Spiritual Cesarean Section

I met Krysti on the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group.  She was planning a natural birth, but her baby was persistently breech.  It was interesting watching her journey as she had to make tough choices in regards to her babies birth.  I was excited to read her birth story and see how in the end she had a positive birth despite not going to her original desires. 

I had always assumed that I wanted a standard hospital birth with all the pain relief trimmings until I was in my third trimester and I started doing a little more research.  Then I realized it was better for baby and mommy if the birth was natural, with as few interventions as possible.

So, I started preparing for a natural, unmedicated birth by using the Hypnobabies home study program.  At 28 weeks I switched from my OB/GYN to a certified nurse midwife group who were very supportive of natural birth in a hospital setting.

Rosy had always been breech at her 12 wk, 20 wk, and 27 wk  ultrasounds.  I was told not to worry as only a very small percentage of babies remained breech at full term.  All the same, I started doing exercises from spinningbabies.com which were designed to encourage breech babies to turn head down.  At my 34 week one of my midwives felt my stomach and said that baby was head down.  She advised me not to do any more baby turning exercises since my baby was in the correct position.  I stopped doing the exercises, happy and confident about my upcoming birth because my baby was ready to go.

At my 35 week appt a more experienced midwife (the one that I had originally chosen as my main midwife, but I had seen all the other midwives for appts so that I would know them all and be comfortable with whoever ended up being on call when I was in labor) felt my stomach and said that she was pretty sure she felt Rosy’s head up near my left ribs.  I asked her to confirm it with an ultrasound, since the previous week I had been told the opposite (and baby’s position in my stomach felt the same as before).  She did a quick ultrasound and sure enough, Rosy was breech.  She informed me that whether you do nothing or whether you try lots of other strategies, 80% of babies will turn before you go into labor.

At that point I felt really worried about whether or not my dreams of a natural birth would be possible or not.  I started going to a chiropractor weekly, doing spinning babies inversions and breech tilts.  As the date drew nearer and nearer I also bought a hypnobabies turning your breech baby track (which was comforting and gave me confidence that if it were safe and possible, Rosy would turn), went to an acupuncturist for moxibustion, and had my family fast and pray for my baby to turn if it was safe for her.  At my 38 week appt my midwife double checked with an ultrasound and Rosy was still breech.  She referred me for an external cephalic version appointment with Dr. Parker, a very experienced OB with a good track record of successful ECVs.  I met with him at 38.5 weeks and he said he could attempt the ECV as soon as that Friday.  He said that his policy was to attempt the version and then immediately induce labor or do a c-section depending on whether it was successful.  He had this policy to avoid any chance of the baby being stillborn resultant of any side effects of the version going undetected for several days.

I still had high hopes of the ECV being successful, but went ahead and wrote up birth plans for the induction and the c-section so that I could be prepared, informed and assertive for either eventuality.
We scheduled the ECV for June 21st, a day before my actual due date.  My mom was able to change her flight to a couple of days earlier so that she could be there for the birth.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:45 am and the nurse assigned to us got us situated and started monitoring my vitals etc.  She noted that I was having regular contractions every 3-4 minutes.   She said that my body seemed ready to have this baby, except that without Rosy’s head resting in my pelvis there wasn’t any pressure on my cervix to dilate and for things to progress.  That made me happy, because I wanted Rosy to be born when she was developmentally ready and it seemed like she was.

I had originally planned to try doing the ECV with no pain medication and only using my hypnoanesthesia techniques, but after discussing the matter thoroughly with my doctor and the anesthesiologist, we decided that doing a single dose of epidural would give me the best possible chance of having a successful version, since any tension at all would make it much harder to turn Rosy.  If the ECV were successful we could easily let the epidural wear off and go the natural route, and if it were unsuccessful I would be able to use the epidural for the c-section (rather than the very unlikely chance of needing general anesthesia for an immediate emergency c-section if I were unmedicated).  He then placed the epidural.  Glen came in front of the bed (so he wouldn’t see the needle) and held my hand while the needle was going in.  Afterward Glen was super pale and had to lie down on the floor so as not to pass out.

