I wrote my last post on being nervous about feeling cooped up and isolated all Winter with an infant and than that all become so unimportant. The very next day, I went in for my midwife appointment. They told me that our baby was breech, heads up, feet up, butt down, frank breech. I began to cry immediately. I knew what it meant. He had been in the “right” position for weeks and now at 34 weeks, he had changed his mind. After 34 weeks, only 7% of babies are breech, meaning that 93% of them… are not. Only 3% of babies are actually born breech. So… I had a chance.
He might flip, but if he doesn’t? They’ll cut me open. I’ve spent the last 9 months (yes 9, I have 1 month to go) reading Ina May books, avoiding books like “what to expect when expecting”, researching statistics, searching for safety studies on ultrasounds, learning about the risks of pitocin, epidurals and constant fetal monitoring. Most recently, I bought a book on active laboring positions that help with contraction pain and getting the baby the most oxygen and blood flow to expedite the process. I also have books on foods, herbs and vitamins to take during pregnancy to help with pretty much all the pregnancy symptoms that no one tells you about. I even started going to a Webster trained chiropractor weeks ago to prevent a breech positioning. Oh and I’m planning a home water birth.
So, basically, I’ve been doing everything I can, within my control to avoid a c-section. Turns out the C-word isn’t C-section but control. I spent a week in my head, I felt even more upset than even I would have predicted. I was devastated by the thought of being cut open, of having my baby boy “extracted” from me while the lower half of me is drugged and monitored by a bunch of different machines and… resident doctors. Ugh. I kept trying to get out of my head, I knew I was mourning something that had not yet happen. I just kept thinking, I HAVE to get over this. I’m going to be his mom and he needs me to be present, grateful and loving no matter how this unfolds. I need to get over “myself”. This is his birth, not mine. In other words, I had very logical thoughts, as if that mattered…
We tried everything; roboso, moxibustion, chiropractic, acupuncture, inversions, handstands etc. Pretty much everything you see listed on http://www.spinningbabies.com. We tried it. It was all consuming and mostly, I had made peace with the whole, “it’s out of my hands” thing. Except sometimes, while driving, I’d have to pull over because I could not stop crying. I spent a good 20 minutes crying in a parking garage one day. I was losing it. WHY? I called my doula because apparently that’s what you hire doulas for (still learning). She told me about a woman named Pam England who wrote Birth from Within. She was a midwife and strong supporter of natural birth that ended up with an emergency c-section and it changed her perspective of birth entirely. She knew she needed to write something so women knew that giving birth wasn’t restricted to “vaginal birth”. I read a few articles and then wrote a c section birth plan and emailed it to my husband at 3am which I will list below.
I want to know the names of the doctors who will be touching me and I don’t want people to be able to come and go as they please, while talking over me. The only reason I am their patient and not simply a woman pushing out a baby is because they stopped learning how to deliver breech babies due to malpractice insurance. I am not their experiment or their lesson and neither is our son. His birth is not “class”, no one should be just standing over me watching without a job to do. Go watch the other 33% of mothers who don’t feel the same about having their baby removed via major surgery.I cannot simply be a vessel cut into. I am his mother and I need him as much as he needs me. I’d like the option of singing to him as he is pulled out of me, so I am the voice he hears and not all the crazy monitors. I absolutely need to have him laid on top of my chest, no one else should hold him first except me or YOU (father). When you hold him, make sure it is skin to skin, no shirt or open shirt and please please sing to him if you can.
No warmer, just skin to skin. No measuring, weighing or over analyzing of our baby, just instant love. There will be time to measure, weigh and analyze later. These details are sooo minor comparitively. Just get the blood out of his nose and mouth, so he won’t choke. If he is breathing and his skin is turning pink, he should NOT be taken away. No shots, or vaccinations at ALL. No circumcision. Dr. M can do that a few days later. Give him a minute to adjust and to feel loved.He has to KNOW we are there WITH him, he’s just a little guy that doesn’t understand what happened and unlike the struggle and twisting and hours that come with a vaginal delivery, he had no part in the journey getting here. At the very least, he needs to be and feel connected to US.I want to have him lay on me while I am stitched. my body heat, my breath, my love is what he needs. NOT a plastic warmer in another room.
