My thanksgiving birth story

November 25, 2009, I gave birth to my son Octavian Orion. This is our birth story.

Part I: Pregnancy

Somewhere around my 26th week of pregnancy, our midwife Heike taught us how to find the baby's head in my belly. "It's called ballottement," she explained, showing us how to press on the lump in my belly to see if it bounced like a little tennis ball.

"That's his head," she told us. "See how it bounces around? That's because of his neck. If that was his butt, it wouldn't bounce."

His head was just under the right side of my ribcage, meaning he was breech. "Don't worry about it," my midwife said. "Most babies are breech in the second trimester. He'll flip."

I started doing exercises to encourage the baby to flip. I found a website full of ideas, mostly inversions that involved elevating my hips to encourage the baby to shift out of the pelvis and somersault into heads-down position.

He didn't flip.

I started trying other methods. Our neighbor was an acupuncturist, and he gifted me two treatments a week of both acupuncture and a technique called Moxabustion. Twice a week he'd come over and poke me with tiny needles and then burn mugwort incense by my toes to energize the baby in the hopes of making him turn over.

He didn't flip.

I started trying every technique that people suggested. Ice packs on the baby's head. Having Andreas talk to my pubic bone in the hopes that the baby would flip to hear him better. Using a little flashlight to try to lure the baby downward. Massaging my own belly. Visualizing him flipping.

He didn't flip.

As I approached week 30 and onward, I started to get worried. If he didn't flip, I wouldn't be able to have my birth at the birth center. I wouldn't be able to have a vaginal birth at all. Neither midwives nor doctors in Washington State do breech vaginal deliveries. I started freaking out. I would wake up in the middle of the night and put my hand on my belly – was he still heads up? Was he? Was that maybe his butt and not his head? It was never his butt. It was always his head.

He didn't flip.

I found myself one afternoon doing a breech inversion on the stairs of our home, tears winding their way up my forehead because I was hanging at an almost-upside down angle thinking to myself "Flip, baby, flip." I was frustrated and sad and suddenly realized … I had to let it go. I couldn't make this baby flip.

At week 35, I started exploring my options. I called the office of my longtime OBGYN, who I've always liked a lot. Would they see me if the baby wouldn't flip? They would.

My midwife suggested one last method: External Cephalic Version. The medical procedure involved going into a hospital at 37 weeks, having a uterine relaxant given via IV, and then a doctor trying to physically manipulate the baby into place via what can only be described as "extremely deep massage."

We tried it, a couple days after my baby shower. The doctor gave it an extremely good shot, literally working up a sweat as he spent 20 minutes shoving and pushing on my belly as I breathed my way through it.

And still, the baby did not flip.

It was time to move to Plan B: a scheduled Cesarean section. A surgical birth. Yes, the irony of the midwife's daughter having a pre-planned c-section is a killer. After all, I was the kid who, at 8-years-old, made a card for a family friend's baby shower that read "I hope you don't have a sea section!"

But I'd done everything I could, and even my mom the retired midwife agreed: at this point it was time to schedule the surgery with my OBGYN. There was a telling moment when, during a dinner at my mom's house, a friend of her's said to my mom (a retired midwife and midwifery educator at Seattle Midwifery School) "Ooh, what if Ariel went into labor RIGHT NOW?! You could be on hand to deliver your grandchild!" My mother just shook her head and replied, "I wouldn't touch a breech delivery. If Ariel went into labor right now, I'd drive her to the hospital."

Part II: Preparing
Of course, growing up the midwife's daughter, I knew more about c-sections as a child than most adult women do. I still did a ton of reading to prepare myself, especially which aspects of c-sections were the hardest for mothers to deal with. Highest on the list: arms being restrained during surgery, baby being taken away after birth, sense of failure or loss.

Andreas and I started preparing a birth plan. The baby should be in Dre's arms as soon as possible. All non-essential procedures should be delayed for as long as possible. I'd like my arms not to be restrained. The baby is not to leave the room unless something is terribly wrong, and then Andreas should be with him at all times.

