Alice Ann was birthed into the world by cesarean at 9:21 in the morning on July 7. She weighed in at 6 pounds 7 ounces, measuring 18 and 3/4 inches long.
Let’s backtrack to the 37th week, two weeks before Alice was born. Henry and I went to my weekly check-up together, to have “The Talk” with our doctor. “The Talk” was rendered moot when Alice’s breech presentation was discovered on the ultrasound. That one word, BREECH, completely changed the tone of everything.
In the doctor’s office, following the examination, we discussed our options, and an appointment for a cesarean was immediately scheduled, along with an appointment for an external version. The doctor suggested several homeopathic techniques for turning a breech baby, answered our few questions and sent us on our way.
We left, a little shocked and surprised. The natural birth we’d been preparing for and envisioning was suddenly and abruptly shut down. After much discussion, we opted not to do the external version. The reported success rate had a range both too wide and too low for me to want to suffer such a painful and invasive procedure. So, we pursued homeopathic remedies.
We also tried the breech tilt, an old midwives’ technique that involves laying on the floor with one’s legs and torso at a 30 degree angle, the idea being that such a position would help the baby disengage from the pelvis and turn around. We also tried singing songs to Alice involving the idea of turning, like “Turn Turn Turn,” “Spin Me Round,” and the Hokey-Pokey. 🙂
In the meantime, I was running the gamut of emotions, almost as if I were going through the stages of grief–feeling shock, sadness, anger, denial and finally, acceptance. In a way, I did lose something. It was the death of an ideal, a vision, and I had to find a way to reclaim that vision, to regain my ownership over Alice’s birth. I did some visualization exercises to help me sort through all those emotions, taking a page from Birthing from Within.
I had my last check-up on July 3rd and Alice was still presenting breech. At this point, I was focusing on the positive aspects of the situation, number one being that we would get to meet our baby sooner! I went home to wait out the long July 4th weekend, trying to relax as much as possible.
The morning of the 7th finally arrived (after what felt like the LONGEST weekend of my life). We left the house early to be at the hospital by 6am, to prep for the OR. After filling out the paperwork we were immediately taken into the triage room. I was poked and prodded by a friendly nurse while Henry sat by my side, listening to a laboring woman in another room curse out her husband, dropping F-bombs like there was no tomorrow.
When my younger sister arrived, we sent Henry off to get himself a badly needed coffee. In the meantime, another ultrasound was done, just to be sure (I hoped against hope here). Henry made it back in time to see my shuffle off to the OR (that was weird– I’d envisioned a gurney ride). I was poked and prodded again, this time for the spinal, which I’d requested for it’s short life, and contained a 24 hour pain medication (no itching! yay!).
As my body went numb, I had the surreal sensation of being out of my body, watching all this activity, aware that things were going on, and also beginning to feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness as I lay there, naked and vulnerable, waiting for Henry to appear at my side. I suddenly became stricken by the fear that they’d forgotten him out in the hallway and I began asking for him.
I was badly trying to hold myself together but as soon as Henry’s face came into view, I was so relieved. The floodgates opened and I cried throughout the procedure. Henry was fantastic. I couldn’t talk because of the oxygen mask, and I couldn’t read Henry’s lips because of his mask but we maintained eye contact the whole time, and I could imagine what he was saying underneath that mask.
He told me over and over again that he loved me. Before we knew it, he was called to take a picture as Alice was lifted up and out. Henry left my side to be with her. We had made it clear that we didn’t want her bathed, nor did we want her vernix wiped off. After Alice was bundled up, Henry brought her to me. I nuzzled her face, my arms still encumbered by needles and tubing as I was carefully sewn up again.
Henry stayed with Alice while I was wheeled to recovery. We were reunited shortly after and I was able to feed Alice in the recovery room with help from my mom and sister. Before I was transferred to my room, Alice was taken to the nursery to be warmed up when her temperature was discovered to be on the low side. Again, Henry stayed with Alice the whole time.
She joined me in my room 20 minutes later, quelling my biggest fear–being apart from Alice for an extended period of time. We roomed together for the next four days, with the exception of a night under the bili-light to treat her mild jaundice. We finally brought Alice home on Thursday, July 10th.
We quickly settled into a routine while I recovered and learned the fine art of breastfeeding (an emotional and frustrating but ultimately rewarding experience). I will never understand those who say they prefer C-sections, but I’ve come to accept my experience, thanks to the tremendous support Henry and I have received from our doula, my mother and my older sister.