Tuesday, September 9, 2014


It has been an interesting progression from Simon's actual birthday up to now when I'm writing this. I had intended to write the birth story within a day or two of it happening, when all the details could be fresh and accurate, but that didn't happen. Recovery was worse than I had hoped, which took a lot of my effort and attention. Once that had settled down a bit, I found that there was just too much past interfering with my writing the present. So much anticipation and preparation and wondering and fear and hope for so long, it was hard to set that down for a minute, even just long enough to write the details.

My solution to that dilemma is to write this to Tannie. When Audrey Jane was born, way back when we still lived in our Twin Creek townhouse with the orange shag carpet in Logan, Tannie and JeriLynn brought us dinner. I remember that they brought everything in disposable containers, which was the first time that it occurred to me how much nicer that was since I then didn't have to worry about returning any bowls or pans. They each took a turn holding Jane, then Tannie quickly handed the baby back and said, "So tell me about the birth."

She was the first person who ever asked and the first person who listened with genuine interest and appropriate emotional response. Beyond that, I've talked to her the most and told her more about all of my birth stories than anyone besides Chris. It's normal and natural for me to talk to her about my birth stories. Since she now lives nearly 2,000 miles away preventing us from talking in person and since I haven't yet really told anyone about Simon's birth, I'm going to pretend Tannie is sitting here on the couch with me and I'll tell her the story. We'll be occasionally interrupted mid-sentence by small children, but we'll come back like nothing happened and keep the story going.

As with any good story, our exposition starts several weeks before the main event.

The Premonition

Once I was far enough into my third trimester for baby's position to be determined from the outside, Simon was head down. This was different than all three of my previous pregnancies--everyone had been transverse until the very end. The girls moved head down within two or three weeks of my due date, Ben stayed transverse until two days before my due date. I was really excited that Simon was already head down and hoped that he would stay that way. I had other things to worry about.

There was one day, just one day, in June when I thought that maybe baby wasn't head down anymore. The thought was jarring, sending me really quick back to Ben's birth and all the uncertainty and stress caused by his flipping around at the last second. There is a page about it in my trauma journal, in which I created this graphic.

It represents my flashbacks to the last few weeks before Ben was born. I did a lot to get him to turn so I wouldn't need to have a c-section. I used techniques from spinningbabies.com that involved an ironing board. I went to a chiropractor twice a day every day for two weeks, hauling Jane and Megan in with me every time. I felt crazy the whole time, trying as best I could to change the situation and getting increasingly worried that it wasn't going to work.

As you may recall, it didn't work. We tried everything all the way up to doing an external version, which failed, before we finally gave up and gave in and accepted a c-section. The thought of potentially needing to do all that again this time around was extremely stressful.

This episode in June was short-lived, luckily. The next time I saw the midwife baby was head down. I wasn't ever sure whether he had actually flipped or not, it was just enough to make me consider what might happen were I to face that eventuality. I never did come to any satisfactory solution at that time, but I had at least looked at the possibility on purpose.

Which set us up well for when he turned transverse at 37 weeks.

The Reality

Chris had finished his summer class and had a few weeks break before fall semester, so he stayed home from school and came to my appointment with me. When I walked into that appointment, I was really hoping to discuss methods of encouraging baby to come as soon as possible. I wanted him to stay inside as long as he needed to for his own health and development, but if there was anything I could do to bring that along I wanted to know.

In the back of my mind, I was quietly nervous for this appointment. Baby felt different in the couple of days before...the kicks weren't in the same place, and I couldn't move as well because there was more baby in my ribs than it had seemed before. (On the plus side, I also didn't have to use the bathroom as often.)

The first note that something was off was Beverly, the midwife, saying that I was measuring small. She felt around my belly for a bit, then pointed at a spot high up on my right side, just under my ribs, and said, "I'm pretty sure that's his head."

I had a knot in my stomach as she left the room to track down an ultrasound machine to confirm what she suspected. I don't remember saying much, though Chris was optimistic. We still had three weeks before baby was actually due, that gave him a lot of time to turn back around and me still be able to go into labor naturally. If he didn't turn on his own, we already knew a lot of the tricks to get him to flip.

The ultrasound confirmed that he was, in fact, transverse. We had just enough discussion right then to say that he would probably turn back on his own, but if he didn't, our options were a bit more limited since they would not do an external version at any point because I'd had a previous c-section. We were on our own for natural interventions.

