Sunday, December 21, 2014

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times...

A few people have asked for a “Part 2” of the breech birth story.  It’s taken a while to be able to put anything up on this blog, partly because having a newborn isn’t exactly a stage of life where lots of things get done, and partly because my first writing down of the birth story was not only 11 pages long (single spaced), but also so filled with whirling swirling emotions that it was certainly not fit for public consumption.  So, here we find ourselves, dear reader, almost 6 weeks on, me with a grunting baby in the cot next to me (now crying... oh dear...), and you, dying with anticipation, unable to sleep until you know how it turned out.

(3 hours later, now that aforementioned baby is finally sound asleep again...)

Well, let’s make a long story short.  My risky baby stayed staunchly risky until the end.  Not only that, but she added risk to risk, as I had suspected she might, by going a week overdue.  You can imagine the panic at the clinic once she passed the due date.  “We’ll have to book you in for a caesarean at 41 weeks,” they say.  “But wait,” I ask.  “Is there ANY doctor who will induce her instead?”   “Well... hmm... we don’t like to induce breech babies.  But there might be one... let me phone him.”  And hooray, hurrah, this one brave doctor is indeed willing to induce my baby next Wednesday!  I mean, honestly, I would rather have waited another week (or more?) until she came out herself, but I was happy enough to cut this deal.  At least I knew that she would be born under the care of the most experienced breech doctor in the hospital.

So, in we trundle, bright and early on the morning of that Wednesday, to get the process started.  In goes the prostin gels.  I pace the streets of Hobart with my husband and my homebirth midwife, enjoying mild contractions and praying that I will go into labour without the need for the oxytocin drip.  We stop to get coffee, and the contractions stop as well – sniff, sniff.  But it was a nice coffee.

Back at the ranch (ie, the hospital ward), the lights are on, the machines are unfetchingly draped against the wall, the midwives and other staff are bustling in and out of the room with various tasks to perform, the food is gross, the curtains are bright blue, and my hormones are rebelling.  “This is not a cosy and romantic place to give birth!” they are saying.  “We can’t work under these conditions!”  And I can’t help but agree – even sympathise.

The doctor comes in to examine me again.  I’m 2cm, and making slow progress.  But oh dear.  My little gal has introduced yet ANOTHER risk factor!  Her foot is now poking down!  This means not just a breech birth, but a footling breech birth, is imminent – and that, my friends, is game over for delivering her vaginally in hospital.

The doctor, knowing my heart’s desire for a natural birth, graciously grants me 4 more hours to get into good labour with a bottom-down baby, otherwise, as he eloquently puts it, “it will be the knife”.  And there is to be no more synthetic help, in the form of prostins or oxytocin.  The onus is now 100% on me and bub to show our stuff.

So on we go.  My midwife performs some acupressure and cracks open the clary sage essential oils to get me going.  I bump up and down grey concrete stairs to entice the baby to move down.  We go for another walk around town...  All to no avail.  My hormones are on strike.  Hobart is nice, the streets are clean, but it’s just not enough to usher me forth into labour.  Candlelight, home, back rubs and soft music might get close, but the streets of Hobart on a cloudy day?  I begin to despair over the impending deadline and my inability to meet it.  The knife hangs over my head.

Back at the hospital, I feel very tired and try to take a nap.  It’s so not going to happen.  I am too upset by the whole turn of events.  I wish I was back home.  I consider just going home and waiting a few more days for her to come out by herself – but can’t bear the thought of returning home without a baby!  The kids would be devastated!  I have a good old cry, a vent to my husband, and a pray.

Then, by God’s grace, with just one hour left before the deadline, I get a surge of energy.  I rally my support people, open the curtains, take some photos, put on our Labour of Love music playlist, grab the stress balls (my lifeline in both previous births), and get swaying.  I may as well pretend I’m in labour!  With one hour to go, I figure I will give it my best shot, and see what happens.

Me and beautiful Jo, my midwife-cum-angel

And voila!  Pretty soon labour does indeed begin!  I am eternally thankful to God that no strangers came through those doors during that hour: no-one checking my blood pressure, no-one changing the towels, no-one asking me to sign another form.  Just me, my husband, my midwife, and my baby, rocking it out to my favourite female power ballad (Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras), over and over and over again, as the contractions increased.

When the doctor returned, I’d been in some kind of labour for about 20 minutes, and was now 3cm dilated – and with baby’s bum down!  Woo-hoo!  My waters broke and I felt exceedingly proud of myself.  But wait... with the waters came down the feet again – and a cord.  Bow-bowm.  Game over my friend.  Up to theatre we go!  The doctors all disappear to get gowned up while I have a bit of a cry.  Overall though, I’m happy that I got to go into labour myself, and accepting of the caesar, given the circumstances.

But while they’re out, sharpening their blades, I find the contractions keep coming, and coming.  Just a few minutes later, I feel the baby move down through my pelvis!  Just like I had felt with my miracle baby #2, who shot out all at once, into my trousers.  “She’s coming down!  She’s coming down!”  I cry (gleefully).  The student midwife - the last man standing from the troop of medical staff who had been present - looks stunned for a second, then reaches over and bangs the emergency button. 

Lights, camera, action!  I’m surrounded by all manner of medicos.  My bed grows wheels and I’m rolled off to another room, but all I know is my hubby’s strong hand and my stress ball banging and grinding away through the contractions.  As I get moved to another bed I ask, “Is this for the caesar?” and I get the happy (and bemused) answer – “No...”

Up go my legs into stirrups.  “Push, Ann!” says the doctor (who perhaps hasn’t taken the greatest level of interest in my situation, even getting my name wrong).  My husband recalls me making “classic movie sounds” as I pushed the baby out – feet first, cord prolapsed, poo everywhere.  She was beautiful.  And she was born.  

No knives.  No complications.  She breathed.  She cried.  She fed.  She was perfect.  I called out then, and I do now, “Thank you God!  Thank you Jesus!”.


We had done it, my super-risky baby and me.  Welcome to the world, Juliet Emmanuelle.  May you always be ready to take a risk, for his glory.


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