“I just want to do a quick ultrasound to make sure he’s head down. I’m not completely sure, and at 36 weeks, I want to be completely sure.”
I smiled at the midwife nodding my head, all the while thinking, “Score! An ultrasound!”
I hadn’t seen my baby since our nineteen week appointment and was eager to see his little body swim around on the screen. She took me into another room and I pulled my shirt up again, ready for jelly. At my last two appointments, the midwives had felt my stomach and told me that our baby was head down. I was sure he was in the right position, but grateful for the extra precaution. The midwife grabbed the probe and placed it on my lower tummy, as I watched her eyes carefully.
“Hmm….” she mumbled.
She moved the probe to the top of my stomach and quickly said, “Well, I’m so glad we did this ultrasound. He’s breech.”
The words had barely left her mouth when the tears started falling. She flipped the monitor around so I could see but all I could make out were fuzzy black and white spots. How did this happen?
I tried to listen as the midwife comforted me. I heard her say something like 3% of babies at this stage are breech. THREE PERCENT? I AM IN THE THREE PERCENT?!! How can that be? Everything has been so normal. So…easy. Every prenatal appointment the midwives and nurses have said things like, “Great blood pressure!” and “Amazing heartbeat!” and “Oh my gosh, your belly looks perfect!”
I couldn’t make sense of it. What had I done wrong? Is there something wrong with him? Why won’t he turn his head down?? I left the birth center sobbing, and cried the whole way home. My sweet sweet boy….we’ve made it all this way without one complication and now three weeks before your due date, THIS?
Brett came home from work to console me, and within an hour, I had pulled myself together and was ready for action. After reading a pamphlet from the birth center and doing some research online, we had a plan in place. I was going to flip that baby around if I had to stand on my head all night. We decided to combine every home remedy into one, for the maximum potential for success. It looked a little something like this….
Me, lying upside down on an ironing board, holding a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen fried rice on the top of my stomach with a heating pad on my pubic bone and headphones securely fastened inside the top of my underwear. Meanwhile, Brett sat next to me shining a flashlight below my belly button, holding an empty toilet paper roll to my lower stomach saying things like “Baby, it’s your father….come down here…..you know you want to….step into the light.”
We repeated this process three times last night, in between forward inversions, cat-cow exercises, and a bath to help my body relax. I stepped into the tub and immediately burst out laughing. Brett had taped a picture above the faucet of a baby in the head down position with the caption, “C’mon baby! You can do it!!!”
When I wasn’t propped up on an ironing board or pillows, I sat very tall with headphones in my pants and a flashlight below my belly button. I talked to the baby. I prayed. I e-mailed my best prayer warriors and asked them to pray. If I couldn’t get the baby to turn in 24 hours, the midwife had suggested we come back for an external cephalic version procedure, which I was desperately trying to avoid.
At 4:30pm today, I was feeling equally defeated and optimistic. The baby had moved a LOT with our home tricks, but I hadn’t felt a complete turn. I was still holding onto hope that the version would work. There was a 50/50 chance.
We were at the birth center for two and a half hours. The doctor, God bless her, pushed as hard as she could. I closed my eyes and breathed through the pain, saying “turn baby turn” in my head with each exhale. It was painful. Brett held my hand and told me over and over again how good I was doing. After five minutes of the doctor pushing and twisting my stomach, I asked her if it was working. I could tell it wasn’t. I could feel the tears coming but refused to give up. God, please make the baby turn. PLEASE.
Twenty minutes later, the doctor stopped, and I knew it was over. He hadn’t turned, and wasn’t going to anytime soon. He was being stubborn, just like his momma.
The tears were falling again, and the doctor started discussing our options. After measuring the baby’s head size, she told us a vaginal breech birth would be very risky. She nonchalantly recommended a scheduled c-section at 39 weeks, and offered to put a date on the calendar right then and there.
Somehow in 48 hours my entire birth plan, which was pretty damn flexible to begin with, had been turned upside down. A c-section was never part of the plan. It was part of the if-there-is-an-emergency plan, but not part of the REAL plan. The plan that consisted of laboring at home and a water tub and a doula and possibly drugs if I needed them. All of that was suddenly gone. We politely declined her offer to schedule a c-section, and told her we’d prefer to wait until our next appointment on Wednesday, to see if the baby turns by then. She agreed that would be fine, and left the room.
Brett and I walked to the car, hand in hand. I was scared, disheartened, frustrated, and incredibly discouraged. I tried not to cry anymore. We made a quick plan for the night to take our minds off of everything: Chipotle, frozen yogurt, and Thursday night TV. It helped a little, but not much. My stomach is sore and bruised. I feel like I’ve been beaten up, physically and emotionally.
So, that’s where we’re at. I’m still holding onto hope for a miraculous turn, but I’m also trying to be realistic and prepare myself mentally for a scheduled c-section. It’s not how I ever thought I would bring a baby into this world, but if that’s what it takes to get him here, that’s what I will do. I told God before the version appointment that I trusted Him, and now it’s time to walk the walk.
My birth plan is in His hands now.
And really, there’s no better place for it to be.