This is the story of my second birth of another daughter in 2016. As you can see from the picture... things didn't quite go to plan!
After my first birth story, an unmedicated birth at a birth center that ended with a hospital transfer, I was determined to try again. I figured, surely things couldn't go worse than my first birth experience. Right? RIGHT?!
While pregnant in 2016, I diligently went to a chiropractor for the Webster's technique to ensure my second baby was in a better position than my first. I watched the way I sat. I was very active throughout the pregnancy. In other words - I did all the things to ensure a smooth birth.
Below is how I recorded this birth story almost 8 years ago, with just a few minor changes. I mention this in my first birth story blog, but I am SO GLAD I recorded these details so soon after my birth. I highly recommend journaling your birth story.
I also want to mention that I talk very openly about my faith in my birth story. I can't talk about this birth without talking about the process I went through to see God's goodness in the midst of a difficult birth. I understand if that's not your cup of tea, but I want to be as authentic as possible.
The Birth Story
January 21, 2016 I began having contractions early in the morning. They progressed slowly and didn’t really move forward for a while. I knew from my first birth that my #1 goal was to GET REST and not try push things!
Ben and I had a day date - we went out to eat and went walking around the mall. I was still in early labor, so things were going pretty well. Our toddler was with my mom, so we got to rest and focus on the labor.
I don’t remember exactly what things looked like before I went to bed that night, but all I remember is that I woke up in the middle of the night with some more significant contractions. They were coming pretty closely together and I knew it was GO TIME!
My mom came over to the house and Ben and I left for the Birth Center (which was 45 minutes away from our house). Once we got there, we went into the room and I immediately asked to get into the tub! I really wanted to do that since I hadn’t experienced laboring in the tub with my first birth. They wanted to check my dilation first and wanted to wait for the tub until things got more intense. I was managing the contractions pretty well.
Brennan, the midwife, checked me and her brows furrowed. She said I was 6cm dilated (Whoop!) but that what she was feeling didn’t feel like a head. She kept feeling around (not a great thing when you’re having contractions, by the way), and kept saying that what she was feeling felt soft, not hard. She said it could either be that baby's face was facing outward and her chin wasn’t tucked, or that she was breech. Either way, we had to go to the hospital because they were not allowed, due to the contract they had with the hospital, to deliver vaginal breech babies.
I was in shock and couldn’t believe it… are you SERIOUS?! We had prepped and prepared for a natural birth, everything was going well except that baby's position wasn’t great. I kept thinking back to all of the chiropractic work I had done…all the things I did to ensure she was in a good position…all for nothing!! I was really disappointed.
During the car ride to the hospital, Ben and I processed what was happening and prayed to God that we saw what He was up to, and that no matter what we were going to have peace and accept His plans. Amazingly, it wasn’t hard to shift. I knew God was up to something, and I was determined to respond with joy and openness.
We got to the hospital and I was continuing to progress in my labor. I got into the room and immediately went to hands and knees on the floor. They finally got me up on the bed to check me, and I was already 7.5 centimeters dilated. They did an ultrasound to see Millie’s positioning, and sure enough she was breech, which meant immediate c-section. There were no doctors trained to do vaginal breech delivery in the hospital (or in our area of the state, for that matter). It all moved so quickly, we decided to just go with the flow and to make the best out of this situation.
They prepped me for the OR, and I found out that I was going to see the same doc who delivered our first. As I was wheeled into the OR, I started feeling like I needed to push. I knew I was in transition and thought…oh dear God I’m going to have to get the spinal block while in transition — YIKES!
Sure enough… as they had me sit on my bed to get the spinal, it was all I could do to only SCREAM, dig my fingers into the poor nurses’s shoulders while she held onto me to keep me still, and shake my feet (because they told me that was the only moving I could do while they stuck a needle in my spine.)
Once the spinal got in, I felt immediate relief and practically flopped down onto the table in ecstasy! As they performed the c-section, it was so joyful! There was classic music playing in the background, the anesthesiologist was very friendly and Ben was in the room. It was great!
I could feel pressure in my abdomen as they got Millie out, which was a very strange feeling. Then they got her out and held her up to me…she was beautiful! I was kind of out of it but also really happy. Ben got to do skin to skin with her again, and then they stitched me back up!
We walked away from this birth with a powerful lesson: Man plans but God orders his steps. The c-section was not what I wanted or expected, but it was what God had in mind for this birth. We felt His presence very strongly, and I didn’t have any “trauma” associated with the events of this birth. It was all very smooth and happy!
While my birth experience was surprising but overall positive, my recovery was definitely very difficult. Caring for a 21 month old while recovering from a c-section is hard enough, but I also experienced some significant breastfeeding challenges. I was able to push through and successfully breastfed our second daughter for many months, but it was challenging at first.
I am very fortunate to have had such a positive c-section experience, but I know that's not the case for everyone. Many natural birth educators refuse to frame interventions, such as inductions or c-sections, in a positive light. I know this because I took a natural birth class in 2013 that made me very fearful of hospitals and interventions. From my personal birth experience plus hearing thousands of birth stories from our students, I believe that interventions can be necessary and positive, and a mom's birth experience has a lot to do with how prepared she is for the unexpected.
Preparing for a natural birth is GREAT (I labored without an epidural for all three of my births), but you should also feel prepared to know what to do if your birth plan changes. This is what we are passionate about at Balanced Families!
Our Birth Class for Couples was born out of our desire to give every couple the tools for a positive birth experience no matter what. If you're pregnant, I highly recommend taking our class!