons. But right now I am angry that my child is breech and it feels so unnatural to be so mad at my unborn child.
Seriously, I had done everything right. I ate the right foods, I hadn’t gained too much weight, I took my prenatals. Why couldn’t he do his job and get in the right position? My dreams for a natural birth were slipping through my fingers. I was upset, mad, and confused, and I felt ashamed for feeling this way. I began to mourn my idea of birthing my baby. After my first birth, I was so empowered, so amazed with myself and my body. I craved to do it again, as crazy as that sounds. But how could I have such angry feelings towards my unborn child. What kind of horrible person am I?
I called my mother sobbing. I always turn to my mom for mothering advice. At first she tried to do what everyone else was doing, reassuring me that everything would be fine because the baby was healthy. But then she said, ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you. I am sorry that the baby is not cooperating and I know how much you don’t want to have a C-section.’ It was what I needed to hear and it was from the person that I needed to hear it. I needed to be mothered. I needed it to be about me, if for only a brief moment. I decided I would allow myself some time to mourn my ideal birth. I let it out, and released the guilt and the anger. When I did this, I realized as his mother, it was my job to help my child as best I could. He wanted to get in the right position, I felt that with every fiber of my being. I sweetly whispered to him, ‘I am going to help you get there.’
I devoured all I could find about turning a breech baby, and there is quite a bit out there! The next few weeks, I immersed myself in helping my baby turn. I did inversions daily (funny thing watching a pregnant lady do this!) I burned moxie (moxibustion) around my pinky toes. My mother in law was visiting at the time and my husband and I sat out on our deck, burning this large incense cigar. It smelled a little reminiscent of marijuana, which made the whole thing funny to watch. I set daily intentions for the baby to move. I even went as far as to have my husband talk to the baby near my vagina. Yea, that was a little strange! With clothes on mind you, he shined the flashlight at my crotch and said, ‘Baby, you need to move for your mom so she’ll stop making me do crazy things like this.’
Every thought seemed to revolve around getting this baby to turn. I learned more about breech births and read story after story of spinning babies. I had to put up a good fight before conceding. I owed it to myself, my body, and my baby. I didn’t want to have major surgery. I knew that if I had to have a c-section, everything would be fine. But I wanted to know that I tried everything to avoid it.
All throughout my pregnancy, I had seen a chiropractor that specializes in prenatal care. I called her and made an emergency appointment. My version date was scheduled for 4 days after my chiropractor appointment. Versions do not have a very high success rate and can be a very painful. ECV has about a 58 percent success rate. There can be complications including inducing labor, the placenta can detach, or the cord could wrap around the baby’s head. Needless to say, I was nervous about having one.
At my chiropractor appointment she gently felt around my pubic bone and told me she thought that his foot was too low and possibly stuck. “Take a deep breath on the count of 3. One, two, three.” And just like that, she un-stuck his foot and I felt him move. With her help, I immediately did an inversion. Once I came down from the inversion, I knew it was all going to work out. I felt different right away. Within a few hours, my wonky, misshapen stomach, began to look like a regular pregnant belly. I felt more comfortable and breathing was easier. I was elated. I knew that little body naturally wanted to get in the right position and all he needed was my help getting him there. I went in for my version, just in case and sure enough, Owen was perfectly positioned, ready for birth. The bugger still made me wait 4 days past his due date, but his birth was exactly how I imagined it to be.
Having this experience helped me have so much empathy for other mothers. We all imagine how we want our pregnancies to go and in a blink of an eye, it can all change. It’s almost the first cruel lesson in motherhood, which is we are not always in control. We can plan but just as in life, we have to be able to adjust when the plans go astray. If I had to have had a C-section, I know that I would have had just as wonderful of a birth story, just one with a different ending.