I also prepared myself emotionally. Once we'd settled on a birth plan, I outsourced the enforcement to Andreas. I made the decision that once in the operating room, my goal was a positive relaxed atmosphere – NOT a controlled environment. It was more important to me that I meet the baby in a good, clear state of mind than that everything go exactly my way. Even if the surgery wasn't the birth I envisioned, and if Swedish hospital's operating room wasn't the environment I'd envisioned, I would at least do everything I could to have the emotional atmosphere I had envisioned.

My OBGYN was in Ethiopia doing medical aid work through most of November, so we were scheduled to meet with another doctor in her practice for the pre-surgical check-in. The doctor was not nearly as friendly as my doc, and generally dubious about all our touchy feely birth plan questions. We reassured ourselves that she would not be our doctor, and that we'd have my beloved OBGYN.

Then we scheduled our son's birth day: November 25, 2009. We had the option of having him on December 1st, his actual due date. But since he was breech, I didn't want to risk going into labor early and being at the whim of whoever was on call at the hospital. I wasn't going to get my birth center vaginal birth, but I wanted my doctor, damn it!

Well, and also I was quite sick of being pregnant. Walking hurt. Getting out of bed hurt. Everything was uncomfortable and unpleasant and honestly? Opting out of the last week of pregnancy sounded really fucking awesome. If I was forced to have a surgical birth, I could at least enjoy some of the convenience that it offered.

And so November 25th was the day. We would check into the hospital at 2pm for a 4pm surgery. It was set.

Part III: Birth
We started the morning with a huge breakfast, since I was going to have to fast for 8 hours before the surgery and was worried about getting "hangry" (hungry+angry). I spent the rest of the morning working on a pregnancy scrapbook that I told myself I had to do before the baby came, or else it would never happen.

The birth team assembled at our house around 1:30 on the day of the birth. Despite losing my birth center plans, I'd decided to keep my same team: Andreas, of course. Our doula Dawn, who's assisted several unmedicated births and done doula training, but who's also a pediatric nurse who used to work in the NICU. And my mom, the former midwife and retired RN.

Swedish Hospital is less than a mile from our house, so it was a quick caravan down the street to check in at the Swedish hospital at 2pm. We joked around as we got lost on our way up to the 5th floor maternity ward, and eventually got checked in and waited. At my request, my mom French braided my hair before our assigned nurse came to bring us back to the prep/recovery room.

The 90 minutes of surgery prep were pretty low key. I changed into a hospital gown and ugly hospital-issued socks and sat on a reclined table. I introduced our nurse, who was relatively young, to our birth team, and my mother lied by omission about being a retired midwife, identifying herself only as a "retired RN" (true) and then going further and saying that she had been an OB nurse (not true).

"Oh!" our nurse said. "Where did you practice?"

"Kitsap County," my mom hedged.

"So you were at Harrison Hospital then?" our nurse asked.

"Many years ago," was my mom's semi-lie non-answer.

Then the nurse asked me a bunch of standardized questions about my health and pregnancy, and then some interesting bigger picture questions (but still scripted) questions like "Do you feel supported in this pregnancy?" and "Do you feel like you have good coping skills?" As odd as the questions were, I appreciated that they were asked.

I had an IV inserted, and we talked to the nurse about our birth plans. She was relatively accommodating about some of our requests (delaying the eye goo for as long as possible, having Andreas holding the baby for as long as possible immediately after birth, etc.)

One of the odder moments of surgery prep was when it came time to shave off the top of my pubic hair. "Do you mind if I do this in front of them?" the nurse asked, gesturing to my husband, my mother, and my dear friend. I shrugged. It felt pretty low on the spectrum of pregnancy humiliations, and realistically this was the same team that would be witnessing my abdomen getting sliced open and my uterus being pulled out of my body to be stitched up – so what's a little public pubic grooming?

Half an hour before the surgery, my beloved OBGYN came in for a consultation. She and I have a super friendly relationship, so it was great to see her. She showed me that she'd brought her pink surgical hair cover to match my hair (aww!) and told us about her medical aid trip to Ethiopia. I introduced her to the birth team – she knew my mom was a retired midwife, but didn't blow our cover. I mentioned that I'd love to have my birth team with me in the operating room, and she told us (as we knew) that ultimately it was up to the anesthesiologist to decide who they'd let in, but that things were pretty restricted due to H1N1 flu concerns.

