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My Surprise Breech Vaginal Birth

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Even though it was my first pregnancy I felt very confident about the upcoming birth (thank you Hypnobabies!) I had a planned a home birth with a wonderful midwife team, and declined all offers of a last ultrasound to check on the baby's position (there was always some uncertainty during my checkups, but they always concluded that the head was down).

My water broke at 8 am, 6 days before the due date, catching me a little off guard as I really did think my baby would be at least a few days late. The pressure waves shortly afterwards and immediately felt fairly strong and only 2-3 minutes apart. ***BOP warning: discomfort mentioned*** I knew my baby was not posterior, so I was surprised when I needed my DH to apply pressure with both hands on my low back to alleviate some of the pressure there, even though I was otherwise completely relaxed. Well, as a first timer I just thought that what I had was the normal back discomfort, and that back labour would feel way more intense.  By 4 pm I learned that I was 5 cm dilated, which I was really happy about. However, by 10 pm I had only progressed to 7 cm, and things were slowing down.  I was starting to get frustrated and rather bored.  At 2:30am my midwifes gave me two options; either go to the hospital and start oxitocin drip, which meant that my natural homebirth in a tub was out the window, or they would go home and leave me to go to bed and try to sleep, which would mean things slowing down even more. Since the baby's heartbeat was great and my temperature was normal they were not worried about infections, and I therefore chose this option.

That night I actually got some decent sleep between my pressure waves, and by the morning my waves were about 45 minutes apart. We spent the morning between my occasional pressure waves (with someone pushing on my back with all their might) finishing decorating the baby's room, doing laundry, playing cards, and eating a good size pasta lunch to give me energy for later. Who could have thought that giving birth to a baby could be so boring?!? My midwife came by in the afternoon to check baby's heartbeat and my temperature; everything still looked great. Due to risk of infection she didn't do an internal check, but she told me that she believed that I had a high breakage, and that it might even seal up on its own. Either way, provided that there were no signs of infections she was willing to let me keep going for days instead of transferring me to the hospital. It was all up to me. She packed up all her equipment and we joked about that would start my birthing time again for sure. Little did we know how right we were...

Sure enough, soon the boredom dissipated as the pressure waves got more regular, and the intensity increased. By about 8pm (24 hours after my birth started) I was having a hard time relaxing even when DH applied pressure to my lower back and using the relaxation cues.  I remember asking for the MW to come back, and if this wasn't transition, then I wanted to go to the hospital for some drugs since I didn't know how long I could deal with that level of intensity. I was never checked to confirm that, but I'm convinced that's what it was. After I got in the pool I felt much better, and it wasn't long before I started making an ahhhh-sound during my waves, although I only felt a huge urge to push at the very top of a few of the waves. I was in a bit of denial at this point, and thought I was still in transition, and when one of the MWs told me to reach down to and feel my baby I was in complete shock to feel it there just inside me. The softness of it confused me but was told it probably was the bag of water that hadn't broken yet.

After a few more of those little pushes between my loud breathing I heard some kind of commotion behind me, and one of the MWs saying "that's NOT a head!!!" They told me that by baby was breach, coming butt first, and since they didn't feel comfortable delivering a breach baby they had to call an ambulance and transfer me to the hospital. This is when it started to get kind of exciting. The fire truck with the first responders arrived, asking me really stupid questions, even during my pressure waves. The most annoying part was that they would let me drink. I mostly just ignored them, swallowing the ice chips against their protests, and concentrated on my own work. It was hard to avoid pushing during the 5 minute extremely bumpy ambulance ride, but I generally managed.  They took me to the ER where luckily two of hospital's most natural birth friendly OBs  were on call. Not a word was mentioned about c-sections to my immense relief. My hospital used to have a policy of automatic c-sections with breach babies, however, had earlier that week (!!!) changed its policy to attempt some breach vaginal deliveries (although it was much controversy regarding the lack of experience with such births). I guess my two doctors thought that this was as good a time as any to try it out;) The tiny ER room was filled to its maximum; two doctors for me plus an anesthesiologist, `just in case'. There were also a bunch of nurses and 3 people from the NICU for the baby. In addition there were lots of people that didn't seem to have a purpose at all, just standing around (including my DH and MW). Maybe they just wanted to witness this rather unusual event? All in all there were about 15 people crammed into this little room. When I was finally given the go-ahead to push I couldn't stop. First I tried the exhale pushing like I've been doing all along, but was told to hold my breath to get her out quicker. When I did that, things started happening fast. DH told me later that for every push she would slide out a little further, but then slide almost all the way back in again. When she got far enough out, the doctor grabbed her hips, preventing her from sliding back in again. During the next push, she first grabbed one leg, did a little twist, and pulled it out. Then she did the same with the other. After baby's cord and chest was born, she did basically the same with the arms. As far as I remember that all happened during one contraction. During the next one she put a finger in baby's mouth, tilting the chin towards the chest, and twisted the baby while easing the head out. That was the only time I gave a little squeak, as it felt like I was majorly tearing (although I only got a slight tear that only got three tiny stitches for `just in case'). According to my MW it was a perfect textbook breach delivery.

From the time we arrived at the hospital to Sofie was born at 10:10 pm it was only 9 minutes, and considering it took them a long time to get the ER room ready, I think I actively pushed for no more than 3- 4 minutes. I immediately got the baby on my chest, and the doctor announced that we had gotten a girl! It didn't take long though before they took her away since she hadn't started breathing. The NICU team sprung into action, doing their thing and intubated her. It was barely in though before she started to breathe on her own, and although her 1 minute APGAR score was only 3, by 5 minutes it had increased to an impressive 9. The anesthesiologist commented how extremely calm I was, and how moms with planned births are usually more nervous than what I appeared to be.  This is despite my failure of actively using hypnosis during the last stages (but it shows that something must still be working on the unconscious level nonetheless).

Unfortunately they still felt the need to take her to the NICU, so it was actually a few hours till I got to see her again. But at least her daddy was with her for as much as they would let him. When I finally made it down to the NICU I started bawling, but it was tears of utter happiness and relief. Everything felt so surreal, but I knew one thing for sure; if I got to choose to do it again, I wouldn't have changed a single thing about Sofie's birth. Although it didn't go totally according to my plan, it was perfect nonetheless, and I felt truly blessed and incredibly lucky that I got to do it my way despite a few bumps in the road. I truly feel that Hypnobabies gave me the confidence and tools I needed to have the birth I wanted.
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