Breech and beautiful — Oscar’s birth story
I would like to say my pregnancy was uneventful but it really wasn’t. Perhaps my anxiety about my baby didn’t help, but all we wanted was a healthy baby.
A growth scan at 32 weeks revealed our little man was breech, and footling breech at that. I knew that would mean a caesarean. I was disappointed about not being able to have a natural birth but it was a small price to pay for a healthy baby. His growth was fine, so we were happy and I still held out some hope that he would turn. I also tried every physical position that I read that encouraged babies to turn. We played music down low on my tummy and shone a torch down there too. I swam a few times a week, did handstands in the pool, scrubbed my floors on my hands and knees and constantly rubbed my tummy and tried to talk bub into turning. Another growth scan at 35 weeks showed that bub was still breech, but had moved his little foot and was know frank breech. I had a glimmer of hope for a natural birth. I had been having acupuncture before we conceived and turned once again to my therapist for help after getting to 36 weeks with no change in bubs position. Matt put aside the sceptic in him for me and burnt a moxa stick near my little toe every night for 2 weeks. After this and a failed manual turning by my obstetrician I resigned myself to the fact that bub didn’t want to move and that was ok.
Now that bub was frank breech also meant a natural birth was possible. I was just very lucky that I had chosen an obstetrician who was confident in vaginal breech delivery, although he had strict rules to ensure the safety of my baby and I. One of those rules was that bub had to be in the frank breech position. I ticked that box. The next thing in my favour was that bub wasn’t going to be a big baby. People often commented on how ‘small’ my growing tummy was and at times it would get me down, but growth scans and a positive husband would always reassure me and my Obstetrician said the baby would be ‘average’ size. The next rules were that bub had to come by the due date (although he ended up giving me 2 days spare!) and that labour had to be spontaneous and progress normally, any delays etc would end in a caesarean. He also warned me that having a vaginal breech would be more difficult as it was my first child. I felt safe in his hands and although I knew there was a high risk that the birth would end in a caesarean I also felt a sense of empowerment as my baby had every chance to come when he was ready. It was a chance for my body to do something naturally, and that was something I felt I had not experienced very much in the past 2 and even more years.
Now I did not want a vaginal birth purely for my own satisfaction and I would’ve accepted my Doctor’s opinion if he had suggested otherwise, but I felt that I was capable, and that it was a normal and natural experience. Yes, I was scared of a caesarean, although I know plenty of women who had recently had them and for them it was a positive experience. So as my due date approached Matt and I became more and more anxious to meet our baby and I had to accept that a caesarean was becoming more and more likely, especially when we were booked in for the Friday (2 days after my due date.)
On my due date morning, I woke early as usual when Matt got up for work. I walked on the treadmill for a while (nice and close to a toilet as my bladder was almost non-existent at this point!). I then took the dog for a walk through the bush. I walked for 11kms in total and had been doing this every day throughout my pregnancy unless I was at the gym or swimming. I found it energising.
Once home I showered and ate breakfast. I felt a little ‘off’ but had felt like that before and put it down to the long walk. For the past couple of days I had been a frequent visitor to the toilet and was convinced bub was totally squashing my bladder and bowels, and this day was no different. I had also experienced ‘on and off’ period pain for over a week and today it returned, although it was more in my lower back. I went to the shops to print off some photos and decided to leave the food shopping until the next day, I needed to get home and rest. After lunch I still noticed those slight pains so I timed them. Five minutes apart. I had a little giggle. I just couldn’t imagine going into labour! I rang the midwives and she said it sounded positive and to keep an eye on things (leaking fluid or a show) and call her back in a couple of hours. I told her that baby was breech and although she sounded a little surprised she said as long as I was happy at home it was all fine. Contractions continued although they were definitely bearable, even to the point that I was afraid if I moved too much they would stop! I actually enjoyed the thought I my body was doing something natural and I didn’t want it to stop!
