During my first pregnancy, I was planning a natural birth. I had a doula and had been researching different natural birth options and different birthing positions. I felt SO ready. When we toured the hospital, I vaguely remember the part at the “O.R.” (operating room) and the segment about cesarean sections. I probably didn’t pay much attention, thinking it didn’t really concern me. I thought to myself, “I’m not going to have any interventions so the chance that I will have a cesarean section is super low”.
This was before my 35 week appointment when we discovered my baby girl was breech. That appointment literally turned everything upside down. My baby was not upside down but all of my plans were! Quickly, I felt my natural birth just slipping away. I tried everything to get her to turn from her breech position to the ideal head down position: Spinning Babies, inversions, chiropractor, and I even had an acupuncture appointment scheduled. I didn’t quite make it to acupuncture, since baby decided it was time to come and labor began on its own. None of the techniques to turn my breech baby worked.
Talks of a cesarean section and external cephalic versions were soon the main points of conversation. I didn’t like the idea of either choice, but the hospital and obstetrician did not do breech births under any circumstance. I decided to turn down the ECV (or external cephalic version). I think that flabbergasted the doctors a bit. I just had a horrible feeling about it and couldn’t make myself do it. It doesn’t have a great success rate for my comfort and I didn’t like the risks involved anyways. I had one doctor tell me I was contributing to their cesarean section rate because I refused. Yeah. Right. Thanks doc. Still not doing it!
Anyways. I went for a pre-op appointment and got all the paperwork and blood work done and talked to anesthesia about my history and we decided on a spinal anesthesia for the C-section. I had now gone from a natural birth with no pain meds to picking a spinal or an epidural. That was rough! The reality was truly setting in that my natural birth was never going to happen. I now had a set date that my baby girl would be born. I didn’t like it at all. In fact, I prayed she would come on her own so I would know she was ready and I wasn’t forcing her out.
I texted my mom one night telling her my feelings about how much I wanted her to come on her own. Then, I went to bed. Well, my water broke at about 1:30 am the next morning. I wasn’t too sure if it was my water breaking so I lay down for about 30 minutes and waited for contractions. I laughed and called my husband, “Honey…my water broke”. I managed to postpone going to the hospital for about an hour and a half hoping to feel some contractions but never did feel any. I was 10 days from my scheduled C-section. My body let me know that my baby girl was ready to join the world. This made me happy. My baby girl was ready! Once we got to the hospital it was less than an hour before she was earth-side. They got her out quickly, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, I did not get to see her for more than a few minutes. Because of “hospital policy” she was taken to the observation nursery and I was taken to recovery…for 4 hours! I was so excited when I finally got to hold her. I definitely had sad feelings for the natural birth I had wanted but was still optimistic for my chances of a VBAC, whenever we decided to have another.
Fast forward about 23 months and I was in a very similar situation. My baby boy was breech every time they checked him. I had been doing everything since early pregnancy to try and prevent this from happening again. Nothing seemed to help. I was seeing midwives and an OB who did breech births under specific circumstances. They also did family centered C-sections. This gave me a little more peace about having to have another C-section, but I still really wanted to experience a vaginal birth-my body working to give birth-the pain-the pushing-everything.
At 38 weeks and 4 days I went in for a external cephalic version. It was utterly unsuccessful. My OB said I needed to schedule a C-section. Once again, my water broke 2 days before my scheduled Cesarean. This time I did get to experience some contractions at least. I had my second Cesarean. I did get to do some skin to skin in the OR and we breastfed the whole time in recovery. It was awesome.
In the end, I didn’t get my natural births I wanted. I probably never will (as of right now 2 is enough). But, I am thankful for my babies and I have a pretty awesome scar to remind me of how they got here. I hope that even though I didn’t get the births I wanted, I could help some one fight for theirs. I love birth and love advocating for women’s rights to choose how they give birth. Even though my births were somewhat quick and I hardly felt a contraction, I feel like I can relate to and help others who have mixed feelings about their birth experiences. I think it’s ok to feel cheated and I felt that too. I do not, however, feel like any less of a woman. My body may not have gone through a vaginal birth, but it’s gone through 2 surgical births. I have 2 wonderful kids and I thank God for them everyday.
Written by Jamye Ouellette
Edited by Liza Janda