I guess the minute you think you’re “past” a pregnancy worry, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot! With the knowledge that Russ was head down and most likely had been for several weeks, I’ve really just been in “waiting” mode for the past few weeks. I certainly wasn’t thinking about any potential breech positioning issues. But for most of the day Thursday, Russ seemed to be very still compared to his usual jumpy and active character. By Thursday night, I was getting worried, and not feeling too great. I had the WORST indigestion – to the point where I had one of those “I just threw up in my mouth a little” moments (yuck) – and I couldn’t get comfortable, no matter what I did.
By Friday morning (yesterday), Russ seemed to be in a very weird position and I couldn’t feel any movement at all. Well, maybe the occasional nudge was happening, but I’d say his movements were down 90% compared to his usual habits. I called the doctor’s office, panicky and tearful, and they told me to come over immediately. By the time Jonathan got there, they called my name and we went back for what we thought would just be a quick date with Mr. Doppler…but what ended up being a surprising ultrasound. The tech told me that they tend to always do ultrasounds for “decreased fetal movement” checks, since they’re quick and pretty comprehensive. A few squirts of the sonogram gel and up popped an image of my little man’s profile…
…”Well, he’s breech. Maybe that’s why he quit moving so much?”
WHAT?! At that moment, and with the knowledge that my little boy’s heart beat was thumping along and he was already practicing his breathing (the tech said that was a very good thing), all my attention turned to the task of processing what she’d just told me. Breech? How? For weeks now, he’s been head down, why would he want to turn to a position in which he’s effectively bent in half, with one leg up by his head and the other leg…well, God knows where? It just didn’t make any sense to either of us, but Jonathan seemed to take it in stride (like he does everything…hmph).
But for Jonathan, it almost seems too easy – for one thing, he doesn’t have to actually endure birth and recovery. For another thing, he himself was a complete breech, c-sectioned baby and I often tire of hearing about it.
I don’t WANT a c-section. It’s hard for me to say it without inevitably pissing someone who has had a c-section off, but it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else but me…I just DON’T want a c-section. And up until yesterday, I thought I had to be almost out of the woods. Of course I knew that Russ *could* turn breech, but honestly…I just didn’t think he would. I hope that doesn’t sound naive, but I just really thought maybe I was out of the woods. That the luck of this seemingly uncomplicated and easy pregnancy would continue. I guess everyone gets their reality check in some form, and this is a much easier pill to swallow than a lot of mommies-to-be get, but let me just repeat…I DO NOT WANT A C-SECTION.
It probably seems strange, perhaps even selfish, that I’m not just okay with this. But I know I’m not the only woman who has dreamed of or is dreaming of that amazing moment – when the culmination of the months of waiting and planning happens, the pain subsides, the baby is born, and everyone breaths a collective sigh of relief as the baby (yes, still covered in vernix and goo from birth, and no, I wouldn’t care one bit) is handed to the mother and cuddled to her chest for his first ever embrace. That moment is a big, big item to check off my “bucket list” as a woman, and not getting to experience that at some point in my life would leave what I fear would be a sort of emptiness. Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t really think I’d take this in stride as well as a lot of women, and I admit, I know it’s probably a little silly. But I can’t change the way I feel over night, and it’s going to take me a little while to get my head around this potential change to my “best laid plans.”
My aversion to a c-section has plenty to do with any of the many other motivations I could have for trying to avoid such a procedure (easier recovery, quicker return to mobility after birth, less complications with breastfeeding, etc.). But missing out on THAT moment, that amazing first meeting, is what would absolutely devastate me. I mean, strapped to a table with my arms out in a “cross” position, being sewn up as my husband holds my son close to my face just isn’t my first choice for a birth. And for some strange reason, if there was an emergency and a c-section had to be done, I really don’t think I’d feel this way at all…but this breech thing is really irritating me, and I don’t know exactly why! And there’s nothing I can do to change this, it’s just the luck of the draw: will he flip or will he stay breech? And I know that anything can happen, and he could flip, only for something else to go wrong and for me to end up having a c-section for some other reason. I know that. All the things people say to try and make you feel better…yeah, I already heard it all, and it’s just not working. Maybe it’s my emotions, but I think I cried about 8 times yesterday (and 2 times the day before that, 3 times the day before that one, etc…).