I rang Matt and he came home from work. He timed contractions for me and still they stayed at 4-6minutes apart. Both my Mum and Mother-in-law rang me during this time ‘just to see how I was going’. My Mum-in-law even asked if I was getting any twinges and I lied through my teeth! We decided it was too early to be telling anyone, and we didn’t want any hype or everyone knowing that things ‘could’ be happening. It was our private moment – just for us to enjoy solely together. I rang the Midwife at 3.30 to check in and she asked the same questions as before and if I was comfortable, then to call her back in two hours unless anything changed. The contractions were definitely getting stronger, but Matt and I tried to relax with a few games of cards and laughing at how ‘this could be it’! I guess it was surreal for me. I could never imagine going into labour. In fact, after a year of IVF I couldn’t imagine being 40 weeks pregnant or holding my own baby, yet here I was, my body doing something that it was meant to do and it was becoming more and more likely that I would have a baby before my scheduled caesarean.
By 5.30 the contractions continued to increase in intensity, although they were still bearable and I could still talk through them. I rang Sue, the midwife, again and she recommended we come in to monitor baby for a little while. We parked the car in the underground car park – no need to park out the front as I could easily walk. We met Sue and immediately liked her. The monitors were placed on and we waited. We joked that it would probably all stop now we were in there, but they continued and we could see the contractions and our baby’s perfect heart beat on the monitor. I had an examination and was slightly disappointed to be only 2cm dilated, considering I was 1cm two weeks ago. I asked Sue if she thought it could stop and she said it was unlikely and that my baby would be here that night or the next day. It was so exciting to hear that! We were going to be parents soon! I felt confident and empowered to birth my baby naturally any only briefly reminded myself that it could end in theatre – but now I was finding that hard to imagine. Sue also commented that my contractions were still ‘mild’. I laughed and thought “Oh this is going to get painful!” She rang my Obstetrician and I was give the all clear to go home if I wanted or we could go up to the ward. Sue said it would probably be another three to four hours before anything would really start to happen and that then it can take over an hour to push your first baby out! We decided to go and rest at home.
Matt suggested a movie on the way home – sounded like a great idea to keep me distracted! By now it was 8pm I had to stop talking momentarily with each contraction. We put the movie on and I began to walk around the lounge room with each contraction. They were painful, but I loved it – my baby was getting closer. In hindsight they obviously weren’t that painful and what would probably be classed as pre-labour I squatted down to prepare for another contraction and suddenly felt an intense and sharp pain very low in my abdomen followed by a ‘gush!’ I said “There goes my waters!” as I waddled to the bathroom.
My excitement turned to slight panic as I realised that my ‘waters’ were actually almost black and it was thick. The midwife at my Obstetrician had warned me that it was common for breech babies to do their first poo in utero, but I think the sheer volume of it, coupled by the huge increase in the pain and intensity of the contractions really hit me all at once. I began to vomit. I also realised I had had ‘the show’ when my waters broke too. I began to yell and wail with each contraction and was sick a few more times. Poor Matt – the bathroom was a mess and so was I! Hewas trying his best to comfort me and get everything together so we could go. I told him I didn’t think I could leave the bathroom, I certainly didn’t think I would be able to get in the car and drive the 10 mins to the hospital! Somehow we did though! I sat on a towel and cried out with each contraction and telling Matt not to speed!
As we drove I noticed that after each contraction I felt so tired I had to close my eyes as if I would fall asleep. We parked right out the front of the hospital (no walking this time) and I waddled in at around 9.20pm. I was in intense pain now and when in the delivery suite I went straight to the toilet. Sue came in and talked to me before convincing me to lay on the bed so they could monitor the baby again. They did this and baby was fine, but I found the need to be on the bed very restricting and it magnified the pain. Sue and Andrea (the midwife on the next shift) encouraged me to breath, as did Matt. They offered me a tablet to stop me feeling sick and said once it had dissolved I could try the gas. I had always said I would like to try labour without drugs but that I would never say never! I readily agreed to the tablet. Although I knew monitoring the baby was ensuring bubwas safe, I hated being bed-bound and felt it made the pain worse. I begged them to take the monitors off. Sue examined me and said it wouldn’t be long – I was 6cm dilated. I’m pretty sure I told her not to lie to me! It was then she said “I’m not lying to you. My shift finished 20 minutes ago and I’m still here because it won’t be long” Now that is caring!