So, once the epidural kicked in, Dr. Parker began using very assertive pressure on my stomach to attempt to turn Rosy, first trying to move her clockwise (which was a shorter distance to reach head down) and when she wouldn’t budge that way he attempted to turn her counterclockwise.  Even with the epidural the pressure was very intense and I did the finger drop technique and focused on becoming more and more relaxed with every exhale.  It only took about 5 minutes before he realized that he wouldn’t be able to turn her safely. Dr. Parker then turned to me and said, “Well, should we go ahead and move forward with the c-section?”  I was extremely disappointed, but I knew that we’d done everything we could to do the birth naturally, so I said, “Yes, let’s do it.”  All the medical personnel left the room for a few minutes and it was just me, my husband, my mom and my little sister.  I cried a little bit and then asked Glen to say a prayer for the c-section to go smoothly and safely for me and Rosy.  Since Glen was already a little woozy from the epidural placement, he opted to wait outside during the c-section and accompany Rosy to the nursery while I was being stitched up and sent to recovery.  My mom, who is an RN, was happy to be there for the c-section.

The anesthesiologist came back and dosed my epidural again so that it would be strong enough for the c-section.  Once he confirmed that it was strong enough and high enough, I was wheeled to the surgery room.  I had requested that Dr. Parker give a play by play of the procedure so that I would know what was happening to me behind the curtain.  My mom stood right next to me and held my hand, and they lowered the curtain enough so that she could see everything that was being done.  I didn’t feel any pain in my abdomen, although I did feel some intense shoulder pain in my right shoulder (which was referred pain from the trauma to my abdomen).  When they were pulling Rosy out of my incision I asked them to lower the curtain so that I could see her right away.  I couldn’t believe that the tiny, beautiful, dark haired baby was mine.  I started crying and asked them to bring her over to me as soon as possible.  Dr. Parker delayed clamping and cutting her cord for a little while, since I had requested that.  They measured and weighed her, cleaned her up on the warming table and wrapped her in a blanket, and then my mom brought her me and held her little face by mine.  I gave her kisses, told her how much I loved her and how happy I was to finally see her.  Then they whisked her away to the nursery with Glen watching over her.  (She was born June 21st at 10:39 am, 19 inches long and 7 lbs 4 oz.)

Then Dr. Parker sutured me up, doing the double-suture method which will make it possible for me to have a VBAC next time.  They wheeled me back to the same room I started in and began monitoring my vitals.  It was two hours before I was taken to the mother baby floor to be reunited with Rosy!  I was really upset about that, because I wanted to start the skin to skin contact and let her nurse right away.  I didn’t like how they didn’t respect my wishes about that, but since my legs were numb and I was stuck in a bed there wasn’t much I could do about it.  Glen came to the recovery room after they had finished Rosy’s bath.  He had taken a lot of wonderful pictures that he showed me.  Then I asked him to hurry back to Rosy so that she wouldn’t be without her family until I got to the mother baby floor.

Finally they moved me to my next room.  On our way to my room we walked by the nursery where Glen was sitting and rocking Rosy.  Once I was settled in my new bed, they brought Rosy to me and I held her on my chest, skin to skin.  She started nursing right away!  She was so alert and strong and active.

I checked out with Rosy at 2 pm the next day!  All my vitals were good and I had successfully walked around a few times.  Dr. Parker gave it the green light because my mom is a nurse and could watch over me at home.

I have been having a really good recovery and during the first week usually only took ½ a Percocet for pain rather than the 2 full pills that I am allowed to take.  Now that it’s been a week postpartum I am not taking any pain pills and I feel fine.

Although I wish I could’ve done it naturally, I am glad that modern technology made it so I could have Rosy in the way that ended up being safest for her.  I’m thankful that I had advance warning of the possibility of a c-section so that I could research ways to make the experience as positive as possible, specify my preferences, and prepare emotionally. The medical team took great care of me, and aside from separating me and Rosy for the first two hours of her life, they respected all of my birth preferences.  She is nursing very well, has gained weight since her check out from the hospital, and we are already very attached to each other.

I know that Rosy and I are both doing so well as a result of all of the prayers my family and friends were saying for me.  Heavenly Father has blessed us with health and smooth recoveries.  I’m so thankful for all the support He has given me, and the kindness and support shown to me by other mamas with similar experiences, and by my family and friends.

My little girl is so beautiful, healthy, and strong.  Any discomfort or stress I went through during my pregnancy and birthing process was well worth it to bring her safely into my life.

1 thought on “Spiritual Cesarean Section”

  1. What a wonderful birth story. I love that this mother stayed informed and involved in the decision making process. No matter how our babies come, it is sacred. Best wishes for VBAC next time. 🙂

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