Birth Story

At 28 weeks, ultrasound revealed that my little guy was breech. We figured he had plenty of time yet to turn, so I didn't pay it too much mind. But still, I wondered. My mother had a scheduled c-section because I was breech. My aunt on my dad's side was breech. My first cousin Kristie's baby (on my mom's side) was breech and also delivered by c-section. I know there's no real proof that breech birth runs in families, but it only happens in about 3 in 100 births, and I know of at least four breech presentations in my family. Just saying.

Anyway, time passed, and he didn't turn. I started getting physical examinations in which the doctor felt my cervix to determine which part of the baby was presenting. It was always the baby's bum. We talked about my options: external cephalic version, or c-section. I read up on version, and it didn't seem to have a very high success rate; it seems that often, these women have to have c-sections anyway. The thought of forcing him to turn made me a little uncomfortable, too. My doctor said he'd done versions before, but not very many, and that his success rate was not all that high. So scheduled c-section it was. We scheduled it for April 29 at first, but due to some early dilation and effacement, we moved it up a week.

On Monday night, I went to sleep about 11:00 p.m. At 12:30, I woke up and cried until I had to get ready to go to the hospital (we had to be there at 5:30 a.m.). Part of me had a feeling of, ha! I won't be made to feel a single labor pain! I'll get some good drugs, the baby will be out in 10 minutes, I'll be closed up by 30 minutes, then I'll be relaxing with my beautiful baby and watching the Suns/Spurs game that night. But another part of me was so terrified: afraid of the needle in the back, afraid the anesthesia wouldn't work and I'd feel the whole thing, afraid that my own terror and anxiety at simply being awake and conscious DURING MAJOR SURGERY would cause me to jerk my arms and legs, tighten my abdomen, and in turn complicate my doctor's job. My movement would cause the doctor to cut the baby, cut my bladder open, or who knows what else.

Tuesday morning we got to the hospital, and I was in a bad way emotionally. I was sobbing almost the whole time, except when I was giggling hysterically at the most shamefully inappropriate things, including:

1. the bed they put me in when they assigned me to a room. There wasn't room for Jonathan to lay in it with me to comfort me, and I started laughing about how this obviously wasn't one of those special beds for the morbidly obese.
2. the fact that, at least on House MD, they have to use MRI machines from a zoo for the morbidly obese (I know! I'm sorry. But this is an ugly, honest narrative)
3. this one nurse who came in, looking confused, and without a single word, took my blood pressure and temperature. This was literally about one minute after another nurse had done the same thing.

This was all before I actually went to the operating room. By then I was a mess again. I explained to the curious and bewildered nurses why I was so scared, and that if I weren't conscious during the procedure, I wouldn't be afraid. My doctor told me that they could give me general anesthesia if I wanted, but that the reason they don't is so that I can be part of the birth process (way to make me feel even worse!). Then the anesthesiologist, an assertive man in an Army beret, tried a different tack. He explained that they wanted to give me a spinal block and said that if they were to give me general anesthesia, there would be a higher chance that the baby would have to be intubated and given supplemental oxygen or put on a respirator. That just clicked. The image of intubation alone was awful enough to make me buck up and do this thing. The anesthesiologist said a lot of other things too, like that my baby was a blessing, that I'm young and healthy, and that as soon as the baby was out, they could give me something that would get me more sedated and out of it, but that I just needed to wait until the baby was out. It would all be worth it when I got to see my baby as soon as they got him out. But I was already persuaded. Jonathan was escorted off to dress in scrubs, which ended up taking a lot longer than I expected.

The nurse anesthetist felt along my vertebrae, digging into the spaces in between with her fingernails, as I leaned onto another nurse who was standing in front of me. They told me to take deep breaths. I started doing the breathing exercises I do when I'm in a plane and there's turbulence, sort of a rhythmic breathing. They gave me a local anesthetic, which made me nervous, but I tried to keep breathing through it. When the big needle went in, I cried out in response to the dull pain, but the medicine acted immediately. The nurse said, "your legs will probably start to feel warm and tingly," and as soon as she said "-gly," my legs got the most warm, fuzzy-blankety feeling. I underestimated how much the anesthetic would also act as a sedative for my mind. And I needn't have worried about jerking my arms or legs or tightening my abdomen; the medicine paralyzed me completely. I couldn't do so much as wiggle my toes.

I kept asking, "Where's Jonathan?" Finally, after they got the drape up and my catheter in, they brought Jonathan in. I might have started crying again out of relief when I first saw him, but I think I calmed down soon enough. I had told him before that he'd better just talk to me and keep on talking -- about anything at all, but I suggested the playoffs. Talk about all the permutations of possible second-round matchups; speculate about who would win in those games. He talked and talked about that, and I don't really remember what he said. At one point, when the doctor was about to pull the baby out, he got Jonathan's attention. Jonathan looked over the drape. "Don't look at it!" I said. I was afraid he'd get grossed out, but he didn't.

I heard Henry cry, and I burst into tears: the happy kind. The anesthesiologist was right; it was all worth it just to hear the cries. Then they showed Henry to me, and I was kind of stunned. The nurse anesthetist pushed what I think was some morphine through my IV, and I completely relaxed. I barely remember chatting with the nurse anesthetist while I was being closed up.

The rest of the day consisted of holding Henry, first attempts to nurse, watching TV, and talking to a couple of people on the phone. By the time the Suns and Spurs played, my head was lolling back, and I was falling asleep with my mouth open. I saw a little bit of the game, but then I was out.

Ever since, I've been walking around in a state of pure awe. I can't believe we have a baby. Even though I went through a full term of pregnancy, it still feels sudden (but wonderful), like someone dropped this perfect tiny boy on our doorstep. I can't think about his physical and my emotional vulnerability too much, or it'll overwhelm me. It often does. I'll tell you one thing; I can't wait until that first pediatrician appointment, when I can get confirmation that he's really okay, that I'm doing this job well.


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Congratulations to you and Jonathan on your beautiful little Henry! I'm sure you're doing a great job. Thank you for writing this up... I am about three months along and pregnancy/birth stories are the most fascinating thing in the world to me right now!

Wonderful news!

Congratulations to you and Jonathan!! This is great news!

the chutry experiment


My second was breech also and I went through the version, which didn't work. Sadly, I also experienced labor as my midwife didn't believe me when I told her that I really felt I'd go early since my first had been early. Oh well.

Congrats and enjoy the time with him.

Geeky Mom

I'm so happy for you!

Many, many congratulations on Henry's birth :)

Journey to Ithaca

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