As the contractions continued I felt the need to ‘go to the toilet’ and again begged them to take the monitors off so I could go. They told me to just go on the bed! Horror horror! “Yeah right” I thought! Sue and Andrea told me to ‘breath’ and soon Matt was saying this too. I wanted to talk to him between contractions but felt a deep urge to ‘sleep’ between each one and involuntarily closed my eyes until the next wave came. I had been in the delivery suite for about an hour when Sue told me I could get up. I thought “Oh good, I can go to the bathroom” but no, it was time to push! I was shocked. I thought I had hours of labour left, and was contemplating wether the gas would be effective enough! So I stood up and moved to the birthing stool. Matt sat on the chair behind me and I sat on the horse-shoe shaped seat (so that I was in a squat position). Now I was told to push. The contractions suddenly felt different, not as painful but the urge to push was over-whelming!
Andrea offered to take photos and I began to feel things start to ‘stretch’. I thought ‘My god this is going to hurt when bub finally comes down and out but after only a few pushes I looked down and saw ‘something’ coming out of me. I had no idea what it was, so I asked! Sue laughed as she said, “What do you think it is?” I had a little giggle as I guess it was my little boys ‘bits’! He was already down and coming out! I felt a new energy inside me. The pain I was feeling was the real thing and my original thoughts of the pushing taking hours and hurting even more began to disappear. He was coming out now!
My obstetrician casually walked in (he is always so calm!) and knelt in front of me with Sue. Between contractions I felt no pain and I had to laugh to myself at the situation. Here I was with just a singlet top on, squatting on this chair with two people kneeling in front of me – looking! Nice. But the contractions soon threw any modesty out of the door. The offered to hold the mirror up. At first I declined but then remembered Matt had always said he wanted to watch so I asked them to hold it up.
Although I initially thought it might make things ‘hurt’ more to actually see what was happening to my body I actually found it so amazing and surreal – like an out of body experience. My confidence in my body went up again as I watched my baby’s bottom come out. I didn’t see his leg pop out, or when the Ob flicked the other one out, but I did feel it. I felt baby move as he hung half out – must say it was quite a weird feeling! Next came one shoulder and again the Ob helped the other come out. He asked if I had another push in me for his head. I shook my head, the contraction had passed. Now think of the situation. The same as before but with more than half a baby hanging out of me!
My Ob told me the next push was for the head so it needed to be a big one. “One more push” I thought. I knew I could do it and prepared myself for a big effort. I felt the contraction begin to build and said “Here it comes!” I pushed as hard as I could. I asked Sue earlier if I was going to ‘split’ as it was a worry I had, but now nothing mattered, there was no pain, no worry just me putting everything I had into getting my baby out.
I don’t know how long that last contraction lasted. To me it barely even started before my son was placed on my lap. There are no words to describe what that was like. He wasn’t breathing, but I felt him moving. Matt quickly cut the cord before they took my boy to the waiting paediatrician. They gave me an injection to speed the afterbirth up. I asked several times if my boy was ok and each time they said he was perfect. Matt shed a few tears but I think I was still too full of adrenaline to cry. The placenta seemed to take forever to come out. In reality it only took about 5 minutes but that is a long time when all you want to do is see and hold your baby! I could see them ‘working’ on him. They looked calm, even smiling, which reassured me he was ok. As I waited for the placenta my Ob told me I would need a few stitches. Well, I didn’t even feel anything tear!
When the placenta was birthed I was helped onto the bed and I was handed my beautiful boy, Oscar. It was more than love. The events of the day were but a memory, the tears of the previous year seemed a lifetime ago and any worry I had while pregnant seemed insignificant. He was perfect, in every way. My dream had come true and it really was complete happiness to be in thatmoment with my son and my husband.
I look back now and don’t remember the pain, but instead the amazing ability of the human body and the fantastic support I had both before and during the birth. Most people were shocked when I said I wanted a vaginal birth and after saying ”Oh” they often said nothing. But the few who openly supported me (and they know who they are) made a huge impact (when I refer to the medical staff who supported me I not only mean in their skills as professionals but their faith in the birth process). I feel proud and empowered that I was able to birth my boy naturally and safely. Conceiving, carrying and birthing our son has strengthened our marriage and has given me faith in myself, my body and nature.