The story of my daughter’s birth started two days before I went into my birthing time, during my 39th week check-up. I showed up to my midwife’s office confident that this would be my last visit; Baby was coming any day now. I was not prepared for her troubled expression as she started feeling my belly and her announcement that Baby had moved into a breech position since our last appointment. She sent me for an immediate ultrasound that confirmed it.
My husband and I consulted our doula Anne who gave us a lot of great advice and tips. Steve and I spent the evening doing exercises from Spinningbabies.com geared towards turning a misaligned baby. We weren’t strangers to these things since Baby had previously been in an oblique (diagonal) position and she had rotated with some of these strategies. I also downloaded the “Turning Your Breech Baby” Hypnobabies track. It was an amazing experience to listen to. I felt so connected to Baby as I asked her to move into the head-down position and imagined rotating her in my uterus.
It was a very stressful evening for us both. Steve was a great sounding board for my fears and helped me to be strong. My biggest fear about giving birth was the prospect of needing a c-section. It was a major factor in my decision to work with a midwife at a birthing center and forgo the doctor and hospital experience that everyone else I knew accepted as their only choice. I hadn’t even let my thoughts go down that path of a c-section during my pregnancy. I’d convinced myself that c-sections really only happened to women working with hospital doctors, who let themselves be caught up in the cascade of unnecessary medical interventions. This certainly wouldn’t happen to a woman who chose a midwife and an all-natural birthing experience I convinced myself. It was truly that attitude of “it won’t happen to me.” That night it hit me that it could be me- the birth I had envisioned (unmedicated, calm water birth, my husband, mom, and sister by my side, holding my daughter in my arms the moment she was out) might not happen. It was terrifying.
The next morning Steve and I went to the hospital to meet with the ob/gyn. Anne joined us there, as well as my mom and sister. I was admitted and nurses began monitoring me for the next couple of hours. I listened to the Relaxation CD and focused on chatting with my support team to take my mind off of what was coming. The doctor arrived and Anne rubbed my shoulder as she spoke some soothing Hypnobabies prompts to me and Steve held my hand. The ECV was about 30-60 seconds of the doctor manually trying to reposition baby through my belly. It was intense. I focused on my breathing and sending all my hypno-anesthesia into my belly. Three attempts were made but Baby didn’t budge. I was comforted when Anne told me she knew that many women undergoing that procedure found it very painful and difficult and she thought it was amazing that I didn’t make a peep. I’m sure I would have been screaming too if I hadn’t have done all of the Hypnobabies practice.
The doctor explained that he was one of very few doctors in the area that would still consider doing a breech vaginal delivery. Most doctors were no longer trained in the procedure because some research says c-sections are safer than a vaginal delivery for breech babies, therefore most hospitals are against them. He said if I happened to show up at his hospital in an advanced stage of labor and refused a c-section the hospital would have to allow me to try delivering. However the doctor was going out of town for nearly a week starting that evening, so the odds were against me. We left the hospital feeling pretty dejected.
After a couple of hours of monitoring to make sure Baby was still okay I was allowed to leave the hospital. Steve and I went right to see my midwife. We talked about our options. She reviewed all of the pros and cons of a vaginal delivery. What scared me the most was the possibility I’d go into labor on my own and there would be a cord prolapse, meaning the umbilical cord could start to come out when my water broke, depriving Baby of oxygen. It came down to a c-section being riskier for me and a vaginal delivery being riskier for Baby. After much talking Steve and I decided we would schedule a c-section for the following week and in the mean time we would do everything we could to get her to turn (working with a chiropractor, acupuncture, Spinning Babies exercises, etc.)
The next morning I awoke to my water breaking at about 5am. Baby wasn’t going to let us turn her, she wanted out! Hypnobabies taught us to try to relax once the labor process starts. This was pretty difficult since Steve and I hadn’t even settled on a hospital yet! We connected with my doula and midwife and settled on a hospital that my midwife recommended and that sometimes allowed doulas to be present in the OR. For the most part I was calm. Pressure waves hadn’t started so I felt I had some time. We repacked our birth bag since we were looking at a several day hospital stay instead of a few hours at the birth center. Steve was definitely in a rush but I insisted on at least showering. About 45 minutes after my water broke, as Steve was hustling me to get out the door, I had my first pressure wave. I remember thinking “that was a pressure wave? Well I can deal with this.”
The next pressure wave came five minutes later. I realized Steve was right, we needed to get to the hospital! Once we got in the car I turned on the Birth Guide CD track and finally focused on the relaxation that Steve had been encouraging me to do. I was pleasantly surprised to find I really did go to a deeper level of relaxation whenever he put his hand on my shoulder and said “relax” just like we had practiced so many times. I kept my switch on center so I could tap Steve’s hand whenever I felt a pressure wave so he could time them. After a few pressure waves they were coming three minutes apart. This was happening quickly!
We arrived at the hospital and the waves were intensifying. I checked in, was brought to a room, and changed into a hospital gown. By the time I came out of the bathroom Anne, my mom, and my sister had arrived. Anne took over speaking Hypnobabies prompts to me as my waves came and went. I used my peace cue and focused on my breathing. The doctor came in, asked a few questions, and informed me that a planned c-section mom was getting set for her surgery so I’d be laboring for an hour or two while she went first. He did a cervical check just to see my progress. Then he told me “you are fully dilated and I can feel the baby, we have to get you into surgery now.” What?! Everyone was shocked that within three hours of my water breaking (and a little over two hours of waves!) I was already ready to go. I think the doctor thought since I was so calm through my pressure waves that I couldn’t possibly be as far along as I was. My mom and sister told me later that they were amazed how I just closed my eyes and looked like I was falling asleep as the pressure waves came.
(Doula Anne's Note: I've seen a lot of moms surprise their doctors, nurses and midwives by how dilated they are when using their Hypnobabies tools, but even I was SHOCKED by this news. Honestly, Cassie was one of the most calm and collected moms I've ever worked with, despite all the activity that was going on around her. The nurse actually didn't believe the doctor and rechecked her later just to believe it herself!)
Things got crazy quickly. So many nurses and doctors came in to hand me forms, ask questions, and explain what was about to happen. This was when I started to get scared. The nurses explained that I could only have one person in the room with me. Steve offered to give up his “spot” so that I could have Anne there since he thought I needed her more. Even though I wanted all of the support I could get, I insisted Steve was going to be there when our baby arrived. Within minutes I was wheeled into the operating room. The nurses explained that since the room was sterile they needed to get me prepped for surgery before Steve could join me. I was shaking like a leaf without him there. The anesthesiologist started the epidural. And then I had a pressure wave. I asked the nurse “should I still be able feel this?” The epidural didn’t work! The anesthesiologist explained that I would need to be put completely out for the c-section. A mask was placed over my face and everything went dark.
Scarlett Reese joined the world a few minutes later. Because I was sedated Steve wasn’t allowed to be there for the delivery. A nurse brought her right to Steve, he removed his shirt, and he held her on his chest. I was so happy that if I couldn’t have her placed right into my arms that at least the hospital honored my wishes to get her skin-to-skin immediately. Daddy held our beautiful little girl for an hour. She even started to root around and made her way to his nipple to start nursing!