And I know a lot of people who’ve had c-sections who feel like it’s either a) no big deal (which is fine) or even b) superior to a vaginal birth (which I clearly can’t agree with on the basis of the recovery alone, but I can see how parts of it would definitely be easier than a vaginal birth). But this is about me and my son and my husband, and this (albeit uncontrollable) situation that I just don’t freakin’ like. I know I’m being a bit of a whiner – seriously, I know that, and I know it’s a bit silly that in this day and age of such modern medical miracles, I can’t get over some abdominal surgery that is easy to schedule and almost always results in a cute little baby…I’m just having a hard time dealing with the very real prospect that I wasn’t expecting to get smacked with. Sometimes you just have to vent about these things. You know deep down that you can’t change it, and you know deep down that things could be so, so, so much worse. I know there are a million parents out there who have had much worse things to deal with who would’ve loved “just a c-section” to deal with. I KNOW all this stuff…but it’s not making it that much easier for me to swallow.
The upside to all of this, I suppose, is that if Russ does turn back into the vertex (head-down) position, I feel more motivated than ever to try for an unmedicated birth. I know I could get in there and find out that this is something completely different than I ever imagined and immediately be left yelling for the epidural – and that would be just fine. But I do feel more motivated to really focus and breathe and just see if my body can do what it was made to do. I think I’m definitely going to have to check my ego here, leave at 32 weeks, 6 days, and recognize the fact that I am NOT a failure just because x/y/z issue comes up during labor & delivery. As a mother of three (and a one-time vaginal birth and two-time c-section veteran) told me yesterday, “it is 30 minutes out of a lifetime with your child, and nobody can look at that child, tell how he was born, and judge you on it.” It’s hard to process, but I know it’s true. It’s just…like I say, hard to swallow all of this.
But I really would like to have the chance to avoid a c-section. I’m afraid that if I have one, I’ll be forced to have nothing but c-sections. Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) rates have risen over the past decade to the point that today, 60-80% of women with a prior c-section can safely deliver subsequent babies without a repeat c-section. But there are no guarantees.
So, what’s next? Well, I refuse to give up hope that Russ will somehow flip back into the vertex position. Chances are still pretty good that he will. But in the meantime, I’m going to do a little swimming (maybe a few headstands in the 5-foot section…*ahem*), get a prenatal massage (in the hopes that relaxation will knock something into an alignment that allows him to flip…yes, I know it’s a long shot), hope for good news at next week’s regularly scheduled appointment (though, I have “Dr. Fishman” again, so I’m not expecting to get any warm fuzzies from the whole experience), and just try to breathe and get over this.
If Russ hasn’t turned head-down again by 37 weeks or so, I have the option to have an External Version (EV) procedure done. If I have the EV done, it has to be done at the hospital and I have to arrive with my bags packed, arrangements made, carseat installed, and essentially be “ready to have a baby.” Which is a little crazy because that’s only 4 weeks away from now – eek!! The EV procedure has about a 65% rate of success in first-time pregnancies, with better rates of success in subsequent pregnancies (more room, uterus is more pliable, who knows?), so it’s not guaranteed. And EVs can send you into labor, break your water, or – far less commonly – cause complications that require an immediate emergency c-section. So knowing the risks and deciding what you’re okay with is key in this situation.
Hopefully this won’t even continue to that point, but I have to be thinking about it and discussing with Jonathan what we want to do. I guess this is a good time to repeat that whole thing about “I have no control. I have no control. I have no control. And this is not ‘my fault.'” It’s tough to admit that, even before we “officially” become parents, we can only do so much. I wonder how hard I’ll laugh at this situation when Russ goes to kindergarten, breaks his collarbone playing football, goes to college, gets married, or has a kid of his own (those last two are really hard to even imagine). But right now, I’m a 26 year old, first-time, very worried, nervous, anxious, excited mommy-to-be, and I can only see this through the eyes that I have.
And I don’t want an f-ing c-section.