Fifteen minutes before the surgery was scheduled to begin, the anesthesiologist came in to consult with us. He was a German named Hans Horscha, which Andreas immediately approved of and was excited by – although he never did out himself as a German speaker. Dr. Hans quickly ran through the process he'd be doing with me – a spinal block, bla bla bla – and then I pitched him with my plea to allow everyone into the room. He was non-committal, but said he'd think about it – as long as everyone promised to stay out of the way. I emphasized that both Dawn and my mother were RNs who'd observed many c-sections and were comfortable and respectful of operating room protocols.

There was a brief moment when I realized I could have music in the OR – but realized we hadn't brought a CD – only an iPod. But we had a boombox! Could we bring in the iPod boombox, if we wiped it down with alcohol? It felt like I was asking a lot, but Dr. Hans was pretty understanding and said it was ok.

With still no solid answer about who would be let into the OR, Andreas and my mother were given oompa loompa surgical suits to put on. I mused on the amount of trash a hospital must produce in any given day. The nurse warned us that while the baby would have a very round head (unlike the cone-heads of many vaginally delivered babies) he would likely exhibit the odd head shape that many breech babies have.

"Their little skulls sort of look like an aerodynamic bicycle helmet," she explained. "It goes away of course, but I don't want you to be surprised." (She was right, too: Tavi has a skull shaped sort of like one of the aliens from Alien – it protrudes pretty dramatically over the back of his neck.)

A little after 4pm, it was time to go. I was instructed to waddle down the corner with Andreas and around the hall to the operating room, where I then sat on an operating table. The OR was larger than I was expecting and a bit cold. Dr. Hans gave me a local anesthetic shot on my back, and then did the spinal block. It was uncomfortable but I did my hypnobirthing breathing exercises and did just fine.

Then it was laying back on the table while the surgical team came in – accompanied by my mom. As the team assembled things, Dr. Hans tested the effects of the spinal block by holding a cold stethoscope to my chest and then my belly to see if I could sense the difference in temperature. Interestingly, at one point he decided that the block wasn't going high enough up my torso, so he just tipped the table a bit to take advantage of gravity. All these high tech drugs and beeping machines, and ultimately it comes down to using gravity to get the drugs to flow where they're needed. HA!

At this point, I was completely numb from mid-chest down. I could feel the nurses arranging me on the table – it felt like my legs were in a frog pose and I had a fleeting moment of modesty before not caring. I asked Andreas to turn on the music we'd brought ("Into The Deep Blue Bindu," an ambient track co-written by our friend Rara) and I focused on my breathing to keep myself calm and focused amidst all the beeping and bright lights of the OR.

Then I heard Dawn's voice as she walked into the room. "I don't know how you did it, Ariel," she said, "But you lucked out with this surgical team!" Holy shit! Had the anesthesiologist just allowed my ENTIRE birth team into the OR!? I thanked Dr. Hans profusely. Dawn had her camera, and asked me if it was ok if she took pictures. I complied.

"Do you feel any sharpness when I pinch you here, Ariel?" my doctor asked.

"Nope," I reported. And the surgery began in earnest. First there was the sanity check, where the doctors all checked in. "Patient Ariel Stallings, here for scheduled caesarean for breech presentation."

"Yep," I said quietly, as the doctors confirmed the information. They weren't asking me, but I'm compulsively helpful.

My mother wandered by at one point and put her hands on my temples for a moment before wandering off to observe the surgery. I called her back and asked her to keep her hands on my head. Andreas was holding my left hand and doing the hyponobirthing hand stroking, although we'd practiced it with him watching my belly to match the stroking to my breathing rate, and of course he couldn't see my belly at all thanks to the surgical drape between my top half and bottom half. I was also a bit stymied in my breathing – the focus of hypnobirthing breath exercises is very much deep abdominal breaths, and I couldn't feel anything below my chest, and understood in my head that the area I was trying to breath into was currently being sliced open. So I focused on my rib cage as much as I could.

