Dusan and I are finally getting settled in at home and thought it would be a good time to email you our birth story. Luka Simon was born on Friday, January 18th at 10:17a via c-section. He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and had a length of 20.5 inches at birth.

As most of you know, we found out that Luka was breech at around 34 weeks. Looking back and recalling the ultrasounds we had throughout the pregnancy, his breech position was consistent from the very beginning. But, nonetheless, we wanted to try everything possible to get that baby to turn so that we could have a natural birth experience. Starting at 34 weeks, I began seeing a chiropractor (for the Webster technique), going to an acupuncturist (for moxibustion therapy), doing inversion exercises, lying down on an ironing board (with an ice pack on the top of my belly and a heat pack near my pelvis), and any other options that we could think of to get the little guy to turn. We even attempted to do the External Cephalic Version procedure at the hospital at 37 weeks, without success. This kid was not going to move and we had to come to terms with the fact that a c-section was inevitable.

It was a really rough time for me and I found it quite difficult to cope with the reality of a c-section. I obviously had hoped for a natural birth experience and the fact that I had no control over the situation and that breech babies can be born vaginally (although it’s seldom done in the US anymore), made the situation even more frustrating and emotional. But, after talking it through with Dusan and realizing that this would be the best thing for Luka, my mind began to ease into it more. I also had trouble with the idea of “scheduling” the c-section. I thought that it would make more sense to wait until I started feeling contractions before going into the hospital. Ultimately, we weighed the pros and cons of scheduling versus not and decided to make an appointment for the c-section on his due date of January 18th (I do believe he would have held on into the 41st week but felt okay about the fact that we at least waited until 40 weeks to do the c-section).

Looking back, I am so glad we had the time and advance notice about the c-section. At least we were able to mentally prepare for it, do more research, and construct a birth plan that covered as many of our desires as reasonably possible in an operating room setting. And, after all was said and done, we had the most wonderful birth experience that we could have imagined considering the situation.

First off, UCSD Hillcrest is phenomenal. Every doctor, resident, medical student, nurse, and assistant treated us with respect and listened to our requests relating to the birth. Due to the fact that the c-section was scheduled, we had the time to speak with the surgeon about any questions/concerns we had and thoroughly went over every item in my birth plan. My doctor was accepting and even energetically supportive of what I wrote down in the birth plan. Some of the highlights of the birth plan included having music in the operating room (we chose Adele and Coldplay), milking the umbilical cord multiple times before cutting (it wasn’t possible to let the umbilical cord stop pulsating due to the open incision and bleeding), videotaping the birth, placing Luka on me as soon as possible, and beginning breastfeeding as soon as we were out of the surgery. I’ve attached my birth plan for use if anyone would like to have it on hand in case of an unplanned c-section or if Liza’s future students would like to take a look at it.

As for the actual c-section, it was explained to me that they would do a spinal block to numb me from underneathe my breasts and all the way down my legs. Once I got into the operating room, I saw 8+ people in there (surgeon, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, residents, med students, nurses, assistants). It was a bit chaotic and that was probably the most stressful part of my experience. Dusan wasn’t in the room yet and there were all these people around and the room was brightly lit and very intimidating (again, I’m so glad we were able to schedule the procedure in advance; I cannot imagine how much more chaotic, frightening, and emotional it would have been if I wasn’t expecting to have a c-section done but then suddently had to). But, once they did the spinal block (which basically felt like a tiny sting) and Dusan came in to hold my hand, everything was much better. The music was playing, I was able to talk with Dusan and everyone was quite calm during the procedure. When the moment came to pull Luka out, the surgeon allowed Dusan to videotape it, which was awesome. And, as soon as he was pulled out, they showed him to me from above the surgery drape. Dusan was able to trim the umbilical cord after a few minutes and Luka was placed on me within a few minutes. And, as promised, as soon as they wheeled me out of the operating room, I placed Luka on my breast and he latched on!

Once again, I must emphasize how supportive the UCSD Hillcrest team was and how phenomenal an experience we had under the circumstances with which we were faced. My recovery has also been going great. As soon as they allowed me (about 8 hours after the surgery), I was up and walking. The next day I walked about 1 1/2 miles in the hospital and have continued to walk and move around as much as possible. I tried to take minimal drugs and have worked on staying as hydrated as possible. I believe consistent moving and hydration is the key to a quick recovery post c-section.

All in all, Dusan and I are happy with how everything turned out. I am still excited about the idea of having a natural birth the next time around but consider myself lucky that my requests were met during the c-section and that I can speak positively about the experience.