Ysobel had decided some time ago she was content with her heads up position and remained comfortably breech. I, too, was comfortable with her position, having decided to follow her lead and trust her to decide how she’d like to be.
Matt and I were at the hospital for a scan on the Wednesday morning gathering more information to assist us in making the best decision regarding the option of an elective caesarean vs a vaginal birth. The scan told us she was in the frank position and on the large side. We left feeling optimistic about the possibility of a natural birth and celebrated with a big lunch in a cafe.
At about 1.30pm, as we were swapping drivers and dropping Matt back at work, my waters broke! We swung past home to pick up bags, change and grab some towels. (Of course, the lift was full of people in our apartment building… what to do when your’e leaking amniotic fluid into your shoes in public is not something I’d covered in my birth preparation!).
Back in hospital, they checked me and gave me the all clear to go home for 24 hours to see if anything happened. As this totally contradicted what we’d previously been told to expect, I was stoked to think that we may be allowed to go with the flow of things in our own space. Before we could leave, however, a senior obstetrician and registrar stopped us to discuss our scan results from earlier that day and their consequent concerns.
Despite having “two weeks” cooking time left, they estimated Ysobel at being 3.9kg (with a 15% error margin) and pointed out that for babies 4kg and over, a breech vaginal birth is not recommended under hospital policy. She also had a head measurement that was off the scale on the large side. Both doctors confirmed that these factors increase the risk of things going amiss with a vaginal birth and reiterated their subsequent concerns. In light of these details, Matthew and I decided we did not want to gamble with her safety and opted for an elective caesarian… something I’d had to consider and accept as a real possibility over preceding weeks.
Within an hour of making this decision, I went into established labour (with regular contractions every 2-4 minutes). Prior to being prepped for theatre I had dilated a couple of centimetres and laboured for about 4 hours. Perhaps the hardest thing about the whole experience was not being allowed to drink any water during this time.
A story Tracey told in the calmbirth course about a woman having an unplanned caesarean had stayed with me and I was determined that regardless of how my daughter entered the world, I would be calm, relaxed and without fear. Thanks to my calmbirth and yoga breathing preparations, I was calmly breathing my way through my few hours of labour, the 45 minutes it took for the anaesthetist to perform a successful spinal block, and the operation itself.
Ysobel was born with an apgar score of 9, her feet around her head and a comforting protest at the lights and activity that greeted her upon her arrival. Thanks to our brief labour, she did not need any help breathing and both she and I were a little more prepared than we might otherwise have been.
In accepting the possibility of having to have a c-section, perhaps my greatest concern had been in relation to the potential interruption of the bonding process. Unfortunately, as they were very busy, I was unable to have Ysobel with me in recovery and had only a minute to ‘see’ her prior to her leaving with Matthew for the maternity ward. Again, the fact that they were busy meant I was stuck in recovery for an hour after I was given the all clear to go, waiting for an available wardsman to wheel me back. Basically, my concerns were realised, but I continued to employ my meditative mind set and remained peacefully patient. I was determined not to let any negativity cloud my experience.
I think I dealt with that hour and half better than Matthew did. Although he was cuddling Ysobel skin-to-skin and bonding with his daughter, he describes that time as ‘bitter-sweet’ as he keenly felt my absence. Despite the wait, Ysobel and I bonded happily and she fed as if she’d done it before. No dramas.
I am grateful for the opportunity to prepare mentally for any eventuality and do not have any regrets about our decisions. I feel I had truly surrendered to a “whatever happens” mentality and am so happy for both Ysobel and myself that we were able to experience some labour as well. I feel like my body did all it could naturally, and I’d have total faith in myself should I ever do this again!
Canberra Hospital were great in their support and provision of information. At no time did I feel I was being ‘told’ what to do. The midwives and staff we dealt with were all fantastic.
While this was not the birth story I had anticipated initially, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
I’d like to thank you so much for your support and assistance. Despite the complications we experienced, I felt empowered and informed throughout the process. Your calm assurances in my preparation can definitely be credited in my ability to greet our daughter in peace and love!