I felt the moment when they must have sliced me open and started suctioning out the amniotic fluid. Even in the weird numbed state, there was an IMMEDIATE sense of relief. An IMMEDIATE sense of Thank fucking god I'm not pregnant any more. WHEW.

I'd done my research and knew to expect the strange sensation of the doctors tugging at me – since I knew it was coming, I didn't find the sensation at all disturbing. In fact, it reminded me of being in ocean, being waffled back and forth between currents. Or maybe even of the time I did a Watsu treatment, which involved laying limply and being moved through the water by a practitioner.

Mentally, I was focusing my attention on being in a state of positive surrender and anticipation. Having my entire birth team there helped me feel deeply supported, and the fact that it was my OBGYN doing the surgery made me feel comfortable. There were no moments of fear.

Five minutes into the surgery, my doctor said "Almost got him." Another woman's voice (maybe the assisting resident? Maybe a nurse?) said "You're about to have a baby boy!"

It was a statement of the obvious, but had the desired effect of making me smile and get excited.

tavi-birth"Here he is," my doctor called out, and then asked me "Do you want us to lower the drape so you can see him?"

I answered yes, and the drape went down and there was my baby boy, covered in vernix and goo and squirming and looking healthy and very pink. I have no idea what I said (was it "OH YAY!"? it might have been) but the baby's response was to cough at me, which made me super happy. Again, I'd done a lot of research about c-section births, and had read that cesarean babies can often be sort of gurgly and slow to breath because the fluid hasn't been pushed from their lungs by traveling through the birth canal. But here was my boy, coughing on me and crying right away – bright pink and healthy and big and awesome.

I got teary (but not crying) and then the baby was carried over to the warming table a few feet to my left to be cleaned. Andreas was with him the whole way (as agreed) and I watched as he helped the nurses dry the baby and wrap him in a blanket. My mother was still at my head, telling me all about how healthy the baby looked, how great his lungs were working, and other things you'd expect a midwife to notice. No "Oh he's so cute!" but instead, "Ooh, look at that wonderful apgar!"

_MG_4913-1Then Andreas brought Tavi over to my head so that I could nuzzle his cheek. I was surprised at how quickly the baby quieted down – after a few yells during the drying process, he was wide eyed and calm. I've had many friends with colicky baby, and will admit I'd had moments of wondering, "What if the baby comes out crying and never stops!?. Dre held him close to me so that I could kiss his cheeks and say hello. Thankfully, my hands were not restrained during the surgery, and after a check with Dr. Hans, I was able to reach over and touch the baby's face.

At a certain point in the process, I started feeling a little nauseas. Dr. Hans gave me some sort of medication, and I was informed after the fact that I was probably feeling nauseous because the doctors had just lifted my uterus out of my body (guh) and had set it on my belly (shiver) where they were stitching it up. Even if you can't feel it, evidently someone reaching into your abdominal cavity and pulling out an organ can still make your body go HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

The nausea passed, and I was back to fawning at the baby. I was prepared for the fact that I wouldn't be able to hold him right away, but felt great about how much of the remaining 40 minutes of the surgery the baby was in Andreas' arms. The rest of the surgery went pretty quickly, since I could focus on the baby instead of the surgery.

I did call out at one point, "Dr. Austin?"

"Yes?" she said.

"Do you see any visual indication of why the baby was breech?" I asked.

"We were just talking about that," she answered. "I don't see anything physical that suggests why he was so stubbornly heads-up. He must have just liked it there."

Then it was back to the recovery room for a couple hours. They put some heavy narcotics into my IV at this point, and I got nauseous and overwhelmed and confused. My mom's partner and my father showed up, which was a little overwhelming, although I was happy they were able to be there, and thankfully everyone was focused on the baby so I could just lay there feeling drugged out and confused.

The baby was brought to me for breastfeeding ("Oh, Ariel!" my mother crowed, "You have the perfect breastfeeding nipples!") and he latched on immediately, which was awesome. I was feeling less than awesome though, and barfed several times during the inaugural nursing session, while still keeping the baby latched on.

