In honor of Labor Day, here is Noah’s long awaited birth story.
One week before our second child’s due date we had a regular check-up with one of our midwives. While at that appointment we talked about my history of low amniotic fluid levels with Grace, our first born. We decided that I should have an ultra sound that night to check my levels. This is a test that is normally done 1 week past a woman’s due date, but we bumped it up because of my history.
I was pretty nervous. This was the same test that determined that I needed to be induced with Grace. Would I need to be induced with this baby too?
The first thing the ultra sound tech said was that the baby was breech. I felt like I had been slapped in the face. We had no idea. Just that morning our midwife confirmed that she believed the baby was head down.
I was devastated. A breech baby meant a c-section and I could be having one that very night. We sat in the waiting room for what felt like an eternity. Thankfully, the fluid was within a normal range and the next morning I was able to talk to a doctor about our options for dealing with a breech baby at 39 weeks. We decided to have the doctor try to turn the baby manually the next day through external version.
The turning was a crazy experience. I could feel the doctor’s hands shaking as he struggled to move the baby. The doctor literally tried as hard as he could, but the baby would not move more than 90 degrees.
I didn’t have any pain medication for the external version, although some women get an epidural. It was a lot of intense pressure. For a few days afterwards my stomach was really tender where the doctor was applying the most force.
A c-section was scheduled for the next Friday and we left the hospital.
Some friends suggested that I try to turn the baby by seeing a chiropractor. I’ve never visited one before and I had my doubts, but since the turning didn’t work I was willing to try anything. I called a place and they squeezed me in that very day.
The chiropractor gave me a slight adjustment using the “Webster Method.” He realigned my pelvis/tailbone and then applied very slight pressure on a ligament in stomach. It was very non-invasive and I had little faith that it was going to work, but at least I was trying everything I could to get the baby to turn.
Why did I want to avoid a c-section so badly?
- Unnatural – I had been mentally preparing myself for a natural delivery for months. My goal was to go epidural and pain med free. A c-section is the exact opposite of that!
- Recovery Time – A vaginal delivery isn’t a walk in the park, but there are many more restrictions with a c-section. I was concerned about child care with the longer hospital stay, being able to care for Grace at home, not being able to drive for several weeks, and feeling bad overall.
- Cost – We were already dreading the medical bills of a vaginal birth. A c-section with double the hospital stay? *shudder*
- Breastfeeding – I was scared about being separated from my baby after delivery and missing that golden hour of opportunity for initiating breastfeeding.
- Missing Out – This is the big one and the one that still makes me cry. Grace’s birth was great. It didn’t go how I planned, but in many ways it went so much better. Still there were things that I missed out on that I was looking forward to experiencing this time around. I never felt my water break, never timed a contraction, and most importantly – I didn’t get to hold Grace immediately after delivery. She needed to go to the NICU for observation for 30 minutes. Above all, I was looking forward to that moment of being able to hold my new baby to my chest.
On Monday at 1:00 PM Nate and I went to meet with the doctor scheduled to do our c-section on Friday. The doctor decided I should have one more ultra sound done to check my amniotic fluid level and we scheduled it for that afternoon. Here we were again – having another appointment that could determine if I needed to have the baby that day or not. This was the 3rd appointment in a week that could have resulted in an immediate induction (or I guess a c-section because the baby was breech).
The ultra sound was uneventful. We couldn’t even get a look at the baby’s face and of course, the baby was still breech. After waiting a few minutes we were told we could go home. We figured that everything was fine since we were being sent home. However…
Five minutes after walking in the door back home, the phone rings. It is the doctor telling me that my fluid level is low and we should come to the hospital to have a c-section that night. I just laughed. At that point, it was all I could do. I had been so stressed out about the whole thing. At least the end was coming.
The entire time we were waiting and being prepped for surgery, I had only one concern. Will I be able to stay with my baby? I hated the fact that I couldn’t hold Grace immediately after her delivery and I was terrified of that happening again. Again and again I was told that it shouldn’t be a problem for me to recover from the c-section on the maternity floor with my baby in the room with me.
