At my 36 week midwife appointment, in a pregnancy that had gone quite smoothly and seemed rather regular and boring, the midwife discovered that our little baby was in a breech position. My heart fluttered and I cried a little on the way home from the appointment because I knew that even though I was still almost four weeks from my due date, I had a feeling that this baby was going to come even earlier than my first and I was going to have to try to convince this baby to turn if I wanted to have my planned home birth. An ultrasound very early the next morning confirmed that the round bump under my ribs was indeed a head and not a bum, which is the preferred direction to give birth. I tried every method I could research to turn the baby (taking pulsitilla, moxibustion - where a smelly stick is burnt close to your toe, the chiropractors websters technique, standing on my head in a pool, the breech tilt - VERY uncomfortable.... etc). It was exhausting and most methods were very uncomfortable or were expensive. Our last resort was an External Cephalic Version, done by a doctor, where there is an attempt to manually reposition the baby by manipulating the uterus - from the outside - to be done later in the week after meeting our mystery doctor.
But, on an evening early in November, as I was putting my son to bed and giving him a bath, contractions started to come a regularly and frequently enough for me to track down my ipod and use a contraction timer. Even though they were over a minute long and came every five minutes, I was in denial that I was in actual labour. They were easy to manage and I thought they'd probably just go away once I'd put my son to bed and could relax. Just to make sure, however, I heeded my doula's advice: to get in a warm bath. If the contractions sped up, I was in labour and if they slowed down, I probably wasn't. Of course, this was advice she had told me years ago with my first and I hadn't bothered to call her or my midwife to let them know I might be in labour. I was deep in denial, because even though I'd had a feeling that this baby was coming both early and was going to come breech, I still had to make that doctors appointment the next morning at 10:30 am in order to not go under the knife and have a c-section. While breech deliveries are certainly, in many cases, just another version of normal, most doctors are no longer trained in how to deliver them and prefer to do a c-section. All based on a flawed study done years ago that determined vaginal breech's to be unsafe for the mother and baby. I was scared that if I went into labour early I'd show up at the hospital and be forced to have surgery because no one was willing to let me attempt this naturally.
Still timing contractions in the tub, I decided to call my husband, who was at my in-laws working on his vintage Vespa Scooter rebuild. After talking to him a little, I had a contraction that I couldn't talk through and he headed home immediately. He had decided that I was in labour, even if I was still unsure. Contractions were still very manageable. If there's one thing I'm very good at, it's relaxing into labour and accepting the surges as something my body needs to go through. With no fear, there is no pain, only intensity and peace.
When my husband arrived home, I had gotten out of the tub and decided to finish packing the hospital bag. I was no longer in denial, but I wished sorely that I could have had my home birth and could have stayed in that tub. It's a beautiful, amazing thing to be surrounded by water while in labour. It's the perfect environment. My husband started to make all the calls, and would later admit that my midwife completely freaked him out by asking if we needed to call the ambulance. We'd have to wait another twenty minutes until my mom arrived to look after our oldest child, who by this point had woken up asking what all the funny noises were! I managed to kiss him and we told him that the baby would arrive soon then we were out the door in a flash and drove to the hospital that we had researched our mystery doctor would be on-call at. I had my fingers crossed the entire trip and prayed that he would deliver our baby even though we hadn't officially become his patient yet. I transitioned in the car (for those of you not up on labour terms, this is the period of time just before the "pushing" phase of labour) and started to doubt myself and doubt the situation and fear started to get the better of me. Not the hospital again! Not today! ...
We made it to the hospital, did paperwork and got to go directly up to the maternity ward (that's right, no fetal monitors this time!!!). I met our mystery doctor who was indeed going to help me deliver this breech baby and received interested smiles from nurses who were eager to see the birth. I was so relieved to see him. I even signed a "vaginal breech delivery" waiver form, allowed someone to put a needle in my arm in case I might warrant an IV, got weighed three times and allowed the doctor to check how far dialated I was (9.6cm). Still bright and cheery in-between contractions, and not having allowed anyone to tell me how "far along" I was, I found myself repeating, "Why on earth hasn't my water broke yet?". I gave an experimental push on an urge, my water broke, everyone jumped backward in sync to avoid getting messy (luckily, no one did!) and I flipped over, looked the doctor in the eye and said, "Okay, is this a good position for you? Because it's going to happen soon". One push and the atmosphere in the room changed immediately. Instead of the planned "frank" birth (bum first) a little foot emerged and our breech became a footling breech. One more push, and with a little "help" from the doctor, (to get all of his little legs and arms out the "right way") our baby was born into this world, just as perfect as can be. Six pounds, eight ounces and almost 3 weeks early.
We're at home and our little boy is two weeks old today. What was once three is now a family of four.
And so the answer is yes, the studio will be closed up for a few months! Happily, might I add.