Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rising Action

Anyone who spent any time around me while I was pregnant probably heard mention of the fact that I really wanted to have the baby on Thursday, August 14. I wanted the girls to already be in school so I didn't have to worry about them during the day, I wanted to take the most advantage of my mom being in town starting the 16th, I wanted labor all said and done before Chris started fall semester on the 18th, and finally, my number one reason: Jane was born on Monday, Megan was born on Tuesday, and Ben was born on Wednesday. I really wanted baby #4 to come on Thursday.

Our ultrasound came on Wednesday the 13th. Knowing that I had a transverse/breech baby (or rather a baby with an "unstable lie," meaning he moved a lot) really put on the pressure for my Thursday.

It's hard to say if the drive home from the ultrasound was more or less depressing than I anticipated. Honestly, I didn't think we'd be going to the hospital that day. As much as I wanted it, as much as I was hoping for it, I don't think I ever thought it would actually happen. We'll count that as a tender mercy because everyone else--Chris and the kids--took it harder than I did in that moment. The drive to the babysitter's house was quiet. We didn't have anything new to talk about. Picking up the kids was torture. They were disappointed that the baby wasn't coming, and they were rather indignant that we weren't letting them spend the night at their friend's house. But, we went home anyway and pretended to continue with life as usual. Which that night meant buying dinner somewhere and watching tv until bedtime...even though it was a school night.

Kim (midwife) called me again that evening and, thankfully, she totally believed me now about Simon's acrobatics. Probably having the word from the chiropractor of him being head down contradicted by the word "breech" from the ultrasound tech only two hours later gave her more confidence than my word alone. Regardless of where that belief came from, it had the happy effect of instigating a new plan: If baby went head down at any moment, day or night, GO TO THE HOSPITAL. We wanted to get him head down and then break my water as quickly as humanly possible. Without the fluid he wouldn't be able to move again, and without the fluid I would go into labor. There was still greater risk of a c-section this way, but at least I would have a chance at a vaginal delivery if we could just get him to stay head down.

And then the fateful 14th arrived. Any hope I had of achieving my long-dreamed-of VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) was quickly disappearing, but I was willing to put in a grand effort if it would give me any chance of having a baby that day, that Thursday. We dropped Ben off at Grant's house for the day, went out to breakfast, then went home for what I now consider The Last Great Battle for a VBAC.

My Fight

For documentation, and for personal proof of what I was willing to do, here is (albeit somewhat unflattering) photographic evidence of a few of the techniques we employed to get baby into a better position. All of these techniques are intended to open up the abdomen and pelvis to allow the baby to slide into the optimal position for labor and delivery.

The forward-leaning inversion--I did this for about 30 seconds, two or three times a day, every day since we first learned that Simon was transverse. I got pretty good at getting myself up and down, which is really quite impressive given my general lack of mobility and flexibility.

The breech tilt--I hated this one and only managed to do it a few times, for only a few minutes on each occasion. Spinning Babies said you can do it for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, but I would get horribly nauseous after just a bit and really had to get back up before I threw up.

It was also really hard to get up and down from this one on my own. Chris helped, but even then I always got nervous that I was going to randomly fall over. Or break the ironing board.

P.S. If anyone is interested, we were watching Firefly.

In addition to those, I quit sitting on the couch. Per explanation from the chiropractor, reclining/relaxing the spine would likely produce the opposite effect I was going for and keep baby in his undesirable location. Wanting to avoid that, I then spent several hours every day (or at least as much as I could physically and mentally stand without going insane) sitting on an exercise ball.

Chris was great and since we had managed to borrow two exercise balls from friends at church, he would sit with me. Ben joined in sometimes, too.

As if being pregnant wasn't tiring enough on its own. Oh, I also spent several hours on and off with an ice pack tucked inside my shirt, pressed up against baby's head. The idea there was to make that spot particularly uncomfortable so he'd be inspired to move. It worked...several times. Just never lasted quite long enough.

The Decision

Perhaps you recall that Simon flipped at least seven times in just three days, and continued to do so several more times in the next four days. At least a dozen flips (or more) within a week, the most devastating of which was between the chiropractor visit and the ultrasound. Enough somersaults that we finally got word to be on call for an immediate drive to the hospital at any possible moment.

After that ultrasound, he never moved again.

Oh my goodness I wish I was kidding. I thought it was impossible for him to randomly start moving after he had stayed head down for so long in the pregnancy. I thought it was even more impossible for him to stop so abruptly and so thoroughly.

But after a week of having my uterus turned into a gymnasium, baby settled down with his head in my ribs and his feet kicking my hips, and there he firmly stayed.

We saw Kim the following Tuesday, August 19. The nurse asked if I wanted to be checked to see if I was dilating at all, and I politely said no. I knew I wasn't dilating because his head wasn't there to make me dilate. When I explained that he was transverse (or breech, opinions seemed to differ slightly) she got an excited look on her face and said, "Oh, have you heard of Spinning Babies??"

Yes. Yes I have.

I was again measuring small, which is normal for a transverse baby. Kim asked what we wanted to do and without hesitation, but with tangible disappointment, I told her we wanted a c-section. I had done everything I could possibly do to get him to turn. I had prayed harder than I think I ever have. Without the option of an external version (I can't believe I would ever, ever wish I could voluntarily do that again!), there wasn't anything else for us to do but wait, and I was done waiting. Without any hope that something would happen, having lost the belief that he would turn and I'd go to the hospital to have my water broken, it seemed best to just move on. Let's be done being pregnant, let's be done waiting to see if maybe he'd turn again even though he hadn't for nearly a week now, let's be done physically tormenting myself without result. Let's just have a baby.

I will forever be grateful that Kim agreed with me. There was no trying to talk me out of it, there was no questioning if I was really sure, there was only support and acceptance. Phone calls were made and we left the office with a c-section scheduled for Wednesday, August 20 at 7:30 am.

Side note: I could potentially have waited just one day longer and requested my c-section for Thursday, but I didn't for the sake of Christopher. Fall semester had started and his one class is on Tuesday and Thursday. We could have been done with surgery and settled into a room long before he would have needed to leave to make it to class, but it just wasn't worth it to have him miss out on that important day.

And so, we went home. Again. But this time, we had conversations with the kids to tell them that we would be leaving early in the morning to go to the hospital and have the baby--for real this time!--while Grandma stayed to take care of them. We repacked the hospital bags in the car and ate roast and potatoes for dinner and played Yahtzee until we went to bed to pretend to sleep for the next few hours. Baby anticipation is known for causing insomnia.

to be concluded...
I promise, eventually I'll actually get to the part where Simon is born


Liz, Karl, Madison, Brooklyn and Aubrey said...

I'm starting to think this baby was actually never born. �� I can't wait for the next installment!

Tannie Datwyler said...

Laura - that's just so hard to read. I know you made peace with it completely, but I hate reading about how hard you prayed, hoped, and worked. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense. But, you really are amazing in the way you handled it all.