Nate had to wait outside of the operating room while they did the final prep work on me. I felt tense, uncomfortable, and sad from the moment I got into the room. The big room, all the people, and bright lights just didn’t feel right.
Things about the surgery that stood out to me:
- My legs tingled as they were falling asleep. One of my legs felt uncomfortable and I kept debating if I should ask someone to move it for me, but that seemed silly since I knew I would be completely numb soon and wouldn’t feel it anymore.
- I had been warned that there was a time when I would feel a lot of intense pressure on my chest as they were going after the baby, but I didn’t feel it. Maybe that was because the baby was breech.
- The thing that bothered me the most was the blood pressure cuff on my arm! It was squeezing me so tight! My arm was throbbing with pain. I complained over and over about the pain in my arm until they finally moved the cuff to my forearm. Later I noticed broken blood vessels on my arm from it being squeezed so tight.
Then there was the cry. The beautiful, precious cry. Nate and I both started crying ourselves. We had a baby!
We didn’t know beforehand if the baby was a boy or a girl. They took the baby over the scales right away. Nate went to see the baby. He came back to me and gently said in my ear, “It’s a boy. We have a boy!” Little Noah was here.
Noah was born at 10:33 PM, just 1.5 hours away from his due date. He weighed 7 pounds and 2.8 ounces. Since he was breech, his legs wouldn’t straighten out at all. The nurse decided to guess his height and said he was 19 inches long. In reality he was probably longer than that. He is a tall little man!
Nate went up to the maternity ward with Noah while the doctor finished up with me in the operating room. I was so anxious to finish and go be with my baby. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.
The nurses were changing shifts when I got onto the maternity floor. For some reason they wouldn’t bring Noah into my room until their shift change was completed. I was so frustrated. Nate checked on Noah through the nursery window several times and Noah was crying. This was exactly what I feared would happen.
Finally 90 minutes after Noah was born, I was able to hold him. Ninety minutes. One and a half hours. It still makes me sad to think about that. After my 30 minute separation from Grace during her natural birth, I was desperate for that moment of being able to instantly have my newborn on my chest after delivery. I didn’t get it. But…
Noah was still very awake and alert when he came into my room. He latched on and nursed beautifully right away. Thankfully, our breastfeeding relationship was not harmed by our separation.
Noah was so beautiful and tiny. I loved him instantly. It was amazing that I had this new little baby. I didn’t want to let go of him. Our first night together we slept skin-to-skin with him on my chest. I couldn’t get enough of him.
Closing Thoughts: I hope I never have a c-section again. I had one thought running through my head over and over in the operating room, “This is not how God intended for us to have our babies.” I’m extremely grateful that a c-section was an option for me and my breech baby, but I would never choose to have another one.
After I found out that Noah was breech, a lot of people offered comforting words when I expressed my concerns and disappointments about having a c-section instead of the natural delivery that I was hoping for. Again and again I was told that having a healthy baby is the only thing that matters. I would like to argue that those people are wrong.
Having a healthy baby is the most important thing, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. Health and safety clearly come at the very top of the “Important Things” list, but the general feelings a woman has about her delivery is also somewhere on that list. Did you get to hold your baby right away? Did you have any tearing or hemorrhaging? Was the pain more than you could handle? Did you feel confident in your body or were you riddled with doubt? Were scary words like suction, forceps, or rupture used in your delivery room? These things matter. And it is ok to be disappointed.
Since having my healthy, but disappointing delivery, a close girlfriend had the ultimate delivery nightmare. Her experience has greatly affected how I feel about Noah’s birth. At the time I was devastated, but now I know what true devastation looks like. Instead I am thankful for my beautiful boy. I will always be disappointed that I wasn’t able to have the natural delivery that I was hoping for, but my new perspective on child birth has erased away the pain.
Thank you, God, for my precious little Noah. He is truly a gift from you and I am thankful for every day that you have given us to be together. I love you, Noah!