At the end of the week, I was getting an ultrasound to confirm the baby’s position and our course of action. It was my first ultrasound, I’ve been trying to avoid them from day one because the last safety study was done in 1992, and to be honest, even that study is not so comforting. So, my husband and I drive to the midwife appointment to get the ultrasound. I’m convinced they’ll confirm that the midwife was correct and nervous about them saying things like “you have a tilted uterus” or “placenta previa” or “not enough amniotic fluid”. The midwife squirts the jelly on my lower stomach and then says… “there’s the head, he’s in your pelvis, all good”. Yet again, I cry. My husband and I are in total shock. Either we turned the baby without knowing it… or the first midwife was wrong and we were emotionally and mentally exhausted for no reason at all. I still like to think we turned him.
The very next night we have our prenatal appointment with the doula. At this point my husband and I need a break from the whole baby topic, but alas, we aren’t going to get a break. The doula comes over and the first thing she wants to discuss is my fear with c-sections and where that lies, because let’s be honest, you’re never in the clear. I know she knows the same crap I do, so why are we needing to go over this? To be frank, I’m annoyed and tired and I want to eat my 7th meal of the day (yeah, I was starving that day). She actually starts telling us these crazy stories starting with “Lucy” the first female skeleton ever found and how Lucy would have mimicked giving birth the way animals did, instinctively. She’d move around, make strange sounds and do so privately without interruption. Her biggest fear was likely a a tiger. If a tiger came by during her birth, her body would likely tense up and cease labor. She said every woman has a “tiger” but how do we cage yours?
The tiger represents anything that prevents us from letting go and letting our bodies do what they are capable of. My tiger was medical intervention during labor. My doula told me that no matter how things go down, there is something TRUE within me that will be in the room. What does that meeeeaaan? I felt annoyed again, inwardly defensive. This was too “hippie” for me. She kept prying. She said, “what is true about you no matter if you are cut open or push the baby out?” My knee jerk response was that I would have tried everything to bring him into the world in a loving, peaceful environment. She wasn’t accepting that answer because it left me with an understanding that a c-section meant I failed him in some way. So what was a truth that caged the tiger and why was a natural, vaginal home birth my creme de le creme?
“I don’t know what you want me to say. It’s safer, it’s more peaceful, more loving.” Than she stopped me, “why is it more loving?” Then I found myself rambling my own truth. She had told me that labor can pull our past scars, pains, our greatest weaknesses and our greatest strengths. I told her I’d dealt with all of that, I know myself well and I have peace. Still, that question struck me, why was a vaginal delivery more loving? This is what I found myself saying to her.
I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. Dating exhausted me emotionally, but I continued to do so with persistence because I wanted to get to THIS place. I’ve been fighting for him and loving him for so long and I want him to feel that. I want that to be the first thing he knows in life. I guess I’m a little masochistic about this process… because I want to experience all the pain and fight through it because he’s worth it to me. I don’t want to numb the moment or screw with him, I want to be his protector, his warrior, his mother starting now. I want him to feel me become weak and tired and rise above all that to bring him into this world. I want to ignore my pain in exchange for him, for his life, for his safety and happiness. When I met his father, I was terrified of heartbreak, I was still so scarred and I ignored that fear, that pain because I had met someone that was deserving of the best of me. I want to love him like that.
My doula seemed satisfied with this answer. “There you go, that’s your truth. She said, no matter what happens or where you are when he is born, that truth remains in the room within you and certainly within him.”
I won’t lie to you and tell you that I’m completely at peace with the idea of an emergency C-section. What I can say is that whether I get the chance to push my baby out or if I’m cut open, I will be his protector, his warrior, his fearlessly loving mother. I regard vaginal labor as a physical struggle and fight on behalf of this little boy but in reality a C-section is just as great of a struggle and just as important a fight for me to overcome in the name of love. It’s just more mental than physical.
And again, it’s his birth, not mine.
Love to you,