We welcomed Porter Bret at 2:02 pm on July 22, 2014. He was 8 lbs, 5 ozs, 21.5 inches. He came in a very unexpected way! It’s a birth story, so the usual caveats apply–don’t read it if you don’t want to know. There are pictures at the bottom.
If you’ll recall, we left Porter’s gestation with lots of start and stop contractions and prelabor. I was discouraged, fatigued, and frustrated with the idea that this baby seemed to want to come, but then would change his mind. At my appointment on the day before my due date, we learned why he wasn’t coming. As the midwife was feeling my belly, she looked confused. Calling in another midwife, they both palpated my uterus to find the baby’s position. They said, “I think you need an ultrasound to confirm his position.” I knew it wasn’t good, but I was trying to keep myself from panicking. Luckily my parents were here, so Patrick was with me and we could run over to the ultrasound place to get a quick check on baby.
The check revealed his head up in my ribs, and his feet in front of his face. A frank breech position. Amniotic fluid looked good, the placenta looked fine, and he looked to be about 8 lbs. We went straight home, even though we’d been planning on dinner while my parents watched the boys. I knew the midwives weren’t allowed to deliver a breech baby, and I wasn’t even sure what that meant for me.
Over the next few days, we tried a lot of stuff. I went to a chiropractor for the Webster technique, took homeopathic pulsatilla, did inversions for hours, and begged baby to turn. Meanwhile, we also consulted with a doctor to discuss the possibility of an ECV (External Cephalic Version) to manually turn the baby. On Friday, I went for another ultrasound to see if cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. They couldn’t tell 100% but there was cord near the neck, draping the shoulders. The doctor said he would not attempt the turn, and nor would he attend a vaginal breech delivery. We scheduled a c section for Tuesday. I decided if I went into labor spontaneously, I would go to the only hospital with staff that might be willing to attempt a vaginal breech delivery; but if baby waited, I would have a scheduled c section on Tuesday. I processed a lot of thoughts and feelings over the week–but those are for another post.
He didn’t turn. He didn’t generate any more serious contractions. I wrote a Cesarean Birth Plan (something I thought I would never do). We showed up to the hospital on Tuesday at 10:15. Our friend and doula arrived immediately to support us through the preparation and, we hoped, the birth. (Also coming in another post, Why you need a doula for a c section. Two big reasons, as a teaser: She helped me stay focused when I needed to focus and to be distracted when focus wasn’t going to help. She also helped us ask the questions we needed to ask.) There were lots of questions to answer, blood to give, questions to ask, and people to meet. With a scheduled c section, you meet the entire surgical team prior to cutting.
We met the triage nurse. Then we met the third year med student who asked questions, and worked with the chief resident. She was very competent and reassuring. The only really alarming thing was the nurse anesthetist who came in and introduced herself and remarked that we’d be doing a c section and a tubal ligation. That was NOT what we were doing, and thank goodness Patrick and Kathy were there because I probably would have completely lost it. The chief resident was there, and she said, “I will be there for the surgery, and we are not going to do that to you.” The triage nurse gave the other nurse a look and said, “That’s room four.” To the hospital’s credit, I had a new nurse anesthetist and never saw that woman again. I don’t know that I want to have another baby, but I know that if I do, I want to have every potential for a VBAC maximized. That was in the birth plan. The tubal ligation was not. But as they say, “That’s why we ask.” I then met with the anesthesiologist, who answered my questions about pain medications, and was amenable when I explained that I would want the smallest doses and to be off of them as quickly as possible. Then we met the neonatologist, who was good, and we asked that the baby never be separated from us, even if that meant Patrick went with him and left me. We also asked that unless the emergency was immediately life-threatening, that he take the time to explain as calmly as possible what the risks were to the baby. He agreed. Finally, the surgeon leading the team arrived, checked in with us, and asked when I wanted to leave. I said, “As soon as possible.” He said, “Tomorrow.” I said, “If you can make that happen.” He said, “Then all you have to do is show me you can eat.” We went in for the surgery.
Patrick wore scrubs, I was gowned. Right before, as they put in the spinal block, I cried a little. I was scared but resigned. I felt a little nauseated as I laid back. I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that my vital signs showed that the spinal block was working. Patrick came back in, the surgeons started, and it was over very quickly. I wanted to know more about what was going on, but no one was really talking. I listened hard to the surgeons. Patrick says he saw the head doctor holding the baby by the feet, and the chief resident reaching in to grab something. We figure she was unwrapping the cord because I heard her say, “Turtleneck. Nuchal cord times one. Nuchal cord times two.” Then the baby was quickly moved to the warmer. Patrick went over to the warmer. He came back to tell me baby was great. I heard one of the peds nurses say his name. Then, he was wrapped, and Patrick brought him over so I could see and touch him just a little.
I heard them stitching and then stapling, and talking about the technique. I heard the words, “Delivery complication” but I think they were simply referring to the cord, because that’s on his chart, and both times I asked about the surgery (to the chief resident and to my doctor), I was told that it went really well. We eventually moved to the recovery room, where they monitored breathing, belly, and baby for about 2 hours. We tried to breast feed. It worked, but as I will elaborate in another post, I have only the highest respect for women who establish breastfeeding post c section with their first child. It was hard to get him positioned when I was numb and at an awkward angle. He took to it quickly though, and for that I’m glad he’s my third.
We wheeled to the postpartum room, where Kathy was waiting for us, having gotten us some water and flowers, and she supported us through the getting set up in the room for nice skin-to-skin time with baby. The nurses came to explain everything that needed to happen over the next day for me to go home. I may write another post on the hospital and stay, but I may not. It was pretty uneventful.
We’ve had lots of love from family and friends. It was the least isolating hospital stay I’ve had, and I’m grateful for all the support. We were able to bring Porter home on Wednesday at 10:00 pm, almost 36 hours after arriving at the hospital. We slept wonderfully Wednesday night. Seamus and Gilbert are able to better adjust when we’re all home, and we’ve just loved setting up life as a family of five. I’m still moving slowly, and I will be for a while, but I’m feeling peaceful and happy with the baby and our family.