“Well, I think she’s breech,” I responded when the nurses asked if everything was going well. They were in the process of turning on the fetal monitor and paused to take a look. They confirmed that she was not vertex (head down). Her heartbeat was great though!
At the birth center where we were, there are three midwives and a doctor who take shifts delivering. Today Dr. was delivering, so he was notified of the change while we listened to the little heart beating contentedly. I asked the nurses what I might expect now, and they gave me a summary that I passed on to Marty through a quick text before Dr. P arrived.
The Dr. confirmed that Lillian was transverse–her head was high, but she was more horizontal than vertical and not full breech. We decided to try an External cephalic version (ECV) to flip her then start induction with Cytotec. I called Marty and he joined me in the room as the nurses began my admission process, little Lilly’s heartbeat strong and happy in the background. We wouldn’t be going home tonight.
I had heard from others that an ECV can be painful, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. They told me they needed to get me ready for an IV because of the possibility that Lilly wouldn’t respond well to the procedure. It turns out, I didn’t respond well to that procedure! My blood pressure dropped and my veins constricted! They revived me and started me on IV fluids immediately, then a shot in the arm to relax any contractions.
Everyone held their breath as the doctor prepared to attempt to flip her. We let out a collective breath as she easily and painlessly flipped around to a head down position! The bad news was I was only 1 cm dilated. I started Cytotec and tried to wrap my mind around the fact that I was having this baby today. But by noon, contractions were still mild, and little girl’s heartbeat was contentedly thumping high in my abdomen.
She had flipped.
The nurses made jokes and the Dr. began to believe she was not as cooperative as she first seemed.
I found out that an EVC can be painful.
The second EVC was not successful, but we didn’t give up. We had time. So after another shot to relax contractions, we tried again–and was successful! The nurses put a band around my abdomen and rolled up towels on my side to try to keep her in place–completely nurse rigging it they joked. They kept the mood light, and we all laughed when the doctor said over his shoulder as he was leaving, “don’t take that thing off.” Nobody trusted Lilly to behave on her own anymore.
I was 2 cm when we (unsuccessfully) attempted to break my water. We started Pitocin. The nurses said they would try to mimic natural labor and start slowly. Already this labor was completely different than my other two. I wasn’t going to get to have a midwife delivery, and a Pitocin induction was never my idea of an ideal labor. So as the contractions got stronger, I decided to request that they not attempt to break my water again.
I had moved from the bed to the birthing ball, and as contractions came, I imagined myself at Zane’s home birth. It gave me a sense of normalcy.
But by 5 pm, contractions had picked up considerably and I started having trouble dealing with the intensity. I wasn’t sure I could go much longer without some sort of relief. The contractions had done their job, however, and I was 8 cm dilated. With my other births, I had never cared to know how much I was dilated. My midwife let me just trust the process, but this time it was reassuring to know.
Marty started telling me it wouldn’t be long now. I was so out of my head by this point I didn’t know reality anymore, and I was so close to asking for something for the pain. Pain is not a word I ever used to describe my previous labors, and it doesn’t describe this labor well either. The best word I’ve found to describe that next hour was torture.
I tried to kneel in the bed as it is the way I labor best, but after a while, I was so shaky I had to lay down. I looked at my legs and said to the nurse, “my legs are cold and shaky.” “That’s transition, dear,” she said simply.
At that moment I was able to hope that it would truly be over soon.
Through my haze, I heard the nurses call for preparation of a birthing table and repeated calls for the doctor to hurry before he missed it. I said I couldn’t do it anymore. The doctor arrived, and Lillian Carrie was born in just a few more contractions. I’ve never felt relief like when I felt her body slip into the outside world.
“Thank the Lord,” I thought, or maybe I said it out loud as I lay down, not even caring to see my baby. They would hand her to me soon enough.
But I wasn’t done. Never in my life have I had stitches. No time like right after birth to give that a try, too. I have to admit I did not take it well.
Now I was done. Now I could rest. Well, that is until the afterpains.
Through the whole experience I have seen God’s hand. Can God use something as global as an infectious disease to work in the finer details of one family?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
When deciding whether to have another homebirth or the birth center at the hospital my sister and sister-in-law went to last year, there were several factors to consider, and most of them seemed to point us toward the birth center. My previous midwife was going to be out of state for most of my pregnancy, but was willing to attend my birth if that is what I decided to do. She also spoke highly of the center, I knew, which also gave me some peace of mind. But most of all, God gave us peace about the decision, and every decision after. In the end, though it did not go as I would have wished, I could only be thankful. Thankful that we have a loving heavenly father that directs our path.
A man’s heart deviseth his way:
but the LORD directeth his steps. Proverbs 16:9
I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalms 32:8
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6