After a couple hours, they wheeled me to the post-partum room — that was the worst part of the whole experience, actually. The motion of the gurney moving down the hallway made me sick, but the nurses had failed to bring my little barf bucket with us on the trek to the postpartum room. "I feel nauseous," I said.

"Almost there!" they lied.

"I'm really nauseous," I said again, and then I barfed.

Thankfully, my many years of hard partying in my 20s granted me the enviable skill of swallowing back my own vomit rather than barfing on myself. I made use of this skill to avoid yakking all over the place as they wheeled me to the postpartum room, where I spent the next two days recovering and snorgling on my newborn son.

Part IV: Reflections

I feel good about my birth experience. It wasn't what I wanted, but we did everything we could to avoid a c-section (seriously: if you've heard of a breech flipping method, I tried it. Twice.) and so I don't feel any sense of failure or disappointment in myself for somehow not making an unmedicated vaginal delivery happen.

Part of this is feeling well-prepared both emotionally and logistically. I think there's an understandable tendency, when working toward one vision of your birth, to avoid thinking about the undesirable alternatives. Unfortunately, I think this can result in feeling shocked and unprepared if the outcome doesn't go the way you want – and I've had friends who've described their post-cesarean recovery as feeling like PTSD.

Since my c-section was scheduled, I had several weeks to do my research about what the surgery would entail, make arrangements for how to make it as good as possible, and prepare myself emotionally for the realities of a heavily medicalized hospital birth. A big part of this was releasing that I'd be able to control everything. I talked to a lot of friends who'd had c-sections and got tips and advice from their experiences.

I think we also just got lucky. I'm lucky to have an OBGYN I have a nice personal connection with, who was so caring with me through the process. We totally lucked out with having an anesthesiologist who allowed my entire birth team in. I still have no idea if my OBGYN pulled some strings for us, if the fact that the two extra people both had RN experience, or if Dr. Hans was just a nice guy. But it made a huge difference to feel so supported.

Although it was odd to be having these two discordant experiences simultaneously – on one half of the room was this deeply emotional moment of meeting my son, and then a couple feet away was full surgery. I mean, when was the last time you were WIDE AWAKE while undergoing major abdominal surgery? Let alone, being wide awake and having this intense emotional experience of meeting your child? It was discordant and a bit of a collision of emotions and logistics. I felt grounded through the experience, but was definitely glad when it was over.

I'll repeat myself again here: Even if the surgery wasn't the birth I envisioned, and if Swedish hospital's operating room wasn't the environment I'd envisioned, thanks to preparation and some luck, I did manage to have the emotional atmosphere I had envisioned for my son's birth. And ultimately, that's what matters most to me.

For that, I am thankful.

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  1. I'm getting a bit weepy because I think we have almost the same birth story. I just found out a bit later that he was breech so I only had about 2 weeks to try and fail to turn him, and get used to the c-section idea. It still bothers me to this day, even though I know it's what we had to do, but I know I didn't put as much thought into how I could improve the experience, I just stayed sad about it. And I did not know about the part where they pull out your uterus to stitch it out – I'm so creeped out!! But I think these are wise words if we ever end up needing a c-section again. Anyway, thank you for your story, it feels good to read such a similar experience. (PS it's my birthday today too!)

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  2. That was so lovely. I don't know you at all, and both of my birth stories are so different, but what a nice thing to read on thanksgiving – something to be truly thankful for.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing, Ariel! I think one of the awesome things about both Offbeat Mama and Offbeat Bride is the implicit message that we don't have control over everything in life, and that's OK. We plan for what we can.

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  4. Wonderful and Beautiful!
    But shame on you Ariel! I'm suppose to be cleaning the house for Thanksgiving while the husband is out with the baby, and instead I'm reading… Gah!

    Oh… Happy Birthday Little Tavi! You have an awesome Mama!

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  5. Thank you so much for your story. Although I'm hoping for vaginal birth, your story took a lot of the fear out of the possibility of needing a c-section.