Beverly did give us the information for a chiropractor who specializes in the Webster Method for flipping breech babies, as well as general pregnancy health. I called her on our way home from the appointment. I explained our situation and asked to get an adjustment as soon as possible. She said she could see me the following Wednesday, six days away. I asked if she possibly had anything sooner, and she responded with, "wow, you're really freaking out about this, aren't you?" Given my history, I thought I was handling this new development remarkably well up to that point. Her comment just made me cry. I really really didn't want my baby to be in the wrong position.

That was Thursday morning. By Thursday night, he was head down. I breathed a sigh of relief and prayed that he would stay there. I put on a pregnancy brace to help keep him in place and went to sleep. When I woke up on Friday morning, I put on a stronger brace to really hold him head down...and within a couple of hours, he was transverse again. Through the course of Saturday, he was head down at least twice again before again settling in sideways. I gave up on the braces.

All of these somersaults were quite unsettling to me. A lot of the drama of Ben's birth resulted from him changing position repeatedly, but in truth, Ben only actually flipped twice. He was firmly transverse for weeks and weeks, then went head down the night before my scheduled c-section. They induced me and while I was in labor, he flipped to breech and we did the c-section then. Only two flips. In roughly 48 hours, Simon had flipped at least seven times.

Our next trip to the midwives' office came on Tuesday. Chris joined me again, and this time we saw midwife Kim. It was hands down the worst appointment I'd ever had with her. Of the three midwives in the office she had always been my favorite, but that went out the window pretty quick on this day. First problem was that I don't think she believed me when I said how much Simon had turned. He was--go figure--head down when she checked. I think she thought I was exaggerating. I mentioned some concern that with moving so much, the umbilical cord may have gotten wrapped around his neck. Again, she didn't seem to care. She just repeatedly said that 25% of babies are born with the cord around their neck...she never did say how many of those babies were fine.

Additionally, I was asking questions about the possibility of inducing me. I was attempting a VBAC and inductions are simply not allowed. The risk of uterine rupture is significantly higher with pitocin, so it just isn't done. I knew that. Beverly had mentioned the possibility, though, of breaking water as a way to induce. Wait until he's head down, then break my water so we for sure go into labor while he's head down and can't move again. When I proposed that idea to Kim, she looked at us like we were crazy. She said it was unnecessary, he was already head down, he's fine, no worries, don't bother, we'll go into labor fine. I, ahem, disagreed and the longer we talked, the more upset I got and the more apparent my distress became. I did not appreciate not being believed.

In the end, she humored me by scheduling an ultrasound to check both baby's position and the location of the cord. She also said she would call Dr. Fredrick, the OB in the practice, and find out what he was willing to let them do. We left then, and I cried again. It was just getting to be too much. Sigh. We didn't have a lot of time to think about it, though, because we went straight from there to the chiropractor, Dr. April. She did an adjustment, scheduled me again for the next day, and gave me some exercises to do in the meantime. She seemed quite optimistic, too, because baby was still head down.

That evening, Kim called back and said that Dr. Fredrick had given permission for my water to be broken. The plan then was to wait until the ultrasound to make sure everything was good, then go straight to the hospital to break my water and have a baby. Wednesday afternoon brought us back to Dr. April. Baby was still head down, so we made arrangements with babysitters for the kids to (potentially) stay overnight, we loaded all the hospital bags in the car, and headed out for the ultrasound.

He was breech. Everything else looked good, but he was breech.

to be continued...
this is way too long for just one post


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

Seriously Laura, you've got some real trouble makers for children. �� you must hurry and continue your story. In on pins and needles here!

Tannie Datwyler said...

I have you say - when I saw my own name up there it gave me a start, and then it put a huge smile on my face. Ahhh Laura - were it true that we were in the same room. Thanks for always trusting me.

I have to say, reading about you crying twice really upsets me. We both know that of the two of us I am the one who will cry at the drop of a hat and not you. So, I can tell by what you are writing that you were struggling. You had worked so hard to get to a good place with the birth and I think you were there!! I think the problem was with your healthcare providers. They make me SO MAD. Sure, I get it that you are an unusual case that they don't encounter often, but STILL!!!! Your midwife should have known better than you brush off what you were saying. And that chiropractor... the last thing you want to say to a pregnant woman is that she's "freaking out." UM? Were you born in a barn?

Okay - rant OVER.

Can't wait to hear the rest. Also - when can I hold that baby? December? You've got to be kidding me.

I was serious when I said you should move to Idaho after Chris is done.