My husband and I chose to have a midwife deliver our baby as I was not impressed with my gynecologist when I went to a pre-conception appointment. I asked his advice on what I should do differently if I were to become pregnant, and he told me not to drink alcohol. After some other terse replies to questions I had, he concluded our appointment and hurried off to the next patient. My husband and I conceived two months later, and when I met with my midwives at three-months along, I learned that most professionals recommend folic acid for all women of child-bearing age. It had made me angry that the gynecologist hadn’t given me this information before I got pregnant.
I was thrilled with the service the midwives provided and so glad I switched to them. They really took the time to educate us about every aspect of the pregnancy and aftercare for Baby and me. They provided highly personalized care and decision-making guidance throughout the whole process.
I was fortunate that my entire pregnancy went very smoothly with no unpleasant symptoms. As the due date approached, however, we discovered that my baby was in a breech position and the midwives are not authorized to deliver breech babies. When the baby still hadn't turned two weeks before my due date, I went to the hospital for a “version” which is the external, manual manipulation of the baby to change its position. It was an excruciating ten minutes–worse than all the labor pains to come–but I hung in there. So did the baby. The doctors were able to rotate the baby about 30 degrees, but at that point he or she just wasn't going to budge further! As soon as their attempt at a version was finished, the baby went back to the same position it had been in for months. Stubborn, just like us, my husband and I thought!
We then faced the big decision of whether to have the baby via C-section or to attempt a vaginal birth. I was deathly afraid of a C-section, so I chose to have the baby the way nature intended. My due date came, went, and then began to look like a date in history. Eight days after I was due, the midwife said it was time to schedule an induction. I was sad that my body didn't seem to know what to do, but I made the appointment. Wouldn't you know it, that night that I awoke in a puddle. My water had broken on its own! I was so excited!
We scurried to the hospital, where I was checked into a room and examined. My husband fell asleep immediately. It was about 3:30 in the morning, but I found it really hard to sleep because of my excitement and the frequent interruptions by the nurses to check on me.
I had regular contractions that got stronger as the hours passed, and things progressed smoothly. In fact, my husband and I were really enjoying the brief walks we could take when the nurses disconnected me from the machines. By 2:30 in the afternoon I was dilated to only about three centimeters, so they started a Pitocin drip. Soon I learned what real contractions were all about. That was the end of the together time for my husband and me. I needed quiet and solitude to focus on my breathing.
After a few hours, I got to five centimeters. All that time, all that work, for virtually nothing. My doctor increased the dosage of Pitocin to speed things up. My original elation had dissipated by now and was quickly being replaced with a sense of dread. I was afraid of the inevitable increase in the intensity and frequency of the contractions.
And rightfully so. I remember little of this time because I focused on my breathing so much. My eyes were shut nearly the entire time. I do remember begging for an epidural and my midwife and the doctor explained I wasn't dilated enough to get one. I nearly cried, but knowing it would do no good, I instead requested any kind of pain relief they could offer. Out the window went our careful considerations during Lamaze to not use drugs during labor and delivery! They said I could get a shot of morphine, and without even questioning the potential side effects and dangers, I agreed emphatically.
The morphine was just the thing I needed. It made the contractions easier to endure and granted me some rest in between. At around 10:00 p.m., I noticed things were different. I was groggy, but awake, since the morphine had all but completely worn off, and I had a strange urge to push. My husband helped me through the panting and called in the nurse, then the midwife, then the doctor. When I was checked, I was at nine and a half! The party was about to begin!
It was such great encouragement to know that in the foreseeable future this baby was indeed going to be out of my body, and I felt like cheering. I was transferred to the O.R. as a precaution in case something went wrong with the delivery. People began to assemble in the room. In all, about ten to fifteen were there at varying times, in addition to my husband and me, because everyone wanted to learn from this delivery as it is relatively rare to deliver breech babies vaginally.
Finally, like a great orchestra conductor, the senior doctor who was practiced in these deliveries gave me my cue, and it was like music to my ears: "You can push any time you feel like it." Suddenly, I wasn't sure that I knew how to push! I thought I would remember what I learned in my prenatal classes, but when push came to shove (pun intended), I wasn't so clear on how to do it. I asked the nurse, “Um, how should I push?” She replied, “Like you're having the B.M. of a lifetime.” So I pushed. And then again. And again. I fell asleep between every push, I was so tired. Finally, the baby's little bottom came into view. And then, his genitals came out, along with a stream of urine. Everyone laughed and I couldn’t focus when they were pointing at my private region and chuckling, so I asked them to exercise a little self-restraint for my benefit. The doctor eased out the baby’s legs at that point, and I experienced great relief. I thought, “Hey, nothing to it, just a few more minutes and this baby will be completely in the world.”
Suddenly two of the doctors appeared to dive into my vaginal canal. I screamed like I have never screamed in my life. What my husband later explained was that one of the baby's arms was straight up (which apparently is not preferable), and when they went to pull it down they discovered that the cord was wrapped around his neck a couple of times. In hindsight, it is no wonder the version had been unsuccessful. They were using forceps and their hands to free him. Once that minute or two of sheer horror passed, it took only a couple more pushes to deliver his head. At 12:21 a.m., after nearly two hours of pushing, all eight pounds, 13 ounces of my baby was born! Euphoria! Elation! Happiness! Contentment! Completely gone were my exhaustion and my pain. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing and I hope my story will help other couples facing the choice of how to deliver a baby in a breech presentation.