  6. Beautifully written and a divine baby!

    What a shame that there was no one to support you in a vaginal breech. The controversial 'Breech Trial' which recommended csections has been debunked but the fallout is now that many Obs and midwives don't have the skills to assist in breech birth. The skills have been lost to modern surgical obstetrics. x

    • Yeah, I worked through frustration about that — but ultimately just making the best I could with the current state of things. It felt like a better use of my energy to come to my own sense of well-being than to direct my energy toward being angry about it.

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  7. There's totally nothing wrong with a c-section birth, it's just different!! I mean, the whole point of birth is to get the baby out, so who cares really how it comes out? I really enjoyed reading your birth story Ariel, and I hope Tavi had a great birthday.

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  8. i wish i thought of asking if i could have music in the room for my c-section! that would have been a totally awesome idea to fill all the awkward beeping after my son was born

    and my youngest was a grunter and actually ended up with a numalthorax (the hospital gave him oxygen then he ended up with "spots" of fluid in his lungs and stomach because of the oxygen) which is actually really common in c-sections

  9. Do you know how long we've been waiting to hear your story Ariel? Ever since you said he was breech last year I've been dying to know how things turned out for you. I'm so pleased that even though it wasn't the experience you were hoping and planning for initially that it was still such a positive birth experience and birth story – even with all the yaking! Congratulations and please wish sweet Tavi a Happy Birthday from me and my little 7 month old Chiara. Does Tavi like younger girls? Maybe we can arrange something 20 years down the road. 🙂

  10. This was an amazing (and definitely my favourite) birth story. Thank you so much for sharing!

    I am due with my first in April, but since every woman in my family has given birth vaginally without complications, I havent really read up about c-sections as much as I probably should have! I tend to skim over that section of my baby books and to be honest its a bit of the old fingers in the ears "la la la" denial that it could happen to me.

    Your post has really got me thinking about the emotional atmosphere I want to create for my birth and how to achieve that, regardless of whether bub is coming out the door or the window.

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  11. A beautiful birth story!
    Unrelated question: Where on earth did you get that gorgeous dress in your pregnancy photo at the top?

  12. Lovely story. I wrote my very boring birth story down not long after my son was born, for no particular reason other than to remind myself as he gets older. I think it's special to remember that precious time as your baby is being born.

    It was so great to read that you had a positive birth experience even if you didn't get the one you were hoping for. When I was discussing this at antenatal classes during my pregnancy, we were talking about what could go wrong and change your birth plans etc and someone piped up that "it doesn't matter, as long as the baby's healthy!" Whilst I agree that the baby's health is the most important thing, I think it's also important to feel that you have control and are happy with all the decisions made regarding your labour. It's great to hear that you got the c-section birth that you didn't want, the way you wanted it! Well done!

  13. Random but true thoughts I had reading this:
    ~Who'd a thought hard partying would help when you had a kid?

    ~"hangry" (hungry+angry)Great phrase, I know just what that feels like.
    I am adding this word to my vocabulary and teaching it to my friends.

    ~You're so brave! Just reading about the spinal tap made me scared.I'm really glad your surgery went well over all.

    ~You handle change so well, pat yourself on the back!

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  14. Beautiful birth story Ariel, I really commend you for sharing it with everyone. I think a lot of people will find value in learning from your excellent example.

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  15. I can't say this story made me comfortable with possibly having a c-section, but it did make me more accepting of it. I am not against a c-section in general, but I HATE surgery, and will do pretty much anything to avoid it. Not the best fear considering a c-section is sometimes the best birth. Still, at least I know that I can advocate to not have my hands tied down and stuff like that… those lil' things are HUGE to me!

  16. What a great birth story. My daughter was born just a few days before your son. Your story hits home a bit. We discovered my baby was breech at 36 weeks and I FREAKED out. We were planning a homebirth and I was just devastated at the thought of losing that. I did find out that there were two OBs in my area (also WA state) that would attempt a breech vaginal delivery, but I knew my chances were pretty high of having a c/s. I went through all those emotions too.

    Thankfully, we were able to get her flipped and got our homebirth. With her, I had a placenta that was attached high in the uterus and she had a short cord. Even when she was head down she was really high until delivery.

    I'm glad you had a good experience and that you are at peace with it. That's so important! Happy 1st birthday!

  17. I never cry at birth stories but I'm bawling right now. That was beautiful, Ariel. The picture of your husband leaning down to you holding your son is just amazing and precious. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Thank you so much for this post Ariel! This was exactly what I needed to read, as I'm trying to come to terms with the possibility of having an induction (and the interventions that tend to go along with one, ugh) in a couple weeks. I love the idea that even if you can't have your ideal birth, you can still focus on your own emotional state.

    Thanks for sharing! Oh, and happy birthday to Tavi!

  19. Having a baby who decided to flip from super deeply low head-down engaged (where he'd happily been for many weeks!) to breech DURING LABOR, I wish I had read up more about cesareans beforehand! He was SO low for SO long that it seemed a sure thing, my body seemed well-shaped for labor, my mother's labor with me was super easy and short (no drugs!), and I was totally determined to do the natural midwife birth. A c-section seemed unthinkable! I would have even tried a breech delivery, but he chose to settle into the footling breech position – feet first! Only 3% of breech babies are footling breech positioned, and it carries a 15+% risk of cord prolapse. Even labor attendants normally willing to do breech births wouldn't risk it. I wish I had planned more seriously for the c-section contingency rather than the brief token thought I had given it. Although it ended up being okay, it wasn't a stellar experience by any means. A little more planning would have gone a long way!

  20. Just beautiful. I had to go back and re- read the end because I got all mama-weepy during the story. you are so gifetd at touching the heart of things Ariel, keeping perspective about what should endure- love and personal connections of all sorts. I'm so glad you share these things with us.

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  21. So very glad to hear that yours was a happy, and joyful c-section. I'm a mama to two with three on the way and I got lucky with two homebirths. I'm also a labor RN and I work hard to get moms the births they "want" (knowing of course that most things are out of our hands and all just the whims of the universe) Last night we had a labor patient who wanted a waterbirth and we were moving in that direction when we she was found to be breech. I feel like we failed her, in that case, and which she had been diagnosed breech prior to that so that she could have prepared herself. I'm really glad I read your story this morning, there is no "perfect way" to give birth and I'm so happy you had loving support and a team which was respectful of your desires. Much love to you and your babe and your family.

  22. a friend sent me a link to this, and it's wonderful. my baby is 37 weeks and breech, and i've been trying all the techniques, so far with no success. my ecv is in two days. i have a homebirth planned too. the jury is still out, but this story helps me feel SO MUCH BETTER about whatever happens, and gives me a good idea of what a scheduled c-section for a natural mom can look like. thank you.

  23. THANK YOU. I hang with a pretty crunchy-granola group of moms who believe in (and two of whom have had) home births/natural births, etc…I do too, but haven't had that experience and have kind of been made to feel like a huge failure for having had my son via C-section. And BELIEVE me, that's how I've felt too. I felt like I just quietly gave in to the doctor, didn't advocate for myself at all, didn't really get a good reason as to why I even had to have the C-section. I still kind of feel like if I had spoken up, I would have been allowed to labor naturally and at least get a shot at having the kind of birth I wanted. But I also feel that things happen the way they're meant to and maybe if I had disagreed with the doctor and been stubborn, something would have gone wrong in the process and I wouldn't have the big, strong, healthy 3-year-old boy I have today.

    So I really appreciate you telling your story! We don't always get the birth experience we envision, but as long as we get the expected prize at the end of it, it kind of doesn't matter anymore.

  24. Wow! I feel like I just read my own birth story! I, too, tried everything to flip Sage in the 2.5 weeks I knew she was breach. In the end there was no obvious reason why she preferred to hang out head up in utero, but because I had tried all the options from super woo-woo to medical, I went into surgery without feeling guilt.
    Our hospital was wonderful; my husband was able to hold her immediately and I was able to watch them weigh her, etc. from a little screen by my head. Sage & my husband have a very close bond and I can't help but wonder if his holding her for most of her first hour contributed to that.
    While it's not the natural water birth we had initially planned, it's still a wonderful memory for my husband and I and we have no regrets.

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